“We face an extremely grave problem. The church’s messages are subject to a type of manipulation and falsification by some western media,” (Cardinal Tarcisio) Bertone said in an interview with Le Figaro Magazine published in Paris on Saturday.
“I see a fixation by some journalists on moral topics, such as abortion and homosexual unions, which are certainly important issues but absolutely do not constitute the thinking and work of the church,” he said.
“Why this deafening silence?” he asked. “We have to say the press does not write much about the social and charity work of thousands of Catholic organisations around the world.”
Is it a “grave” problem? I can understand that it’s an annoying one. The media, however, do not exist today to give favorable coverage of events to any particular individual or group. Thanks to capitalism, news reporting is a profit-driven affair and the truth is that people will pay to learn about scandal, conflict, and soap operas.
I find the “fixation” statement incredible. The cardinal seems never to have been to America. If he had, he would have seen that issues of sexual or reproductive morality indeed constitute almost all of the public thinking of the Church’s hierarchy, at least since the late 1980′s. And even when the bishops turn their attention to liturgy, they get their fluffy slippers muddy with the question of a communicant-politician’s stance on abortion or homosexual unions.
It would be interesting to query people leading the way in the social and charity works done in Genova, Bertone’s archdiocese until recently. What would these leaders say about Bertone’s pastoral and PR emphases when he was archbishop?
Is this to say that bishops can’t or shouldn’t teach or publicize on sexual matters? Of course not. However, if a balance is desired, bishops should take a serious look at the quality of prudence and the expected outcomes of every significant public utterance. Meanwhile, I’m not too sympathetic with the good cardinal. The secular media does not exist to cater to our needs. I’d rather that Christian actions spoke more loudly, more clearly, and more unencumbered. We can devote resources to good public relations. Or we can let the chips fall where they may. But we can’t expect other people to do our jobs for us.