Praising the Press: On Chapel Veils

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For this edition of “Praising the Press“, an article from the fashion website: Fashionista.com. While so far this series (for a reminder on its purpose, read this post) has focused on articles published by local newspapers, I also would like to include national and digital secular news sources.

WHY MILLENNIAL CATHOLICS ARE RE-ADOPTING THE TRADITIONAL CHAPEL VEIL

I love the decision of the author to begin with quotes and perspective from Leah Darrow. Why? She is a sort of bridge between the two most likely audiences reading this article, fashionistas and Catholics. Furthermore, she has a reputation, and therefore some sort of authority in both camps. By building this bridge with Darrow, the author opens up dialogue to build upon.

In crossing this bridge the author moves on to interview a variety of other young Catholic women. One point to be made here is the value of getting the perspective of these various women on their experience of veiling, faith, and theology. It is a very good thing that the voices of these women are heard. This is much better than say, interviewing some priest as a theological expert.

Furthermore, in listening to the voices of these women, the author establishes a fair dialectic between their perspective and what might be the perspective of someone approaching this practice from afar. The value here is in the fairness of considering both perspectives instead of dismissing the experience, opinion or perspective of the women.

Lastly, the author is fair in recognizing some of the demographic limitations of this practice. This is important because it prevents the article from painting with too broad of a brush stroke and therefore giving a false impression of the reality of practice of veiling within the Church.

If you see any other well done articles about the Catholic Church in secular news sources, please send them my way for future editions of “Praising the Press.

Praising the Press: On Seminary and Ordinations

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Earlier this week I finally decided to try a project I’d thought about for many years. It’s what I’m calling, “Praising the Press.” Looking at well done stories by secular press about the Catholic Church.

This edition comes from the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:

Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend’s large priest ordination class part of a growing interest by young people in religious life

In my reading, there two parts to this article. The first on the state of vocations, why young people are joining the priesthood today. The second speaks to the seminary process by which one becomes a priest.

As regards the first point what I appreciate about the article is that the reporter takes time to listen to the arguments made by the priest regarding some of the factors leading to an increase in vocations. There have been other examples, this very week of reporters who rather chose to stick to their own storyline or narrative regarding the vocations crisis, instead of listening to those on the front lines.

To the second part of the article about the formation process, I believe there are a few points worth commending. The first is just the fact that the process is outlined and explained. So many reporters seem to skip over this as if priests just fell from the sky. Furthermore, the depth of explaining the process particularly in regards to the scrutinies and evaluations is valuable information to be included. Those kinds of details show some of the steps the Church is taking towards developing a healthier, holier next generation of priests.

If you see any other good articles in the secular press about the Catholic Church, please send them my way.

Praising the Press: On the Diaconate

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Back when I started this little site I was attempting to launch my career in journalism, instead of the priesthood. I was pursuing two potential avenues, Catholic press, or secular press coverage of religion. While obviously in the end, God had other plans, my love of journalism and writing has never died.

The Press and the Catholic Church

For many years while I was in seminary I always talked about and envisioned reusing this space to share come comments regarding the intersection of journalism and Catholicism. Instead, as the tides have turned, I’ve mostly continued to use it as a portfolio kind of site, linking to my various content around the web, reflections, media appearances etc..

One of the web sites that I have always admired from afar when it comes to promoting religious literacy is GetReligion. As a Catholic theologian, specifically of fundamental theology, yes, I may at times disagree with particular nuances or points in their coverage. However, on the whole I find their work to be fair, thorough and balanced.

Furthermore, outside of the journalism bubble and deep, or even not so deep, within Catholic confines, it can be quite popular to bash, “the media,” “the press,” or “journalists.” Claims of Anti-Catholicism and an antagonist lack of trust can be strong at times.

Certainly at times there are instances where I read a secular article about the Church, that as a priest, theologian, and former journalist, make me want to throw my laptop through the wall. However, on the whole I attribute such mistakes what is known as religious illiteracy. I’m not saying there aren’t cases of Anti-Catholic bias, I am saying that religious illiteracy amongst journalists, and society as a whole is the far more prevalent problem. It’s also not a problem exclusive to Catholicism.

With all that being said, I’d like to start attempting to realize that vision I had of how to use my love of journalism and the Church. The other day I was talking with friends about it at lunch and realized that I had no excuse as to why I’ve waited nearly three years since leaving seminary.

Instead of contributing to the laments and critiques, cultivating a culture of division and pessimism, I’d prefer to take a more positive approach. There are plenty of other spaces for one to satisfy their cravings for that kind of material. Instead, I’d like to focus on some of the times when secular press does a particularly good job. To give praise when and where praise is due. Not to say to that all of the pieces featured are perfect, but to provide compliments when they are well-earned. Hence the title, “Praising the Press.” For now I make no commitments as to how frequently or infrequently such posts might appear, it’s just another project I’d like to try.

With that being said let’s look at the first entry from the Jefferson City News Tribune:

Jefferson City bishop examines role of deacons

One of the things that I like about this piece is the manner in which it combines the historical context, the teaching of the Church (i.e. what is the diaconate?), and various local individuals involved. Furthermore, the writer appeals to both figures of authority, the bishop, as well as the human interest side of those who are living the reality of the diaconate. All together this provides a thorough background and foundation of some aspect of the Church (the diaconate), along with a contemporary, personal, and local connection. The depth of the explanations are a good example of the opposite of religious illiteracy, but instead, actual religious literacy and comprehension. Lastly, the author addresses some of the concerns going forward into the future as well in a fair and realistic manner.

Again, the point of these pieces will be to briefly highlight good work. There is already enough negative noise on the internet. If you see any other good stories about the Catholic Church in secular religion journalism, please send them my way.