Fr. Trigilio on a tear! And he may be right!

I found a pretty good blast over at The Black Biretta where my esteemed colleague Fr. John Trigilio has something to say about what we might expect during upcoming media coverage of Benedict XVI’s apostolic visit to the Land of the Free.

My emphases and comments.

Just when you thought it was safe to change the channel from EWTN …

Get ready, the mainstream liberal media will be bombarding the airwaves, internet and blogosphere with the rantings and ravings of the heterodox spin doctors and dissident pundits once B16 lands on US soil.

Dan Rather may be retired, but CBS, ABC, NBC, and of course CNN will go to their usual pool of Catholic malcontents, miscreants and recalcitrants to offer their ‘balanced’ view lest anyone suspect for a moment the secular media would give Pope Benedict or the Catholic Church a free ride. The shrinking minority of the so-called ‘loyal opposition’ (a true oxymoron) [well said] will be given free air time during the papal visit as has been done in the past during the reign of JP2.

Sister Joan Chittester, OSB, who opined that the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI was the equivalent of a ‘spiritual tsunami’ will be the most conspicuous ‘expert’ consulted by the social progressive, secular humanist media elite. Then of course, Father Thomas Reese (everyone’s favorit Jesuit) and Fr. Richard McBrien (who will mysteriously find and wear his clerical attire while on camera, [Bet he won’t.] but just on papal visits, mind you) will be given a chance to spew their ‘side’ of the story. American media thinks it is being ‘fair’ when they give equal time to theological dissenters just as if this were the Democratic response to the Republican President’s State of the Union Address.  [The thing is it isn’t equal time.  It is nearly all slanted in that direction.  And often, if they do get a more loyal Catholic person to comment, they either curtail his camera time, or have him out numbered, or find someone not terribly engaging.]

There is no such thing as ‘loyal opposition’ when it comes to TRUTH, be it doctrinal or moral. Science does not tolerate contradiction. Either 2 + 2 = 4 is true or it is false. It CANNOT be both. Either the Pope and Magisterium are correct or they are false. Since the dissenters contradict the authentic teaching authority of the Church, they oppose God, the source of Revelation. They oppose the Son of God Who founded the Church on Peter and the Apostles (and their successors the pope and bishops in union with him)

Voice of the Faithful and We Are Church and every Tom, Dick and Harry lapsed Catholic will find a microphone and camera, just wait and see. You won’t find many reporters interviewing Mother Angelica, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, or Karl Keating (Catholic Answers). We will see ex-priests, ex-nuns and ex-Catholics complaining about no women priests; no married clergy; no abortion; no contraception; no gay marriages; etc. Will the cameras, however, show you the YOUNG and HAPPY women in large numbers who wear traditional habits like the Poor Clares at EWTN or the Nashville Dominicans? Will we see the growing numbers of seminarians in dioceses where the bishop is orthodox and where the sacraments are celebrated reverently and correctly? No, they will show you the decaying and dying vestiges of the infamous ‘spirit of Vatican II’ church. Priests and nuns in street attire, not wearing ecclesiastical garb; and usually old, grumpy and obnoxious throw-backs to the 1960’s besides.

Pollsters will tell us that a ‘majority’ of Catholics disagree with the Pope and Magisterium. Even if it were true, SO WHAT? [Tell it, brother!]  Does the vox populi determine reality? When everyone thought the world flat, did it make it so? But I question the veracity of those figures. Who pays these bean counters to crunch the numbers? If the majority of Catholics renounce Catholic doctrine and discipline, why do they stay Catholic? Why is Catholicism still the largest religion on earth with over one BILLION members? Why are converts still coming into full communion with the Catholic Church every Easter Vigil around the globe? When 3 MILLION young people came to Rome for WYD towards the end of Pope John Paul’s pontificate, the news media barely covered the event. Had three of those youth got drunk and turned over a Fiat, it would have been a breaking news flash.

Buckle your seat belts, boys and girls, it is going to be a bumpy ride, at least from the perspective of the secular media. On the other hand, watch the coverage on EWTN and you WILL see and hear what is really out there; a Catholic RENAISSANCE, begun by JP2 and continuing with B16.


A couple points.  I remember during Papal April 2005 I was heading home from a long day doing press coverage and live hits with FoxNews for whom I was a contributor at the time.  Armed with my press pass I was making my way through the barriers which were channelling the rivers hundreds of thousands of people, mostly young people, coming from various directions into the Via della Conciliazione to the glimpse the body of John Paul II.  At the end of the Via there were dozens of media trucks and light set ups, network people doing their live hits.  All the biggies were around.  I stopped with the CNN folks to chat for a bit and watch Christiane Amanpour do her thing.  She was saying something like "After the death of John Paul II the Catholic Church is faced with its most pressing question: Is it still relevant today?"   It was one of those surreal moments. I gazed over the unending surge of people waiting for dozens of hours, most of them young, from everywhere in the world.  Though I knew it before, this really drove home the fact that many of these media folks do not have the slightest clue how even to think about the Church.

