Following the Bad Council of the Media

Speaking to the clergy of Rome in one of his last speeches as pope, Benedict XVI acknowledged the ruinous influence that the media has exercised over the Church for decades.  He referred to the spurious spirit of Vatican II as the “council of the media.”

What he didn’t mention was that plenty of clergy enthusiastically conformed to the council of the media and even drove most of its themes and mythologies. The beast of the bad council had two heads, one from outside the Church and one from inside her. This beast is still on the prowl, as evident in the mischievous coverage and machinations of the papal conclave.

The openly heretical National Catholic Reporter continues to supply information to many bishops and even cardinals, which is one of many signs that the council of which Benedict spoke is still unfolding. The two-headed beast also resides within chanceries and Catholic schools and colleges, where the ideas of that council have taken the deepest root.

“[T]here was the council of the Fathers—the true council—but there was also the council of the media. It was almost a council in and of itself, and the world perceived the council through them, through the media. So the council that immediately, effectively, got through to the people was that of the media, not that of the Fathers,” said Benedict. “[It] did not, naturally, take place within the world of faith but within the categories of the media of today, that is outside of the faith, with different hermeneutics. It was a hermeneutic of politics.”

The papal conclave has largely been viewed through the prism of that “hermeneutics of politics.” Dissenting priests like Jesuit Father Thomas Reese have popped up on talk shows to pronounce on this or that quality the next pope needs. They never mention orthodoxy.  Telling the liberal elite of the West what it wants to hear appears to be the chief qualification for the papacy, judging by their remarks about the new “tone” or “style” the next pope should adopt.

Implicit in all their buzzwords about the “management” and “communications skills” a modern pope needs is a worldly conception of the papacy in which doctrine is diluted.

It took a self-described atheist magician on CNN to inform the “Catholic” host, Piers Morgan, that his prattle about the need for a modernizing pope made him sound like a liberal Protestant, not a Catholic. “Well, I think I may be somebody who believes in the Pope’s position more than most Catholics,” Penn Jillette said to Morgan. “I really take people at their word. And it seems like all of the cynicism and all of the—who are we going to get in, modernizing—there’s not supposed to be modernizing. It’s supposed to be the word of God.”

The “council of the media” has wreaked tremendous havoc within the Church. To it, Benedict traced “so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialized.” He noted that the “virtual council was stronger than the real council.”

The leadership ability of Pope Francis will determine whether or not that virtual council disappears or persists. It was clear that the Father Reeses were rooting for a “moderate” pope to jumpstart that council. In 2011, the National Catholic Reporter let slip that dissenting theologians were biding their time until Benedict passed from the scene.

“One need only talk to a sampling of theology departments to know that in many places theologians are lying low. Our seminaries will certainly be playing it safe for the foreseeable future,” it said in an editorial. “Moral theology of the sort that might raise substantial questions or handle difficult sexual or other life issues is being left to those who regurgitate the party line,” it continued. “More adventuresome and sophisticated theologians are out there, but they’re not going to raise their heads too far above the barricades.”

In recent days and weeks, it has served the interests of this group to make the issue of “reform” a driving theme of the conclave coverage, as if the Church’s deepest problem is the organization of the Vatican bank or curial offices. This has diverted attention from the far more dangerous disease of heterodoxy, of which those lesser problems are just symptoms. If anything, this group is pleased to hear that a reported cabal of cardinals “united by sexual orientation” exist within the walls of the Vatican and would like to augment their numbers. Yet it is unclear whether this group, if it does exist, has any real influence.

Bringing the corruption of the world into the Church was the whole point of the “council of the media.” Journalists and their ecclesiastical enablers wanted seminary standards lowered, homosexuals ordained, and the sexual revolution sanctioned. They got their wish. The “windows of the Church” were opened and the “smoke of Satan,” as Pope Paul VI put it, wafted in. Only by rejecting the bad council of the media will Pope Francis be able to extinguish it.

George Neumayr


George Neumayr is a contributing editor to The American Spectator, and a weekly columnist for Crisis Magazine. He is also co-author (with Phyllis Schlafly) of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.

  • Edward Peitler

    About the best analysis and summation of the past 50 years that I have ever read. Nothing like calling a spade a spade. A must-read by every Catholic who is able to rub at least two brain cells together (not the ones the NY Times, NCR and Fr. Reese go to for their “opinion” about what the Church needs).

