Mallon's Media Watch

Mallon's Media Watch

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Another dispatch from Deal

A Prediction Comes True

CRISIS Magazine - e-Letter

December 19, 2002


Dear Friend,

First, I want to welcome all our new readers and friends of Bud Macfarlane over at Glad to have you all aboard! I hope I can live up to Bud's generous words. And if any of our e-letter readers aren't familiar with Bud and his fantastic Mary Foundation, you really need to visit his site. It's a gold mine of great information on the Church.

Of course, the big news from last week has been Cardinal Law's resignation. I think we all agree that it had to happen if the Archdiocese of Boston ever hoped to recover, but it was still a sad thing to witness. Despite his profound faults and shortcomings, it's always painful to see a man of the Church brought so low. Just as surely as we pray for the victims in this horrible situation, we must also pray for Cardinal Law. We're Christians, after all.

Unfortunately, this won't be the end of Boston's troubles. Far from it. In fact, it looks like my prediction last week has now come to pass. If you remember, I predicted that when Law resigned, the dissident groups would be jumping in to claim the credit and use it to their advantage.

Take Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), for example. The official statement from VOTF president, Jim Post, regarding Law's resignation was anything but settling: "The resignation of Cardinal Law doesn't mean that our work is done.... We need a blueprint to heal the Catholic Church. Voice of the Faithful stands ready to begin that work today."

As anticipated, VOTF wears the cardinal's resignation like a feather in its cap.

Let me be absolutely clear on this: It's true that pressure from the laity was a catalyst in causing Law to reconsider his post, and in that respect it was an important role to play. But we shouldn't consider this a "victory" on the way to a more democratic church. It seems likely that more radical groups among the laity will now be fixing their gaze on other episcopal targets in a "seek-and-destroy" effort, rather than supporting or working with those priests and bishops that are trying to do good.

I certainly hope that Boston's interim replacement, Bishop Lennon, works more openly with the laity than his predecessor, but I would also warn him to be on guard against radical groups that'll try to strong-arm him into advancing their agendas. Law's resignation was good for the archdiocese in the end, but I worry about the Pandora's Box of troubles that might have been opened as a result.

One bishop who's doing the right thing -- but probably won't be getting any credit from VOTF for it -- is Bishop William Lori. Back in August, Lori banned VOTF from meeting on church property in his Connecticut diocese, saying that he couldn't endorse a group that had an agenda at odds with Church teaching. VOTF, of course, was furious, and I'm sure Lori is still on their hit list.

The ironic part is that Lori is doing exactly what VOTF claims to want. Just yesterday, the New York Times reported that three Bridgeport diocese priests have resigned in response to accusations of abuse, a short three weeks after the accusations were first brought to the attention of the diocese. A preliminary church investigation started immediately, and Bishop Lori himself met with the victim shortly after receiving his letter. The bishop has said that the priests' resignation should not be seen as an admission of guilt, but that they'll be suspended from duty until the diocese's Sexual Misconduct Review Board has finished their investigation of the matter.

From the way things have been going in Bridgeport, you'd think Lori would be the poster-child for VOTF's ideal bishop: His swift response to allegations of abuse, his personal attention to victims, and his strict adherence to the protocols of the bishops' charter.

However, I doubt VOTF will be praising bishops like Lori. His brave stand against their organization has likely soured them on him, regardless of his accomplishments.

One final thing before I go -- I wanted to ask your help on a project we're working on. I'm sure you've been in this situation before: A friend or a coworker comes to you with a simple question about the Catholic faith, and it suddenly dawns on you that you're not quite sure how to answer. Or maybe you had a question of your own that you never got a chance to ask.

Well, here's your opportunity. CRISIS is putting together a special E-Report called "9 Questions Every Catholic Should Be Able To Answer." Once it's done, it'll be a great e-mail to forward along to anyone who has questions about Catholicism.

In the meantime, though, we need to hear from you. What questions have you gotten that you've found hard to answer? You can give us any topic...from the Inquisition to Mary to abortion, etc.