That said, I have been called by quite a few media types in the last few days, a couple of whom will be "inside the bubble" as we say, looking for my wonky view on some of the issues leading up to the visit.  Some of them, at least, are doing their homework.

While I share Fr. Trigilio’s somewhat pessimistic prediction, I cannot help but hope that we will be pleasantly surprised as well.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kradcliffe says:

    That was FANTASTIC! I actually said, “Preach it, Father!” and then saw you’d written “Tell it, Brother.” LOL. Seriously – I’m going to share that with everybody I know. Both of them. Heh.

  2. TNCath says:

    Don’t forget about Fr. Andrew Greeley! He’ll be on the airwaves as well. It’s very likely he’ll be saying that while there are throngs of people at the Papal Masses and other events, most of them disagree with him about birth control, abortion, women’s ordination, priestly celibacy, and the the prohibition against divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion. I plan to keep my television on EWTN. I’ve gotten to where I cannot stomach the other networks’ coverage of anything the Pope is doing.

  3. Br. Andrew says:

    I have a prediction that is more of a cop-out. Either Fr. Trigilio is on the money (he has history on his side) or this will be the event that will solidify the proverbial “death” of the media hungry dissenters. They have had their day in the sun, and let me tell you as a later vocation who was religiously educated in the 1970’s, these younger men and women I meet and live with are not in the least bit interested in the things the McBriens, Chittesters, et al, are in any way, shape or form. The real difficult task is in trying to convince them and the MSM of that fact. No small job!

    Br. Andrew, O.P.

  4. I won’t even bother with Fox (who tends to at the very least not be hostile towards the Church), preferring to stick with EWTN next week. It’s going to be the main event in our homeschool.

    I only wish we didn’t have to cancel our trip out there – no tickets and a mandatory class for me – because I’d gladly have stood on the street just to get a glimpse.

    We’ll just have to save up and go to Rome – that’s all.

    Bless you, Father Z.

  5. Boko Fittleworth says:

    Will we get to see Delia Gallagher reporting? That could be a major highlight of this papal visit.

  6. Christine: I think FoxNews will provide some of the better coverage of the visit. The Rome correspondent for FNC who will be “in the bubble” is a deeply devout and well-informed Catholic, Greg Burke. The lady overseeing the Fox Radio coverage is also a friend. The Fox team had some of the best people on for most of the coverage of Papal April. That said, FNC these days is not without problems for their coverage of Catholic issues. Sometimes I am pretty disappointed with their major players who are Catholics. Also, I am not entirely impressed with some of their hits from Rome, and elsewhere, wherein Greg Burke is not doing the commentary. Still, it could be a lot worse.

  7. Tom says:

    The harsh reality is that much of what the “dissenters” declare is accurate.

    The fact is that Catholicism is irrelevant to the majority of Catholics in the United States.

    About 80 percent of baptized American Catholics refuse each week to assist at Novus Ordo Masses.

    The majority of baptized U.S. Catholics, even among those who assist at Mass, reject the Church’s teachings regarding artificial birth control.

    About 50 percent of Catholics are “pro-choice” regarding abortion.

    The majority of Catholics believe that the Church should ordain women as priestesses.

    Regarding the Mass, our bishops insist that the majority of Catholics do not want any part of the TLM, let alone the Novus Ordo in Latin.

    There isn’t any question that a great deal of what the news media (or at least the “dissenters”) report regarding the state of the “American” Church is correct.

    Such is the state of the “American” Church, which our bishops claim is vibrant and in the midst of a new liturgical and spiritual springtime.

  8. Lee Gilbert says:

    Somewhere I read that our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities of darkness :)

    Honestly, it’s incomprehensible to me that all these likelihoods can be laid out without specific suggestions being made re prayer and penance. Does the word prayer even appear in all the above text? Is this only an ideological struggle then and not a titanic struggle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness- with souls at issue? Sr. Chittester, Frs McBrien and Greeley etc are not the problem, and EWTN is not the solution.

  9. TNCath says:

    Sadly, Tom, you are correct. And, much of the blame can be put on the bishops for this. As for Fox News, they are the best of the “major” networks. But, I don’t think anyone could have beaten the team of Raymond Arroyo and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus in their coverage of the funeral of Pope John Paul II and election of Pope Benedict on EWTN. They did a great job. EWTN may not be the solution, but they are doing their best to try to combat the problem.

  10. TJM says:

    Father Trigilio is “DA MAN.” His pithy article was dead-on! Tom

  11. Hoka2_99 says:

    The words: \”…the majority of Catholics disagree with the Pope and the Magisterium\” jumped out of the page at me!!!!! That sounds like my little English parish all right. I often wonder why they don\’t all pop down the road to the Anglo-Catholic Church [pick and mix available!].

