20 June 2010


I see red and it hurts my head. Guess it must be something that I read.

- Neil Peart, red lenses

Well, it seems the Catholic Register is starting to feel the pressure. Otherwise its recently issued editorial (see below), entitled "Seeking Truth", would not have been composed.[1] Accordingly, it is time for some TH2 slicing and dicing:

It begins with a question:

What is the role of Catholic media in modern society?
The Catholic mainstream media, like the secular mainstream media, are now forced to ask this question, due to the emergence of the "new media" (e.g. unaffiliated-independent Catholic bloggers conducting their own researches and analyses, providing opinions, challenging careerists, etc.). Without this emergence, the Catholic MSM never would have "volunteered" to pose this question. Why? Because the "new media" allows for immediate, widespread dissemination and, therefore, obliges the Catholic MSM to actually defend or justify their variegated distortions and falsehoods regarding Church teaching, their endorsement of apostasy and heresy, and so forth. Things have changed and the Canadian Catholic MSM do not like it in the least. The days of ignored "Letters to the Editor" are over.
Several hundred journalists from across North America were invited to ponder that question during the Catholic Press Association annual conference, held recently in New Orleans.
The theme/title of the conference was: Spreading the Good News: Byte by Byte. Just prior to the conference, Pope Benedict XVI issued (from Rome) a message to those in attendance. He spoke of: "the extraordinary potential of the new media to bring the message of Christ and the teaching of his Church to the attention of a wider public. If your mission is to be truly effective - if the words you proclaim are to touch hearts, engage people's freedom and change their lives - you must draw them into an encounter with persons and communities who witness to the grace of Christ by their faith and their lives."[2] Now does the Canadian Catholic reader really believe that the Canadian Catholic MSM has given, over the last few decades, "witness to the grace of Christ". TH2 answers in the negative.
These have been difficult days for the church and challenging days for Catholic media.
Indeed, they have been difficult days for the Catholic MSM. For it is now fully aware that it is no longer in total control of the dissemination of all things Catholic. That sentence bespeaks desperation.
Not only has the news been filled with stories of clerical sexual abuse and alleged Church cover-ups, but the technology-challenged Church hierarchy has often stumbled in offering a timely defence or authoritative explanation of Church positions.
This is a euphemism attempting to justify itself for having been caught red handed, instead of admitting error, manipulation and apostasy. One example would be the recent revelations of the funding of abortion groups in South America by the group Development and Peace, under the auspices of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).[3]
Instant communication in a digital age has put pressure on traditional media such as newspapers and television to rethink how they conduct business.
Another euphemism specifically meaning (as above) that the Catholic MSM must now take account for its past errors in reporting, subtle advocacy of heresy, whitewashing of apostates, lack of full control in the diffusion of its version of Catholicism to the laity, and so on.
The result is often a softening of fundamental values [!] as the old media strains to keep pace with the new, a manic technological beast of web sites, blogs and various social media tools that, collectively, disseminate information instantly but not always accurately. (TH2 italics)
Notice: "not always accurately". Man, does that statement piss me off. Right now I so much want to release an f-bomb (forgive me, Blessed Lord, I am a poor sinner, please give me patience and love for my enemies). See the implied presumption and condescension of views expressed outside the Catholic MSM... how the editorial board at The Catholic Register make them out to be irrelevant, expounding ignorance, void of objectivity, as if nothing, like an irritating mosquito to be whisked away.[4] TH2 takes that as a subtle affront to himself and others in the Catholic blogosphere. What really makes that statement enraging is that fact that at this blog, and others adhering to orthodoxy, it is a commonplace duty to refer (comprehensively) to original sources in the substantiation/defence of whatever Catholic doctrine or thesis or opinion presented.
For the Catholic media, the challenge is, in some respects, even greater. In addition to maintaining time-honoured journalistic standards of accuracy, balance and fairness, we are called to be faithful to the Church and, as Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton told the conference, to engage in the mission of evangelization. So when the secular media reveals wrongdoing by clergy and attacks the Church, how should Catholic media respond? (TH2 italics)
Are you joking? Does The Catholic Register "maintain time-honoured journalistic standards of accuracy, balance and fairness"? The evidence shows this not to be the case. Just recently the SoCon or Bust blog highlighted how an article by Michael Swan of the Catholic Register[5] gave an uncritical free ride to Fr. Luis Arriaga (of a Mexican group funded by the aforementioned Development and Peace), whereas documented facts show the group to "have given multiple clear statements endorsing the legalization and availability of abortion in Mexico." Swan's article was issued late last May, just some two weeks prior to the aforesaid Catholic Press Association (CPA) conference. The Fair Publishing Practices Code of the CPA states that members are to: "make every effort to ensure the news content is accurate, free from bias, in context and presented fairly".[6] Either Swan is not a CPA member and thus under no obligation thereto, or else he needs to smarten up and actually abide by "time-honoured journalistic standards of accuracy, balance and fairness". Unfortunately, Swan is part of the baby boomer old guard, so likely this will not happen.
The policy at the Catholic Register has always been to report the news, warts and all, but report it from a perspective that is true to Catholic teaching and gives voice to Church leaders. A belief in seeking truth is fundamental to who we are and what we do. But where the mainstream press has trended towards cynicism and hostility, we must strive for charity and civility, which, admittedly, is not always easy. (TH2 italics)
Tension. Desperation. Pressure. Oh, and by the way CR Staff - the accusation against people like yours truly being "uncharitable" does not work anymore. It is a diversionary tactic that works to vilify posers of legitimate questions and concerns. The Lord of History gave a specific instruction to admonish the sinner. And you are fooling yourselves if you think there was never, in the past, any tension, pressure or argumentation in the Church. Read the lives of the saints, read a book on the history of the Church. For crying out loud, even SS. Peter and Paul had it out. So stop listening to Ron Rolheiser, send him in exile, grow up and be an adult. Deal with it.
Our calling is not to be unquestioning apologists for the Church and its bishops. We agree with Los Angeles Bishop Gabino Zavala who told the conference that Catholic media needn’t feel obligated to automatically defend the Church "at all costs" because that approach is “too simplistic and does not reflect the intelligence of Catholics. They deserve a Catholic media that takes a more nuanced perspective". (TH2 italics)
Given the lukewarmness and apostasy of not a few bishops in Canada today, the italicized part of the quote above is justifiable. But what I find suspicious is how the Church as such (i.e. dogma, etc.) is brought into the mix. In an Apostolic Letter regarding the use of mass communications by Catholics, Pope John Paul II wrote: "God has placed at our disposal to discover, to use and to make known the truth, also the truth about our dignity and about our destiny as his children, heirs of his eternal Kingdom." And the Truth is Jesus Christ, the Roman Catholic Church, established by Our Lord.[7]
We recognize that, within the Church, there are varying views and opinions and believe that civil, reasoned, faith-based debate is healthy. Bishop Thomas Doran of Illinois quipped that "if you get three bishops in a room they often can’t agree on the colour of an orange". But most will agree it’s not black or white, and neither are most issues. We encourage respectful discourse. Religion is constantly in the news. But stories in the mainstream media often abound with stereotyping and misinformation. Catholic readers deserve honest, comprehensive, faith-based coverage of the important news and issues that affect their lives. That is the role of Catholic media. (TH2 italics)
A clarification: the "mainstream media" to which the Register refers also includes the Canadian Catholic MSM, which therefore means the Catholic Register. John Pacheco at SoCon or Bust said it best: "'Catholic' journalism which is under the heel of the social justice clique and ladder climbers in the Church is not journalism at all. They don’t serve the Truth or the Church. It's propaganda for their own selfish self-interests and Marxist agendas".
New logo. Same old crap.

