Over at TimesWatch, Clay Waters wrote of the front-page New York Times story Tuesday on newly appointed Archbishop Timothy Dolan in New York, the "obedient soldier of Rome." One line stuck out: "On matters of doctrine, the archbishop 59, adheres to the line laid down by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, including firm opposition to abortion, birth control, divorce, gay marriage and any crack in the wall of priestly celibacy."
Brent Bozell e-mailed and was appalled at reporter Michael Powell's construction, that the Archbishop would be enforcing a line "laid down by" the last two pontiffs: "This is absolute and fundamental ignorance. This reporter knows nothing about the Catholic Church if he believes John Paul II and Benedict lay down the laws on gays, abortion, et cetera."
That is true. Popes guard the faith. They don't simply impose their own opinions, like an activist federal judge. (Of course, these journalists may hope for a Holy Father who's more Pelosi and less Ratzinger, but they're not presenting a sound view of how some Church teaching evolves, like with new scientific technologies, and how much of Church teaching is supposed to remain eternally true.) They're not growing "ever more conservative" if they hold to the same position on homosexuality, for example, that the church has held for two millennia. It only looks "ever more conservative" to someone who keeps moving left.
Worse than that, Powell's construction carries the usual flaw of secular liberal reporters, presenting church teaching as a petulant pile of "antis" and not seeing them as positives, for upholding the rights of the unborn, upholding traditional marriage, or upholding the procreative promise of marital sex. One can't imagine the Times greeting gay Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson's agenda as a pile of negatives -- because they agree with his baldly political agenda.