Tuesday, October 19, 2010

St. Mary MacKillop and Another News SNAFU

I'll say this for old-school establishment news outlets: they're consistent. Remember the newly-canonized saints? And the standard-issue "whisleblower" line about St. Mary MacKillop?

Old-school establishment news covered a Catholic story - and got it wrong. As usual.

Here's something, from folks who know a little more about Catholics, Catholicism, the Catholic Church: and how to research a story.
" 'Whistleblower' Label For St. Mary MacKillop Called Innaccurate And Wrong"
Catholic News Agency, via EWTN (October 19, 2010)

"Efforts to brand the newly canonized St. Mary MacKillop as the 'Patron Saint of Whistleblowers in the Church,' are inaccurate and wrong, according to the nun responsible for advancing her sainthood cause.

"News media coverage of the Oct. 17 canonization focused almost exclusively on claims made by clergy sexual abuse victims that the new saint had once been excommunicated for exposing abuses by an Irish priest working in Australia.

"That claim is false, Sister Maria Casey, RSJ, told Vatican Radio, Oct. 15. 'To set the record straight: she herself did not denounce the priest, she was 2,000 miles away when the events were reported.'

"MacKillop was in fact excommunicated for five months in 1871 by her bishop. But that issue was only 'indirectly' related to the Irish priest, she said. At the root of the excommunication was a disagreement over how her new religious order should be governed. The excommunication was lifted after five months in 1872...."
I think it's sometimes hard for old-school news services, in America at least, to understand events that involve Catholics or Catholicism. America started out as a very Protestant country. There's a long tradition here of viewing 'those Catholics' as being, well, not quite 'American.' That's changing, but we still don't fit into the dominant culture's pigeonholes all that well.

Take St. Mary MacKillop, for example.
  • She's a woman, and a very active one
    • But she's not a valiant feminist, striking back at male oppression
  • She was excommunicated
    • But didn't renounce the oppressive Catholic hierarchy
  • She was (peripherally) involved in a sex scandal
    • But didn't write a tell-all book
Talk about confusing!

No wonder the establishment's news outlets grabbed at "whistleblower" to describe her. It may have been as close as editors could come, to understanding what makes St. Mary Mackillop important.

Just a thought, in closing. A couple, actually.
  • Don't believe everything you see in "mainstream" news
    • They don't necessarily know what they're writing about
  • Praying for folks who just don't get it - couldn't hurt
Now, before someone has a stroke: that last point, about praying, is just an idea. I'm not "making" anybody do anything. First: I don't have the authority to do so. Second: How, by all that is sane, could I "make" someone hundreds or thousands of miles away do anything?

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.