Saturday, March 29, 2008

How do you tell a good article on the Pope/Church from a bad one?

Observe the extent to which the author focuses on the grievances of "progressives" against the orthodox ("traditional") Church, with precious little attempt to understand and explain exactly WHY the Church takes the positions that it does.

Today's "pope article" from U.S. News -- Pope Reaches Out to American Catholics, by Jay Tolson. March 28, 2008 -- contains a few choice examples of this bias in action:

". . . Some council supporters even wish that the modernizing spirit had gone further, permitting married clergy or allowing women to enter the priestly ranks. And the nearly two thirds of American Catholics who oppose the ban on condoms tend to view the church's inflexible stand on birth control as a betrayal of the council's spirit. . . . "

[...] "Progressives tend to see the problem in terms of a fundamental lack of realism on the part of the hierarchy, particularly the continued insistence on a celibate clergy. Many also think greater lay participation in church governance would help. One recent poll shows that some 44 percent of American Catholics approve of the idea of parishes choosing their own priests. And some Catholics want to have a say in the selection of bishops. . . ."

[...] "As the U.S. Catholic population has risen from about 46 million in 1965 to about 64 million in 2007, the total number of priests has declined during the same time by some 17,000, leaving 3,238 parishes without resident priests. Again, the progressive remedies, in addition to ordination of women and married men, focus on greater lay involvement in the ministry—solutions for which Benedict appears to have little or no regard. Rowden says that it is clearly symbolic that Benedict's mass communion at Yankee Stadium will involve no lay Eucharistic ministers, a decision that suggests a further disconnect with the church in America. . . ."

Subtext: Hierarchy is SO old and unrealistic, man. Democracy is the American way. Rome should follow the lead of "modern" American Catholics and get with the times. If the Church REALLY wanted to adhere to "Spirit of Vatican II," it would immediately renounce its sexist prohibition against women and its puritan demand for celibacy, and it's draconian strictures against contraception.

The Catholic Church, like its founder, is destined to be a sign of contradiction in this life. Those who think it should bend in conformity to the whims of the modern age will continue to protest, to mock, to ridicule. We can expect the press to emphasize those elements at which the Church is at variance with the status quo.

In preparation for Benedict's arrival, the discerning reader (or reporter) might want to understand WHY the Church teaches what it does. Consider the followng for starters:

Why celibacy in the priesthood?

  • Cardinal O'Connor: Celibacy Isn't the Problem:
    It's remarkable how determined some media and other people are that we priests should be married. How they sympathize with us over the supposed cruelties of celibacy being imposed upon us by a Pope who purportedly has no understanding whatsoever of the compassion of Jesus. ...
  • The Logic of Priestly Celibacy, by Fr. Anthony Zimmerman, S.T.D. (Homiletic and Pastoral Review, April 1995).
Why no female priests?
  • Why Can’t Women Be Priests?, by Jason Evert. This Rock Volume 13, No. 1 (January 2002)
  • Why women can't be priests (
    "No way will I ever tell my daughter she can't ever be a priest, a deacon, a altar server or whatever... This is the one thing that really bugs me about being Catholic."

    How do we answer this kind of comment? -- [C]alm reasoned words, logical historical based argument and patience will win out in the end.

Understanding Catholic sexuality