    • ME

      I was so happy to see Father Barron hired by NBC to at least keep them on the right track. We watched EWTN for good coverage, but I checked out the NBC clips on the Word on Fire website and I was not at all surprised how Fr. Barron had to re-direct the interviewer back towards the important details of the conclave coverage, emphasising the choice ultimately comes from the Holy Spirit.

  • It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own….It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands….In my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect. — G.K. Chesterton

    • musicacre

      So breathtaking and beautiful!! Chesterton’s clarity is always inspiring!

  • poetcomic1

    In Argentina the vast majority of people call themselves ‘Catholics’. Last I heard, regular mass attendance (I am not even sure if that means weekly) is at about….10%. ‘The poor’ indeed.

    • Diego Fernando Ramos Flor

      That’s true in the whole Latin America, and that opens the door to create a great confussion among those who really think are catholics and find in the parishes Liberation Theology or so. There’s a lot of work to do here.

      • musicacre

        We could start by praying for them.

  • Prof_Override

    More immature dichotomous drivel. There is more than us vs. them, conservatives vs. heathen, liberal, devil worshipers, us good guys vs. all the rest of you in this world. Where is the intellectual effort to present something new and thought provoking, where is the recognition that there a multitude of different positions out there … even … gasp … on the interpretation of the Word. The 60′ and 70’s are long past and the world has moved well beyond the increasingly boring rehashing of the culture wars. Those locked into that antiquated paradigm will be steam rolled by the far more nuanced present.

    • Yeah, and the educated person realizes that some opinions are closer to the truth than others.

      • Prof_Override

        That would be post – post modernism, creating a new whole from deconstructed pieces, weighing the relative merits of each component.

    • msmischief

      I notice that you are not presenting something new and thought provoking but rather the same old same old.

      Perhaps a different standard is in order? Perhaps one that seeks after the truth?

    • Marc L

      Sadly, I have to agree. With all due respect for Mr. Neumayr, the most pointed and insightful words in this article are the quotes from Benedict and Jillette. Almost ironically, everything the author contributes seems just an attempt to translate their persipacious words into the bilious dialect of the very “hermeneutic of politics” that Benedict is seeking to attenuate.
      Really, my frustration with Crisis as a whole.

    • Oh dear. I believe you are mistaken. Have you heard of Apostolic Succession? That means all validly ordained bishops are the successors of the Apostles, who were given the authority by Jesus Himself to interpret Scripture, preserve the Truth, and teach the Truth of God to the world. The Teaching Magesterium of the Church has the authority to interpret Scripture and is guided by the Holy Spirit when teaching on matters of faith and morals to the faithful. We are guided by the HS in our own individual lives, but we do not have that guidance that is given solely to the Magesterium and the Pope- the rest of us were not given that kind of authority nor are we guaranteed not to err in our own minds on matters of faith and morals. But to insure that we are not led astray, Jesus has given the HS in a special way to the Successors of the Apostles (He who hears you, hears Me). A reading of Lumen Gentium may help clear things up for you.

      • Augustus

        Prof. Override is an Episcopalian, which means that he’s nothing in particular. He epitomizes the anti-dogmatic principle of the liberal churchman that Newman saw in the Church of England of his day. Nothing new here. Just a “rehash” of 19th century rationalism.

        • Thanks for the clarification.

          Prof. Override, why are you bothering with a Catholic site then?

          • Prof_Override

            The discourse here is infinitely better on many levels than say – Christian Posts. Augustus is clueless. I am a libertarian not a liberal. Benedict was an inconsequential Traditionalist. I feel that Francis has the potential of making a far bigger impact – retaining his core values, but turning the church focus on real world impact.

            • Augustus

              Thank you for confirming my comment. You are a libertarian, meaning a 19th-century liberal. In the same breath you claim to be a High Church Episcopalian and a critic of Benedict’s “inconsequential Traditionalism.” Yet it is High Church Episcopalians and Anglicans who have benefited from Benedict’s leadership when he established the Anglican rite in the Catholic Church resulting in thousands of conversions. Benedict is a man of action. He is also a scholar who engages in persuasion. That is what his address was intended to do. He is a teacher and part of his responsibility is to counter misinterpretations of Church teaching, thus his objection to the “council of the media” which has been well documented in histories of the council that you obviously have not read. Far from being inconsequential, he was the primary reason why Vatican Council teachings are better understood today. And as a man of action, his papacy is far from considered inconsequential by Anglicans who have found a home in the Catholic Church. High Church Anglicans are traditionalists. They do not trace their doctrine and liturgy to 19th century liberalism. It is you who are either out of sync with your own religious tradition or simply “clueless” about ours.

