Saturday, 26 May 2012

Cath News must be reformed: Open Post for Perspectives (Weekend edition)***updated

So folk, no I'm not giving up; in fact I'm more determined than ever to effect some reform here!

  • DO try and comment over there.  Let's try and get some promotion of the actual faith, and genuine discussion, not just one sided assertions, on the areas open to debate;
  • DO comment here on what you think of the story selection over there, the moderation of comment (any rejected that you know of; any published that you think should have been rejected);
  • DO pray for the conversion of all associated with Cath News.
How to get published over at Cath News...

Well, I'm not exactly in a position to advise given my total lack of success of late!

But based on some correspondence with Ms Christine Hogan, publisher of Cath News (see my previous post), if you want to get a comment published over there:
  • DON'T bother criticising their editorial policies - save that for over here!;
  • DON'T mention Australia Incognita blog or the need to reform Cath News!  It will be rejected as part of a campaign;
  • DON'T ASSUME the moderator will know what the actual teaching of the Church is - you may need to cite sources and explain where you are coming from;
  • DON'T ASSUME they'll know any contextual information around Catholic issues, either contemporary or historical, particularly in areas such as the fight against the culture of death - apparently they've never heard of Planned Parenthood for example over there.  So you might need to explain or provide a link.
Of course, even if you don't get your comment published, it is being read by Cath News staff - so offline protests have value too!  And of course, you can always publish your rejected comments over here...

Is it worth keeping up the pressure?


Effecting change takes time.

The first stage is to get people to understand the need for change.

Everyone operates from a particular view of the world.

When people reject and attempt to subvert Church teaching, they aren't necessarily acting maliciously.

It may just be that they really don't know better - that they've been brainwashed by the secularist mainstream and what they see coming out of all too many dioceses and parishes, affirmed by assorted bishops, and so think that it must be right.  They may just be what Lenin termed 'useful idiots'.

From 'pre-contemplation' to 'contemplation'...

So to use a bit of psychological jargon, the first stage is to set up a bit of 'cognitive dissonance', to keep challenging that pre-existing world view with counterfactual information, until the weight of it becomes sufficient that the person starts really questioning what they currently believe.

And I'm not just talking about Cath News staff here - our real target has to be their readers. 

In the health promotion area, a good example of this is smoking: most smokers can rationalise away all those health messages they read in the media and other sources by saying to themselves that it's deadly effects will happen to everyone else but him or herself, they'll be the lucky one to beat the odds.  Those gory pictures on cigarette packages were about getting in their face and trying to personalise the message!  Plain packaging goes a step further, saying 'this is a drug', not something recreational.

When it comes to life issues, our challenge is to shift people from explaining away an unborn baby as a bunch of cells, something not quite human: hence the push to require ultrasounds for those contemplating an abortion, to bring home the reality that this is a life.

When it comes to Catholicism, our challenge is to get not only the publisher and editorial staff of Cath News, but also that publication's readership (and indeed all nominal and modernist-infected Catholics), to understand that Catholicism is not a religion where doctrine 'evolves'.  Catholicism does not change just because society does: rather it is grounded in the truth handed down by the Apostles, and guarded by the Magisterium.  This is the challenge of the New Evanglization.

So keep the pressure on!  Keep criticising what you see, keep challenging.  Keep trying to get people to take a fresh look at whether their worldview really stands up to scrutiny, or is filled with contradictions.

Keep hoping and praying that they will open their hearts to grace and see things afresh.

Next steps

I've said the first step is to challenge people's world view, get them to rethink whether their often unspoken assumptions are correct.  Get them thinking in other words.

Our efforts will hopefully go part of the way to achieving this.

But we also need to lobby those in charge of Cath News and the bishops.  Let's keep building the evidence base first though!

It doesn't end there though.

Because it is one thing to want to change, another to actually do it.

The next step is to give them the tools, knowledge and support to make the necessary changes.

That's why we should explain why we don't think certain stories should be included in Cath News, and why others should be.

That's why we should explain what the Church's actual teaching is.

So, go take a look at this weekend's edition  of Cath News Perspectives and see what you think.

Have a go at commenting over there, and report back here on how you went...


So here is a partial rundown on this weekend's edition of Perspectives.

On the plus side, not a bad mix of stories: Weigel on the US health mandate fight; religiosity and civic participation; a good turnout for a Marian procession in NSW; a story on a Josephite sister actually engaged in practical charity (ie not just political action!); and an interview on the Social Media with Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

What's with those wacky obituaries?

On the negative, what on earth is the criteria for deciding which obituaries to include!

There have been a string of odd obituaries included in Perspectives, seemingly heroes of the push against the Church.  And this week's one is no exception!  It is all about a convert who twice left the Church, and apparently spent his final decade an agnostic.

Now I can understand why the UK Bitter Pill included his obituary - apparently he continued to review plays for them two or three times a week even after his departure from the Church (?!).

But why is an apparently unrepentant UK defector from the Church of interest or relevance to Australians?

We can offer our prayers for his soul of course, in the hope that he did repent at the last.  But...


A Canberra Observer said...

re [anti-]pope Joan [Chittister]

I submitted this:

“Maybe what it tells us is that there is indeed something inimical to the faith, especially with respect to teaching on sexuality, in modern, secular feminism.”

It wasn't published.

Sr Joan cited 4 pieces of data and proposed a 'model' to explain the data.
I proposed an alternative model which also fits the data. Apparently that was not permissable or deemed somehow insensitive. The usual rules of liberals - everything is open for criticism except those things which we decide are not open to criticism.

There is nothing which inhibits true discussion as when questions truly open to debate, ie what does a particular trend actually mean, are answered by ruling dogma only.

A Canberra Observer said...

re your dot points about what not to assume.
I agree but what a tragedy that the last two are true!
It is sad that the news service funded by the Catholic Church in Australia and with an espoused mandate to (re)publish stories of topical interest to Catholics and foster informed debate apparently does not have a knowledge of the Church teachings, especially on contentious issues. Because of that lack of knowledge the stories and debate seem to end up being a repetition of those in the secular media and from ultra-secular commentators.

I am somewhat stunned that there was no knowledge of how Planned Parenthood achieves ‘planning’ ie that abortion is one of the tools in the toolbox to achieve this end. I thought the association of the Gates with this organisation was well known. Perhaps it is a testament to just how successful the euphemism of ‘family planning has been in obscuring the means that PP promote to achieve this end. I am sure there is also plenty of reportage of Bill Gates support for curbing population growth and that it ought to be clear that the means to achieve this are means that the Church could not support because they are immoral. While contraception is often mentioned explicitly, abortion is not but a little research shows that it is definitely in the toolbox. It is perhaps telling that PP and population control advocates don’t mention abortion explicitly – is that because deep down everyone knows there is something fundamentally wrong with it?

I would contend that the 'debate' ends up as an incessant questioning and denigration of Church teachings by a) those who clearly know what the Church teaches and have an active agenda to undermine it and challenge it and b) persons I presume don't know what the Church actually teachse but for whom the stories published on CathNews reinforce their fundamentally secularly informed views/prejudices. I would also contend that an omnipresent thread in story selection is 'the Church as patriarchal structure subjugating women across history'.

In future I will seek to cite sources for comments rather than presume knowledge.