24 September 2013

Why journalism gets a bad name -- because it deserves it

We all know the anecdote of the childhood game which teaches how information can get lost in the re-telling.  But what is amazing is how often journalists--who are tend to work with printed sources--do the exact same thing.  Here's a real example:

Earlier this month, The Wanderer did an interview with Raymond Cardinal Burke, the Prefect for the Apostolic Signatura, which means that he is head of one of the highest courts at the Holy See.  The Wanderer is a very old Catholic newspaper, that publishes from a decidedly orthodox and traditional Catholic viewpoint.  In the interview, they ask Cardinal Burke about Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a self-described Catholic and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.  She also advocates and actively supports a number of positions directly in opposition with the Church's moral teaching.  In the article, Cardinal Burke is asked about Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which says that Catholics which manifestly persist in grave sin are "not to be admitted to holy communion".  The Cardinal, a preeminent canon lawyer, said the following:
Certainly this is a case when Canon 915 must be applied. This is a person [i.e., Rep. Pelosi] who obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin — cooperating with the crime of procured abortion — and still professes to be a devout Catholic. This is a prime example of what Blessed John Paul II referred to as the situation of Catholics who have divorced their faith from their public life and therefore are not serving their brothers and sisters in the way that they must — in safeguarding and promoting the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in safeguarding and promoting the integrity of marriage and the family.
This is fairly uncontroversial as it goes, and has been Cardinal Burke's view for many, many years, going back even to his time as Archbishop in St. Louis.

Some outfit called the Western Center for Journalism (WCJ) then takes snippets from the interview and puts them into an article under the headline: "Vatican Chief Justice: Nancy Pelosi Must Be Denied Communion".  Now, while one might infer that, note that Cardinal Burke never says those words.  He simply says the the Canon should be enforced.  Even the title, "Vatican Chief Justice" is a tad misleading, to say the least.  Otherwise, the article itself is a fairly accurate restatement of one small piece of the original interview.

The next phase of this journalistic daisy chain goes to the Washington Times.  They pick up the WCJ article under the headline: "No communion for Nancy Pelosi: Vatican court head".  Again, a fairly misleading headline.  Even more interestingly, the article is written crediting the WCJ for the article, when all they did was cut and paste from the original Wanderer article.  These journalists can't even figure out where their sources are from!

We finally get to the last line in this long phone conversation, The Drudge Report.  On today's front page of Drudge, you find this headline, which links to the Washington Times article:

Reading this headline, one gets the impression that there was an official decree issued by a court at the Holy See directing that Nancy Pelosi not receive Holy Communion.  This conclusion is, of course, completely false!  If you then click open and read The Washington Times article, you could easily conclude that that's exactly what they're talking about.  It's only if you then link to the WCJ article which finally links you to the original Wanderer interview that you realize that that's not what this is about--that rather than some official sentence handed down, this is just the private opinion of Cardinal Burke.  Moreover, it's not even really news--Cardinal Burke has held this opinion quite publicly for years.

This is terrible journalistic practice, and a reminder that you can never fully trust the media's reporting on the Catholic Church.

A new post for Archbishop DiNoia

Fr. Augustine DiNoia, OP, a member of the Province of St. Joseph has recently been appointed to a new position by Pope Francis within the Roman Curia.  While there are a number of Dominicans working for the Holy See, Abp. DiNoia is currently the only member of the Province to have a full-time appointment there.  He is also one of the highest placed Dominicans in the Roman Curia.

From a recent article by the National Catholic Register:

American Among Wave of Papal Appointments, Confirmations

The Holy Father has named Archbishop Augustine Di Noia as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

By Kerri Lenartowick 

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Archbishop Di Noia
In a further development, Pope Francis created a position for Archbishop Augustine Di Noia. He now joins the leadership of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith as its adjunct secretary.
The American prelate has years of experience working in the Roman Curia. He began serving as undersecretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2002 and was appointed secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2009. At the same time, he was consecrated as the titular archbishop of Oregon City.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named him vice president of the Ecclesia Dei Pontifical Commission, which has led efforts to bring the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X back into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Di Noia was born in New York and joined the Dominicans of the Eastern Province of St. Joseph, where he was ordained in 1970. He is a respected theologian who was asked to serve on the International Theological Commission, a group tasked with helping the Holy See examine doctrinal questions, from 1997-2002.

Congratulations to Archbishop DiNoia, and many prayers as he begins his new ministry for the Church.

National Journal Daily Article

Earlier this summer, the National Journal profiled me in an article that ran in late July or early August.  The article was published digitally as part of the National Journal Daily.  Unfortunately, the article is behind their paywall.  However, the editor has given kind permission for me to reprint a portion of the article. Below is a reprint of the first several paragraphs.

From the National Journal Daily
by Jordain Carney

Pius Pietrzyk worked in corporate law in Chicago for three years before he left the legal world behind and entered training for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph in 2002 to become a priest. But a presidential appointment to the Legal Services Corp. in 2010 has given him another link—this time in a managerial sense—back to the legal world.
"I loved practicing law; I loved being a lawyer ... and in many ways I was sad to go," Pietrzyk said. But he added that the priesthood is "where I feel most at home." 
Last week, President Obama nominated Pietrzyk, who was ordained as a priest in 2008, to serve another term on the Legal Services board of directors. The LSC is a nonprofit corporation that provides grants to programs that give legal assistance to low-income Americans. "The ultimate goal is helping the poor," Pietrzyk said of the organization, adding that he thought it was "a noble thing to do." 
Although Obama first nominated Pietrzyk in 2010, it was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office that had suggested Pietrzyk to fill an open Republican seat on the LSC board. Pietrzyk called his nomination "completely out of the blue." LSC bylaws require that the 11-member board include someone who could technically qualify as a client, or someone with a household income at 125 percent of the poverty level or below. Pietrzyk, who took a vow of poverty as part of the Dominican Order, fit the bill.
"I'm sort of old fashioned.… When a member of the Senate asks if you want to serve, my first reaction is kind of 'OK,' " he said, explaining his decision to join the LSC board. At the time, he had heard of the organization, but wasn't overly familiar with it.
Pietrzyk said one complaint he had about his involvement with LSC is the intense vetting of applicants. Pietrzyk, 40, was first contacted by McConnell's office in January 2010, and it took eight months until he received final approval by the Senate. The process included submitting any writing or speeches he had given, fingerprinting, undergoing a background check with the FBI, and financial disclosure, among other things. "It's a little easier for me, because when they asked for my financial assets I just write zero, zero, zero, zero," he said, but he added that he wonders if the process "discourages people from serving their country."
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©2013 by the National Jornal Daily, Reprinted with permission