About that article on Franciscan University…

UPDATE

I got an e-mail from Geoffrey A. Coleman, the Business Manager of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska about the article on what is going on at Franciscan University at Steubenville concerning the TLM.

My emphases and comments.

Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf;

    It came to my attention on Friday that an article you ran on your website entitled "Students Turn Out for Local Latin Mass", apparently from Steubenville University, contains a quotation attributed to me that is erroneous.

    The apparent author, one "Kristi Moore, Assistant Editor" states, in part " The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, which is responsible for thousands of latin mass training sessions across the country (sic)."

    In red letters, you took issue with the word "thousands".  You are correct in having done so.  It is untrue.

    Firstly, I have never made such an outrageous statement.

    Secondly, I was interviewed by one Kristi Moore of the Washington Times newspaper BY TELEPHONE last Fall.  [Curiouser and curiouser!] Subsequently, she wrote and published an article on October 28, 2007 entitled "Mass appeal to Latin tradition".  That article is still available in the archives of the website.  After it was published, I found the comments attributed to me were accurate and nearly word-for-word.

    The brief paragraph, as it was originally published, reads as follows: "The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has collaborated with Una Voce America to host workshops for clergy in Denton, Neb.  Una Voce America, which promotes the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, usually teaches the rite to 12 students a session.  But in September, it increased that number to 22 to meet the increased demand for training."

    It is possible that whoever published the article in Steubenville edited my statement to help make an argument for the increased availability of the Traditional Latin Mass at the University.  However, in doing so, I believe severe harm has resulted in the obvious irrationality of the statement, as well as the possible perception that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is resorting to bravado and exaggeration in order to further its image or purposes.

    I humbly request you consider withdrawing this inaccurate article from your website, in order to prevent further damage to the reputation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and to prevent further dissemination of a patently false statement.  [I think this is the better route: publish this e-mail!]

    I intend to pursue this matter more directly with the source of the information, and to insist on a retraction or clarification by its perpetrators.

    In the meantime, I will no longer field any inquiries from the media.  [THAT is a mistake!] Our normal response to such inquiries is to direct them to our North American District Office, where the District Superior makes the decisions as to how and when to respond.  I failed to do this in the instant case, as I am very close to the actual day-to-day operation of the training classes at the Seminary. [Therefore you are in a position to know what is going on.]

    In truth, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, class sessions of five days in length began in June, 2007, and have run every few weeks, as our schedule permits.  Approximately 70 diocesan and religious priests have participated, from all parts of the USA.  The response has been gratifying and edifying for everyone involved.  May God bless and reward those priests who have, and who will, undertake this intensive study of the Mass of the Ages, for their own sanctity and the spiritual benefit of their parishioners.

    I humbly apologize to you for any negative thoughts you may have regarding the false statement attributed to me.  Please be assured that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has always been, and will continue to be fully forthcoming and truthful in all of its dealings.

Yours in Christ,

Geoffrey A. Coleman
Business Manager
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary
P. O. Box 147
Denton, Nebraska  68339

402-797-7700

To be clear,  I never thought that there were "thousands" involved.  That struck me as an flight of fancy on the part of the writer of the article, not the FSSP or anyone associated with it. 

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15 Responses to About that article on Franciscan University…

  1. Boko says:

    It was clear that the article drew on other (DC) sources, without attribution, for some of its content. I’m in DC and I know I read some of that stuff before. FUS doesn’t have a journalism major, but this should be seen as a teaching moment at the school. The next issue of the paper should publish a correction (both to the “thousands” mistake, which strikes me as probably just an innocent error, and to the lack of attribution.)

  2. David says:

    The website of the Troubadour at FUS doesn’t list any Kristi Moore on its staff, though unfortunately the most recent archived issue is from 27 Sep 2007. I’d check the source of the article to see whether it really did appear in the student paper.

  3. FUS Student says:

    I saw it in the printed student newspaper, and in memory serves, Fr. Z’s original post is transcribed accurately.

  4. totustuusmaria says:

    My understanding, though I’m by no means an expert on this, is that Kristi Moore is *both* a student at this school (FUS) *and* a writer for Washington times. She often republishes her WT articles in the Troubadour while giving credit to their original source. The article, I’m fairly sure, was written by her. She probably used (and apparently misused) her original research that she had conducted for the Washington Times in the article. That might be a breach of Journalistic etiquette. I don’t know. Nevertheless Mr. Coleman’s article probably overstated his case. This is a *college* news paper. I’ve read college newspapers from big colleges, and their horrible. The Troubadour is a newspaper for a small college, and every issue contains little problems. The regular readers have tended to overlook those problems and take the articles with a grain of salt. Yes your publishing of it gave it wider circulation than a normal article in a college newspaper, but everyone reading it had to know that it was a college newspaper. You even pointed the mistakes from the outset. I doubt very much damage was done at all, and I think this is making a big deal out of almost nothing — journalistic ethics aside.

