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On the cusp of Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI found himself in the eye of a storm because of remarks he never made. As the BBC reported it, the Pope declared that "saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction."

Reuters took up the same line (or did the BBC take up the Reuters' line?) and it then worked its way into the rest of an uncritically receptive media. Liberal commentators and gay rights groups tried to outdo one another in their expressions of outrage. None cared to read what the Pope had actually said, or meant. The propaganda effect was all that mattered, not the truth, and certainly not the old-fashioned requirement to report, rather than interpret in highly tendentious manner, what someone has to say.

In fact, there was little in the Pope's address, delivered to Vatican officials on 21 December, that even remotely justified the slanted and ideologically-driven take on what he said, or meant. He did mention the environment but he never said that homosexuality, or anything else for that matter, was as bad as the destruction of the rainforests. Indeed, he never mentioned homosexuality at all. What he did say is that human nature must be protected in the same way as we protect the environment. He stated that one way we attack human nature is by denying that there are real and natural differences between men and women. As he put it: "The Church speaks of human nature as ‘man' or ‘woman' and asks that this order is respected." He said this order is not respected when we substitute the concept of "gender" for "sex".

This was a direct reference to the gender ideologies so beloved of feminists which explicitly state that any differences between the sexes are social constructs, the result of our upbringing and socialisation rather than nature.

This is what the Pope was criticising, but ideologically-minded journalists, obsessed with the latest fashionable cause, neither saw this nor wanted to see it. The result was one of the worst and most wilful misrepresentations of a public figure in recent times.

 
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