“Meat cleaver” journalism – In the eye of the beholder?

I take my cue from the great blog of The Catholic Key, newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph where Bp. Robert Finn has the reins.

The Catholic Key has focused our attention on the comment made by the spokeswoman for the USCCB concerning the Catholic News Agency‘s report that Card. George (USCCB President) referred to the support the dissident Catholic Health Association gave to Obamacare as setting up a "parallel magisterium".  The USCCB spokeswoman claims Card. George never said that.  CNA stuck to its guns.

BTW… read A Magisterium of Nuns.

Sr. Walsh, as reported on the blog of the National Catholic Reporter, answers the above-mentioned question from Sean Michael Winters.

Then she continues:

In recent days, new journalistic hit squads have emerged on the U.S. scene, even in the church. Where once only a few church newspapers engaged in character assassination, today these attacks seem ubiquitous.  […]  Many such groups claim the word “orthodox” for themselves. They dismiss those who do not agree with them or their approach as “unorthodox.” People of a different opinion or approach are accused of setting up a “parallel magesterium.” [sic] These are serious condemnations in a church which holds fidelity to its teachings as paramount. Despite the fact that theology and canon law are matters of careful analyses, these groups bring the subtlety of a meat cleaver to church discussions.

Today the National Catholic Reporter published a piece which compared Holy Catholic Church’s promulgation of new norms for graviora delicta to, I am not making this up …. :

… 39,000 baby girls die in China annually because they do not receive medical care equal to male infants, brides in India are burned once every two hours, and 35,000 Colombian women are trafficked to the sex trade every year….

Sooo…. meat cleaver journalism.  My comment here.

Any comment about the National Catholic Reporter, Sr. Walsh?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    “those who do not agree with them or their approach as ‘unorthodox.'”

    I could be wrong, but those in the hierarchy who follow the Church’s laws and teachings on these matters can rightfully call themsevles orthodox. Which means that anyone who does not agree with them by definition “unorthodox.”

    And [C]hurch newspapers engaged in character assassination? Pot and kettle, Sister. Pot. And. Kettle.

  2. PS says:

    Woah. I know Sr. Walsh pretty well and I can assure you that she was acting professionally when she claimed that Cardinal George said no such thing as was quoted in the CNA.

    CNA, for all the wonderful reporting it does (and it does a lot of that), also, when contradicted by a spokesperson for the USCCB took no time in going ad hominem. Whether or not Sr. Walsh was asked to mislead the public by her superiors or we’ve been mislead by faulty sources of the CNA, the ad hominem stuff was uncalled for. At no point did Sr. Walsh champion the position of the dissenting Sisters.

    Let’s be fair here and call a spade a spade. For all its virtures, CNA crossed a line and ought to be called out on it. Sr. Walsh, as the wronged party, seems like a reasonable candidate.

    If you want to know her position on the NCR, ask her.

  3. TJerome says:

    PS, how well do really know Sister Walsh? I think her comments were disjointed, disengenuous, and silly. If Cardinal George didn’t say that, he should have. These old “spirit of Vatican II” nuns are anti-Catholic, left-wing loons. The Church in the US will be in far better shape when they go to their “reward.” NCR engages in character assassination, ad nauseum, primarily by fake Catholics who vote Democratic and adore the Obama, the most abortion promoting President in US History.

  4. Maltese says:

    Well butch-“brides” of Christ such as this; blatently unhabitted and and, almost tonsured, are talented at shaking their fingers, and posturing through intimidating those opposed to their anglican-esque agendas.

    They, really, should leave the Bride of Christ, and converge in their semi-wiccan anglican-use-spaces, to perform their unseemly rituals.

  5. jmvbxx says:

    I would love to see a source for her claim that 35,000 are trafficked into the sex trade in Colombia. I’ve lived here for years and I’ve never heard any similar claim.

  6. PS: You may be missing the point. We shall see if she calls out the NCR.

  7. JonM says:

    The hyperventilation over the publication of new rules for serious crimes demonstrates something interesting. The dissenting anti-Catholic publication seems to be suggesting that it is silly to worry about women pretending to be priests when there is all this horror in the world.

