"Conservative" Catholic Media: Fair and Balanced?
Exposes the bias in conservative Catholic media, using treatment of Archbishop Mueller as an example.

Great gotcha moment as the author uses conservative favorite Fr.Most, to contradict the conservative site on the Archbishop's positions.


“Conservative” Catholic Media: Fair and Balanced?

Perusing some Catholic headlines a while back, I stumbled across one on CatholicCulture.org entitled, “A balanced portrait of new CDF head.” One thing I’ve learned in life is that if an article on Catholicism is advertised as “balanced” it is almost certainly destined to be biased. The fact that CatholicCulture.org’s founder previously penned two scathing articles attacking both John Vennari and a priest contributor to the Remnant for articles on Archbishop Muller did not exactly heighten my expectations. After a short endorsement of the article’s balance in the face of “extremes of the theological spectrum”, the site linked to an article on the Catholic World Report’s website entitled, “The New Man at the Helm of the Holy Office.”

The basic premise of the article is set out in the first paragraph. Namely, that extreme liberals as well as extreme conservatives both have problems with Abp. Muller, therefore he is obviously perfectly balanced in his Catholicism. The problem with this premise is that extreme liberals have a visceral reaction to every prelate right of Hans Kung, while “conservatives” typically tie their reactions to facts in light of Church teaching. The article admits as much in the first examples of liberal and conservative reactions it presents. The reaction of the liberal theological establishment in Germany to Abp. Muller’s appointment was apparently to howl, “Panzerkardinal!”; a deep theological critique indeed! To the contrary at least the conservatives were presented as basing their questions of orthodoxy on passages from the Archbishop’s own writings, even if the author refers to these questions as the equivalent of a “negative ad campaign” and accuses conservatives of focusing on only a few passages of the Archbishop’s “voluminous writings.”

The key to understanding the author’s apparent mindset and the mindset of many self-styled “conservative” Catholic authors is often not so much what is said, but what is not said. In the biography section of the article, the author lists a series of names of theologians and clergy Abp. Muller was associated with during his career with no commentary as to the theological positions these men held. The list of names reads like a series of red flags to any student of Catholic Tradition: Dietrich Bonhoffer, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Gustavo Gutierrez, and Cardinal Walter Kasper. Certainly the associations with these men, in and of themselves, are not proof of any theological irregularity on the part of the Archbishop. However, the nonchalant manner in which these names are rattled off as a proof of the Archbishop’s theological bona fides is indeed evidence of the author’s bias. The author is even sure to mention that Cardinal Lehmann earned his doctorate under Karl Rahner, described as an “influential expert at Vatican II.” This mention alone speaks volumes as to the author’s theological viewpoint as it was meant to attest to Cardinal Lehmann’s credentials. Even a number of conservative Catholics, much less Traditionalists, have problems with Karl Rahner’s theology.

The article goes on to list some orthodox stances the Cardinal has taken in his career such as defending the uniqueness of Christian revelation and defending John Paul II’s apostolic letter declaring that the Church cannot ordain women. It also lists laudable actions he has taken such as cutting off Church funding for dissident groups in the face of negative media coverage and instituting training sessions for priests on how to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass after the Motu Proprio.

The article then goes on to address the claims of “ultra-conservative Catholic critics” (no bias here!). The article’s defense of the Abp. Muller’s theologically troubling statements engages in the usual song and dance we’ve grown accustomed to from defenders of theologically troubling statements. We are assured that any reference or inference of a Lutheran “Church” by the Archbishop was a result of certain, “emphasize-the-positive ecumenical language” in an after-dinner speech. Comforting! As for the Archbishop’s troubling statements on the Eucharist, they are “inconclusive” because they were not meant to “articulate Catholic teaching” but rather contrast it with something else. If the best defense of the Archbishop’s words on the Holy Eucharist is that they were “inconclusive” doesn’t this lend merit to the “ultra-conservative” position that these words are, at the least, troubling?

Read the rest here.
Generally when you post a link, it is expected to quote a relevant part, and perhaps a little commentary.  No big deal but just so you know the expectation on this forum.

Thanks for the tip. If you post too much of the article at CAF they sanction you! I guess I went too far to the other extreme.

I just edited the post above to give some background.
Quote:...The irony in all of this is that the average readers of conservative Catholic publications are a lot more Traditional than conservative editors give them credit for. Indeed, a great number conservative laypersons have a clear Traditional understanding of the doctrine of Transubstantiation, a clear Traditional understanding of moral issues, and a very deep and abiding love and admiration for Our Lady. In fact, most conservative Catholics in the pews are just like Fr. Most.

The problem is found not so much with these Catholic readers, but with the self-styled “conservative” or, even worse, “balanced” Catholic blogs, websites, and periodicals these Catholics trust to give them reliable information and to look out for their best interests. The editors of many of these “conservative” publications do a disservice to these readers as they continually fail to defend the very articles of Faith their readers hold dear to their hearts. Instead, said editors defend blindly every public statement of a Vatican official whether or not it is in contradiction with the very Faith the official claims to hold.

Indeed, if Fr. Most were alive today and had directed his article against the words of Abp. Muller would his works appear on CatholicCulture.org? Or would he rather have been treated to a stern public lecture by its founder as were John Vennari and the priest contributor to the Remnant? The irony here is that all three men were simply defending the Traditional teaching on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. The difference is that, for some in Catholic media, “Muller locuta est, causa finita est.” For some conservative Catholic editors, Archbishop Muller’s words must be defended even when they apparently contradict councils, popes, and Fathers of the Church. Why? Because he is the new head of the CDF and was appointed by the pope. Any further questioning of the matter and one is branded as an extremist critic whose loyalty to the Church is teetering on the precipice. Thus, the arguments of Fr. Most (and thus the arguments of 2,000 years of Tradition) must be considered null and void since they were spoken before the new head of the CDF was installed. Thus is brought to light the true hermeneutic of some in conservative Catholic media: deference to titles and positions rather than doctrine.

It is the hope of this author that conservative readers of “mainstream” Catholic media start to see through the marginalization tactics used by the gatekeepers of Catholic conservatism and instead, begin to simply seek the truth. Conservative Catholics should begin to hold their media accountable when they don’t hold our prelates accountable. For a great many in Catholic media seem to care more about defending the words of a man who holds a title in the Church, than the very Faith that title was created to uphold...
(05-13-2013, 12:10 AM)James02 Wrote: Generally when you post a link, it is expected to quote a relevant part, and perhaps a little commentary.  No big deal but just so you know the expectation on this forum.

Actually, it's a much better idea to copy and paste the entire article with a bit of commentary. That way if the link goes dead, the article is still here.

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