The Southern Cross has historically had absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in publishing content that creates confusion about the true teaching of the Church, or content that portrays the Church or its leaders in a bad light. The latest issue of the newspaper reveals that this newspaper is clearly determined to continue in this vein.
The most recent example is an article written by Fr. Anthony Egan titled “Ordained Ministry Renewed”. It is clearly Fr. Egan’s desire to convey to the reader that the second Vatican Council “changed the face of ordained ministry” and that, while there has been some change, for some there is an expectation of further change based on their personal interpretation of Vatican II. I do not intend to address this at all in this post. Maybe I will do so in another post.
Fr. Egan concludes his article with a reasonable call that we should all approach the issues, which he believes faces the ordained ministry, “civilly, openly, and with a spiritual generosity that presumes good intent on the part of all taking part in the debate.” I wish to comment on this.
I agree wholeheartedly with Fr. Egan! In fact I believe that this call by Fr. Egan should apply to all dialogue regarding the various issues that we must address in the Church. We must approach all of these “civilly, openly, and with a spiritual generosity that presumes good intent on the part of all taking part in the debate.”
We must however always remember that a call for civility, openness, “spiritual generosity” and presumed “good intent” must be genuine! It must also, naturally, apply to all parties. It certainly is not appropriate to make such an appeal when one has just presented one of the parties, who hold an opposing view in the debate, in a sinister light. This, sadly, is exactly what Fr. Egan does in his article!
In the article, Fr. Egan makes an absolutely outrageous and entirely baseless claim about the late Archbishop Dennis Hurley. Fr. Egan, under the guise of expressing the opinion of others, claims that: “many South African Catholics believe that the late Archbishop Denis Hurley was never made a cardinal because he sympathised with both a married priesthood and women’s ordination”. This statement is purely anecdotal! It really serves no useful purpose whatsoever in the context of Fr. Egan’s article, except to portray some in the Church hierarchy as sinister and unjust. This baseless allegation could easily have been left out of the article without in anyway diluting the message in Fr. Egan’s article.
So why was this anecdotal and controversial statement inserted? It is only reasonable for us to conclude that it was inserted precisely because it would be provocative and divisive. There is certainly absolutely nothing of the presumed good intent and spiritual generosity, which Fr. Egan asks of all his readers later in his article, contained in the statement.
It seems to me that it is the modus operandi of the proponents of controversial subjects, such as gay marriage, contraception, abortion, and the ordination of women, to mention just a few, to engage those who do not share their views, with outrageous and unreasonable statements. These statements are designed precisely to stir up the emotions and create heated exchanges. The moment this natural reaction happens, they then dismiss their opponents with various disingenuous labels, such as being uncharitable, bigoted, misogynistic, and goodness knows what else. This tactic enables the proponents of these controversial subjects to avoid engaging in any logical, common sense dialogue on the subject. This is of course precisely what they wish to do. Avoid debate at all costs! Possibly because they know that what they are controversially proposing will never stand up to any close scrutiny or common sense debate!
What is concerning is that this is not the first time that this newspaper has seen fit to publish content that is baseless and even completely false. It seems this newspaper believes that this practice is perfectly acceptable. The editor, Gunther Simmermacher, has on a previous occasion even refused to retract a false statement, even though it was clearly highlighted to him by more than one person, including a priest, that it was a false statement about the Pope.
I don’t know about you but I do not want a tabloid for a Catholic newspaper. I want a Catholic newspaper that reports events happening in parishes around the country to spread the Gospel and build the community. I want a newspaper that reports what the Church is doing throughout the world to spread the Gospel. I want articles to help me understand events in the world in the context of the TRUE teaching of the Church. I want a newspaper that publishes the homilies of our local bishops so that all South Africans, not only those fortunate enough to attend Mass with them, can hear what they are saying. I want a Catholic newspaper that encourages me to be Catholic, that gives me hope, not a newspaper that creates doubt and confusion about the future of the Church and the validity of its teaching.