How To Report On the Catholic Church

Now between the Pope not approving the use of condoms, the Bishops not saying that gay marriage is cool, World Youth Day and everything else, I’ve been reading a good deal of media coverage on the Catholic Church. Being an intuitive human being, I couldn’t help but notice some patterns in this coverage. Thus, in an effort to help the new journalist about to concoct his first article about the Church, I have developed a template for the perfect article to report on any Catholic event. It’s foolproof, people.


Title That Completely Undervalues Event Described.

(Try: Pope Meets Youth, Bishop Speaks at Event, Pro-choicers and Pro-lifers Clash in Washington at the Annual March For Life, Catholics Did Something Today, etc. It’s a good idea to begin these banal phrases with the phrase, “amidst controversy…” regardless of the existence of any controversy. Saying the event was “really about nationalism” or “anything-but-people-actually-celebrating-the-faith” is also wise. Alternatively, completely ignore the event, mass, or address at hand, and stick with a standard headline that has been used approximately 17 million times to date: “Homosexual Groups Protest Catholic’s_______” Don’t worry if there were any homosexuals, or if they amounted to one gay man with a sign, Take his picture. Oh, and anything can fill the previous blank. Some examples that have been used to great effect include: “ideas”, “hairstyles”, “cars” and “singing voices.” )

The Facts. Like a good journalist, use this is the paragraph to introduce the basic truths of the event. It doesn’t matter if your headline was about homosexual protest; consistency is for wusses.

It’s important to recognize that truth is not necessarily important. Numbers can be rounded down to the nearest million, because this is an age of science. It is good journalism to mention in this paragraph your own feelings about such large crowds. Words like “oddly” and “surprisingly” preceding facts such as “young people held a vigil” are great. Feel free to lie about the demographics at the event, as was brilliantly executed in media coverage of the March for Life, which – as we know – was completely absent of young women.

Obligatory mention of the absolute fact that no one agrees with the Church.

Start this paragraph with, “In a time in which youth are embracing sexual liberation…” or “Despite popular criticism…” Trust me, all your friends will think you’re cool.

Quote from a dissenting Catholic. You will be fired, your name turned to mud, your family killed and your paper burnt in the fiery pits of hell if you do not include this.

The best way to do this is to interview an individual who was walking by the reported event at the time, and remembers this one time attending mass at the age of three when his great-uncle’s friend died. He’s an orthodox Catholic, you see. To get a good quote from him, ask the following questions. “Do you like sex?” “Do you get upset when people tell you not to do what you like?” “Have you heard of Humanae Vitae?” (When he says no, give him the CliffNotes version: “Pope hates you and wants you to never have sex.) Then ask: “Hey, what do you think about this Catholic event?” Or call up the group of aging old women who run Catholics for Choice and ask them, “What does the Catholic Church teach about abortion?” Excommunicated priests are next. And if all else fails, schedule lunch with Nancy Pelosi.

Unfortunate smidgen of truth. We hate this part, everyone does, but at some point you have suck it up and quote the Pope, dammit.

But don’t worry. You can slip it in beween bizarre and distracting sentences very easily. A
good example of this: “The church has caught fire for it’s conservative position on abortion and it’s hatred of homosexuals. ‘Love Jesus, every one,’ the Pope said. The Roman Pontiff, incidentally, has no control over his bishops, and was in the Hitler Youth, betcha didn’t know that, huh?”

"I love Jesus," says Pope.

That’s the kind of journalism that’ll give people warm shivers just thinking about it. But if it’s not possible, this is the place to place a picture. Notice the picture on the right. Make sure to have it hit the eye right when you say the only truthful thing about the Pope. This particular picture would look great next to “Millions of youth pray with the Pope” or “The Pope mentioned that hope was a virtue that should define Catholics throughout the world.”

Sex-abuse scandals. Mention this or you won’t be paid for a year. It doesn’t matter if your headline is “Priest Famous For His Fajitas”. Actually, nothing matters at all. When reporting on an event, if you can make it seem that children were molested at the event while you were there, then you’ve successfully written this paragraph.

