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Friday, July 16, 2010



Is not the message here that people whose religious view go against conventional wisdom should be morally shunned?

"Terry Sanderson...called the document "one of the most insulting and misogynistic pronouncements that the Vatican has made ... Why any self-respecting woman would want to remain ... is a mystery to me."

Really, the Vatican releases a document, and paragraph 3 tells us the reaction of the National SECULAR Society?! Let's ask C Htchens what he thinks of the Catechism?? Next up, being appalled God made women mothers?

Marcel LeJeune

We can't expect the media to understand the internal intricacies of Canon Law and the procedures that go along with it. So, while this kind of document is fine for that purpose, to release them to the public at the same time created the problem.

The Vatican should have issued two different press releases - one on sexual abuse of minors and one on the attempted ordinations of women.

The Vatican really needs to invest in some people who know how to work with the press.

Ron Murphy


I'm not catholic, and I'm unfamiliar with the theological position against women priests in the catholic church. Do you have any links that give specific scripture with explanations.


Carl E. Olson

So, while this kind of document is fine for that purpose, to release them to the public at the same time created the problem.

I've read several blogs this morning that take the same stance: it was bad PR and poor planning by the Vatican to release all of these norms together. While I sympathize to a small degree, I mostly disagree. What "problem", exactly, did the Vatican "create"? At what point does the desire for good PR begin to trump the serious, tough work of saying, "This is wrong and here are the consequences for doing A, B, or C"? The fact is, even if these norms were released separately, the comparison would still be made, and the "problem" would still be "created." Far better, I think, to not let the media drive the train, nor let the hysterics of heretics cause second-guessing. The fact is, we're not really dealing with mature, responsible adults when it comes to 1) those seeking women's ordination, and 2) most of those who are reporting on these issues for major newspapers. We are dealing with attention-demanding, sensationalist-seeking narcissists and exhibitionists. While I appreciate the prudent use of good PR and the wisdom of avoiding unnecessary confusion, I think the hubbub over this by good Catholics is off the mark. I'm certainly open to arguments otherwise, but the arguments I've read so far aren't convincing.

Paul H

Hi Ron,

Here are some articles which explain why the Catholic Church does not (and cannot) ordain women as priests:

"Women's Ordination" - Fr. William Saunders
"Why Not Women Priests?" - Catholics United for the Faith
Women and the Priesthood - Catholic Answers

Or if you prefer an audio download:

"Women and the Priesthood" - Dr. Peter Kreeft (audio)

Marcel LeJeune

Carl - PR should never trump the proclamation of the truth, but we shouldn't downplay it either. The Church needs to proclaim the truth, but in a compelling way. It can't just ignore the way the message is trumpeted.

Proclaim the truth is paramount, but the way in which it is proclaimed is a close second, because when it is done poorly, the truth might not be heard.

PR is important. The Vatican needs to realize how much it can profit from a better approach to the media and public relations.

Carl E. Olson

Marcel: I completely agree with your general points. But when you say, "Proclaim the truth is paramount, but the way in which it is proclaimed is a close second, because when it is done poorly, the truth might not be heard," I have to wonder: How many in the MSM really want to hear the truth? I've been discussing this same basic point by e-mail with John Norton, the fine editor of Our Sunday Visitor, and he said to me: "But it sounds a bit like you’re saying 'we’re right and the media be damned,' even though you say explicitly that you are not..." I replied:

I'm probably a tad bit harsher toward the media than you are. :-) It's something I have to be careful about. But, then, the way that many in the MSM (to use a general if not always helpful term) have presented this speaks volumes. It has largely been about how the Church has it in for women, doesn't appreciate women, or even dislikes women. There is a template, and this is fit to the template. The same is true of 98% of the MSM stories about "women priests" and "women's ordination."

I would bet good money ($10.00? Ha!) that if they [the norms] had been released separately, it would have taken only about 24 hours before many journalists would say, "Oh, the Vatican is trying to mislead us by hiding the fact that the same punishment applies to sexual abuse and women's ordination." It is cynical to think so? I want to say, "Yes," but there is so much water under this bridge, I have to say, "No."

It seems to me that what used to be an uneasy and prickly relationship between many in the MSM and "the Vatican" has, in recent years (esp. since Benedict became pope), almost completely collapsed into distrust and antagonism. Yes, the Vatican and many Church leaders can certainly do much better in handling the media (the recent and strange situation with Card. Schönborn is an example). Absolutely. Having worked in marketing for many years, I get the need for good PR and such.

But what if more and more journalists are apparently 1) clueless about the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith, 2) have little or no interest in learning even basic points about the Church, 3) see nearly everything through the paradigm of Church=old and backwards; modernity=young and wonderful, or 4) has an open dislike and bias against the Catholic Church?

It's not that I think the "media be damned"; it's more that bad, irresponsible, and heavily biased and ideological media be damned—in the sense of not worrying nearly as much about what they will say or do. Unfortunately, that's the sort of media that seems to be increasing. And I don't see it changing anytime soon.

Am I too cynical? Do I lack the sort of good faith that the media deserves, despite my protests? Not to be overly apocalyptic or sensational, but I think we've now left the age in which most mainstream journalists care deeply about integrity, objectivity, and the facts--especially when it comes to the Church. News is now almost always a matter of opinion, spin, and ideological perspective. So, yes, PR is important, but what if no amount of PR satisfies those who essentially want to write the Church out of existence?

Marcel LeJeune

I agree with you up to a certain point. The MSM won't do the Church any favors, but there are ways to use the media for the end we want to achieve.

Think of how we could use spin to our advantage? It isn't just a case of playing the game, but of advancing the Gospel message.

This is necessary in the world today. There are many lives that can be won to Christ with using the bully-pulpit of the MSM. Now, they will not allow us to do it easily or without trial and error. But, we cannot not just give up the battle because they don't like or understand the Church.

