Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Journalistic lows**updated

Today Rome time the Conclave starts, so a day to pray hard!

But also a timely moment, perhaps, to reflect on some of the journalistic lows we've seen of late in the reporting of the events.  I have to admit I've been doing my best to ignore some of the attacks from within and without.

Today over at Zenit (and alerted by xt3), however, there is an excellent piece by Fr John Flynn on how not to report a conclave!

Mainstream bizarre fantasies

On the one hand, he points to some of the bizarre mistakes made by the mainstream media.

I have to admit I'd missed this one:

"The weekend before television station 7's Weekend Sunrise show was astonishing for the number of errors. The report, which in the title purports to be a "complete guide to the papal election process," said the cardinals are "locked in the Vatican and given only bread and water to encourage them to make a speedy decision."[If only!]

While the residence of the cardinals at the House of Saint Martha might not be five-star, their meals there are certainly not limited to bread and water.

The report goes on to say the cardinals are only accompanied by a doctor and a cook. Again, completely wrong, there are staff for their needs at their residence and also priests who are available for confessions...."

He also draws attention to the distorted reporting of the Fairfax media, including giving space to the usual extremist rants and twisted claims from fringe dwellers like Paul Collins and Fr Bob Maguire.  Indeed, The Australian reports that Cardinal Pell is threatening to sue Fairfax over the latest Barney Zwartz piece.

The attacks from within: Cath News 

Fr Flynn notes though, that as always, though one might hope for better from the nominally Catholic media, one would hope in vain:

"...The Australian organization Church Resources, which according to their own description was founded by Fr Michael Kelly SJ, at the initiation of the Australian Catholic Bishops Council, has a daily e-mail news bulletin on Church news.

This news service, which in their own words is meant, "to build strong communication channels for the Church community," chose not only to highlight the article by Zwartz, but also to republish an article by its founder, Fr. Kelly, in which he likened the Vatican to Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

"The problems of the Church have their uncanny parallel in China and Vietnam," he went on to say.

"Both are countries at the end of the revolutionary cycle, started by the great figures that gave birth to their contemporary condition – Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh. It's a tell-tale sign of exhaustion when current leaders invoke the maxims of leaders who formed their thought and action to meet challenges created in the 19th century."

It's not clear if he thinks Benedict XVI was some kind of parallel to Mao and Ho Chi Minh, or if he is thinking the founder of the Church, Jesus Christ.

**Update: Cath News have printed a suitably grovelling apology for its link to the potentially defamatory Zwartz article at least.

That hasn't stopped them publicising today other ludicrous articles such as heretical Sister Joan Chittester's suggestion that the Church to look for the (rapidly dying out) women religious as a model for 'renewal' and linking to Fr Lucas' piece on the requisite qualities for a 'Chief Executive' (!) of the Church (see below).

Eureka Street

Fr Flynn's piece doesn't mention the Jesuit online rag Eureka Street, but perhaps it should have.

Eureka Street claims to publish from 'an inclusive catholic perspective'.  Well, it is certainly 'inclusive' about regularly attacking Catholic teaching on subjects such as homosexuality, the impossibility of ordaining women and much more (there was a particularly outrageous piece last week, but I won't link to it).  

Pretty shocking then, to see the Secretary to the Australian Bishops Conference, Fr Brian Lucas, adding to the pile of rubbish over there on the papal election with a rather disingenuous piece on the desired qualities of the next pope (whom he apparently views as a 'Chief Executive').

Take this little extract for example:

"Awareness of the need to tell the truth, and less inclination to say what might please a superior, is at the heart of good bureaucracy. [True] My suspicion is that some of the clerical culture [Is the problem clericalism - or rather the prevalence of careerists in the ranks?  Look at what comes next.] that can pervade church life stumbles when confronted with this choice.

Without the checks and balances of civil bureaucratic processes, where one can appeal against a failed application for promotion [Sorry Father, but doing your duty as a priest (or a bureaucrat, ecclesial or otherwise, for that matter) should not be determined by whether your career prospects will be stymied!] and where there are set criteria and defined position descriptions, church bureaucrats feel they are at the mercy of a superior's whim. Promises of obedience inhibit giving frank and fearless advice.[The promise is to obey lawful commands, not to keep silent.  Is all this sounding like testing the lines for an appearance at the upcoming  Royal Commission?  If so, I'd go back to the drawing board.  And it might also be worth recalling that Catholics, unlike secularists, believe that there will ultimately be an accounting, if not in this life, then in the next.]"

Pray hard

All of which perhaps points to the reasons why we should be praying particularly hard today for a strong new Pope to continue the clean up of the Church!


A Canberra Observer said...

Perhaps Fr Lucas' article gives us an insight into how he thinks he runs the ACBC?

Surely these guys have something better to do? Like doing something meaningful about reducing abortion or stopping the inexorable push for euthanasia and eugenics?

A Country Priest said...

I could be wrong Kate, but I believe that xt3 aggregate, just like Cathnews, and the original source of Fr Flynn's article is actually Zenit News Agency, which has a massive global readership. A bit bigger than Cathnews' readership, anyway!

Kate Edwards said...

You may well be right Father - when I linked to it this morning, it didn't seem to be attributed to Zenit as far as I could see, and indeed the page link took you straight to the item, but, presumably having achieved its desired impact, it appears to have disappeared from xt3...I've updated the link.