              • Troll hunter

                Troll alert

        • Prof_Override

          I was raised high Episcopal, not the current wishy-washy mush the church has become.

          • Augustus

            If you are truly committed to doctrinal orthodoxy, why criticize someone who successfully defended it from proponents of “wishy-washy mush”? It is not that Benedict is inconsequential. I think you are conflicted between your libertarianism and your traditionalism because I don’t detect a coherent message from you.

            • Prof_Override

              I never said I was “committed to doctrinal orthodoxy”. I respect and appreciate the formal liturgical structure and content, but I’m not a traditionalist. (Intentionally whacking the hornet’s nest) Traditionalism is just a subset of relativism, a fact which most traditionalists will deny to their dying breathe.

    • Edward Peitler

      One word comes to mind: sanctimonious.

      • Prof_Override

        Echo … echo … echo … Chamber … chamber … chamber …

    • Patrick Kasarski

      The author was referring to the words of Benedict XVI. He was the one talking about the “virtual council” vs. the “real council.” So you know you are calling him immature, right?

      • Prof_Override

        Yes. If he didn’t like the results why didn’t he attempt to change it instead of ranting against the nonexistent “council of the media” like some lunatic fringe, right wing nut job.

    • Alphonsus_Jr

      Notice the shameless chronological snobbery born of his embrace of the myth of progress. Such are Vatican II and those processed by it.

    • pbecke

      ‘…. if the world’s palpable descent into dystopia and anomie is the hallmark of a nuanced, progressive paradigm, the outlook for us all could scarcely be worse. Except that God will see us prevail. You WILL lose.

      The language you are using sounds very like that of the homosexual lobby. ‘More immature dichotamous drivel?’ That’s rich. Nobody speaks out of both side of their mouth more brazenly than them. Burbling on about diversity at every opportunity, when, if they had their way, rainbows would be just the one colour.

      As I’m sure you know, as a prefix, ‘homo’ does not signify ‘male sexuality’, but ‘sameness’; so there are a host of areas, such as, the multicoloured rainbow phenomenon, in which not to be homophobic would be a very sad state of affairs, indeed. It happens that the teachings of Christianity for over 2000 years view copulation outside of marriage between a man and a woman, to be sinful; and between members of the same sex, particularly so.

      So, in that sense, that wonderfully truncated and malleable word, ‘homophobia’, like a detestation of a unicoloured rainbow (even, perhaps, unishaded, black or white) is perfectly appropriate. They need to make up their minds whether they favour heterogeneity or homogeneity. Meanwhile, we’ll take their ‘pious’ invocations of ‘diversity’ and ‘homophobia’ with a pinch of salt.

      We don’t see the homosexual lobby as arbiters of morality in any sphere, indeed they tend to be atheists, who believe we can all make up our own moral code.

  • Tony

    The concilium mediorum did a lot of damage, no question. It was animated by a spirit of disobedience, and if ever the Holy Spirit spoke swiftly and clearly, it was in the wake of that disobedience. The orders of the sisters withered and died, and with their passing went thousands of Catholic schools, many of them once dedicated to bringing the gospel to the poor; put that in your heterodox hookahs and smoke it, O aging heterodox sisters claiming to love the poor.
    But the National Catholic Reporter is passe, because the heterodox theologians lying low are, first of all, not lying low; they are the people who run the CTSA, for instance; and because nobody is listening to them. Seminarians aren’t, the remnant in the churches aren’t, and the bishops aren’t.

  • Cheryl Schroeder Basile

    I have been alternately amused and irritated by all the discussions about “what the Catholic Church needs” in the last few weeks. We humans are an arrogant lot, aren’t we? We profess to know what is best for ourselves and yet we habitually ignore the simple guidelines that God has given to us. The guidelines that will give us the happiness and peace for which we deeply yearn. But this conclave has again shown us that God is in charge, and He will give us exactly what we need at this time in our history. Now it’s up to us to listen to Him and to follow the spiritual leader that he has handpicked for us.

    Ora pro nobis!

    • Edward Peitler

      Yes. obedience and humility…two virtues needed by the faithful. It lasting image of our new Holy Father: bowing his head and humbly asking for the prayers of the faithful on his ministry.

