No-Man's Land

November 2001

To learn more about what the National Catholic Register is not (see above), let’s turn to the Register for August 19-25. There we find a commentary by Tim Drake, who, being the Features Correspondent for the Register and an Editor of the Web site maintained by the Register’s publisher (Circle Media), is presumably in sync with the Register’s editorial policy.

Drake tells us about his neighborhood: Across the street lives a Catholic physician, who, being a traditional Catholic, is a reader of Crisis, catholic eye, The Wanderer, and the NEW OXFORD REVIEW. And next door to Drake is a retired judge, who, being a liberal Catholic, is a devotee of the National Catholic Reporter. Drake finds himself in the middle, “trying to stay on good terms with both.” It’s not exactly Mister Rogers’s neighborhood.

More generally, Drake says of his career as a Catholic journalist that “Those on the left describe my work as ‘conservative,’ while those on the right suggest it is too ‘liberal.’” Drake goes on to say that the Church is “neither right nor left”; rather, the Church is simply “the Church.” In a sense that’s true, but to say that is to say very little. As a matter of fact, in Western culture the Church is on the whole perceived as being far, far off to the Right.

And within the Church there are powerful forces contending against each other: those on the Right centered in Rome and the insurgents on the Left. Now, for a Catholic to place himself in the dead Center is almost always to risk committing what Fr. Joseph Fessio calls “the fallacy of false symmetry” (see the NOR, May 1999, pp. 4-5). Drake speaks as if the liberal Reporter and, say, the conservative Crisis are symmetrical — i.e., are equivalents on opposite sides of the middle of the road, are mirror images of each other.

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New Oxford Notes: November 2001

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