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Journalism, Theology, & History

EDITORIAL

By George William Rutler | September 1984

Secular newspapers are publishing articles on difficult Roman Catholic theological issues with increasing frequency.

It is fair to say, however, that nearly all secu­lar analyses of the U.S. bishops’ recent pastoral let­ter on war and peace have ignored the fulcrum place of abortion and other life issues in that docu­ment’s systematic balance. Moreover, the stunning letter sent by Mother Teresa of Calcutta to the bishops on the errors of some religious sisters in the United States has become a dead letter as edi­tors trip over each other to quote voices more sym­pathetic to those errors.

Pope John Paul II’s personalist phenomenology, and indeed all Catholic anthropology, gets reduced in The New York Times to a “papal war” against women. Hans Küng is declared by the same news­paper to be “a Roman Catholic theologian,” the Pontiff’s view notwithstanding.

Lord Melbourne is said to have remarked that things have come to a sorry pass when religion is allowed to interfere with one’s private life. But so long as it does intrude upon reality, those who re­port the spectacle are obliged at least to acknowl­edge the existence of certain principles that guide Catholic theology. This is particularly so when journalists report what they call division between the Pope and Catholics in the United States, and do it with an interest and consistency that suggest to the anxious reader that they almost wish it were so.

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