    Well, wait a moment. Aren’t these broad minded Vatican II types the ones who promised a new spring time as a result of their attempted dismantling of any Catholic feature of the Catholic Church?

    Have these dissenters considered that their embrace of the world is part and parcel of the horrible practices of white slavery, murder of infant girls, and other dehumanizing acts?

    If the Church, which possesses the fullness of truth, refuses to instruct the fallen world, then what do we expect is going to happen? That the fallen world is just going to magically have love and material plenty for all, that life is one long pot induced hippy campfire outing?

    In many respects, the break down in authority and the perversion of God’s natural endowments and intentions for us as men and women is absolutely essential to the abuse of women. When a woman is no longer to be exalted, defended, and protected — no longer viewed as having a special relationship with God that men lack — she loses respect by men and from herself.

    Is it any wonder that so many women feel that they must act like Stefani Germanotta in order to feel fulfilled? And therefore is it any wonder that men abuse women, treat them like objects of temporary use? As our freshly ordained young priest pointed out this Sunday, the culture of pornography and contraception promises a false freedom. In fact, rather than ‘freeing’ women, these institutions only shackle them and drag them down further.

    So, that heretical nuns are openly defying bishops and some still advocate the completely impossible circumstance of ordination of women flow into the poisoned well of abuse of women.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    The trouble with the interview/article is that Sr. Walsh is only alluding to three episodes, including the Cardinal George misquotes. The reference to the Vilsack (a pro-choice Catholic, by the way) silliness over the firing of the agriculture dept. rep. and the reference to the NAACP seem to be Sr. Walsh shooting from the hip and mangling the racist comments on all sides with talk radio and the messy reporting from or about the USCCB, an endemic problem. Sr. Walsh does not give concrete examples of “yellow journalism” and adds to the confusion, rather than clearing up either anti-Catholic biases or, as she would see it, far-right commentators. I cannot resist a quotation, re: PS’s comment, from The Importance of Being Earnest: Cecily Cardew: “When I see a spade I call it a spade.”
    Gwendolyn Fairfax:”I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.” Sometimes I feel that the entire USCCB staff is out of touch with reality.

  9. John 6:54 says:

    So Sr. Walsh if Card. George didn’t say “that”, what did he say? If he didn’t say it verbatim was it inferred? Did he use the word magisterium but not the word parallel? What exactly did he say?

  10. John 6:54 says:

    If he didn’t say it maybe he should have.

  11. When will Sr. Walsh step up to the mic and take on NCR for publishing that?

  12. albizzi says:

    Jamie Manson carefully numbered 39000 baby girls who die annually in China because of medical care not equal to the boys. The ratio to China’s overall population is very impressive: 0,00003 !
    In the meantime she totally forgets as insignificant the tens of millions of baby girls murdered every year since decades in their mother’s womb due to the communist government’s aberrant one child policy. These abortions are FORCED by an unjust law on poor women: the victims are both women (the baby and her mother) by millions.
    Mrs Manson’s silence is deafening on that holocaust.
    Now the male population in China is unable to find women enough to marry: With their recently acquired wealth the Chinese men go to “buy” (?)them in foreign countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Korea, etc… here much angering the local male population.
    Mrs Manson doesn’t care…

  13. Henry Edwards says:

    But is it not a positive step for the National Catholic Reporter to offer its platform to Sister Mary Ann Walsh as director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops?

    Their pages (and site) are more often confined to various sorts of dissenters from Church policy and opponents of the Church.

  14. Papabile says:

    Well, I know Sister Walsh from years ago, and unless she has changed drmatically, I am not surprised by this at all.

    Back in the mid-90’s, I had the audacity to hang up a picture of Cardinal Ratzinger at my desk when I worked at the NCCB.

    It was defaced by a swastika.

    At the time, I used to have lunch with a few different people. Msgr. Fay (before he was ED) and Sister Walsh often were there at the same time.