1. "Seeking Truth" (editorial), Catholic Register, June 10, 2010. LINK

2. "Pontiff sends greetings to Catholic media convention", ZENIT, June 2, 2010. LINK

3. This scandal has been exposed at LifeSite News and the blog SoCon or Bust.

4. On this point, The Catholic Register takes its cue from the likes of Fr. Thomas Rosica (CEO at Salt+Light TV) and, his good friend, Archbishop James Weisberger. The latter recently stated: "These bloggers who claim to be more Catholic than anyone - I think first of all they’re not part of the church, they’re not Catholic in the sense that they have no mandate, they have no authority, they have no accountability. And they speak very, very definitively about what it means to be Catholic, and they’re followed by so many people." LINK Subnote that The Catholic Register recently embedded a Salt+Light video webcast to its website - a team working in collusion? LINK

5. M. Swan, "'Nasty' LifeSite allegations are harmful to Mexican group cause", Catholic Register, May 21, 2010. LINK

6. Catholic Press Association, Fair Publishing Practices Code, Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, 2004 Code. LINK

7. The Rapid Development of the Holy Father John Paul II to those Responsible for Communications, pt. 5, para. 13, January 24, 2005. LINK For an analysis of the relationship between the Catholic press and the hierarchy (albeit dated), see W.J. Thorn and B. Garrison, "Institutional Stress: Journalistic norms in the Catholic Press", Review of Religious Research, September 1983, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 49-62.



