Why not interview all sides in Catholic dispute?

One of the great things about reporting is that you never quite know where a story is going. You interview a disgruntled employee and you’re totally convinced he’s got the goods on his evil employer. And then you do more research and realize the story is a tad more complicated — he’s trying to cover up his own incompetence or corruption. Or he’s merely trying to gain more power by throwing someone else under the bus.

Or you’ll get pitched on a story about a legislative reform that must be passed. And you’re totally convinced by the activist group coming up with the plan until you talk to the people who would be affected by the legislation or regulation and realize that there are many unintended consequences.

Stories are rarely black and white. Frequently the people you talk to are making themselves out to be the hero and putting the worst construction on their opponents and their views. It can be a tangled mess to hear all these different perspectives and try to make sense of them, much less be fair to folks who have different ideas about how things should progress.

Yet it’s so important to make those phone calls and talk to people on all sides. If you don’t, your story will just read like propaganda instead of news.

Take this New York Times report, “Nuns Weigh Response to Scathing Vatican Rebuke.”

In general, adjectives such as indicated here are in overuse. Rather than hearing anything specific about the rebuke, we’re just told that it’s “scathing.” I read the rebuke (in fact, I just reread it while writing this) and while it was very clear, it is not fair to call it scathing or bitter or anything like that. I always found it funny stories about this rebuke of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious avoided quoting from it. If you read it, you’ll find much praise of the women and language that is, well, not scathing at all. Reporters should probably ease up on the adjectives and just show us the relevant information rather than tell us what to think. Here’s the lede:

American nuns are preparing to assemble in St. Louis next week for a pivotal meeting at which they will try to decide how to respond to a scathing critique of their doctrinal loyalty issued this spring by the Vatican — a report that has prompted Roman Catholics across the country to rally to the nuns’ defense.

The nuns will be weighing whether to cooperate with the three bishops appointed by the Vatican to supervise the overhaul of their organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of women’s Catholic religious orders in the United States.

The Leadership Conference says it is considering at least six options that range from submitting graciously to the takeover to forming a new organization independent of Vatican control, as well other possible courses of action that lie between those poles.

We get an excellent look at how the LCWR would like people to view what is going on. And there is definitely a place for that. But in a news story, there should be much more. Not just in terms of thoughtful criticism or skepticism of a given group but also just different perspectives. And I think the problem might just be that the reporter didn’t talk to folks who aren’t apologists for the LCWR. For instance, maybe the LCWR perspective is that there is a “takeover” in play. But even for me, a non-Catholic, I know enough about this story to know that the LCWR was founded by the Vatican in 1956. So naturally I want to know why we’d characterize the Vatican’s concerns with the organization it founded as a “takeover.”

Sister Pat Farrell, the president of the LCWR, was interviewed and her quotes match the angle chosen for telling the story. But maybe it would have been good to actually interview people who could explain whether the Vatican agrees or disagrees with this perspective and how and why. Maybe then disagreements wouldn’t be presented in such a one-sided manner:

Sister Pat Farrell, the president of the Leadership Conference, said in an interview that the Vatican seems to regard questioning as defiance, while the sisters see it as a form of faithfulness.

“We have a differing perspective on obedience,” Sister Farrell said. “Our understanding is that we need to continue to respond to the signs of the times, and the new questions and issues that arise in the complexities of modern life are not something we see as a threat.”

These same conflicts are gripping the Catholic Church at large. Nearly 50 years after the start of Vatican II, which was intended to open the church to the modern world and respond to the “signs of the times,” the church is gravely polarized between a progressive wing still eager for change and reform and a traditionalist flank focused on returning to what it sees as doctrinal fundamentals.

The sisters have been caught in the riptide. Most of them have spent their lives serving the sick, the poor, children and immigrants — and not engaged in battles over theology. But when some sisters after Vatican II began to question church prohibitions on women serving as priests, artificial birth control or the acceptance of same-sex relationships, their religious orders did not shut down such discussion or treat it as apostasy. In fact, they have continued to insist on their right to debate and challenge church teaching, which has resulted in the Vatican’s reproof.

But rather than talk to someone who could respond to these characterizations, we’re instead given a line from a June interview of Cardinal William Levada with a different reporter from another publication. If you’re going to go with previously drafted articles and documents, a quick re-read of the Vatican review shows three appeals to the Second Vatican Council. And the whole review is really about the Vatican’s view that the LCWR has failed to get with the times in terms of having a Roman Catholic voice in the public square debates of abortion, euthanasia and sexuality (page 3).

