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Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Mark Brumley

Probably, the Vatican should have included a couple of lines to the effect that these items are being addressed together because they are pertinent changes in law, not because they are of equal significance, etc.

That said, it is probably the case that the headlines would have remained largely what they were. We would have read stories that said, "Although the Vatican explicit denied the issues were of equal importance, it is nevertheless telling that the changes in law were all issued at the same time ..."

Of course the changes could have been issued at different times. The argument against that is that you take your media whipping all at once, rather than multiple times as the changes are introduced.

But spreading things out is no sure guarantee the media won't link the issues; it only makes it less likely, not unthinkable. "The Vatican has issued a new law today ... other recent changes include .... Taken together the recent changes suggest that the Vatican puts legislation regarding child sexual abuse and women's ordination on the same level ..." "The Vatican's recent series of changes indicates excluding women from the priesthood is as important as ending child sexual abuse by the clergy ...".

If you want to make a fallacious argument based upon a fallacious interpretation of the facts, you can and will. Many in the media are so prejudiced or incompetent or both that they can and will make such arguments. Perhaps--and I say only perhaps--handling things as some critics suggest would have slightly diminished the malicious reporting of the changes. More likely, it would only have resulted in a different kind of maliciousness. "Bowing to pressure to get its house in order, the Vatican today ..." "After decades of deception, the Vatican today issued new policies to address the scandle that threatens to overwhelm the Catholic Church ...." And so on.

I'm all for being as wise as serpents, but let's not suppose those with whom we deal in the media are as innocent as doves and need only the correct formulation of the message by the Church to get the headlines right. They are in the news business, which, in fact, means they sell stories for a living. They tell stories in order to sell stories. And if the truth is deemed likely to sell less well than a story filled with untruths and half-truths, then so much the worse for the truth.

Robert Miller

Very well said, Carl.

As I said in an earlier post, I think Benedict purposely twinned the evils: After all, isn't attempted abuse of a sacrament, especially a sacrament that confers alter Christus status (Person status) on a person, abuse of a Person -- in the case in question, sexual abuse of a Person?

Mark Greaves

What a thoughtful post.

Just to let you know, the Catholic Herald has started an online debate about whether the Vatican should devote more energy to public relations. You can join it here:


The document is the promulgation of a legislative act. We long ago gave up expecting our civil legislators to promulgate laws one at a time in discrete, thematic packages. Why, in the name of everything holy, should the Holy See be excoriated for making omnibus legislative pronouncements? Pure balderdash.

Steve Cianca

Spot on, Carl. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

I believe that Carl did very well by insisting that it is the secular Media's intention to damage the image of our Church, at all cost. It is their modus operandi and , almost, their modus vivendi.

It is very painful to realize that many do not understand the true intention behind the ever present attack gainst Christianity, by the Media.

As I read the statement : "They are in the News business, which, in fact, means they sell stories", I'd suggest that selling papers is not their priority when they seek every opportunity to repeat the same stories that injure the Church.


Excellent observations.

I think the criticism comes largely from journalists themselves, that is: from people who tend to have a vastly exaggerated idea of their own importance.
The world out there doesn't give a penny about the PR strategies of the Vatican and those who want to shoot at the Church will do it anyway.

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