Again, don’t worry about the truth. Don’t worry that the church is statistically among the ‘safest places’ to bring your children. Just write what your heart tells you to. That’s what journalism is all about. Alternatively, the scandals can be used as a addition to the phrase “Roman Catholic Church”. For example: It has been noticed that many members of the Roman Catholic Church, which is still desperately trying to cover up it’s rampant sex-abuse crisis, like to wear hats.

Back to the event you were covering. But with more oh-so-subtle patronization, because journalism is all about you, man.

We know, we know, it sucks to have to actually report an event. But it helps to come back to your original event, as it gives the journalist the sense that he can write absolutely anything between his first paragraph and this paragraph and get a Pulitzer Prize. Airily mention that the Catholic masses were happy.

Finish it up. This is your time to shine. This is the time when you, the journalist, get to move beyond your boring, accurate, factual coverage of a Catholic event and now – for the very first time – get to insert your own opinion about the Catholic Church.

How will you do it? The world holds it’s breath. Will you save the homosexual protest for now, like a daring renegade writer, leaving the literary room with a bang? Will you drily find some hypocrisy in some-one attending or giving the event, as in: “Many of the youth at World Youth Day were miserable because of the heat and rain” and leave the reader marveling at your potent audacity? Maybe you’ll mention something with all the literary power of metaphor, as in, “The tent the bishops were standing in almost collapsed because of strong winds”, and be patted on the back by your boss. Whatever it is, it’s yours. End that article big boy, you’ll put that old, antiquated institution in its grave at last.


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  • egosumbarb

    You forgot the irrelevant (and somewhat questionable) statistics-to-support-your-particular-views part!!!

  • Katy

    I am a new reader and am loving everything I have read so far. You had me laughing out loud with this one!Keep up the good work!

  • Mouse

    I didn't know whether to laugh or be a tiny bit unnerved at the truth in this.So I did both.Great job, as usual!

  • Paul


  • Angela Santana

    LOl! You've got it, Marc!!

  • “Broadstrike” Paul #63223078-NV

    Omigosh! me and my friends could not stop laughing! too true!!

  • Nick O

    This is possibly the most humorous blog entry I have ever encountered. Thanks.—Nick O

  • MCK

    Amen. well done, Marc. You're only 18?! Sheesh. Mad props, dude!

  • Katie

    Ha! Love it!

  • Anonymous

    My favorite: "Catholics Did Something Today"-jp-

  • Laura

    Pope: "I love Jesus" hahahahahaahahaha!!!

  • Christy from fountains of home

    So funny and perfect! And yay for your G.K quotes!

  • Sonia

    Ahahaha this is awesome and sadly too accurate. As a new reader (found you thru I'm loving your blog!

  • Gillimer

    You forgot: Instead of fact-checking statements of Catholic doctrine, include an interpretation of what you decide it "must" mean. E.g., "which in its infamous doctrine of 'infallibility' asserts that the Pope can never make a mistake", or "which claims that members of other churches are not real Christians and are all damned to Hell".

  • Anonymous

    I've never noticed pattern this before. Perhaps you could provide an example of what you are referring to.

  • Marc

    This is a great example of 2 million Catholics isn't about Catholicism: This one is my favorite because of the lead picture vs. the headline:…and the general ridiculousness.Or this.,0,3264179.story Notice how many quotes they get from those few Catholics. Notice the picture of the crazy looking dude, next to the headline. Notice in tiny print how he actually disagrees with the 'few Catholics' being insulted. Notice the patronization throughout. And laugh, don't forget to laugh.

  • Conservamom

    I love it!!

  • Anonymous

    "This is a great example of 2 million Catholics isn't about Catholicism:…"I read the first article carefully and didn't find anything patronizing, inaccurate, or objectionable. Or even funny. Of course I did not personally attend the event, but as a curious US citizen I appreciated the insight into the historical and current state of the Roman Catholic church in Spain.Could you explain with concrete examples and less hyperbole what you're objecting to?

  • Kara

    LOL! HIlarious!