We then have more effusive language in support of the sisters, with further defenses of their theological approach. And another quote from someone defending the LCWR who was interviewed by the Times. And then more defense of the LCWR, without the slightest hint that any difficult questions were posed to them. The kind of questions that, if they didn’t come naturally, would be easy to form after a quick chat with folks who weren’t apologists for the LCWR. And then another quote from an interview with a member of the LCWR.

That’s followed by further effusive praise of the sisters as people seemingly without any legitimate problem whatsoever. So we get passages like this:

The sisters after Vatican II had access as never before to higher education, and they went on to become scholars and theologians, chief executives of hospitals, legal aid lawyers, social workers and martyrs in countries like El Salvador. They took on issues including economic injustice, racism, women’s rights, immigration, interfaith relations and environmentalism — which for many years put them in collegial working relationships with bishops who were also engaged in those causes.

But the two popes who reigned for the last 34 years — first John Paul II and now Benedict XVI — appointed bishops who are far more theologically and politically conservative than their predecessors. Drawing on these popes’ teachings, this new generation of American bishops has steered the church’s social priorities toward opposition to abortion, gay marriage and secularism.

I wonder how these priorities are measured. We talked yesterday about how even though the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops pushes out press releases on, say, economic issues or immigration, it’s only the ones on the traditional family or the sanctity of human life that seem to get the press interested. I mean, I have no doubt where the media’s priorities are. But what’s the substantiation for the charge in that last sentence?

The whole article sort of broke down for me in the next paragraph. The whole time we’re told that these women could not be more faithful Catholics. They are the embodiment of faithful Catholicism. All they’re doing is asking really good questions. But then:

The Leadership Conference was a thorn in the Vatican’s side even before 1979, the year its president at the time, Sister Theresa Kane, welcomed John Paul to Washington with a public plea to ordain women in the priesthood. The group has remained unified despite pressure from the Vatican by making decisions only after consulting its membership. It is hardly the small splinter group that some conservative critics have recently tried to portray.

1979? I was five at the time. This sort of busts up that whole media narrative that we heard for months — the one about how the Vatican was just upset with the LCWR for helping pass that new health care law a couple years back. (Note this April New York Times story that suggests that the reason for the crackdown was, according to Sister Simone Campbell: “I would imagine that it was our health care letter that made them mad,” Sister Campbell said. “We haven’t violated any teaching, we have just been raising questions and interpreting politics.”)

But mostly I wonder where that last line in the excerpt above came from. Who are these conservative critics? Do they have a name? What is that name? What did they actually say? Are they saying the LCWR is an aging group whose membership is dropping off? Or are they saying the LCWR is a “small splinter group”? I plugged that phrase into Google and the only thing that came up was the New York Times article we’re looking at. Particularly in light of the fact that no critics of the LCWR were interviewed, this doesn’t exactly build trust with the reader.

The article ends with a quote from an Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio to the United States. But he wasn’t spoken to by the reporter, either. His quote came from a June address to bishops at their Atlanta meeting.

I can’t help but think that the story wouldn’t have been so puffy if the reporter would have simply interviewed a couple of people who could have helped round out the debate and give it some depth. It’s great — it’s wonderful — to get the perspective of the women religious who oppose the Vatican. It would also be good to speak with some who support it. How about someone from one of those growing orders of women of a traditional bent. Or go ahead and just talk to some of the bishops who are working on this project. The story is not improved by avoiding those conversations.

Photo of a phone chat via Shutterstock.

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  • Martha

    I have to laugh about news stories which treat certain topics (abortion, in this case) as “new questions and issues that arise in the complexities of modern life”.

    The Roman poet Ovid, for example, who was a pagan living in the first century wrote two elegies in his second book of the “Amores” on his mistress who procured an abortion which gravely threatened her health. These are not new topics which suddenly sprang into being in the 20th century, and the Church has been developing its theology and dealing with these questions for centuries, and in response to societies and eminent doctors of the day who advocated abortion and infanticide on eugenic grounds.

    But no, if it didn’t happen yesterday, it doesn’t count?

