Monday, July 30, 2007


You are probably aware of the old fable about the little girl walking in a field on a cold winter day. She came across a snake that was freezing and close to death that begged her to put him inside her cloak that he might warm himself. At first she refused knowing that one does not play lightly with snakes. But the snake begged and promised that because of her great kindness toward him that he would never bite her but would in fact be her friend. The girl relented and put the snake inside her cloak. When he had warmed the girl felt a sharp pain and realized that she had been bitten. As she collapsed from the poison she asked the snake how he could do such a thing to which he replied, “What do you expect? I am a snake. That is what we do.”

This fable points toward something that happened this weekend. A parishioner leaving after mass said rather sarcastically, “Boy, you sure surprised me last week stating that the news media unfairly reported and sensationalized news from Rome.” The popular media reminds us daily that their coverage is fair, accurate, and balanced. I peruse its pages or watch the screen and then when I am bitten a say in utter shock, “How could you say that?” And the answer came to me this past week, “What do you expect. The media is a business. That is what they do.”

I find myself less and less motivated to rail against the news media for being who they are. There are those qualities we wish that they had and those that they actually do have. I keep wanting them to be a plum and all they are is a banana. In the end who is upset? Me. If I could just accept the fact that I am dealing with bananas and not plumbs, life would be a lot better. Yet still I find myself yelling at the paper, “Why don’t you get a real Catholic to explain this to you so that you might tell people what is really being proclaimed by the Catholic Church!”

The last time this happened was at Pope Benedict’s latest clarification concerning the primacy of the Church, which our local paper interpreted as Catholics saying that only Catholics are going to heaven. Their remarks were so far off the mark as to be liable. Then it occurred to me, the news media are like any other business and as such they are not necessarily out to report truth, they are out to sell papers, or garner ratings and to make money. It is not always in their best interest to give a fair, accurate, and balanced story about the Catholic Church. After all, what do we expect? They are a business. That is what they do.

That is not to say that I am excusing it. The reporting in our local paper has caused some ill will. The Saturday Opinion Page carried letters from those in the community who have their liturgical underwear all in a bunch. One was from a pastor of a Lutheran Church who I would have hoped would have read the document before commenting on it but it was apparent that he did not. He was “personally offended at Pope Benedict XVI ‘dissing’’” his ordination into the holy ministry. Another was from an “older Catholic” who takes it upon himself to speak for all of his generation when he says, “We are disappointed with the resuscitation of the Reformation-era teaching . . . The ‘fresh air’ of Vatican II has been a boon to the Catholic Church and all religions. Let us hope that it is here to stay.” Again, what is being spoken is not the result of a well-informed reader speaking to the real issues, but shared ignorance.

Perhaps the best way to look at this is to be happy that they take notice of us at all and then know that the next step is to find out the real story behind the headline.


Anonymous said...

Bishop Lennon did a talk on the west side last night and he talked about the primacy of the Church issue among other things. Can I just say "Wow"! What a great bishop! What fidelity and courage! And every question (read: complaint) the audience asked at the end was addressed very directly with charity, wisdom, diplomacy, and a sense of humor. I think everyone wanted to get up and cheer with every answer he gave. And we're getting our kneelers back! Woo-HOO!

Rich said...

It's deja Vu all over again. I remember in 2000 "Dominus Iesus" was published reiterating the age old truth that Christ and His Church are one. One of my evangelical friends approached me recently quite angry an upset at news of the pope's recent remarks. Bingo! Great opportunity for evangelization to an evangelical Christian. What a wonderful opportunity to speak of the nature of the Church, the papacy and issues of authority in matters of faith and morals. Load them up with apologetic materials. Who knows, the "scandal" of the Holy Father's words may just bring a few across the Tiber.

Fr. V said...

Good point Rich.

Anonymous said...

from the other side id=973

Anonymous said...

Sparky: Great to hear your report on our bishop. As a westsider, wonder if you could mention the parish he was speaking at?

Anonymous said...

Bishop Lennon's talk was part of the Theology on Tap series. It was held at the Irish American Club in Olmstead Township.

Fr. V said...

I'm rather excited about the bishop too.