The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s ace religion reporter Ann Rodgers had an innovative angle on the pope’s address to U.S. bishops. Whereas most people focused on Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about sexual abuse or immigration, Rodgers focused on his comments about the life of the church:
In a speech that delved into difficult issues from abortion to immigration and sexual abuse, Pope Benedict XVI charged U.S. bishops to do a better job of making sure that Masses are vibrant invitations to follow Jesus Christ — or risk losing their church by attrition.
“Do people today find it difficult to encounter God in our churches? Has our preaching lost its salt? Might it be that many people have forgotten, or never really learned, how to pray in and with the church?” he asked 350 assembled bishops in response to a pre-selected question about a decline in Mass attendance.
“I think we are speaking about people who have fallen by the wayside without consciously having rejected their faith in Christ, but, for whatever reason, have not drawn life from the liturgy, the sacraments, preaching.”
What a fascinating point. And because it’s non-political, it was hard to find any stories with this angle. But that Benedict would argue that Catholic faithful might like to find life in sacraments and clear preaching is significant, if not surprising.
But check out what the copydesk did in writing the headline:
Pope wants a spark
Tells U.S. bishops to make Masses lively to keep flock
Ay yi yi. The pope didn’t say to entertain people. He emphasized the importance of the liturgy, the sacraments and preaching. Thankfully readers of the actual story will get that — but no thanks to the headline.