It might be a bit of cynicism on your part (I share it as well), but I am sure it is due to frustration with the failings of those who control the stream of news to the rest of us.

Think of what good we could do in communicating the truths of the Church (even to those Catholics who don't understand the Church's teachings) if we could do just a 25% better job with getting the message out.

Don Schindler

I agree with Carl. Good PR is commonsense, but pandering to liberal media bias ultimately undermines the "hard lessons" the Church, in its teaching role, must at times promote. Progressives of all stripes react to this because it implies a given:

1. Church authority- the Church has the authority to "bind and release", as well as teach, given it by Christ.
2. Natural and supernatural truth- the Truth can be known, must be known, and acknowledgment or ignorance of it has consequence.
3. Tradition has value- even those you might not agree with.

I've always assumed that Revelation's prophetic imagery of real apostasy, even the Anti-Christ, showed it to arise from within the Church. Given this, the ignorant rantings of those who lack faith as justification to remain unmoved usually act out of selfish reasons. The real danger lies in those who are actively hostile to the faith, posture themselves "above it," yet use religion as a tool to confuse or dispossess the faithful.


Marcel, I admire your optimism but I tend to agree with Carl.

Trying to make nice with the MSM for anyone in the Vatican is akin to trying to pet a viper. Their poison-filled fangs are ready to strike at any moment. There are a few that are like rattlers, they will at least give you advance warning, but they are few.

Ask any conservative that has tried to be friends with the MSM. Regardless of how they present themselves the press will find a hook or sound bite and use it against them. If the MSM were the least bit concerned about fair play they should have a sort of Miranda warning. "Anything you say, can and will be used against you in tomorrow's news report."

I would also disagree somewhat with your premise. In my own journey to the Catholic Church at one point I had arrived at the Reformation and began to research the issues, the charges of Luther in particular. Then I read the response in the Council of Trent.

What I saw simultaneously surprised me and intrigued me. The Catholic Church responded by clarifying but not budging one iota on doctrine. Moreover, she did not mince words but pronounced a series of anathemas that shocked my previously Protestant sensibilities. But I was disposed to hear the truth, and my response was to investigate where this Catholic Church got her authority from, to be that sure of herself.

There was no "agree to disagree" or any kind of compromise that we are so fond of in our non-confrontational dialogue these days. Clearly, the Catholic Church believed she had the authority from Jesus Christ and was willing to exercise it when necessary.

The point is, I can attest that occasionally the shock value of unvarnished truth, presented in a matter-of-fact way, can be as effective a method of evangelization as any other. In fact, I think that for every person who is thoroughly irritated by absolutes pronounced with certitude, there are many more who are hungry for just such straight talk.

In my opinion.

David West

Catholics have to remember that the Church is the body of Christ, we share in His divinity and the reward is life eternal. These are matters of holiness and salvation. Secularist believe that all of life can be reduced to nothing more than a marketing campaign and that one lives or dies on how they are perceived by the largest numbers. We do not, we have God and our obedience is to Him and to what the Church teaches. Any Catholic that feels they need the approval and support of secularist is simply trying to "save his life" when he should be as staunch as the apostles who died as martyrs before him. The worst problem in the Church is not the atheist outside of the Church but the liberals within it. Those who choose to call themselves Catholic and do not support the Pope and the bishops should reexamine themselves, they are confused and incorrect not the lay faithful and the clergy. You cannot continuously campaign and moderate on behalf of atheist and secularist, people who feel that the Church is horrendous unless they are promoted within it and honestly say you are a faithful Catholic. Thank God for the Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela and for the Pope and the cardinals not budging one millimeter. I am glad and hope that it stokes the fire of enimity and discontent between the faithful and the abominable for Christ did not come to bring peace but a sword.(Matthew 10:34) That the Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela stabbed at the heart of these secularist is Pope Bennedict XVI open declaration that he will not consent to the devil. Placing the stake right in the heart of evil is exactly why the Vatican is in Rome in the first place, the home of the demonic Roman Empire, an empire whose own mythological origin is said to come from the birth of dogs. Push away the weak so called Catholics like Ross Douthat of the New York Times. Instead of despising the Catholic faith and moving on to another denomination or religion they stay in the Church and profess that it is "over" or that it has "failed". "Promote me and my agenda or I will slander you to the world." Remember the true words that Christ spoke, remember how strong and truly harsh they were to apostates and devils.

Matthew 7:6 found phrase
Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, they tear you.

Matthew 8:22 found phrase
But Jesus said to him: Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.

Do not dilute your faith in what Cornel West describes as the "Santa Clausification" of Christ. When your parish priest refuses to read the stern words of Christ in the weekly Gospel, admonish him, when these columnist and bloggers and comedians become faint and turn against the faith to appease their friends and pursue their careers which they love more than Christ, rebuke them. People like Kathy Griffin and Ross Douthat should be as excommunicated or denied the Holy Eucharist as much as any public figure in government. For they layer calumny upon the the Church to wit no Muslim or atheist could ever aspire. Their only strength comes from their association with the Church as a nominal Catholic, that needs to be taken away. They lead and fuel the attack against the Church and are rewarded by these same organizations that hate the Church through career advancements and bronze store brought trophies. Great Britain herself has not only insulted the Pope directly through their foreign office but that state houses atheist who would even have the Pope himself carried off in handcuffs and "perp walked" through London and here we still have "good Catholics" lamenting issues of public relations. What public relations campaign did Christians have under Nero, whom Maureen Dowd would recast as Pope Bennedict XVI in her column "Rome Fiddles, As We Burn"? We need to stay strong and take comfort in strength, take comfort in God and side with Him not man and not to socialize the faith by pandering to public opinion.

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