Archbishop Chaput and the Media

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One of the most irritating aspects of life for faithful American Catholics over the past several decades has been how quiet most of our bishops have been in the face of outrageous attacks on the Church.  Too many of our bishops have acted as if they had their spines surgically removed upon consecration.  Fortunately there have always been a handful who have been willing to speak out and suffer the media attacks that then ensue, along with the ambushes of heterodox Catholics frequently eager to lend a hand to anti-Catholics in their ceaseless war against the Church.  One of the more outspoken bishops is Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who has never been afraid to proclaim the truth, and to do so eloquently.  He is at it again over at First Things.

He begins by citing this incident, which sounds a theme I wrote about here in my recent post on the Spanish Civil War:

I want to start by sharing a story.

Once upon a time, a student at one of the world’s oldest universities took a break from her studies to visit the Catholic chapel on campus. As she sat there in silence—praying for a sick relative or trying to settle her nerves before a test—the chapel suddenly filled with noise. A mob of about seventy fellow students charged in chanting anti-Christian slogans. They shouted obscenities against the Church and insults about the Pope.

Two females in the mob climbed on top of the altar. Then, according to the student who was trying to pray, the women stripped off their shirts and boasted about their homosexual tendencies. The young Catholic student, and several others, left the chapel in fear.

People tend to think of Spain as a Catholic country. But this example of anti-Catholic bigotry happened right here, in this beautiful city, at the Complutense University of Madrid. And it didn’t happen in the 1930s, or even in the 1960s. It happened earlier this year—in March 2011. So today is a good time to talk about religious freedom. And Madrid is a good place to do it.

The Archbishop goes on to note that freedom of religion cannot coexist with those who want freedom from religion, and that there is an ongoing battle here in the West by those who want to drive religion in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, from the public square.  Chaput notes that most of what we laughingly still refer to as the Mainstream Media, aka the media that fewer and fewer people are viewing, listening to and reading, are no friends of the Church, and he names names:

We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith—and sometimes they can’t provide it, either because of limited resources or because of their own editorial prejudices. These are secular operations focused on making a profit. They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.

So whom can you trust? Where can you go for reliable news and intelligent discussion about your Catholic faith?

Well, you can come to World Youth Day—but you’ve already done that. Luckily, you live in an age of radically new kinds of information media. You have more media choices, and more ways to access those choices, than I ever could have imagined at your age.

Many of those choices include outstanding Catholic media like Catholic News Agency, EWTN, the National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor; Salt and Light and Catholic News Service; plus Catholic blogs, websites, and Catholic satellite radio stations. Support these media and encourage their great work for the Church. Visit their websites. “Like” them on Facebook. Follow their Twitter feeds. These excellent media sources will nourish and deepen your faith in ways that the mainstream public media can never provide.

Go here to read the brilliant rest.  Some of the usual suspects on the Catholic Left are upset at the Archbishop for naming some of their cherished propaganda organs, which of course is an indication that he scored a direct hit with his comments.  The new Archbishop of Philadelphia is never afraid to tell the truth in season and out of season and that is one of the essential tasks of any bishop.

32 Responses to Archbishop Chaput and the Media

  • Phillip says:

    “Some of the usual suspects on the Catholic Left are upset at the Archbishop for naming some of their cherished propaganda organs…”

    I think that’s true for some. I also think that for some on the Catholic Left the NY Times reflects their view of the Church or, perhaps more accurately, what they want the Church to become.

  • LarryD says:

    “Some of the usual suspects on the Catholic Left are upset at the Archbishop for naming some of their cherished propaganda organs…”

    They’re also upset that the Archbishop didn’t call out their own fave Catholic publications – Commonweal, America, National Catholic Distorter – as good sources for Catholic commentary. Thing is, they’re not good sources for Catholic commentary, and the Archbishop knows this. The Distorter especially – a vanguard for all that is opposed to Catholic teaching.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    An excellent resource on this subject is the Get Religion blog, which examines coverage of all religions and religious traditions in the media and points out gaps or inaccuracies. In many stories, Get Religion says religion is present only as a “ghost” — an unnamed reference to people doing works of charity or attending rallies or “vigils” without mention of the fact that a religious motivation was behind it.

