The breathless lead headline in today’s New York Times refers to “a Church at a crossroads”: the article cites “a succession battle” and “a struggle between the staunchest conservatives, in Benedict’s mold, who advocated a smaller church of more fervent believers, and those who feel the church can broaden its appeal in small but significant ways. . .”
This is quintessential Times “reporting.” Nowhere does the article substantiate that the selection of a new pope would be an actual “battle” or “struggle,” much less among these supposed factions—namely, those who hold mainstream Catholic beliefs versus the editorial board of the New York Times. In fact, a paragraph late in the article counters the Times‘ own alternate reality: “Nearly all of the 117 cardinals who will vote for the new pope were appointed by Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, both strong traditionalists, and it is likely that the next pope will share their vision and doctrine.”
The Times‘ hyperbolic characterization of legitimate challenges that face the Church as amounting to a “crossroads”—and its focus as much on leftist social causes like ordination of women as on the real issues like sexual abuse, bureaucratic corruption, and declining adherence in Europe—reflects its usual fervor to skewer “conservative” straw men instead of reporting the facts. Apparently, the reporters aren’t keen observers of the church and didn’t talk to any for the story. Just another case of the paper imposing its heavy-handed world view on a news story.