    When I mentioned this, and how I thought it annoyed me that my desk wasn’t off limits for others (especially when there were desks with “gay rights” sticksrs, and one woman had a pro-choice Catholic sign), Sister Walsh responded that I should have expected it to be defaced.

    “You know, you can’t be provocative like that here. He does have ugly historical ties. You should have expected this.” — and the annoying part was that the way she said this, you knew she agreed with exactly what occurred.

  15. SonofMonica says:

    Papabile — I’d like to know more about this story. Are you referring to the USCCB? I think we should hear more…

  16. AnAmericanMother says:


    Sounds to me like she did it herself. People usually don’t leap to the defense of anonymous vandals . . . .

    I too would like to hear more.

  17. Henry Edwards says:

    I have no personal knowledge whatsoever of anything that goes on inside the USCCB (ne NCCB). But I recall the quip in the 1980s or 1990s that nowhere could one observe more liturgical abuse than in the daily Mass in the liturgy section there. Of course, I’m sure all this well behind us, and that everything’s different now.

  18. Papabile says:

    To SonofMonica: Yes, it is now referred to as the USCCB. It used to be split into two organizations, though housed in the same building… the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and the United States Catholic Conference (USCC). They were forced to unite the two into one organization, the USCCB. That happened in the late 90’s…. maybe 97 or 98. I forget the exact date.

    To AnAmericanMother: I would not accuse Sister Walsh of doing it herself. She was on the fifth floor and rarely ventured down to the 4th floor. At the time, there was a particular mindset at the USCCB, and a retort like that could be expected. But, I was surprised that it came from a press flack. Certainly Msgr. Maniscalco would not have been so free with his words. Press people are usually guarded.

  19. AnAmericanMother says:

    Wow, what a horrible mindset. Too bad it was so widespread.

    When everybody has the exact same political leanings, there’s an “echo chamber” effect. Outrageous deeds and words cease to shock.

  20. Jordanes says:

    Whether or not Cardinal George actually said that the CHA’s support for ObamaCare amounted to setting up a “parallel magisterium,” it sounds just like the kind of thing he would say.

  21. markomalley says:

    In response to post #2, if we could post images in the combox, I would post the famous pic of Chris Crocker, captioned with the verbiage “Leave Sister Alone!”

  22. “Any comment about the National Catholic Reporter, Sr. Walsh?”

    Methinks you ask rhetorically, Father. : )

    Sr. Walsh and NCReporter are birds of a feather, of course. There will be no comment forthcoming.

    I won’t go into detail, but I have had my own personal dealings with Sr. Walsh. There’s a reason truly orthodox media outlets usually walk on eggshells with her and their coverage of the USCCB’s antics. It’s either that or forget access. Sr. Walsh has her favorites in the media and she also has her blacklist.

    My sense has long been that even the orthodox bishops themselves are loathe to rock her battleship. She has too much power and appears not to have to answer to anyone, practically speaking. In theory she answers to the chair of the Communications Committee. Let’s see… Archbishop Neiderauer was its previous chair, Bishop Zavala (auxiliary in LA) is its current chair. More birds of a feather. BTW – the bishops had a chance to elect Archbishop Naumann to chair Communications and instead chose Bishop Zavala. That tells you all you need to know about the balance of power at the USCCB.

    Related matter: It took a transfer to the Roman curia for Archbishop Burke to get comfortable enough to call for an overhaul of CNS.

    The dust up with CNA tends to prove that even the “good guy” bishops fear Sr. Walsh. Why did CNA’s sources (bishops) ask to remain anonymous? Why hasn’t Cardinal George plainly addressed the matter between Sr. Walsh and CNA? It is clear from his interview with John Allen that he does in fact hold the opinion that CHA has set itself up as a “parallel Magisterium.”


    The answer? Sr. Walsh has too much power and the woman is feared by even the best of the bishops. She, and others in key positions in Communications at the USCCB, needs to go.

  23. TJerome says:

    Sr. Walsh would only have power, if like J Edgar Hoover, she maintains a dossier that would prove embarrassing to a particular bishop. I have followed her for decades and always considered her a lefty. At some point, the USCCB will be comprised of far more bishops who side with Pope Benedict (and hence, the Church), rather than her. I assume her days are numbered.

  24. ckdexterhaven says:

    Is it just me, or does Sister Walsh not like blogs or what? I’m sure she longs for the pre-Mother Angelica/Father Z days. (a new media from A to Z!)

  25. Papabile says:

    I can confirm that she really does not like EWTN. She blamed them for the failure of the Bishop’s television network.

  26. TJerome says:

    Papabile, does she hate feminism or women? Or just conservative successful ones, like Mother Angelica?

  27. Folks: Let’s get away from talking about Sr. Walsh in personal terms and running her down. Please. Now. Stick to her public statements… or lack thereof.

    I just want to know what she thinks about the NCR’s attack on the Church.

    It is unconscionable that the NCR should publish a piece which compares Holy Catholic Church to China (killing baby girls), India (burning widows), or Colombia (trafficking in women). This is appalling.

    As the spokeswoman for the USCCB I want to know what she thinks about the NCR’s article.

  28. “As the spokeswoman for the USCCB I want to know what she thinks about the NCR’s article.”

    Heck, Fr. Z, you have more readers than Commonweal. Give her a call! In any event, I shall pray you get your answer. : )

    I agree, the NCR piece is appalling, but then again, so too is some of the garbage that CNS has been churning out for years on end. Having spoken to Sister directly for commentary as I worked on an article about CNS a couple of years ago, my impression is that it would be easier to extract a molar from a pit bull.

  29. TJerome says:

    Father Z, I seriously doubt Sister Walsh will contravene or criticize the oracle of left-wing loon Catholicism. They are the “New York Times” or “Slimes” of American Catholicism. I pray for the Slimes and NCR’s demise daily. If anyone can draw her out, you can. Best, Tom

  30. PS says:

    “As the spokeswoman for the USCCB I want to know what she thinks about the NCR’s article.”

    Well, that’s just it isn’t it?

    (1) She’s not the spokeswoman for the USCCB, she just handles media relations.

    (2) Furthermore, while her comments to MSW where impolitic, they were also especially directed at the very group that had gone after her in, frankly, ad hominem attacks.

    (3) To go back to the original USCCB v. CNA fracas: why did no one bother wondering exactly what prompted the denial from Sr. Walsh? Either she is telling the truth or CNA (or its sources) are right. If she’s telling the truth all she’s doing is correcting someone with whom she works. If she’s not telling the truth, then she is willing to wade into an enormous mess that could make her (and by extension the USCCB) look quite bad (and a mess that lands a lot more of work on her desk and [further] sours a working relationship with a media outlet). What’s most important: she was not the only one in the room when Crd. George did or did not say whatever it was he may or may not have said. The fact that the other Bishops have kept quiet implies that (a) CNA may well be reporting the truth and (b) Sr. Walsh is acting in a professional capacity (ie, the USCCB asked her to try and quash the story). That is, Crd. George did make some such statement, but didn’t think some of his fellow bishops would leak the statement. Now the USCCB has to try and get the story under control.

    (4) Again, she is a media relations director. It serves her purposes best to have media outlets like her, want to come to her. Her day is largely spent talking to reporters and working on coordinating major public events (with media in mind). Contradicting CNA didn’t do her any favors. She has, essentially antagonized a media outlet and she has created negative news, concerning her. She basically guaranteed herself and her staff some long nights.

    (5) So finally, why should she bother denouncing some nutty article (among how many other nutty articles?) in the NCR unless Crd. George or another superior ordered her to do so? It makes her life even more difficult… She’s not in the business of being fair.

  31. TJerome says:

    “she’s not in the business of being fair?” I thought she is in a ministry of helping to spread the Good News. The Press of Jesus’ time didn’t like Him either, but he kept spreading the Word, however unpopular that was with the status quo. Maybe the good Sister should become a media relations director in another line of business where “favors” and not being “antangonistic” fit better.

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