Sudden Respect: NYT Uses Pope to Lament 'Harsh and Unforgiving Tone' of Immigration Debate

September 26th, 2015 7:29 PM

A heavily politicized preliminary version of Friday's front-page New York Times story on Pope Francis's visit to New York City was virtually rewritten (to include the Pope's homily delivered at Madison Square Garden), leaving out the initial slant by reporters Marc Santora and Sharon Otterman.

It's yet another example of the sudden respect a religious figure garners from the liberal newspaper -- at least when that figure happens to agree on the Times' pet issue of immigration. Santora and Otterman noted that the Pope's "words cut against the current political climate in which the debate about immigration often has a harsh and unforgiving tone." (The Times was far cooler to the more conservative Pope Benedict.)

Santora and Otterman's liberal version is available on other news sites:

Pope Francis swept across Manhattan on Friday from the center of global diplomacy to a worn classroom in East Harlem, challenging world leaders to protect the planet, warning against the dangers of fanaticism at the site where terrorists took thousands of lives and reaching out to those at the margins of society.

As he crisscrossed the city in his now-famous Fiat, he was greeted by adoring crowds lining heavily fortified streets, many having traveled far and waited hours in the hot sun for a chance to catch a glimpse of the pontiff.


In a city marked by extremes of haves and have-nots, Francis denounced “exclusion and inequality” and condemned a “quietly growing culture of waste.” He also proclaimed a theology of diversity, a dynamic that has helped fuel New York’s success, but his words cut against the current political climate in which the debate about immigration often has a harsh and unforgiving tone.

At the World Trade Center, standing alone and taking in the vast void where thousands of people lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, Pope Francis lamented “a mindset which knows only violence, hatred and revenge” and warned against the kind of “rigid uniformity” of belief that leads to fanaticism.


The pope began his day speaking before the U.N. General Assembly. There, he used his authority as the leader of a 2,000-year-old institution with 1.2 billion followers to make a sweeping case for “the right of the environment,” saying humanity had a moral obligation to protect the planet and arguing that degradation of the environment was an assault on human dignity.

“A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged,” he said, echoing themes he has focused on in the past. “The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses, for three serious reasons: They are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing ‘culture of waste.’”

The final print version, under Michael Wilson's byline (Santora and Otterman are relegated to a list of nearly 20 contributing reporters) was milder but still emphasized the contrast of Pope's left-wing economic views with the soaring skyscrapers of New York City.

By motorcade and popemobile and simple shoe leather, in a daylong tour up and down Manhattan that found pockets of joy and pain, wealth and want, Pope Francis on Friday called for social justice and peace in addresses to world leaders and workaday New Yorkers alike. He ended with a stirring homily that was both an ode to the city and a reminder to watch for glimpses of the presence of God among the poorest of the poor.


That theme, that “God is living in our cities,” provided an apt conclusion to a day spent navigating New York’s complicated fabric of rich and struggling. It was the pope’s first visit to the city, where the longtime hum of the machines of commerce and prosperity has brought the very excesses he has spent his papacy pushing against. It was impossible to ignore, behind the rows and rows of well-wishers who packed Central Park’s broad meadow, the soaring columns of skyscrapers with penthouses that are home to many of the world’s wealthiest people.