In what can easily be called the most ignorant piece of journalism in recent memory, Time Magazine leads with this outrageousness:

At the rate things are going, Pope Benedict XVI may find his next trip to the U.S. dogged by airplanes overhead trailing banners with images of aborted fetuses. O.K., that’s a bit of hyperbole. But while several prominent conservative Catholics in this country are apoplectic over the University of Notre Dame’s invitation of the pro-choice Barack Obama to give the school’s commencement address on May 17, the Vatican has stayed completely silent on the matter.

Are they absolutely out of their minds starting off a piece with that.

But you have to understand the reason. There are people who are saying mean things about Obama. Time Magazine has to protect their cover boy. Especially since Time is probably hoping for a bailout.

The reason for the article is, of course, their attempt to marginalize what they call “a small but vocal group of conservative Catholics,” speaking out on the Notre Dame/Obama issue putting the Pope and Obama on one side.

What is the count up to now? Isn’t it something like 70 bishops have spoken out against Notre Dame’s decision? That’s hardly a small group.

Look, the Catholic Church’s stance on life has been pretty consistent for…uhm…about 2,000 years no matter what Nancy Pelosi says. The Pope doesn’t need to come out and speak on every wrinkle in the news cycle. The Church is pro-life. The fact that the Pope hasn’t said, “You too Obama” doesn’t exempt him.

And then of course, Time, the objective news organization, uses quotes from the now infamous L’Osservatore Romano. “This isn’t the first time Obama has received decidedly mixed reviews from Catholics. A few months ago, he issued an Executive Order lifting restrictions on federal funding for stem-cell research. The move was immediately denounced by the USCCB as “morally wrong,” and even moderate Catholics complained about the way the decision was handled. But the Vatican had a different reaction. L’Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper published under the authority of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, ran an article in late April essentially urging the bishops to chill out.”

That’s not what the newspaper said. At all. The piece is a poor one I’ll admit and the second I read it I knew it would be the most oft-quoted document coming out of Rome since…ever.

But the turnaround by the media is laughable. For years, in the mindset of journalists, the American bishops were often quoted fighting for the cause of liberalism against the old stodgy rule bound Vatican. But when it suits their purposes the media just flip the board around. The American bishops are now crazy and the Vatican is sane and reasonable.

And then you get this priceless question from these know-nothings:

So is this a schism? Have Cardinal George and the other conservative U.S. bishops gone rogue? Or is the Pope letting them play bad cop while he makes nice with the popular new American President?

A schism? These idiots don’t even know what a schism is.

One of the reasons the bishops in the United States are commenting on this so adamantly is that Notre Dame’s actions fly in the face of a USCCB document called “Catholics in Political Life” which says “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

Oddly, Time doesn’t quote that document in their piece.

But Time goes even further by proffering that the reason Pope Benedict is inviting schism is because he’s a coward who’s afraid of the big bad Obama.

The starkly different responses of some U.S. bishops and the Vatican could just be a matter of pure politics. As Obama’s European tour last month showed, the Pope would hardly be the only head of state eager to start off on the right footing with the new Administration. In addition, Obama is broadly popular among American Catholics, 67% of whom gave him a positive approval rating in a recent Pew poll. At a time when the U.S. Catholic Church is losing members — a separate Pew study found that for every American who joins the Catholic Church, four others leave — Benedict may not be willing to test the costs of opposing Obama.

Are these people out of their minds?

They’re saying that Pope Benedict is worried that if he says anything mean about Obama the Catholic Church will lose parishioners. Pope Benedict doesn’t strike me as a man who’s all that worried about his Q rating. He’s not going to huddle up with the Cardinals when his popularity sags and ask maybe if we could do female ordination to improve his numbers.

This is the same mistake journalists make very often. They confuse politics and religion. And as if to prove that, Time Mag locates the cause behind all of these outspoken Catholics. And who, I ask you, does Time Mag think is behind all this kerfuffle concerning Notre Dame and Obama. You’ll never guess. Ready?

Newt Gingrich!

Man, the guy’s only been a Catholic for like a month and he’s already running the place? The dude’s amazing.

Among those most eager to drive a wedge between the President and rank-and-file Catholics are Catholic Republicans, who worry about losing more voters to the Democratic Party. Newt Gingrich wasn’t yet a Catholic when the 2004 statement was debated and approved. But the new convert was the first to speak out against Notre Dame’s commencement speaker. On March 24, the Republican former House Speaker weighed in on his Twitter account, which appears to have limits on capital letters: “It is sad to see notre dame invite president obama to give the commencement address since his policies are so anti catholic values.” There’s nothing like the zeal of a convert, but Gingrich may find it’s awkward to try to be more Catholic than the Pope.

Hmmm. Pope Newt I?

Update: For another perspective on the Time Magazine piece, check out Amy at Via Media.