Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson and Keith A Fournier

10/11/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Lay Catholics should take into account how easy it is for a well-intentioned bishop to generate a controversy that does not benefit the pro-life, pro-marriage effort. Savvy bishops have learned that lesson

Our Catholic bishops are getting better and better at handling a usually hostile media. One reason for the improvement is their realization that much of the media is not merely hostile but playing a "gotcha" game, looking for an angle to embarrass or otherwise cause the bishops a problem. 

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson and Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/11/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Gomez, Archbishop Lori, Archbishop Nienstedt, Bishop Morlino, Bishop Vasa, Bishop Michael Sheridan, campaign 2012, Deal W Hudson, Keith A Fournier


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Our Catholic bishops are getting better and better at handling a usually hostile media. One reason for the improvement is their realization that much of the media is not merely hostile but playing a "gotcha" game, looking for an angle to embarrass or otherwise cause the bishops a problem. 

Some of the bishops are now so adroit at interviews, reporters themselves have grown wary of attempting to trap them into making quotable, that is, controversial, statements. Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Gomez, Archbishop Lori, Archbishop Nienstedt, Bishop Morlino, and Bishop Vasa are among those who cannot be backed into a corner by an aggressive reporter. 

Another excellent example of how to handle the media was published Wednesday in the Colorado Springs Gazette. Bishop Michael Sheridan responded to a series of questions posed by columnist Daniel Cole. Cole, in fact, was not out to trip up the bishop; he is a fair and reliable journalist. But, the questions he posed in the interview are typical of the mine fields through which our bishops must navigate, especially in an election season.

Controversy can erupt at any time: Recall the controversy elicited by the 2008 interview with then Archbishop Burke just after he arrived in St. Louis. When asked by a reporter whether or not he would give Holy Communion to Senator Kerry if he was standing in line, Archbishop Burke replied, "I would have to admonish him not to present himself for Communion." 

That "admonition" line became the national story, whereas the comments that followed were ignored, "I might give him a blessing or something," Burke said, and added, "If his Archbishop has told him he should not present himself for Communion, he shouldn't. I agree with Archbishop (Sean P.) O'Malley  (of Boston.)"

In other words, all Archbishop Burke was saying is that he would follow the example of Senator Kerry's ordinary, Archbishop O'Malley. The press paid no attention to O'Malley and set out to demonize -- unsuccessfully -- Archbishop Burke. 

Here is the way Bishop Sheridan handled the question: Daniel Cole asked, "If Vice President Joe Biden, who is Catholic, were to swing through Colorado Springs on a campaign tour and attend your Mass, would you deny him Communion?"

Bishop Sheridan's answer avoided any inflammatory rhetoric, "He should know, and I would do everything I could do to make sure that he knows, he ought not to be receiving Communion."

The simplicity of Bishop Sheridan's answer, his matter-of-factness, contained nuances that inhibit the possibility of controversy. Sheridan said nothing about a public pronouncement; he looked at the issue from Biden's perspective -- "He should know...."; and suggested it is Biden's responsibility to withhold himself from Communion. 

Cole then moved to questions about the death penalty and federal entitlement programs that are not easy to answer incisively, but Bishop Sheridan did as good a job as we have ever seen. 

Take his answer to Cole's tricky question, "The USCCB has also called for an end to the death penalty, as did Pope John Paul II. Are Catholics obligated to share that position?"

Bishop Sheridan's answer was a model of clarity:

"Catholics are bound to take that teaching seriously, but you'll note that in the Catechism, it says there actually may be circumstances under which the death penalty can or should - I'm not quoting it exactly - be applied. As soon as you say that, you know you're not talking about intrinsic evil, because there would be no circumstances under which it could be done. So again, I think a Catholic is obliged to take that seriously...."

The reporter then asked whether, "the Church's social justice teachings require Catholics to support government welfare programs?" The bluntness of the bishop's answer was surprising, even to us:
"Not that I'm not aware of. I think we recognize that the government can and should do things for people, especially people who are in great need. But, really, the obligation is for us as individuals, as Catholics, as believers, to be charitable toward our neighbor. I don't know that that extends to supporting government welfare programs."

