The talking heads at HuffPo Live must think the Pope is pretty funny, since much of their short discussion of him on Wednesday at the tail end of a religious segment – was laughs and grins.
Perhaps it’s no surprise after HuffPo misrepresented the Pope’s words on atheists, but when the Vatican’s Rev. Rosica issued a clarification, HuffPo Live host Mike Sacks seemed to have trouble taking it seriously. He grinned as he claimed that the Vatican’s statement “seems to walk back” on what he called Francis’ “groundbreaking homily in which he stated that people who reject the teachings of Christ can be saved after all.”
After brief discussion, Sacks tried to summarize the Vatican’s statement: “But the atheists are still going to hell, even if they do good things.” Both contributors chuckled when “National Religion Reporter” Jaweed Kaleem explained Vatican spokesman Rosica’s words as meaning that atheists might encounter God in the future and be saved.
“That’s a good hedging!” exclaimed Sacks, insisting that because the Vatican doesn’t “want to condemn all atheists to fire and brimstone if they could maybe perhaps come into the loving arms of the Vatican.” Kaleem nodded in agreement.
Kaleem then spoke of the Pope making “technical mistakes” – and Sacks again found an opportunity to joke about it. “Wait, he’s not infallible?” he asked teasingly, “Technical mistakes don’t exist for a pope! He’s infallible!” Kaleem joined Sacks in laughing about that one. (Clearly Sacks missed the memo regarding what Catholics actually believe about papal infallibility.)
On a slightly better note, Kaleem did say that Pope Francis seems to be “reaching a lot more people,” and commented on the surprisingly positive reaction from atheists. Sacks was surprised indeed. “Apparently the pope still matters,” he said.
Kaleem appeared a little more cautious, admitting that he thought the Vatican’s words were just a “clarification,” but claiming the Vatican was doing “damage control.”
But since what the Pope said was actually in line with Church teaching, and the controversy generated by his words was largely due to misrepresentation by liberal media like HuffPo, where does responsibility lies for any real “damage” here?