Lessons From Sensationalism

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Here’s a good topic for discussion. I’m sure the rest of the blogosphere will pick like vultures over the Franciscan, his lover, and his son, the latter two now stricken with cancer. My readers know I’m deeply skeptical of print and tv media being pawns in the hands of corporations hawking product and maximizing the Creation of Wealth. So when the NY Times breaks a tearjerker about bad-boy OFM’s, is it real journalism, or is it a lasso for those looking for the lurid? Margaret Steinfels from dotCommonweal’s blogpost:

This front-page story tells us more about the NYTimes coverage of the Catholic Church than it tells us about the problem of clergy-parishioner relationships. The story mentions experts but I didn’t see any cited.And what are the motives of the woman and son?

I’m more concerned about our own motives–we bloggers. Do we Catholics see stories like this as some part of a philosophical infantry for our pet points of view? Is this about aha–womanizing men misbehaving? Let’s tally up gays versus straights and see who’s ahead at the end of the day.

If I may, I’m going to stake out a little territory, at the risk of answering my own query. Mollie Wilson O’Reilly asks decent-enough questions, like …

How many other confidentiality agreements are hiding stories like this one? What should the Church be doing about it?

And sure, we would like some moral reassurance. I sure don’t feel the need to know the slimy details of why a priest, religious, or lay person has been whisked off, leaving people to wonder. Over the years, I’ve known why colleagues have disappeared. Sometimes I didn’t know, and when I didn’t need to know, I tried not to care. Aside from saying prayers for those involved.

I think the Church’s problem, both institutionally, and with sexual predation, is about far more than the sex. Cases like this show how entwined the abuse of power is with individual misbehavior. All the signs of co-dependence, of the misaligned thinking that alcoholics and other addicts inspire in those around them, are on display: the secrecy, the lies, the excuses, the deal-making, the cover-up. It’s all there.

It may be the truth that this is tabloid news generated to sell product. But it’s also true there are lessons to be learned by looking at these stories carefully.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Lessons From Sensationalism

  1. Pingback: Lessons From Sensationalism - Christian Forums

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