Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sadly, I'm proven right, sort of...(updated)

When I posted this in the week leading up to the March for Life in Washington, I foresaw it to be the attitude of the Main Stream Media which ended up not covering it at all. What I didn't expect was that we'd get this reporting from a Catholic publication. But then I read this article this morning by Dennis Sadowski of Catholic News Service, reprinted in my diocesan newspaper, The Four County Catholic. You might say that my annoyance with CNS and the FCC is just me being a curmudgeon, but then I read Thomas Patrick Melady's fawning coverage of President Obama's first weeks in office in which we find this gem:

"During his campaign, Senator Obama promised to remove the ban on U.S. funding for international aid groups that perform abortions or counsel the termination of pregnancies.

"It was expected that he would lift the ban, just as President Clinton did in 1993. While regrettably this was the case, there is something to be said about the different style he employed in doing so. Thousands of Catholics and others opposed to abortion were in Washington for the “Right to Life March” on Thursday, January 22nd. Obama elected not to sign the order into effect that day, choosing a different course than that of his Democratic predecessor 16 years earlier. Instead he waited until the evening of the following Friday, so that the spirit of that day might not be “clouded”.

"It was signed into effect without any media present; there were no reporters, photographers or camera crews, as there were the day before when Obama announced his decision to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay."

You can read the rest of this hogwash here, if you want...

OK, so Melady seems to have taken some stupid pills. I know he's a former ambassador to the Holy See, (born in Norwich, so maybe that's why FCC saw fit to gravitate toward him) but come on!

What on earth does it matter about his style in signing the executive order to fund overseas abortions? "Gee, Mr. President, you sure know how to kill kids with panash!"

Obama didn't hold off lifting the Mexico City Policy to leave unsullied the spirit of the day, he hoped to bury the story in the weekend news cycle. That's why there was no media present. He wants to trumpet closing Guantanamo Bay as an example of his forthright attitude in undoing everything George Bush accomplished, good, bad or indifferent; yet he doesn't want the American people to come to grips with the extent that he seeks to further the cause of the Culture of Death.

Catholics need to stand firm in witness against the abortion lobby that undermines the very rights of all people. This cynical and frankly, naive coverage from a Catholic publication is, in my opinion, scandalous.

Update: I sent a more charitable version of this post via email to Michael Strammiello, Director of Communications. Below are excerpts of the proceeding correspondence.

Dear Mr. ,

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts regarding the March for Life coverage in in the February Four County Catholic.

I respect and agree with your point of view regarding the need for our diocesan paper to be on the right side of the pro-life stance. Not sure I can agree, though, with your assessment of our missing the mark in the February issue.

The February issue opens with a front page that forgoes thumbnail photographs in favor of a series of strong pro-life quotes,e.g. ""We will defeat the culture of death or will perish as a nation.' and "Express your conviction that all human life is sacred and deserving of legal protection."

We featured a quotation that has President Obama in his own words acknowledging that "God calls on us" to shape the future. We state our resolve in the body copy that we are determined to carry the Catholic view to Washington. We may be gracious to the new president, but we are also tenacious and proactive. And all of that -- on the front page!

Then we keep the conversation going in the interior pages with the "Our Voice is Needed More Now than Ever" article re: FOCA postcards, and Dennis Sadowski's article "We Choose Life" re: the March for Life. Bishop Cote closes his column with a strong call to action message, "Let us try at every opportunity to join in the conversation ourselves in our participatory democracy. We must not rest on the sidelines. We must be
heard." This is the fighting spirit of the newspaper in its entirety.

We also published verbatim the USCCB Bishops' letter to then President-elect Obama with such language as "We will consistently defend the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death. ...We will oppose legislation and other measures to expand abortion. Efforts to force Americans to fund abortions with their tax dollars would pose a serious moral challenge.."

You have singled out Thomas Patrick Melady's Catholic News Service article as too forgiving of President Obama's stance on abortion. Our thinking among our editors was that this presented a somewhat softer edge approach that shows one of many ways to potentially break-through on pro-life. We don't have a fix yet on how responsive the new Administration will be to the Catholic world view. President Obama's campaign rhetoric was not encouraging. However, he may respond in office more favorably. Worth
having a number of approaches in the works to reach him. I hope you can appreciate our thought process.

I must respectfully and strongly disagree with your contention that the Four County Catholic has downplayed the importance of the fundamental right to life. The February addition is ringing with our proactive position on the fundamental right to life.

Again, I thank you for your thoughtful and spirited comments. Believe we are on the same page for the most part.

In His service,

Michael Strammiello
Director of Communications
Diocese of Norwich

Dear Mr. Strammiello,

Thank you for your thoughtful response to my letter. I want to clarify a few points because it appears I was not thorough in what I was trying to say to you. You are correct that there was a large amount of encouraging items in the FCC about our need to stand up for those most vulnerable. Let me make it clear how much my wife and I appreciate that good work.

I believe it is clearer to say that my frustration was with the content of the Catholic News Service pieces, notably the Dennis Sadowski article and the Melady article we discussed. As I said, I expected the media to cover the March for Life as anti-Obama reactionism, if they covered it at all, which except for a very few outlets, they did not. Yet Dennis Sadowski's article begins for the first few paragraphs as painting the entire day as merely an anti-Obama rally, which you and I know it entails so much more.

I guess I was most concerned with the opinion of Thomas Patrick Melady because even though, as you said, we can hope (with healthy skepticism) about a softer approach by President Obama now that he is in office, praising his style in authorizing the funding of abortion clinics with our tax dollars is an egregious mistake. For a man of Mr. Melady's history and stature in the Catholic community, I find it scandalous.

Truthfully, I am skeptical about the headline remarking that Catholic voices are heard in Washington, additionally considering that the new variant of faith-based initiatives will focus on reducing abortion by a "common ground approach" that relies heavily on artificial contraception.

I do believe that we are on the same page on this most important issue. Thank you again for your response and your continued hard work for our diocese. In fairness to you and the FCC, I would like to post our correspondence on my blog. I will do so on Monday if I do not hear from you otherwise. Your comments there are always welcome.

Sincerely in Christ,

Thank you, Mr. . Good to hear back from you.

I understood your concerns well in your previous message. Our mission at the FCC is to provide a variety of material on a subject as important as the right to live. This allows our readers to see what is being said on the subject by Catholic journalists. It helps place one's opinion in the context of a broad forum. Overall, I think we accomplished that in the February issue. You might even agree in principle.

If you would like to submit an article on this subject for our March or a future issue, please do so. Glad to consider it for publication.

Ok here with your posting our correspondence online.

Always a pleasure to receive thoughtful feedback. Thank you again.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our "catholic" newspaper, followed in kind. It had an article on one side of the paper admonishing Obama, and the rescinding of the Mexico City policy. RIGHT NEXT TO IT in a darker color was an article praising him on closing Guantanomo (sp?)!!

No wonder Catholics are confused. There is no homogeneous thought!! NOr is there any direction from our Catholic media!