These questions arise from a couple of recent issues of a well-known Canadian Catholic newspaper sent to me by a reader wanting to know my opinion on articles marked for my attention.
The first is a piece headlined CREATING THE CONDITIONS FOR PEACE, a half-page feature so formulaic it hardly requires reading, as it follows a simple, always predictable, recipe. Which is this: mix an ecumenical peace group with a chirpy professor/peace activist, throw in a gratuitous phrase about prayer and the Eucharist, and my eyes glaze over. Next?
Next is a two-page spread headlined THE CHRISTIAN ECOLOGICAL IMPERATIVE--a reprint of a document issued by the Social Affairs Commission of the Canadian Conference of Bishops on the feast of St Francis of Assisi who, I am reminded, is the patron saint of the environment. Is that why it was printed?
Nevertheless, one must ask why the theologically-challenged Thomas Berry is quoted in the article. And why I need strength to get through it.
"The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor are one," it drones. "Ecological harmony cannot exist in a world of unjust social structures; nor can the extreme social inequalities of our current world order result in ecological sustainability." And so on.
Who writes this stuff? And why does it need half a page of footnotes when a simple apology for boring me rigid would do?
From the same issue, here's a commentary on how Christianity is embracing environmental concerns. It begins with an introduction citing cultural historian Lynn White Jr who, in 1967, called Christianity the "most anthropocentric religion" the world has ever known, making it largely responsible for the current ecological crisis. Read: pantheism good, Catholicism bad.
Please, somebody. Make it stop! This isn't Catholicism, reader. This is Catholicism being used to forward the socialist agenda.
Charles Dickens might have viewed this as a post-modern twist on the Mrs Jellyby syndrome, named for one of his most memorable characters, a mother who, while badly neglecting her children, spends all her time raising money for people in remote continents because she can't see anything of importance closer than Africa.
Worried Catholics--such as the above reader--think something more sinister is at work. They wonder why this sort of editorial content--which could have been written in Moscow or Brussels, and would not seem out of place in The Daily Worker--now occupies so much space in Catholic publications.
They are right to be concerned. The acres of copy now passing for Catholic journalism are, in fact, keeping millions of Catholics dumbed down and distracted from the truly earth-shaking issues on the moral Richter scale, of which environmentalism registers a minus two!
In a secular world, confused and bullied by political correctness, Catholic journalists are caving under the pressures of affirming and defending an often unwelcome message. Rather than fulfilling their journalistic mandate by upholding true Catholic teaching and proclaiming the truth on difficult moral issues--from abortion to homosexuality--many Catholic publications are wimping out.
Instead, they're throwing their weight behind such soft quasi-issues as environmentalism, racism, globalism and social justice (whatever that is), opting for utopian dreams and using the Gospel, wrongly, to support their positions.
In the end, it's easier to bash McDonald's than wayward MPs, easier to print feelgood stories about Catholic social action in foreign countries than call Canadian prime ministers to account as practising Catholics, easier to be a prophet of piffle than a sign of contradiction--which is what every Catholic news publication should be in that old watchdog tradition.
But no. With the barbarians at the very gates and foul legislation being rammed through the House of Commons, Catholic journalists are going along to get along, wasting time and energy on pretentious twaddle and bad science.
The result of such flaccid, know-nothing journalism is plain to see. Today, orthodox Catholicism is not being affirmed in many key Catholic publications. Ergo, once powerful Catholic influence is no longer being brought to bear in the political arena and Catholics are not being galvanised where it counts--in their homes and at the polls. The result is a parade of socially-destructive bills now passing into law virtually unopposed, ironically unleashing new forms of social injustice hitherto unimagined.
Does that answer your question?
Paula Adamick is the publisher of the monthly paper Canada Post out of London, England.