The most common complaint we hear from lay Catholics during a presidential campaign is "Why aren't the bishops speaking out more?"  Those same lay Catholics should take into account how easy it is for a well-intentioned bishop to generate a controversy that does not benefit the pro-life, pro-marriage effort.  Savvy bishops have learned that lesson, and it's time for the laity to catch up.

Read more:

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Too little too late: $75.5 million anti-Trump ads not enough Watch

Image of Who can stop Trump? Apparently, no one (Twitter).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump has several critics, most of whom have invested in a $75.5 million anti-Trump campaign, but the American people have spoken and Donald Trump remains the last standing Republican nominee. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Donald Trump has been criticized ... continue reading


Hoosier Daddy: Trump wins Indiana in a Landslide Watch

Image of With Cruz out of the race, the nomination is in the bag for Trump (starcasm).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump beat out Ted Cruz in Indiana's primary, leading Cruz to make a startling announcement and Kasich to drop out. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I've said I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory; tonight I'm sorry to say it ... continue reading


ICE gets more money, deports fewer illegals. Where's the money going? Watch

Image of Illegal immigrants cross the border with little risk of repercussion.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Where is the money going? Congress continues to allocate money to get people who don't belong in our country back home, but deportations are dropping according to new numbers. So, where is the money going? LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Breitbart News has ... continue reading


New report finds religious freedom on the decline Watch

Image of Coptic Christians are among the most persecuted group in the world, and nobody is attempting to help them.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Religious freedom worldwide is "under serious and sustained assault." This finding is the work of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCRIF). LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A new report which examines religious oppression around ... continue reading


'He deserves what he gets:' Latino youths violently protest Donald Trump in Orange County Watch

Image of Trump protestors broke out in a violent riot during his Orange County rally (Reuters).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thousands attended Donald Trump's Orange County rally - then broke out in violent protest. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Trump rally in Costa Mesa's Orange County Amphitheater was overflowing with supporters. There were several supporters who couldn't fit ... continue reading


New White House rules leave religious groups open to government abuse Watch

Image of Religious groups question the government's new regulations (Shutterstock).

By Kevin J. Jones (CNA/EWTN News)

The Obama administration's new rule for faith-based partnerships has drawn various reactions: one observer warned they could cause problems for partnering religious groups, while another said the action also strengthens these groups' protections against government ... continue reading


EXCLUSIVE - America, King of Propaganda: U.S. government spends billions to spew LIES to the American people. And guess what you foolish Americans, Congress made it all perfectly legal without your vote Watch

Image of

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Have we won the ground war in Afghanistan? According to the government reports and the media, we sure have. However, this is not what one whistleblower has said, warning as early as 2012 that the American people are being deceived by the government. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Bill De Blasio's ongoing investigation scandal fails to stop him from new fundraising efforts Watch

Image of Mayor Bill de Blasio won't talk - but his staff will (Wikipedia).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's closest aides have been issued subpoenas to aid the investigation into his shady fundraising strategies. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The scandal surrounding de Blasio's fundraising has made headlines since 2014, when a leaked ... continue reading


Trump delivers first foreign policy speech, and sounds like a president should! (FULL TEXT) Watch

Image of Donald Trump's first full foreign policy speech sounded relatively presidential, and while short of specifics, was still worth listening to.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Donald Trump delivered his first full speech on foreign policy and he sounded fairly presidential while doing so. Trump is not a politician by trade, but he may make an excellent president thanks to his extensive business acumen. Trump is on the path to the Republican ... continue reading


The olive branch and the barb: Clinton vs. Trump Watch

Image of Trump and Clinton came out on top (Shutterstock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The race for the presidential nominee has been full of surprises as history-making events, claims of foul play, dirty dealings and controversial statements have cropped up in abundance. Candidates have, at times, been caught up in a tight race, but Tuesday's primary ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Top 10 mothers from the Bible
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, May 05, 2016
  • St. Mary Magdalene HD Video
  • Too little too late: $75.5 million anti-Trump ads not enough
  • Scientists play God in controversial move to revive the dead
  • Fatima Prayer HD Video
  • St. Hilary of Arles: Saint of the Day for Thursday, May 05, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 17:15, 22--18:1
15 Paul's escort took him as far as Athens, and went back with ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh from the heavens, praise him in the ... Read More

Gospel, John 16:12-15
12 I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 4th, 2016 Image

St. Florian
May 4: The St. Florian commemorated in the Roman ... Read More