Monday, November 30, 2009

Defending the Faith

Patrick Buchanan asks if the Church Militant is back. Judging from Bishop Tobin's parting remarks to Catholic-detractor Patrick Kennedy as well as other Catholic news, the answer is yes. As mentioned in my previous blog, Tobin dispatched Kennedy much as one would cut off an obstreperous, sulking teen, saying, "I have no desire to continue the discussion of Congressman Kennedy's spiritual life in public." But, the bishop added, "At the same time, I will absolutely respond publicly and strongly whenever he attacks the Catholic Church, misrepresents the teachings of the Church, or issues inaccurate statements about my pastoral ministry. " Bishop Tobin then agreed to appear on a couple TV shows.

A word about the Tobin-Chris Matthews and Tobin-O'Reilly interviews. Not having owned a TV for the last 20 years, I suppose this is always what these shows are like? Or were Matthews and O'Reilly just especially gruff and shallow because they were interviewing a bishop? The interviews are remarkable only for the extent to which they showcase Matthews and O'Reilly as empty-headed loud-mouths who pass off their own grand-standing as hard-hitting journalism. These guys are jerks! There is just nothing between the ears.

Media types are so enamored of nuance and reflection when it's their own cause they are trumpeting, but when trying to wrestle with a weighty issue that in fact does require some thought, all they want is a quick-fix-type answer. The reason these interviews are so bad is that issues such as the sin of scandal, the matter of denying communion or the Church's position on the death penalty aren't five-second issues, no matter how loud and fast O'Reilly talks and no matter how many times Matthews tries to bulldoze the Bishop. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is not comparable to a cloud of spun sugar that melts in your mouth.

Bishop Tobin has already spoken eloquently, and, if nothing else, he was clear in these interviews as to where a Catholic politician's first allegiance must lie--to his faith and to God.

Speaking further of defending the faith, it is noteworthy that our own Archbishop Timothy Dolan also took to the fray a few weeks ago when the New York Times indulged in a wave of anti-Catholic reporting and opinion. Since the New York Times wouldn't publish Dolan's piece, the archbishop has posted it on his blog. (Scroll down to 'Anti-Catholicism' on October 29th, 2009.)

Dolan responds to the Times bias in its coverge of child sex abuse in an orthodox Jewish community. He (finally) mentions the way the Times and other media shamelessly drop the ball in covering the sexual abuse of minors in the public school system, yet the same media never fail to revive coverage of the priest-abuse scandals. Dolan points out the predictability of the Times coverage of a Franciscan priest who fathered a child saying only a Catholic "ever seems to merit such attention." Dolan noted that Maureen Dowd's "intemperate and scurrilous" piece would never have seen the light of day in the Times were she denigrating anyone other than Catholics.

Another redoubtable defender of Catholicism, Father George Rutler, of the Church of Our Saviour here in New York City, often has an apt word or two for the Times. He had this to say about the Times's anti-Catholic reporting. As a matter of fact, his words apply to the O'Reilly/Matthews syndrome as well:

Hostility raised to such a pitch that journalistic standards are abandoned, is provoked by an awareness that the Catholic Church continues to be the substantial voice for classical moral standards and supernatural confidence amid the noise of a disintegrating behaviorist culture. A tabloid is still a tabloid even if its editors dress in tweeds. Churchill said, “No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.” Not to worry. Christ promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against his Church.

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