  5. David says:

    Ah, it appears that Ms. Moore is affiliated with both the Washington Times and FUS. Apologies to everyone.

  6. Well, they don’t appear to have a journalism major per se, but they’ve got a large chunk of it in their communications one (I know because some of my friends are in it). I’m surprised, therefore, that the newspaper is generally a little off on one thing or another and occassionally very off on things like this. Let’s pray that more letters to the editor get in from the Dom Gueranger Society, as the students in it are mucher closer to what’s actually going on. They hope to have a blog up soon, by the way, so anyone interested in the situation may be able to get info practically firsthand sometime in the near future.

  7. Susanna says:

    First, I do not know if the Kristi Moore who writes for the Washington Post is the same one who goes to Franciscan and writes for the Troubador, but I do want to say that the one who goes to this school is real and I know her personally. I might even make her aware of what happened on this blog, since if she is a real journalist for both she might want to know. Secondly, the quote Mr. Coleman took issue with was not even a quote from him in the article, but a statement explaining the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary. The Article reads (I am copying from the newspaper in front of me): “Nevertheless, some believe that the Latin Mass is particular ‘helps young people in their 20s and 30s who have grow up in a culture that lacks stability and orthodoxy see something larger than themselves: the glory of god,’ said Geoffery Coleman of the Priestly Fraterinity of St. Peter’s Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary in, Neb.(sic), which is responsible for thousands of Latin Mass training sessions across the country.” The statement about thousands is separate from Mr. Coleman’s statement and the one she accredits to him is the same words accredited to him in the Washington Times though in that article it does not have quotation marks: http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071028/NATION/110280043/1001

  8. LCB says:

    When I read the article, I presumed the author was attempting to say: “The FSSP trainings have trained many priests, who as a result have offered the sacrifice of the Mass in Latin thousands of times.”

  9. Mike Williams says:

    Oh, right– this is the article that inaccurately states that the several longstanding TLMs in the area (the former indult Masses) had been “added” since the motu proprio.

  10. Patrick says:

    I note that the good father cites training 70 priests so far at his location. I wonder how many priest in total, nationwide, have been trained by the FSSP? Here in the Dioces of Charlotte Fr. Ferguson trained 14 at the request of Bishop Jugis that would make 84 trained by the FSSP. Does anyone out there have access to the statistics for actual numbers of priests trained?

    Regards

  11. Brian Mershon says:

    “Nevertheless Mr. Coleman’s article probably overstated his case.”

    Ditto. The fact that the business manager is on the record (although they were NOT quotes, so his response is inaccurate. Will he print a retraction?) being so virulent in his criticism means he cannot see the forest through the trees.

    As one whose primary job is to interact with the media, I can say that it is rare that asking for a complete retraction and “correction” ends up doing more good than harm. It only brings attention to something that most people probably didn’t give more than a thought about.

    Of course they have not trained thousands. I don’t think the FSSP’s reputation is going to be besmirched due to this exaggeration.

    Methinks he does protest too much.

  12. Ken says:

    A little tip to those who work with the media (and I’m sure Father Z knows this): think before you speak. If a reporter calls you and you are talking, you are on the record. If you do not wish to be on the record, either say 1) you would like to speak off-the-record or 2) you do not wish to speak to the reporter. But don’t be shocked that after you speak with a reporter you are in the newspaper.

    If the issue, like this situation, is about facts, it is helpful to stay in touch with the reporter during the process. For instance, the interviewee could e-mail the reporter to see how the story is coming along — and possibly even get an advance draft so you can review it. If they don’t agree to that, they will at least read back the part that involved you.

    Spoon-feed, with charity, folks, is you’re going to deal with the press.

  13. Ken says:

    if, not is (so much before thinking before speaking)

  14. Kristi Moore says:

    Hello everyone,
    I am Kristi Moore. I am the assistant editor of the Troubador newspaper at Franciscan University of Steubenville. I wrote this article for the Troubador. To avoid further confusion and to make everything clear, I was interning at the Washington Times last semester and wrote the Tridentine Mass story for the WTimes. So, there is nothing fishy here. I wrote both stories and used my notes from phone interview for both stories. According to media law, there is nothing illegal or unethical about this. I even called my editor at the Wtimes before I wrote the FUS article to be sure of my rights.
    I also want to point out that there are no quotation marks around the estimation of trained priests. Thus, this fact is not attributed to Mr. Coleman.
    I hate that there has been so much hype about this story and that so many people have been made upset by a simple misunderstanding.
    I ask that any other comments be emailed to me directly at kmoore001@student.franciscan.edu
    I might point out that the reputations of the Washington Times and Franciscan University are at stake here.
    God bless you all,
    Kristi