    Let me tell anyone reading this [and I hope someone in the Vatican reads it!] that I may be alone but I make up for the lot of them with my absolute loyalty to Pope Benedict and the Magisterium…and the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ,[the latter is sometimes forgotten by the liberal critics in my parish]. It\’s not everyone: I’m joined by a few loyal converts [I am one] and by our Irish parishioners.

    I can only receive EWTN in England and that is all I want: Father John Neuhaus, Raymond Arroyo, Joan Lewis and a few more true Catholics. I shall be glued to EWTN for every event and can’t wait!


  12. Dave Deavel says:

    George Weigel often does coverage for NBC; and Fr. Thomas Williams seems to be on the tube during these events. Let’s hope they are on as well as more.

  13. Mark says:

    Father Trigilio just became one of my favorite priests – next to you father. :-)

  14. Rudy B says:

    Too bad we’re no longer the ‘largest religion’:

    In all fairness, the article does not take into account the different divisions within Islam. Still, this should give us a moment of pause.

  15. Tom says:

    Funny thing…various “dissidents” named in this article are in “full communion” with the Church.

    Conversely, not that long ago, Bishop Rifan, for example, a holy priest, was asked to enter into “full communion” with the Church.

    Bishop Rifan kept the TLM and Catholic Faith alive in the hearts of many Catholics…but was required to enter into “full communion” with the Church.

    But dissidents who have helped to wreck the Mass and Faith are in “full communion” with the Church and ply their trades freely within dioceses and parishes.


  16. Le Renard says:

    American media thinks it is being ‘fair’ when they give equal time to theological dissenters just as if this were the Democratic response to the Republican President’s State of the Union Address. [The thing is it isn’t equal time. It is nearly all slanted in that direction. And often, if they do get a more loyal Catholic person to comment, they either curtail his camera time, or have him out numbered, or find someone not terribly engaging.]

    This reminds me of back during the passing of JP II when Fox featured a nun who was all for female priests.

    Fair and Balance? I think not.

  17. It’s not very often that I disagree with you Fr Z, but Fr. McBrien will almost certainly be wearing his collar. I have never seen him face a camera without it. He is most of all a showman and without his collar he knows that the majority of non-Catholic America would not recognize that he is a priest. He is also smart enough to know that were he not a priest the MSM would not give him the time of day. So to him, I believe, the roman collar is costume. I’d be willing to bet that he’ll put it on in the green room and take it off as soon as his air time is over, though.

  18. my tv will be on EWTN. Fr. McBrien will have a collar on that’s for sure. (never see him without one in that not so Catholic newspaper called the Tidings)

  19. Sharon says:

    When everyone thought the world was flat did that make it so?,/i>

    Father, the flat earth is a myth.

    The Myth of the Flat Earth
    Summary by Jeffrey Burton Russell
    for the American Scientific Affiliation Conference
    August 4, 1997 at Westmont College

  20. Tom says:

    TNCath wrote: “Sadly, Tom, you are correct. And, much of the blame can be put on the bishops for this.”

    The recent Popes and bishops are responsible.

    They shattered the liturgical state of the Latin Church. That is undeniable reality.

    They may be holy men…but during the past 40 or so years, they have made one dreadful liturgical decision after another.

    We may grow angry when, during the Pope’s upcoming visit to the United States, media types and “liberal” Catholics proclaim that the Church is irrelevant to the majority of “Catholics”…but the reality is that the “liberals” will have uttered the truth.

    Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming liturgies will feature Communion in the hand, altar girls, Gospel music, multiple languages, etc…typical Novus Ordo U.S. liturgies.

    In turn, the majority of U.S. bishops and priests will be able to proclaim that the Pope, in actual practice, is pleased with progressive liturgical “reform.”

    The Catholic Church in the United States will continue to remain irrelevant to the majority of Catholics in America.

    Restore the Traditional Latin Mass to each Latin Church parish…and Catholic identity will be restored throughout the Latin Church.

    Until then, Catholicism will remain irrelevant to the majority of Latin Church Catholics…just as liberals proclaim.

    Sad…but true.

    Pray that the Pope returns to the Traditional Latin Mass.

    When the Pope returns to the ancient Roman Liturgical Tradition, the Latin Church will follow its leader.

  21. Tom says:

    Regarding the “Flat Earth”, there is also a book on that topic (which is a favourite of Thomas E. Woods)

    That Trigilio would mention it is hardly surprising. His public career, aside from his life as good and holy priest, has been one of parroting the conventional (EWTN approved) wisdom. Not too much deep thinking going on there and thankfully that era is coming to an end as the Church is finding its voice once again with Benedict. So much clarity these days!!! Praise God.

    I still crack up when I recall the reaction of Trigilio to the hit piece on EWTN. Took it way too personally and made the author look good.

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