      • ME

        Disobedience to everything is the biggest problem we have everywhere right now. The people don’t listen to the leaders of the church. The political leaders don’t listen to what the people want. Kids don’t listen to what their parents say. Problems beget problems. If we could humble ourselves enough to obey and respect those with moral authority, the problems of the world could decrease dramatically in a hurry.

  • NoreenD

    “In 2011, the National Catholic Reporter let slip that dissenting theologians were biding their time until Benedict passed from the scene.”
    From my point of view, they’ve been biding there time for a long time and, God willing, will be for a long time more. Hopefully, the “dissenting theologians” will all be long gone before too much longer.

  • Alphonsus_Jr

    Blaming the “council of the media” is a cop-out, a deflection from the real source of the rot; to wit, the embrace of modernism in the Hippie Council, aka the Second Vatican Council (note: in the Hippie Council itself, not simply its aftermath). This wretched Judas Council, through the shameless lust for novelty and human respect embedded in its “aggiornamento” and “opening to the world” and consequent new conception of the priesthood, new catechism, new Mass, new architecture, new ecumenism, new collegiality, new religious liberty, and so on and on and and on and on….

    Those wolves, disguised as sheep, who – FROM WITHIN THE FOLD – initiated, approved, and directed/direct this rape and massacre of the Church and its flock are responsible, along with all those who went/go along with them not only enthusiastically, but also under a diabolical and slavish conception of obedience – all these were/are responsible.

    Get serious, people. Get serious or die. That’s the choice this world is leading us to. Indeed, it’s always been the choice.


    The Catechism of the Crisis in the Church


    One Hundred Years of Modernism: A Genealogy of the Principles of the Second Vatican Council


    The Rhine Flows into the Tiber


    Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century


    The Ottaviani Intervention


    Work of Human Hands


    Open Letter to Confused Catholics

    “At the close of a long life (for I was born in 1905 and I now see the year
    1990), I can say that it has been marked by exceptional world events:
    three world wars, that which took place from 1914 to 1918, that which
    took place from 1939 to 1945, and that of the Second Vatican Council
    from 1962 to 1965.The disasters caused by these three wars, and
    especially by the last of them, are incalculable in the domain of
    material ruins, but even more so in the spiritual realm. The first two
    paved the way for the war inside the Church.”

    -Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, Spiritual Journey

  • chevalier du malte

    It is not merely that the media hijacked the spirit of Vatican II; rather, the documents of Vatican II themselves were worded in such a way that modernism would be allowed to express itself without restraint, other than being up to “the local ordinary” to decide. Then, over the years, Rome caved into the novel demands of the silliness of those local ordinaries. The documents had what the late Michael Davies termed as “liturgical time-bombs.” And, of course, all those involved in the creation and implementation of Vatican II can’t admit that they may have been mistaken in some areas; therefore, they blame the media and not themselves or Vatican II. Go figure.

  • Joe DeCarlo

    It was Vatican II that was ruinous to the Catholic church, not the media. The clergy became pussycats after Vatican II, afraid to correct its flock. You will never hear sermons on homosexuality, abortion, mortal sin, hell, evil. You won’t hear sermons on seeing 2 people at confession and the whole congregation going to communion. I attend the Latin mass and our pastor will tell us what we and what the world is doing wrong. A pastor is supposed to keep his flock in line.
    Secondly, the clergy is NOT supposed to give communion to Catholic public officials who are pro-death. It is in the catechism. I would even refrain from giving so-called Catholics communion who are pro-death.

    • chevalier du malte

      I wonder if the bishops will blaspheme by giving the Eucharist to the unrepentant Joe Biden at the instalation Mass? The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit; however, we are living in times where the leading members are exceedingly weak and unpastoral in their authentic guidance of the faithful.

    • rich

      Qustion? R u a member of the SSPX? because if u r, u r not Catholic!!!

      • Alphonsus_Jr

        First of all, only priests are members of the SSPX. Second, how dare you call either those of the SSPX or those who assist at SSPX Masses – which are simply traditional Catholic Masses – non-Catholics? For the sake of charity, I’ll attribute this to gross ignorance rather than malice. The SSPX teaches nothing more nor less than the traditional teachings of the Church. And no, before you resort to the lazy “Protestant” charge, they fully reject the twin pillars of the Protestant Deformation, sola fide and sola scriptura. On the other hand, I’d bet that you participate in the Novus Ordo service, a service concocted with the assistance of Protestants and consciously meant to dilute traditional Catholic theology (whether this service be in Latin or not).

