My favorite part of last night's wildly dishonest "60 Minutes" attack against the Catholic Church is when correspondent Bob Simon reminds Sister Pat Farrell (head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR) that the same Vatican office that recently disciplined the LCWR is the same group that ran the Inquisition.
"This is the same group, is it not, that ran the Inquisition?" Simon asks.
Simon will later describe enforcing Church doctrine as "censorship."
There are a number of glaring and incredibly reckless lies of omission in the 14-minute "60 Minutes" report embedded above.
The first is that, like the rest of the media, "60 Minutes" refuses to broadcast the Church's basic reasoning behind Church doctrine (what Simon calls "conservative" policies) surrounding same-sex marriage, contraception, chastity, sexuality, and allowing only men to become priests.
How hard could it be to bring on an articulate Catholic to explain these policies? It is a sad fact, though, that the media are almost always reluctant to allow someone smart and articulate to argue against The Narrative.
Secondly, CBS only allows nuns unhappy with the Church any airtime. Nuns perfectly satisfied with the Church are memory-holed as though none exist. Heaven forbid a nun who disagrees with the LCWR is offered a chance to explain why. Can't have that.
Finally, while Simon does report that the Vatican is unhappy with speakers invited to LCWR conferences, he chooses not to report what these speakers actually said. Excuse the length of the excerpt, but this is important: [emphasis added]
In her LCWR keynote address in 1997, Sr. Sandra Schneiders, IHM, proposed that the decisive issue for women religious is the issue of faith: "It can no longer be taken for granted that the members [of a given congregation] share the same faith."
• Ten years later, in an LCWR keynote speech, Sr. Laurie Brink, O.P. spoke of "four different general 'directions' in which religious congregations seem to be moving." She said that "not one of the four is better or worse than the others." One of the directions described is "sojourning," which she says "involves moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus. A sojourning congregation is no longer ecclesiastical. It has grown beyond the bounds of institutional religion." This kind of congregation "in most respects is Post-Christian." She concludes by characterizing as "a choice of integrity, insight and courage" the decision to "step outside the Church" already made by one group of women religious.
• Fr. Michael H. Crosby, OFMCap, a keynote speaker at the joint LCWR-CMSM assembly in 2004, lamented the fact that "we still have to worship a God that the Vatican says 'wills that women not be ordained.' That god is literally 'unbelievable.' It is a false god; it cannot be worshiped. And the prophet must speak truth to that power and be willing to accept the consequence of calling for justice, stopping the violence and bringing about the reign of God."
In the future, the Vatican might veto future LCWR speakers of this nature. Simon describes that decision as a form of "censorship"-- as if CBS would allow its affiliates to regularly invite keynote speakers to undermine CBS.
This isn't sloppy reporting on the part of "60 Minutes;" it is an act of deliberate misreporting through the removal of crucially important context.
Moreover, you can't watch what Simon and "60 Minutes" did last night and not walk away with the unsettling feeling that the "War On Women" playbook the media used so effectively to marginalize the GOP in 2012 is now being turned into an equally misleading weapon against the Church.
For my part, I would argue that the Vatican is being too lenient with the LCWR. When it comes to salvation, the most destructive people are those who fool others into believing they are saved when they are not.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC