Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 18, 2006
WCR is an Alternate voice for turbulent times
This week's front page story on Pope Benedict's talk to the Ontario bishops is but one indication of why the Church needs its own newspapers. The Catholic News Service story by Carol Glatz was a reasonably full account of the pope's talk, a striking contrast with the terse report distributed by The Associated Press and reprinted in some secular news media.
The AP report gave the scantiest of information about the pope's talk, portraying him as scolding Canadian Catholic politicians for supporting abortion and same-sex marriage. Despite the shortage of information, in less than two hours after posting the AP story on its website, The Globe and Mail also posted 93 responses from readers, virtually all of them hostile and vitriolic towards the pontiff and his comments. It didn't matter that people didn't know what the pope had actually said - they were agin' it.
Too many people are ready to oppose Catholic teaching even before they know what that teaching is.
Our culture is defined by a narrow, individualistic notion of freedom and it is not easy to see how it can gain a higher view of the human call to turn to God. But without such a turn-around, the abortion and same-sex marriage issues of today are but a prelude to a nastier tomorrow.
Such a turn-around won't likely happen without a strong Catholic press. The Catholic press is a weak, tiny boat tossed about on tumultuous seas. The heavy seas do not bother the ocean liners, cargo ships and destroyers of the secular media so much. Indeed, those are sailing with the storm, even egging it on.
But we need a Catholic press to say that there is an alternative, that this alternative, far from being repressive, is the real road to freedom and light. The Vatican's 1971 document Communio et Progressio puts it succinctly: "It is hard to see how people can keep in touch with what is happening in the Church without the Catholic press. Neither can people keep a Catholic attitude towards what happens in the world without the help of commentaries on the news written in the light of Christian principles" (n. 140).
Jesus left us with this little thing called hope. Hope spurs us on. It is an act of despair to accept our culture the way it is and not try to change it. But hope says that small groups of faith-filled people, blessed by the grace of God, can make a big difference.
So we regularly tell the stories of those Catholics who reach beyond themselves and do make a difference. In the last month, we have told you about Michael Joosten, a young seminarian who has set himself towards becoming a priest. We have told you about the new Edmonton Catholic superintendent Joan Carr who encourages teachers and principals by telling them that schools are holy ground.
The WCR has written about former national CWL president Agnes Bedard of Calgary whose striving to see all others as companions on her journey gave her a new perspective. We have told you about Jim and Tess O'Mara, who left the life of Bay Street behind to work with the poorest of the poor AIDS sufferers in Malawi.
All these people - and many others we have written about - have bought into the notion that there is a grander, more universal morality than I'm OK, You're OK. They have made huge sacrifices to achieve less tangible rewards than power and prosperity. They are witnesses to the grandeur of God and the awesomeness of the human person.
By telling their stories, the WCR buys into and spreads the hope they live.
The pope told the Ontario bishops that any faltering in our Catholic identity would weaken the Church's mission to help people "recognize and experience the love of Christ." We need to keep that identity alive and to spread it wherever God leads.
The WCR is one part of that revolution of hope. We urge you to be part of that revolution too and to help us in carrying out our small part.
- Glen Argan
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