Once we get your e-mail, we'll make a collection of questions and select the ones we think will be most helpful. And then, as soon as the report is done, we'll e-mail it out to you to use any way you want.

Please feel free to send any questions you have -- there are no dumb questions here.

Of course, as with everything connected to this CRISIS Magazine e-letter, it's completely free. It's just my way of saying thanks to you for reading this letter.

Talk to you soon,


P.S. Thanks to everyone who sent in feedback on the "War For Oil" e-letter. I received some very intelligent and thoughtful objections to my piece. And while I don't always have time to answer every email I get, I do read them all carefully.


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Please forward this letter to anyone you think might benefit from it.


Wednesday, December 18, 2002

A wonderful Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Hartford Courant


Simply Put, It's Faith

As The Courant and TV media continue the shameful litany of anti-Catholic
articles and interviews [Amy Pagnozzi column, Dec. 10, "Nun Calls On Catholics
To Help Church Survive"], the Catholic Church continues to provide beautiful
Masses, run soup kitchens and provide a network of health services around the

As the liberal news media proudly rolls out one maverick spokesperson after
another to brainwash Americans into thinking that these spokespeople represent
the church, the 95 percent of holy, dedicated priests and nuns proceed to do
their work in a tireless, loving and obedient fashion.

The unfair rhetoric is ignored by most Catholics. They love their priests, their
pope and their church.

Why the Catholic Church bashing? The news media has no power to control or
impose its views on the 2,000-year-old church, as it tries to do with other
elements of society.

Catholics will just continue to pray and love God. It's that simple

Joseph M. Robbiati


Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Straining at gnats

Just what we need at this moment when real strides can be made furthering the cause of orthodoxy in the Church: othodox people wasting valuable time sniping at each other.

It is perfectly legitimate to criticize Goodbye, Good Men and its method but the attacks on Michael Rose are sounding like jealousy. Everybody know the main message of the book is true and that the book had to be written. The timing, I believe was Providential and used by God to shed further light on the priest scandals, namely that the scandal behind the scandal was the homosexuality problem in the seminaries and priesthood.

I have full confidence that if anyone can point out honest errors in GGM Michael will address them and set the record straight gratefully. But the attacks on his integrity are getting unseemly, and look suspiciously like sour grapes and envy.

If the book is not perfect so be it, but it had to be written and Michael had the guts to do it when no one else did.

Enough straining at gnats. The Astounding Naivete of Crisis Magazine

Sunday, December 15, 2002


Michael Novak on Cardinal Bernard Law & Boston on National Review Online

The second is a 40-year period of massive moral dissent from Catholic moral teaching, especially in regard to sexual and "gender" questions, in the principal Catholic institutions of learning in Boston, including conspicuously Boston College and the (Jesuit) Weston School of Theology. This fairly systematic dissent, through which some have boldly called the theology of Pope John Paul II (and Paul VI before him) wrong, mistaken, and based on untruths, has had the inevitable effect of weakening the sense of right and wrong in those faced with severe sexual temptations. It is hard enough to show fidelity when right and wrong are clear. But in the mists and fogs of inner uncertainty, driven rapidly ahead by passion, one most easily jumps the curb, smashes into trees, plunges over cliffs.

Magnificent. Truth from Michael Novak

What he describes here about the "ranks-drawn-up-clergy" is the curse of the Church in the United States. Weather the it be the insidious clerical politics of Boston, the "Chicago system" or the we-don't-like-outsiders killer instinct of the Oklahoma City clergy—you name the city—it must be excorcised. Maybe the scandals are the first part of it.

The whole article is magnificent. Bravo Michael.

Michael Novak on Cardinal Bernard Law & Boston on National Review Online

I have learned from friends in Boston these days that from the beginning Cardinal Law faced four huge moral deficits in the Archdiocese of Boston. The first is an unusually tribal and mutually protective, ranks-drawn-up clergy, circling around its own three-generation tradition of moral fault; a pattern of "weakness" or "corruption" in some few, but covered over and unpoliced by the others, in a long-standing and defensive posture.