The next time the press says that some !!New Teaching!! is bursting forth from Pope Francis that will change the Church and bring her into the modern day (man, they do get giddy when they report such things), just remember that it's a bunch of bunk.
If a family member, friend, or co-worker asks you about the headlines, you are on safe ground by responding, reflexively, that none of those teachings are new. And then yawn just a little yawn for emphasis. Because this is boring, honestly.
For example when the 4,623rd headline screams, "OMYWORD THE POPE SAID THAT ATHEISTS HAVE A SHOT AT HEAVEN AHHHHHHHHH!!!!" …that is boring. That is old news. About 2,000 years old to be precise.
I summarized the teaching way back in 2011, before there was a Pope Francis:
Am I a fortune teller? A soothsayer? Or, is this perhaps the same-ole, same-ole teaching of the Church throughout the ages? Yawn. You see what I mean? Boring.
When the press screams a headline like "HOLY CANNOLI POPE FRANCIS MIGHT CHANGE CHURCH TEACHING ABOUT PRIESTLY CELIBACY (EVEN THOUGH IT WASN'T HE WHO MENTIONED IT, WHOOPS) AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! …that is also boring. The discipline (not doctrine) of priestly celibacy has always been changeable and debatable. And there have always been married Catholic priests (I know two personally). That is old news.
I summarized the difference between discipline and doctrine way back in 2010, long before there was a Pope Francis:
Am I special? Do I have super-secret decoder-ring information that no one in the press has the ability to access? Or, could this always have been understood and accessed with minimal effort? Yawn. Again, boring.
And yet it's not only boring, it's inexcusable. How on earth does the world media get away with reporting on a subject without any knowledge of the subject? And since the teachings of the Church are so readily available, why aren't these reporters and pundits profoundly embarrassed and ashamed of themselves for their shoddy work?
As others have noted, the one good thing about all this journalistic malpractice is that Catholics have an opportunity to learn more about their Faith when this nonsense about our Church comes to the fore. I'm hoping that Catholics who wonder about these headlines and are faced with questions from others will being a study of Catholicism in earnest.
And maybe if they are corrected enough, some of the reporters will start to study the basic truths of Catholicism, too? That may be too much to ask, but hope springs eternal!
"I've often said that if a sports reporter was as clueless about his subject as the typical religion reporter is about his, he couldn't keep his job for a week." -- Paul Thigpen
*Go here for a translation of the Pope's letter that has resulted in such a media frenzy.