  • Thinkling

    I am continually amazed at the patience and good faith of the folks here.

    This piece is not a news piece. It is an op-ed masquarading as a news piece.

    I have nothing against op-ed pieces. But don’t try to pass them off as news.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    Besides the puffery, what I could not understand was the Times reporter quoting from other sources. I mean, she’s with the New York Times and she couldn’t get a bishop, priest or nun to talk to her? If that’s the case, then it might mean that Archbishop Chaput’s critique of the MSM is having a stronger effect than we thought.

  • http://authenticbioethics.blogspot.com AuthenticBioethics

    Even op-ed pieces should have some grounding in and reference to facts. The NYT appears to be trying to create reality than to report it.

    I loved your picking up on the word “takeover,” Mollie. Great spot.

    The lede has the word “some” missing in at least two spots, maybe three. “Some American nuns… has prompted some Roman Catholics in some parts of the country…”

    That definition of “obedience” is a new rhetorical device I’m seeing more and more of. “We have differing views on this issue [to sound open-minded] — WE are the ones who are reasonable [and anyone who disagrees with us is not].”

  • ELaine t

    The article’s author is Laurie Goodstein, who asked Chaput why he didn’t return her calls. He replied with a critique of NYT reporting. MAYBE there’s something to Thomas S’ suggestion.

    More likely, though, given the NYT’s history she didn’t try very hard because she was more interested in making the Catholic Church hierarchy look as bad as possible. Otherwise there’s no real excuse for a ‘good reporter’ who ‘knows the beat’ not to cover the angles Mollie has highlighted.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    Elaine, I didn’t want to entertain the possibility that Laurie Goodstein simply didn’t attempt to make contact with bishops, priests or nuns who think contrariwise to the LCWR. If that’s the tack, then it’s no longer a newspaper but a newsletter of everything secular.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    The sisters after Vatican II had access as never before to higher education, and they went on to become scholars and theologians, chief executives of hospitals, legal aid lawyers, social workers and martyrs in countries like El Salvador.

    Let’s see — so nuns like Teresa of Avila (a doctor of the Church), Hildegard of Bingen (another doctor of the Church), Therese of Lisieux (another doctor of the Church), the Martyrs of Compiègne (martyrs during the French Revolution), those who started hospitals throughout the U.S. like St. Mary’s in Rochester, Minn. of Mayo Clinic fame — none of them were scholars, theologians, CEOs of hospitals or martyrs. Got it. As the French archivist Regine Pernoud outlines in Women in the Days of the Cathedrals, women had a lot more authority and education in those days than they did in later centuries.

  • Jerry

    One of the great things about Religion and Ethics Newsweekly on PBS is shown on the current home page http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/. It has not only the story as it was shown, but extended interviews with nuns on both sides of this issue. Thus it’s possible to listen to the individual interviews and the final broadcast story and judge how well PBS did. This is the way media reporting should go in the age of the Internet.

  • liberty

    The sisters after Vatican II had access as never before to higher education

    Well, except for at all the universities they FOUNDED prior to Vatican II.

    The idea that prior to Vatican II women in the Church were somehow uneducated is ridiculous and insulting to all the very, very accomplished and educated Catholic women religious through the centuries.

    The fact that this was published shows that there was not even the vaguest idea of fact checking or editing at work here. It also shows just how parochial they NYT really is. Evidently nobody in the newsroom went to one of the colleges or universities founded by nuns, or had any family or friends who attended one of them.

  • David, Chicago

    I agree! Recently the National Catholic Register did a piece on the Vatican stripping away the right of the Catholic University in Lima, Peru, to use the terms “Catholic” and “Pontifical” in their name. The Register reporter interviewed no one at the university. The piece read like a Vatican press release. Both sides should be interviewed.

  • http://www.americamagazine.org James Martin, SJ

    This post itself needs some analysis, on at least three points.

    First, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith’s “Doctrinal Assessment” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was indeed “scathing.” That is why the LCWR was so alarmed. The CDF’s assessment read in part, “This [public addresses as the LCWR conferences] is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life.”

    That is some of the strongest language that a church official could use. How could you get any more “scathing”? Perhaps the difficulty is understanding some of the terminology. “Scandal” is not the kind of scandal that one reads about in, say, a popular magazine; it is a religious term that comes from the Greek word “skandalon,” meaning a “stumbling block.” If you are a source of scandal, you are not only sinning; you are also a direct threat to the faith of others. It is reserved for the worst cases, as when Jesus castigates Peter by saying, “Get behind me, Satan, you are a stumbling block (skandalon) to me.”