    From reading the mainstream media, you would think that thousands of people feed the hungry, travel to disaster zones, spend long hours at a sick or injured person’s bedside (doing what? PRAYING, maybe?), devote themselves to improving their communities, etc. for no apparent reason, other than, perhaps, some vague reference to their “values.”

  • Jasper says:

    “We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith”

    and CBS, ABC, NBC, NPR, Wash. Post, Boston Globe, etc, etc, etc

  • Denis says:

    We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC, NPR, Washington Post, Boston Globe, for reliable news about ANYTHING.

  • Gabriel Austin says:

    I would include as unreliable the Catholic News Service, which if I mistake me not, is a service of the USCCB. It gave a favorable review to the homosexual movie Heartbreak Mountain. Another disservice of the bureaucracy of the USCCB.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    “It gave a favorable review to the homosexual movie Heartbreak Mountain”

    I take it you are referring to BROKEBACK Mountain?

    Aside from the movie reviews, whose suitability can and often will be disputed, whether or not Catholic News Service is a “reliable” source of Church news depends on how you define “reliable.”

    In the Catholic press, there is always going to be a tension between the need to promote and adhere to Church teaching and the need to realistically report what is going on in the Catholic world whether or not it is agreeable to Church teaching. I have to admit that I am somewhat biased in favor of CNS due to the fact that I once worked for a diocesan newspaper that relied heavily on CNS news, and some of whose personnel personally knew people from CNS.

    If you rely solely on traditional/conservative leaning publications, you may get the impression that conservative/orthodox/traditional Catholicism is a lot more popular and widespread than it actually is. On the other hand, if you rely on left-leaning sites like National Catholic Reporter, you get the impression that the “spirit of Vatican II” crowd still reigns supreme, which is also not the case. There still needs to be a reasonably middle of the road source of Catholic news which doesn’t actively promote dissent but doesn’t ignore its real-world impact, or ignore the fact that the Church still has a long way to go in getting most of its members fully on board with its teachings.

    While I understand the disillusionment many people have with the mainstream media, and yes they do often get things wrong, still, I think it is VERY dangerous to dismiss them completely and insist on getting ALL your news only from sources that agree 100% with your political or religious leanings. Balance is the key here.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    You’re right Don, I would not get past Rule #2. I certainly would flunk out by Rule #5 (“Paul Krugman is the living embodiment of Catholic social teaching.”)

  • Brett says:

    Don’t worry Elaine. They let me write whatever I want and I don’t even know who Paul Krugman is!

    Also Don, no one at VN has ever forced me to say anything “truly absurd.” Elaine wouldn’t HAVE to say anything of the sort.
    ;)

    All peace and good,
    B

  • Darwin says:

    I’ve got to agree with Elaine — the Catholic News Service (and even the movie reviews, though I certainly don’t always agree with them) serves a useful purpose, and I’ve never found it to be an organ used for questioning or undercutting the faith.

    Brett,

    To not even know who Paul Krugman is, you’d have to be skimming MM’s posts pretty thinly. After all, in the very post linked to here MM chides Archbishop Chaput for not listening to Krugman more:

    Why does Chaput not mention any of this? Is he so insecure that he cannot handle criticism of the Church in the New York Times, and must instead run to those who use the Church for their political aims? Does he see no nuance and complexity? Is he not aware that he can learn far more about the economic mess from Paul Krugman in the New York Times than anybody on any alternative media source?

    I mean, I agree with those who knock people like Voris for bishop-bashing at the drop of a hat, but this is, if anything, worse.

    I will say, though, that I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts, which are both fair and intellectually curious. (I just wish that you’d keep a separate blog like Kyle does, so that it isn’t necessary for those of us bullies who might be divisive pamphleteers of the verge of kicking off a new Reformation to wade through the main site to read your stuff.)

  • Phillip says:

    “Judging from Minion’s posts I assumed there was some sort of requirement.”

    “…I don’t even know who Paul Krugman is!”

    Brett is clearly not reading Minion’s paeans to Krugman.

  • Brett says:

    The quoted bit from MM on Krugman hardly tells me anything beyond the fact that he writes about economics for the New York Times and that MM thinks he has some insight. Surely that is not enough for me to know whether he is “the living embodiment of Catholic social teaching,” or even if MM considers him to be such.

    Perhaps the very favorable recent posts linking to the Distributist Review should give certain people pause before they announce exactly whom the Vox Novans think accurately represents CST (or is Krugman a Distributist?) or that all Vox Novans must be of the same opinion on such matters.