        It’s time to study The Catechism of the Crisis in the Church by Fr. Matthias Gaudron. Also actually take a look at the SSPX web page and read some articles, for example: “The New Catechism: Is It Catholic?” and “Can Obedience Oblige Us to Disobey?”

        Talk about non-Catholicism. Take a look at the scandalous paragraph 841 of the new Catechism. Inconceivable before the Conciliar Revolution. Much, much more could be mentioned that no saint before the Judas Council would recognize as Catholic.

        • pbecke

          They are no longer priests, and may not celebrate a simulated Mass in a Catholic church. Grow up.

          • Alphonsus_Jr

            Your ignorance and arrogance are profound – but sadly typical of those processed by the Conciliar rot.

            The fact is that those of the SSPX are validly ordained priests. You confuse validity and liceity. They are validly but illicitly ordained. Such is also the case with SSPX Masses: valid but illicit.

            But don’t take my word for it. See:

            Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei: Letter 117/95 of 29 September 1995


            Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei: Letter of 18 January 2003

            Also note this from CARDINAL Castrillón-Hoyos:

            “The bishops, priests and faithful of the Society of St Pius X are not schismatics.”



            • ‘Valid but illicit’. Here, I think you messed this up, let me fix it: ‘valid to the illicit’.

              What’s funny is, you’re bending divinely-inspired theology just as much as the liberal parishoners Neumeyer rails against. You’re just bending it in a different direction.

              • Alphonsus_Jr

                Complete nonsense.

      • Joe DeCarlo

        No, I am not a member of the SSPX, Secondly, SSPX are more Catholic than many Catholic clergy and laypersons. They abide by the doctrines set forth before the disastrous Vatican II. Anyone who voted for the pro-death president is not a Catholic. Any Catholic who is pro-choice is not a Catholic. Any Catholic that does not abide by the teachings of the Catholic church is not a Catholic.

      • Joe DeCarlo

        Did you know that, according to the New Testament, that believers are not even supposed to associate with non-beleivers. Then we have Pope John Paul II kissing the Koran. What a disgrace!! Then, since the Judas Council, (good name used by alphonsus) the pope says that any person of any religion can be saved by his god. Not according to Jesus who said the only way to the father is through me. I think that the Vatican II crowd are NOT Catholic.

    • musicacre

      We also are privileged to great sermons (real ones) at the Latin Mass. Please pray for our priest, Father John who is very ill right now.

  • pbecke

    I would have liked to see the orthodox, even sometimes reactionary, US Catholic media, refrain from relaying the media’s prognostications about the ‘race’, the ‘competition’ for election to the papacy. They just relayed to us their wish-list all the time. If you’ve nothing to report, never mind the vacant column inches.

    They often talk about the need for discernment in relation to possible theophanies, but have shown surprisingly little discernment with regard to the machinations of their secular counter-parts.

  • Rosemarie

    I am grieved by what you are implying … to me, the outcomes of the Council Vatican II were mostly great blessings : the authorized printing of the Word of God, thousands of Catholic families reading it faithfully and applying it to their lives, praying and in obedience to the Living Spirit of God, many new congregations with plenty of beautiful liturgy ….
    What was wrong with Vatican II ?

    • Stephen Manning

      How old are you? The “authorized printing of the Word of God” was in place LONG before Vatican II. Ever hear of the Douay-Rheims Bible? English translation just for Catholics. In the 17th century.

    • steve5656546346

      Rosemarie, it depends upon what you mean by Vatican II. It was such an unprecedented flood of words, that one can make of it most anything. However, if you limit the meaning to what was NEW, you can see some things–and after all, all of that trouble an expense was specifically stated as being for change. What was NEW was: an approach of seeing all that was good outside the Church, and falling largely silent on what was bad; abandoning clear scholastic language and clear definitions; the weakening of the papacy via “collegiality”; scorning discipline (e.g., rejecting anathamas); the desire to make change in a HURRY; and several other things.

  • George,
    You are mentioned in a podcast as one of the more prescient commentators during the recent papal transition by your friend, Jeremy Lott. It airs on Monday, March 18 at “Research on Religion” www (dot) researchonreligion (dot) org. It was a very good interview. Would you be interested to be interviewed about your book No Higher Power?

  • musicacre

    The Modernists are always ready to explode into action (with the help of the ever-hopeful media that they sold their souls to..) to use their sophisticated dumb-sounding gobbledygook to try to bring the Church down to the low places they reside, morally.