Al said...

Once upon a time Catholic media was started because the secular media wasn't accurately portraying the Catholic Church & its teachings. Diocesan & national newspapers were started to disseminate things accurately. & now their not. That is why I have to label this line "disseminate information instantly but not always accurately" the "pot calling the kettle black".

As you said after "In addition to maintaining time-honoured journalistic standards of accuracy, balance and fairness," Are they joking?????????

With a few exceptions, most diocesan newspapers are not only NOT "unquestioning apologists for the Church", they are unquestioning apologists for the heretic stands of people from Kung to Mahony & Gumbleton to Sr. Joanie & Ron R.

Then there is the use of the Bishop Doran quote that I suspect has a totally different context than the 1 it was put into for this article. I have a view from across the river of how he operates his diocese. & it i whole lot better than on this side of the Mississippi. A couple years ago the pastor of a parish refused to allow some children to be confirmed as their parents were not regularly attending Mass. Bishop Doran upheld the priest since he was doing what he was supposed to.

Finally (even though there is so much more I could say about Catholic media) the article said: "Catholic readers deserve honest, comprehensive, faith-based coverage of the important news and issues that affect their lives. That is the role of Catholic media." Of which over 90% has failed to do to some extent. & in some cases, like the Non Catholic Reporter, has failed miserable.

Yup, they are feeling the pressure, but rather than focus on the real problem, & take responsibility for their actions, they are trying to put the blame on us who strive to get things out accurately. & I am sure that your pointing it out won't endear yourself to them either. Not that you are worried about that.

TH2 said...

Holy smokes, Al. What a comment!

You provide a figure of 90% for (I assume) the US Catholic MSM as failing in their provision of of Catholic-related news, reports, etc. In Canada, I will offer the number 99%. The exception, as I occasionally emphasize in this blog, is Catholic Insight , edited by the Basilian Father Alphonse de Valk.

In the future I am going to address, in a post, the whole situation about Catholic bloggers being "uncharitable" and so forth.

Al said...

TH2 - 1st of all can I assume that the Holy Smokes is meant as a compliment?

As for the 90%, yes I was refering to the US Catholic media. I said over 90% because I was trying to err on the side of charity. We do have a few good papers, like the National Catholic Register & the Wanderer. & we have EWTN News working with CNA. Also, I opted for over 90 becuase there is also a small percentage that get it right at least part of the time & when they get it wrong it is done more out of ignorance than intentional like the NonCR & their ilk. On the other hand, I should also point out the reverse is true, some of those who intentionally get it wrong do accidently get it right as well.

& I will admit, the misuse by the Catholic Register of the Doran quote did have me seeing red. I don't think the "orange" comment was meant to proveBishop Doran believes there is a lot of grey area. I think Doran was pointing out the problem of getting the Bishops to agree on what to do.

Can't wait for your take on what the Catholic Reporter calls "uncharitable" Catholic bloggers.

TH2 said...

Yes, a compliment. The post on the so-called lack of charity might also require some detail. My take off point will be from a suite of guidelines spoken by a Canadian cleric.

Sanctus Belle said...

Great article TH2. I cancelled my diocesan paper recently as I thought my head would explode when I read it.

As an aside, now thanks to your blog everytime I see one of our area School Sisters of Notre Dame an alarm goes of in my head saying "Habitless hussie!" No, I don't say it out loud but it gets pretty noisy in my head :)

TH2 said...

Merci, Sanctus Belle. I was wondering about you as I've checked your blogs of late, but you not have posted recently. Hopefully, something will be posted soon (at your convenience, of course).

Don't let those hussies get to you :) - LOL at your cerebral ongoings after seeing the ND Sisters.

Prayers there will be for you and your family.

Anita Moore said...

Does The Catholic Register "maintain time-honoured journalistic standards of accuracy, balance and fairness"?

If they were faithful Catholics, all the other stuff would take care of itself. So there.

P.S. I've been ignoring my diocesan newspaper for years.

TH2 said...

If they were faithful Catholics, all the other stuff would take care of itself.


Post a Comment