On the 5th of June 2013 the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference announced that South Africa’s five metropolitan archbishops had released a new book. The book is entitled “God, Love, Life and Sex”. According to Lynn Harrison of the publishers, Mariannhill Mission Press, the book is intended as a “guide and resource for Christian living, marriage and family”.
This is of course really exciting news. It is good to see the work our bishops are doing in this regard. This should, in my humble opinion, make the front-page of our local Catholic newspaper. In addition, I would think that our local Catholic newspaper would make every possible effort to continue to help the bishops to promote this book to Catholics in South Africa.
The Southern Cross did publish an article about the publication of the book. It appeared on the second page of the 29 May 2013 edition of The Southern Cross and was entitled “SA Bishops Publish New Book”. What appeared on the front-page? An article about e-Tolls in South Africa.
I would normally provide you with a link to the article so that you can read it for yourself, but unfortunately the article is not available on the website of The Southern Cross. The Southern Cross normally makes some of its printed articles – probably the more important of those – available online about a week or two after the printed publication.
Since the article about the bishops’ book was published as far back as 29 May 2013, I really would have thought that by now it would definitely be available online on The Southern Cross website. I am wrong! After a period of 7-weeks it is still not available online at the newspapers website. Why would this be?
The editor of The Southern Cross’ own book, The Holy Land Trek, is right there in plain view whenever you enter the newspapers website. Yet our bishops’ book is sadly nowhere to be found on the newspapers website.
This is of course not the first time this newspaper has not given our bishops pride of place on its website. I wrote some months ago about how the same thing was done with a series of articles written by Cardinal Napier. Thankfully later they were eventually published online, after I had made some noise about it.
Okay, you may be saying, we get your point Mark. The newspaper placed the news of the bishops article on page two and it forgot to make it available online. There is nothing sinister to the decision. The editor simply made a choice.
I disagree. Let me tell you why.
This week The Southern Cross has published an article about the criticism that a Catholic priest – Fr. Christopher Clohessy – has levelled at this book of the bishops’. The article in The Southern Cross is entitled “Mixed Reaction To Bishops Book On Sex”. It appears, surprise, surprise, prominently on the front-page of The Southern Cross.
Not only does it take up about one third of the newspaper’s front-page, its title is also splashed boldly right across the top of the front page of the newspaper. Impossible to miss!
Why, I have to ask, was this article also not placed further back in the newspaper – say on page two? Why has it been given such a prominent place in this week’s edition of The Southern Cross? Especially in comparison to the place that was given to news of the books publication.
Of course I also have to ask, was it even necessary to actually tell this story of Fr. Clohessy's criticism?
The article appears to suggest that it was written because Fr. Clohessy’s criticism of the bishops’ book went viral on social media.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything about Fr. Clohessy’s alleged critique that had gone viral, even though I specifically looked for these on the Internet.
What I did find was on about page 8 of my Google search results. It was an article in the Rapport, dated on 29 June 2013, which wrote about Fr. Clohessy’s criticism of the South African Catholic Bishops’ book. You can find that article here.
So, did this priests comments really go viral and require immediate front-page coverage by our Catholic newspaper?
If it did go viral, it seems it went viral in a different cyber world to me. My Internet search engines certainly haven’t found them. Still looking though. Maybe someone can send me the link to these criticisms of Fr. Clohessy.
In the mean time, if you didn’t know about Fr. Clohessy’s critique before this, thanks to The Southern Cross you know exactly what Fr. Clohessy has to say about the bishops' book, even if you missed news of the actual publication of the bishops' book on page two some weeks ago.
To end on a positive note. Here are links to the bishops God, Love, Life and Sex website as well as to their God, Love Life and Sex Facebook Page.