    Second, whether or not you agree with the Vatican’s actions, it can fairly be described as a “takeover” of a group that has been judged as wayward and in need of control. The apostolic delegate, Archbishop Peter Sartain, now has authority over the group: he will now be vetting all LCWR literature; he will decide what speakers will appear at their assemblies; he will review all their programs and create new ones; he will approve their liturgical celebrations, and moreover, he will revise the group’s statutes.

    Finally, the point of the story, as the headline indicates, was “Nuns Weigh Response,” so it’s natural that it would focus on, well, nuns.

  • SouthCoast

    @ Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz, I would love to read what Ms. Pernoud has to say about my 25th great-grandmama Eleanor, but, being in a branch of her descendants who have come somewhat down in the world over the course of the past half-millenium, $333 (per Amazon) is a bit more than I can afford! *G*

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Father Martin,

    I understand that people who support the theological views of the dissenting nuns might find the report scathing. If I were of that mind and writing an opinion piece, I’d totally use that word. In a heartbeat. And other words like that. As a Lutheran, I’m more than familiar with scathing Vatican writings. I don’t intend to give them a pass on any of it (anathemas, anyone?).

    But a reporter shouldn’t be in the business of writing opinion pieces, be they a fan of the Vatican in their off hours or not.

    I suspect that what we’re seeing in stories such as this is a perspective about whether discipline is good/bad/mean/scathing/loving/awesome/evil/medieval/etc.

    The perspective that is missing from many of these reports — and really much of modern journalism that deals with anything related to stuff like this — is that traditionally speaking, discipline in the Christian Church is viewed as for the benefit of all, right? Not bitter or harmful or injurious. And so (from what I know) people who support Vatican teaching and such a perspective on discipline would say that it’s more of the line of correction in love, like Jesus telling the woman at the well to go and sin no more. There may be a range of views on discipline and the particular issue of the theological approach taken by the sisters, it goes without saying.

    Again, if I were writing an op-ed in defense of the LCWR, I’d totally use adjectives like scathing. If I were writing a news piece, I’d avoid such adjectives as they bias the piece unnecessarily.

    Here are just a couple of paragraphs from the report:

    The Holy See acknowledges with gratitude the great contribution of women Religious to the Church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by Religious over the years. Pope John Paul II expressed this gratitude well in his meeting with Religious from the United States in San Francisco on September 17, 1987, when he said: I rejoice because of your deep love of the Church and your generous service to God’s people…The extensive Catholic educational and health care systems, the highly developed network of social services in the Church – none of this would exist today, were it not for your highly motivated dedication and the dedication of those who have gone before you. The spiritual vigor of so many Catholic people testifies to the efforts of generations of religious in this land. The history of the Church in this country is in large measure your history at the service of God’s people. The renewal of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious which is the goal of this doctrinal Assessment is in support of this essential charism of Religious which has been so obvious in the life and growth of the Catholic Church in the United States.

    While recognizing that this doctrinal Assessment concerns a particular conference of major superiors and therefore does not intend to offer judgment on the faith and life of Women Religious in the member Congregations which belong to that conference, nevertheless the Assessment reveals serious doctrinal problems which affect many in Consecrated Life. On the doctrinal level, this crisis is characterized by a diminution of the fundamental Christological center and focus of religious consecration which leads, in turn, to a loss of a “constant and lively sense of the Church” among some Religious. The current doctrinal Assessment arises out of a sincere concern for the life of faith in some Institutes of
    Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. It arises as well from a conviction that the work of any conference of major superiors of women Religious can and should be a fruitful means of addressing the contemporary situation and supporting religious life in its most “radical” sense—that is, in the faith in which it is rooted. According to Canon Law, conferences of major superiors are an expression of the collaboration between the Holy See, Superiors General, and the local Conferences of Bishops in support of consecrated life. The overarching concern of the doctrinal Assessment is, therefore, to assist the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States in implementing an ecclesiology of communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the Church as the essential foundation for its important service to religious Communities and to all those in consecrated life.

