National Media Watch

When Is a Fetus a Baby?

WALL STREET JOURNAL, Aug. 3 — Two unrelated articles written by the Associated Press on the same day, read side by side, was a blatant example of political correctness run amok, said the Journal.

“A 13-year-old giant panda gave birth to a cub at San Diego Zoo, but a second baby died in the womb,” one story reported.

“A cancer-ravaged woman robbed of consciousness by a stroke has given birth after being kept on life support for three months to give her fetus extra time to develop,” said the other, referring to Susan Torres of Alexandria, Va.

The headline on the Wall Street Journal's website opinionjournal.-com summed up the inconsistency: “Life Begins at Conception — if You're a Panda.”

But the Associated Press soon corrected itself. Later reports had the news service describing the stillborn panda cub as a “fetus,” and the live-born baby as a “child.” The latter article, however, later still referred to Torres’ unborn baby as a “fetus.”

Newspaper Misrepresents Cardinal's Remarks

CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Aug. 8 — The Chicago Tribune admitted its error in reporting that Cardinal Francis George of Chicago stated his belief that homosexual men should not be admitted to the seminary.

The daily first reported on the cardinal's alleged comments June 17, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was meeting in Chicago. But in fact, the cardinal said the issue would be the subject of a document being prepared by the Vatican.

Cardinal George did say, however, that a “vocation to celibacy for life” is a prerequisite for entering the seminary, whether a man has a same-sex attraction or not. And he said that under current norms, “anyone who has been part of a gay subculture or has lived promiscuously as a heterosexual” would not be admitted to a seminary “no matter how many years in his background that might have occurred.”

Phoenix Bans Pro-Abortion Speakers

ARIZONA REPUBLIC, Aug. 4 — A December letter from Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted is just now getting attention in the press. The bishop, in the letter, forbade Gov. Janet Napolitano and other pro-abortion politicians from speaking at Catholic churches in the diocese, reported the Republic.

The issue made the news after a recent misunderstanding where speakers at a memorial service bowed out because they thought that they were banned.

Bishop Olmsted's actions followed the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2004 Statement, “Catholics in Political Life.” That document cites Catholics who do not follow Church teaching and leaves the decision regarding public speaking up to individual bishops.

An invitation “would provide them with a platform which would suggest support for their actions,” wrote Bishop Olmsted.

Napolitano, a Methodist, was forbidden to speak at a Catholic church in Scottsdale last year. She has not commented publicly on the bishop's letter.