  • Marc

    Anonymous!The first is a good example of saying a Catholic event isn't about Catholicism.The second, you gotta admit, is the perfect example of putting a picture at incongruity with the text, and out of context with what the picture is actually of.The third as that same picture thing, AND the inability to quote any one who has anything to do with the article's headline.But I take it that you want an article with EVERYTHING mentioned in my satire… has got it all. The blatant falsehood in the title (and of the whole article), the random reference to the sex-abuse scandals, the even greater side reference to a dissenting Catholic, the second-to-last paragraph that obligatorily reminds everyone that Catholics are stupid. Interestingly, this is one of the rare times you'll see a great picture of Benedicto, because he's "agreeing" with political liberalism. Lemme know if you need more!

  • Cléo

    Hilariously true! Greetings from Belgium.

  • Maggie

    Marc if I had any power I would get you a book deal. Alas. Keep up the good work. Loving all your posts.

  • Anonymous

    I'm honestly not trying to be obtuse, but "The first is a good example of saying a Catholic event isn't about Catholicism."Since title of the article in question is "Spain's World Youth Day has little to do with Catholicism" the author's point appears to be that the event isn't about Catholicism, for which he made some compelling arguments. Note also that this is an op-ed piece, not a news story. Are there factual errors? What is so objectionable?"The second, you gotta admit, is the perfect example of putting a picture at incongruity…"Once upon a time in a newspaper I saw a photograph of the Rolling Stones with the caption "Cast members of The Marriage of Figaro at the Spoleto Festival." Which was at once funny, in error, and incongruous. In this case the photo and caption appear to match. AP even appears to have employed a photographer to cover the event, rather than resort to file photos. Of course a news agency typically doesn't publish a photo of an alleged offender in an ongoing criminal investigation. Where is the incongruity?"third as that same picture thing, AND the inability to quote"…"Notice how many quotes they get from those few Catholics. Notice the picture of the crazy looking dude, next to the headline. Notice in tiny print how he actually disagrees with the 'few Catholics' being insulted."1. How is a snapshot of a Vatican astronomer, representing the orthodox view, incongruous with a story about the dissenters?2. Wait. Is it the inability to quote, or how many quotes? Upon reading the headline I would expect as many quotes as possible from the dissenters, it's an unusual view and they need to explain themselves.3. "Crazy looking dude" ?4. Tiny print? Captions are always smaller than the body text. Your computer can easily make the text bigger if you can't read it. Try ctrl-+.I understand that exaggeration is often employed in satirical writing, but I don't see these articles doing what you say they are doing, I don't find them objectionable, and I don't see why you or any other Roman Catholic find them so worthy of ridicule.

  • Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    I found this to be horrifyingly amusing in a wicked satire that hits way too close to the truth that keeps true Catholics squirming kind of way. It is sometimes as comical as it is depressing that the mainstream media does such an atrocious job of covering Catholic events, beliefs, etc. I can only hope that the wit and irony so cleverly crafted in this post will help others see how ridiculous much of the media coverage tends to be around anything remotely Roman Catholic, pro-life, or the least bit sacred.

  • Viterbo Fangirl

    This post is total WIN! ^_^

  • Marc

    Anonymous,Nay, I think you're in denial based on previously held views. Not a problem at all, everyone does that, myself included. But check the last article I showed you.

  • Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    Between this gem of an article and the one by Matthew Archbold I believe the two of you together have covered the fundamentals that new writers, journalists, and bloggers in the mainstream media will ever need to know to move up in the world of unfounded, who-needs-the-facts reporting on the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps these two pieces could be combined in a quick reference desktop format. Thanks for keeping me laughing while keeping it real!

  • Jessica

    I just read this article and it made me think of your blog post! I thought I was going to be late to the comments party since you posted this awhile ago, but hopefully "Anonymous" has subscribed to the comment chain and can see another example. "I just launched" Pope Benedict Sends First Tweet.Ok…talks about tweet, cute picture of the Pope with an iPad, content of the tweet, Benedict's six year pontificate has been bedeviled by poor communication, especially on Islam, condoms, HIV, and the sex abuse scandal, back to the tweet…what just happened!?!?! Seriously the most random reference to the sex abuse scandal that I have ever seen…except in your satire haha.

  • Skumpy

    Forgive me in advance, but…
    “its” – possessive pronoun
    “it’s” – contraction for “it is”

  • Dan

    I know this it’s 2 years later, but all the links to news articles are now missing…seems a little curious, no?