    Serious? Absolutely. Can we call it a crackdown? I think that’s more than fair. But is discipline in the church scathing or loving? Is pointing out sin scathing or loving? Is a reporter really the best person to decide which adjective to use? Which theological perspective to embrace? I doubt it. For an op-ed, again, let your adjective flag fly high. For a news report, I’d say just drop the language that tells the reader what you think.

    As for “takeover,” I guess that fits the same divide about whether you view church discipline as loving or not. Is Roman Catholic ecclesiology such that the Vatican takes over its own church bureaucracy? Or is it already in charge of its own bureaucracy? Is this type of review something that is responsible or egregious? Or is it just the content of the review document where people disagree? Where does the ultimate authority for the group lie? Would we say that a president took over a federal agency if he approved a report about how it was doing something wrong? Is there maybe a better word to choose? At the very least, I wouldn’t mind if reports on the LCWR explained who founded the group and why. Then maybe the “takeover” language wouldn’t seem so weird.

    As for the point of the story being the response from the LCWR, yes. And maybe there have been stories from the Times in the last few months about the Vatican’s frustrations with the LCWR that I missed. (I did a quick search for “dialogue of the deaf” and the Times and didn’t come up with anything related, but that is probably just a glitch in my search). Particularly assuming the Vatican perspective has already been chosen for a previous story, a response story such as this makes sense. But all stories choose an angle for focus and that doesn’t mean you don’t talk to people who disagree with the group you’re highlighting. I mean, maybe sometimes it does. Like in less controversial stories where it’s just not necessary or important helpful. But on a story such as this, I think we all would have benefited from having some fresh response from the key players or even just anyone who is not an apologist for the sisters. And that’s the same for whether a story is focusing on the Vatican’s perspective or those who oppose the Vatican.

  • http://www.americamagazine.org James Martin, SJ

    Dear Mollie:

    Thanks for your response. Actually, the point is more that both people who support the LCWR’s positions and those who do not both found the report “scathing.” I don’t know anyone on either side who thought it bland or even mild. If it had been a mild report, there would have been no need for an apostolic delegate.

    Also, whether or not you see discipline as “loving” in this case (and discipline within the church cannot always be judged as “loving,” cf: St. Joan of Arc, burned at the stake by church authorities, and St. Mary MacKillop, excommunicated by her local bishop), and whether or not, as you say, there is “sin” involved (which is an extremely strong word to use when it comes to the actions of the women religious involved) it still qualifies as a takeover.

    Finally, I don’t think it’s fair to label the reporter an “apologist,” which to me seems a bit ad hominem.

  • Thinkling

    No James. That is not scathing. Scathing is abusive. The report might be called serious, but not scathing. I think you are mistaking unpleasant content for abusive delivery. Serious/unpleasant =!= abusive.

    If you still differ, I propose to you to rephrase the passage you quote in a way to retain the content, to communicate the desired points, but not be scathing.

    Imagine the report Bill Donahoe [sp?] would write if he wrote the CDF report instead. (Then again, don’t… :) ) That would be scathing.

  • DearbornGuy

    Father Martin – appreciate you weighing in, but the “big picture” you missed (or avoided) is that this piece in NY Times … like many of their recent stories regarding Catholic issues … is extremely one-sided in its nature, which is suppossed to be a no-no in the journalism biz, especially for a “news”paper of the stature of the Times. I know first-hand that on a topic like this, there is every opportunity to talk with someone with an opposing view – and there are plenty of them – so it’s hard to believe that the reporter (or editor) made the effort to do so to balance a “news” story out. It’s shoddy journalism like this that causes distrust in the media.

  • Thinkling

    Mollie, I beg to differ. Being difficult to hear, being unpleasant, being serious, these by themselves are not scathing. Scathing entails a degree of abusiveness. The document is anything but abusive.

    This word may be another casualty in the don’t-hurt-my-feelings school of doublespeak.

  • http://authenticbioethics.blogspot.com AuthenticBioethics

    I appreciate Fr. James’ distinction about the use of the word “takeover.” Perhaps the best term would have been “regaining control” since the organization was formed by the Vatican to facilitate appropriate oversight of religious women in the US. The women religious “took over” the organization, and now the Vatican wants it back. No matter how one slices it, the Vatican has the prerogative to do so, and the only reason the report seems scathing is the distance the LCWR have wandered. Yes, the Vatican seems heavy handed, but if they weren’t so far afield, the pain of coming back would not be so great. “Takeover” may thus be correct from a certain angle, but the idea that the LCWR never had and shouldn’t now have any accountability to the Church is what the NYT seems to endorse, and that is a false use of “takeover.”

