Written by David Fisco
6 December 2006
Word count: 315
On the 1 December 2005 broadcast of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly provided commentary on Michele McCusker, a former preschool teacher at St. Rose Catholic School in Queens, New York. Ms. McCusker was fired for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Mr. O’Reilly said:

…[L]ast week, an editorial appeared in The Tampa Tribune entitled [sic] about the situation entitled, “So What Would Jesus Do?” The opinion piece ended this way. “It’s hard to imagine that Jesus would want this woman fired. After all, his own mother once found herself pregnant and unmarried.”
His own mother found herself pregnant and unmarried? Can you believe that newspaper? As everybody knows, Catholic theology states that Mary was a virgin and Jesus was the product of an immaculate conception. That’s basic Christian belief. The Tampa Tribune knows that, but printed a fallacious comparison to make an editorial point.

Mr. O’Reilly—who frequently boasts of his Catholicism—needs to brush up on his catechism. As every good Catholic knows, the Immaculate Conception does not refer to the birth of Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Immaculate Conception was the conception of Mary, who was the result of normal sexual intercourse. Unlike other people, however, Mary was conceived without Original Sin. Because Mary was born without that stain, the Church teaches, Mary was able to provide the vessel for the creation of Jesus Christ.

Mr. O’Reilly was referring to the Virgin Birth, an orthodox Christian and Muslim concept that Jesus was conceived miraculously, without sexual intercourse. (Some Gnostic Christians have a different interpretation of Christ’s conception, but they are not Catholics.) Sometimes the Virgin Birth is called the “Miraculous Conception,” but never—at least by those who know their Catholicism—as the Immaculate Conception.

Perhaps the 56 year-old O’Reilly needs to return to religious school. He could sit in a classroom with teenagers learning the basics of Catholic doctrine.
Wouldn’t that be ridiculous?