Until now, the Catholic Church has clearly and openly condemned any use of artificial contraception. Pope Benedict XVI has officially stated, in a book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, that the use of condoms can be acceptable when protecting a sexual partner from being infected with HIV. The AP reports in this article.
As a Catholic, I gasped as I read the Pope’s statement. The Catholic Church has stood strong in its battle against the use of condoms, regardless of the controversy it has caused. Second, Pope Benedict XVI raised eyebrows with his statement to a group of reporters in 2009:
Benedict drew the wrath of the United Nations, European governments and AIDS activisits when he told reporters en route to Africa in 2009 that the AIDS problem on the continent couldn't be resolved by distributing condoms.
"On the contrary, it increases the problem," he said then.
Journalist Peter Seewald, who interviewed Benedict over the course of six days this summer, raised the Africa condom comments and asked Benedict if it wasn't "madness" for the Vatican to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.
Yes, this provides enough background for even non-Catholics to understand the weight of the Pope’s most recent statements. But this might be the only decent thing this AP reporter did with this article.
Enter, misspelling and bullet points.
Pope Benedict XVI drew the wrath of AIDS activists, not “activisits.” The use of a copy editor, or even spell check, could have easily caught this mistake. From then on, the integrity of the story spirals downhill with the use of bullet points. Have reporters gotten too lazy to even paraphrase quotes?
In other comments, Benedict said:
— If a pope is no longer physically, psychologically or spiritually capable of doing his job, then he has the "right, and under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign."
— On Islam, in Europe, he declined to endorse such moves as France's banning the burqa or Switzerland's citizen referendum to forbid topping mosques with minarets.
"Christians are tolerant, and in that respect they also allow others to have their self-image," Benedict replied when asked if Christians should be "glad" about such initiatives. "As for the burqa, I can see no reason for a general ban."
It continues for two more bullet points and another direct quote. This is the epitome of lazy reporting; the use of transition sentences is completely absent. Sure, it leaves room for the reader to interpret the papal statements without a reporter’s objective. Sometimes the raw quotes without paraphrasing work well with the story, but it’s not the case for this one.
The article also lacks the objective from another point of view. The closest they get to presenting a different perspective is here:
Christian Weisner, of the pro-reform group We Are Church in the pope's native Germany, said the pope's comments were "surprising, and if that's the case one can be happy about the pope's ability to learn."
William Portier, a Catholic theologian at the University of Dayton, a Marianist school in Ohio, said he had not read the report in the Vatican newspaper, but he said it would be wrong to conclude that the comments mean the pope has made a fundamental, broad change in church teaching on artificial contraception.
Nice attempt, but still a miss.