    Let me give you an analogy. My daughter is home from college and has been using my car. I have had to ask her recently to give me the keys, and she asked me, “What for?” And I said, “It’s MY car!! I want to drive it!” I mean, her question was natural and perhaps I could have just told her, but on the other hand, I am not obliged out of morality or charity or justice to tell her. It’s my car. I wanted it back. It’s my prerogative. I don’t answer to her — she answers to me, and that’s the way it is supposed to be, and the situation drifted and I reined it back in. The fact that she has always respected my prerogative made it easier, and the fact that I know she does enabled her to keep using the car pretty much whenever she needs it.

    The NYT article gives us reason to think that if they were writing a story about that incident with my daughter, it would be all about her use of the car, how it’s really hers after all (she’s put all her things onto the keyring!), her independence, her needs, and how she’s going to respond to this parental takeover. Not asking me or at least my wife or my other kids for our perspective would be simply, well, incomplete if not deceptive.

  • Deacon Jim Stagg

    #18 AuthenticBioethics:

    What a great allegory! Thank you.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    A few thoughts.

    1) I didn’t call the reporter an apologist for the LCWR. I just said that she probably should have gotten on the horn with some people who weren’t.

    2) Folks, keep your comments focused on media coverage. I’ve had to delete some “scathing” remarks against the LCWR or other dissenting voices that have nothing to do with media.

    3) The document was obviously strong. It’s just that “scathing” is a word that can evoke much more — e.g. “Witheringly scornful,” “biting – sharp – caustic – acrimonious – acrid – pungent” — just too much negative baggage for a news story vs. op-ed.

  • Julia

    In fact, they have continued to insist on their right to debate and challenge church teaching, which has resulted in the Vatican’s reproof.

    Perhaps the NYT reporter is thinking that the Catholic Church is run the same way as the Episcopal Church with its annual General Convention and the Lambeth Conference every ten years where people debate and vote. The Catholic Church isn’t run that way.

  • Martha

    Thomas, I too was surprised that no priest or bishop was quoted directly in response. Maybe Fr. Reese was too busy talking to the “San Francisco Chronicle” that day to give the “New York Times” a quote? ;-)

    I also noted what you picked up on: no, before Vatican II, there were no nuns who were theologians, mystics, foundresses of schools and hospitals, missionaries, or martyrs *eyes rolling so hard, I need the intercession of St. Lucy to keep ‘em in the sockets*

  • http://authenticbioethics.blogspot.com AuthenticBioethics

    “Scathing” I think is not necessarily a bad word, as its connotations depend to some extent on what side of the “scathe” one is on. It was scathing — and I know people who greeted the news with cheers and others with winces, but they are in agreement that it was scathing.

  • SouthCoast

    If “scathing” cannot be agreed upon, could we perhaps settle for “scalding”, as in “placing into very hot water”, and proceed from there?

  • Julia

    “Scathing” includes a sense of vitriol.

    Read a legal complaint. It will lay out the alleged facts and the actions or situation(s)about which the plaintiff complains. Some tough things are often alleged, but using “scathing” language is frowned upon. I would put the CDF document in this category – tough but civil.

  • John B

    …the “big picture” you missed (or avoided) is that this piece in NY Times … like many of their recent stories regarding Catholic issues … is extremely one-sided in its nature, which is suppossed to be a no-no in the journalism biz, especially for a “news”paper of the stature of the Times.

    When it comes to the Catholic Church, or indeed any group that holds to traditional Christian morality, the Times hasn’t been anything but once-sided for a very long time. Which isn’t surprising, considering their core readership are cosmopolitan upper-middle class urbanites who look upon religion as some sort of exotic disease (an odd stance to take for a publication portraying itself as the national paper of record, which might explain the long decline in both subscriptions and stock price….)

    One-sided? Absolutely? Why would anyone expect any different?

  • John B

    Also, NPR did an interview with Bishop Blair of Toledo, who I think did a very good job explaining the reasoning behind the Vatican’s decision regarding the LCWR (despite some very hostile questioning from Terry Gross….grace under fire indeed!)