Saturday, 20 April 2013

Is SACBC Getting Control?

Is the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) eventually beginning to take responsibility for the content of The Southern Cross? Have the bishops now realised that much of the content of this newspaper is entirely inappropriate, especially if the newspaper is going to continue to be sold to Catholics right inside of our churches? There are, thankfully, signs that this may indeed be the case!

I have for some time now, by choice, not read The Southern Cross. This is because I find that this newspaper tends to increase my blood pressure, makes me angry and causes me “desolate feelings of sadness and darkness of spirit[1]. Fortunately for me the Internet makes it possible for me to turn to other Catholic newspapers and publications that do not have the same effect.

The last time when I did read anything from this newspaper it was in response to a number of my readers who had written to me and drawn my attention to a Southern Cross Blog written by Sr. Sue Rakoczy.

I knew instinctively, when I was told that the writer was Sr. Rakoczy, that I could expect it to be some or other resentful attack on the Church.  This is after all exactly what this woman has done in virtually every single one of her posts that I have ever read on this newspapers website. I was not wrong.

Sr. Rakoczy effectively suggested that the bishops were not discerning the will of God because, if they were, they would know that they should “listen to women who say that God is calling them to the ordained ministry or to gay and lesbian persons in committed relationships.[2]

The really surprising thing for me has always been how The Southern Cross, despite numerous written complaints about the content of Sr. Rakoczy’s writing, has allowed her to continue to use this newspaper as a platform from which to launch these bitter and venomous attacks on the Church.  I have always thought and still do think, that this is disgraceful.

In my humble opinion, if Sr. Sue Rakoczy wants to attack the Church, she should at least have the decency to go off and start her own Blog and attract her own readers.  It really is unacceptable that Sr. Sue Rakoczy has been so extremely rude and unethical as to piggyback on this newspapers audience in order to launch her attacks on the Church.  It shows really poor form.

It is also equally poor form for the newspapers editor, Gunther Simmermacher, to give Sr. Sue Rakoczy express permission to attack the Church in this way, using the Southern Blog. That the editor gave express permission for her to do so is evident from the fact that the editor tolerated her writing without censure and also from the fact that he has on occasion defended her writing on the Southern Blog, to me.

The editor and Sr. Rakoczy would do well to remember that this newspaper exists only because the bishops continue to give this newspaper access to Catholics in the pews. There is no doubt that this newspaper would have shut down a long time ago had it not been for this kind access granted by the bishops.

Anyway, coming back to the point about the SACBC exercising control over the newspaper. I have now been alerted to the fact that The Southern Cross appears to have shut down the “Southern Blogs” section of the newspaper’s website. The tab to these Blogs has been removed and is no longer visible in the navigation panel on the website. Unfortunately one can, rather sadly, still get access to the historical contents of the Southern Blog, if one does a search of the newspapers website. This is a great pity!

If you ask me, it would be best to simply remove all of that content. The newspaper should leave a note advising any poor unsuspecting reader that the contents have been removed because the editor, Gunther Simmermacher, should never have allowed its publication on the Southern Blog in the first instance.

If the SACBC did have a hand in the removal of the Southern Blog section of this newspaper, well done. It was and is definitely time for the SACBC to begin to exercise greater control over this newspaper. If The Southern Cross is not happy with that control, let it distribute and sell its newspapers through another means, other than from the back and in some cases front, of our churches.

[1] The Southern Cross, A Jesuit Pope Named Francis, March 25, 2013, Accessed 19 April 2013
[2] The Southern Cross, A Jesuit Pope Named Francis, March 25, 2013, Accessed 19 April 2013


  1. These are two statements from the Editorial, April 3,
    The Southern Cross “Church and media.” that are to me problematic.

    1) “Most Church leaders are notinstructed in communications through the media. It is therefore necessary that
    professional Catholic communicators be engaged in the formulation of a coherent
    media strategy, and provide training to selected spokespersons.”

    2) “Likewise, there is little to be gained from ascribing a
    sinister plot to the BBC interview in which Cardinal Wilfrid Napier argued the point that paedophiles might require psychological treatment instead of incarceration.”

    Jesus was not only questioned, but ridiculed by the Pharisees; one could say that they engineered the crucifixion although some of of Pharisees believe in Jesus and did followed Him.

    This is what Jesus had to say about them:” Luke 12:1. And
    when great multitudes stood about him, so that they trod one upon another, he began to say to his disciples:

    Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees,
    which is hypocrisy.”

    Would Günther have advised Jesus and His disciples that they need a professional communicator to formulate a coherent media strategy to the Pharisees, when the posed questions on divorce and other matters?

    The truth is they did not care about the answers; they cared about twisting Jesus words.

    Our bishops are more than capable of dealing with the secular media. They are powerless if a reporter or editor chose to make distortions.

    If there are some who believe in the sincerity of the secular media and consider the BBC at the pinnacle, of the brood of vipers, just Google “BBC distorts Catholic Teaching.”

    If The Southern Cross is utterly useless in putting the record straight when our Cardinal or bishops words are distorted, then they should not offer their leaven.

  2. Malcolm, I agree with you completely. I think Gunther Simmermacher has adequately displayed his true colors while at the helm of the Southern Cross. He lacks the courage of his convictions and is therefore completely incapable of speaking boldly in defence of the Church's leaders like Cardinal Napier. Instead he attempts to find a middle ground where he can pass without committing himself completely in defence of the Church and therefore maintain the approval of both the secular media/world and those in the Church who are naive enough to miss his game. He would probably describe his actions as 'diplomatic'. I think it is more accurate to use the term 'lukewarm'.

    What is that saying about spitting out those who are lukewarm?

  3. Mark, if one looks at the two statements, basically, Gunther is saying the bishops are incapable of dealing with the media. (which is rubbish.)

    That, the BBC is above board. (that is certainly rubbish.)

    Therefor the fault is with the cardinal, and a catholic professional communicator,(whatever that is?) could sooth-say, Church teaching in a way that would placate the media. (more rubbish)

    Yet the Southern Cross, refuses to explain to their readers, how the media have.maliciously distorted what our dear Cardinal had said. (That is true)