  • Darwin says:

    Tito,

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any of the current frequent posters on Vox Nova dissent from Catholic doctrine.

    That many of them do specialize in “friendly fire” towards other orthodox Catholics is arguably true, though.

    Brett,

    Well, unless the Distributist Review is not an alternative news source, it would seem that MM does believe Chaput could derive more benefit from reading Krugman than from reading the Distributist Review. (Actually, this is probably not surprising, as MM is probably too educated in regards to economics to be terribly impressed with the Distributists.)

    But to be fair, that hilarious parody dates back to when Henry, MM, MZ and Iafrate were the mainlines of Vox Nova. The place has, somewhat diluted its craziness since then.

  • Tito,

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any of the current frequent posters on Vox Nova dissent from Catholic doctrine.

    That many of them do specialize in “friendly fire” towards other orthodox Catholics is arguably true, though.

    Brett,

    Well, unless the Distributist Review is not an alternative news source, it would seem that MM does believe Chaput could derive more benefit from reading Krugman than from reading the Distributist Review. (Actually, this is probably not surprising, as MM is probably too educated in regards to economics to be terribly impressed with the Distributism, at least where economics is involved. Chesterton and Belloc were admirable in lots of ways, but their economic analysis was not necessarily great. MM is probably right to rely more on Keynes and Krugman than on Chesterton and Belloc when it comes to actual economic theory.)

    To be fair, though, that hilarious parody dates back to when Henry, MM, MZ and Iafrate were the mainlines of Vox Nova. The place has, somewhat diluted its craziness since then — in regards to contributors at least. (Oddly, the comboxes seem to have gone even further off the deep end — though perhaps that’s just a matter of the “other side” not bothering to show up much anymore. I suppose in some ways we’ve had an equal and opposite history here. Given the natural affinities of belief, it may be that political sites natural sort themselves into either right or left with few dissenting voices bothering to show up.)

  • I’m not either, but I was giving them credit for the fact that Gerald L. Campbell hasn’t posted there in a very long time. (Though I agree it was disgraceful that everyone at the time defended his claim that being pro-choice was a legitimate exercise of subsidiarity.)

    People like MM and MZ do everything possible to support pro-abortion candidates, because those candidates happen to also be leftists, but they insist that they are not in fact pro-abortion themselves (and would vote for anti-abortion leftists if they existed) so I figure it’s fair to categorize them as unwise rather than dissenting.

    Ditto on the tendency to attack pro-lifers far more often than pro-aborts while at the same time claiming to be pro-life.

    Don’t get me wrong. I have no desire to defend them. I just want to be precise in my attacks. :-)

  • Tito Edwards says:

    OK, I’ll back track.

    Certain bloggers are disobedient.

    The rest of the bunch are essentially good guys and it would be nice to share a beer with them because it would make for interesting conversation(s)!

    :D

  • Phillip says:

    It would be helpful though if those bloggers on Vox Nova who are not in dissent do correct those who post comments who are. That would make it appear less likely that they are dissenting.

  • Gabriel Austin says:

    “MM is probably too educated in regards to economics to be terribly impressed with the Distributism, at least where economics is involved. Chesterton and Belloc were admirable in lots of ways, but their economic analysis was not necessarily great. MM is probably right to rely more on Keynes and Krugman than on Chesterton and Belloc when it comes to actual economic theory.)”.

    Yes, as regards “economic theory”. But economics in practice? A good antidote to Keynes [Krugman is not worth the effort] is J.K. Galbraith’s ALMOST EVERYONE’S GUIDE TO ECONOMICS. He makes the point that economics is not that difficult to understand. Thus, in the controversy about raising the debt limit, it is not difficult to understand that you cannot keep writing checks on an account without money. Belloc understood this; GKC understood this. Even B. Obama as a senator understood this.

    In May 1939, shortly after learning that unemployment stood at 20.7%, Henry Morgenthau, the secretary of the Treasury, exploded: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.” Morgenthau concluded, “I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot!”

  • John Nolan says:

    From the other side of the pond, I rate the orthodoxy of your bishops according to extent that they are excoriated by the liberal media – Burke, Olmsted, Chaput et al. The fact that none of ours has yet to be targeted by the Tablet, the English equivalent of the National Catholic Reporter, is cause for concern.

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