Crux – Fr. Z’s initial observations

I have been watching the new initiative from the Boston Globe, with the involvement of former Fishwrap writer John Allen: Crux.

I have some initial observations.

Happily, it seems to me that Crux has the potential to make the National catholic Fishwrap irrelevant.  Sadly, it could be that Crux will make the National catholic Fishwrap irrelevant.  That is to say, Crux might be a slicker, smarter Fishwrap on steroids. [UPDATE: To be nicknamed, if it proves to be subversive, “Horcrux”? In the Harry Potter world: “A Horcrux is a powerful object in which a Dark wizard or witch has hidden a fragment of his or her soul for the purpose of attaining immortality.”]

Now for a few more concrete observations.

Crux‘s “spirituality editor” is former Boston Globe wrote Margery Eagan.

Back in January 2014 Eagan wrote in the Boston Herald that

“a birth control ban has never been central to Catholic doctrine. The church says family planning is fine, as long as it’s done by the natural rhythm method. A commission made up of bishops, cardinals, and theologians did vote to end the ban on artificial birth control in the mid-1960s, but then Pope Paul VI overruled them, mainly for political reasons. Pope Francis, whose politics are clearly different, could actually lift the ban.”

In her bio at Crux we read:

Maybe you’ve heard some variation on this line: “I’m an American. Just because I disagree with much of what America’s doing, I don’t run off and become a Canadian.”

I heard it years ago from a friend explaining why he remained a Catholic despite his massive disappointments with the Church.

I’ve used it myself when somebody asks: if you disagree with the church on gays, birth control, women, their handling of the sex abuse crisis, etc. – why not become an Episcopalian, a Methodist, a Quaker, a Jew? Why stay when you’re at odds with its teachings?

What I read in this is that she disagrees with the Church on “gays, birth control, women, their handling of the sex abuse crisis”.  However, she won’t “leave the Church”. Why?  She explains that she stays Catholic because of the Church’s “intellectualism”.  The problem is that you can’t have a personal relationship with intellectualism.  You can’t pray with and for and even to intellectualism.  You can’t love and be loved by intellectualism.  She has more reasons:

The sensual parts of Catholicism. The bread, wine, incense, candles, phenomenal stained-glass windows. Smudged forehead ashes at the start of Lent. Anointing with oils. Palm Sunday. White lilies crowding the Easter altar, the liturgical season in sync with our own.  [All great things.  But these are externals, literally skin deep.]

Daily Mass, 365 days a year. It is peaceful, short, intimate, a holy half-hour of quiet before or after a frantic day. Some people stay afterwards to say the Rosary, in unison. [You can go to a tanning parlor for that.]

Community. The older I get, the less I like “Bowling Alone,” as Harvard’s Robert Putnam wrote in his book of that name. I like being in a prayer group with people who don’t think I’m crazy. I like parish life, the chances to volunteer, meet and greet. I like seeing the same parishioners in the same pew week after week. [A gardening club or Red Hat group can do these things.] I like being with people very different from me but the same in this: we are seekers, some days frustrated doubters, some days drawn, as if magnetized, into the mystery. Many, like me, were born Catholic. Keenly and even painfully aware of Catholicism’s many and gargantuan flaws, we stay Catholic. And we will die Catholic, too.  [There’s a ringing endorsement.]

Not a word about Christ.  Nothing about God, or grace, or sin and redemption.

This is Crux‘s spirituality writer.

Let’s turn the page.

Whom did they choose to answer questions from readers? Lisa Miller. Miller has a BA in English. She wrote for Newsweek about how stupid and backward the Church is, how awful Pope Benedict was. When writing about a movie on Hildegard von Bingen for Newsweek she used the opportunity to bash the Church and leave the reader with the image of the Mother of God as a “potty-mouthed BFF”.  See how she writes about the Catholic hierarchy.  HERE

In any event, at Crux she answered a question:

What of those who cannot accept in good conscience various teachings of the magisterium [official Church policy]? Are we still to consider ourselves Catholic, or should we go elsewhere?

Did you detect a problem there?  Anyone who goes out of her way to describe “teachings of the magisterium” as “policy” is not going to be able to approach the question from the right perspective.  Only one sort of person frames the Magisterium’s teachings as “policy”.  Policy, after all, can be changed, especially after extensive polling.

Let’s glance at something from Miller’s answer:

Perhaps a more provocative question is this: To what extent must the hierarchy heed the consciences of the faithful? [There actually is an answer to this, in Lumen gentium 25.]

For decades, the bishops have appeared to be a my-way-or-the-highway kind of crew, and Pope Benedict gained a reputation for disdaining the cafeteria approach of American Catholics, wanting instead to build a smaller, purer church.  [This is a biased misrepresentation of Benedict.  There was no one more patient when dealing with dissent.  I don’t think he has ever “distained” anyone in his life.  But WAIT!  There’s more!   You can hear the next word coming….]

But [BUT!] Pope Francis has taken a different, and historically significant, tack, says the Rev. Drew Christiansen at Georgetown.  For him, the beliefs of faithful Catholics ought to define the faith – at least as much as the hierarchy does.  [Is that even true?]

Benedict bad.  Francis good.   At least Francis will be good until she, and other liberals, turn on him.  When he doesn’t conform to their expectations, they will turn on him.

And sample her penetrating analysis of Justice Scalia HERE.

So, Crux asked Lisa Miller to answer questions about the Catholic faith.

And then there is today’s, 16 Sept, Q&A from Lisa Miller,  HERE.  It includes this jewel:

For Jesus, of course, forgiveness is the ultimate Christian act, a way for humans to reflect God’s love and grace.  But I think Gandhi said it best: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”

Yah, there’s Jesus. But enough about him. Let’s see what Gandhi says!

I was curious about Millar’s background so I checked on Wikipedia. Yes, I know that Wikipedia isn’t absolutely reliable, since any loon can do stuff to other people’s entries or even create them out of whole cloth without your knowledge or permission.  Still, this is what I found.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Miller was raised in a secular Jewish home. … Miller was married to her husband in an interfaith ceremony performed by an Episcopalian priest who worked with a rabbi on the ceremony.  After the birth of her daughter, Miller joined a Jewish Temple for reasons of “blood and history and culture”. She describes this religious community as a “progressive, inclusive congregation.”

Look.  People can have fascinating backgrounds and amazing journeys into the Holy Catholic Church.  But, unless I am missing something, Miller hasn’t become a Catholic.  And yet, here she is, writing Q&A for Crux.  Unless,… I am reading about the correct Lisa Miller?

Moving on, Crux also tapped on Michael O’Loughlin to be their “National Reporter”. In the past he was written for The Advocate (a homosexual advocate, if you hadn’t guessed), Religion News Service, Foreign Policy, America, National Catholic Reporter, Religion & Politics, Busted Halo, and Faith & Leadership.

On Saturday 13 September, John Allen wrote (among other things) about what he thinks Crux aims to do and to be.  Here are relevant excerpts.

The vision behind Crux:

[…] Toward the end [of the roll out event], I fielded a question about the vision forCrux and whether it can do something about the widespread polarization that many American Catholics perceive in the Church.

The truth is that if someone should be laying out a vision, it’s really not me. Brian McGrory, editor of The Boston Globe, and Teresa Hanafin, editor of Crux, are the decision-makers responsible for overall direction.  [Get that?  The Boston Globe is guiding this “Catholic” endeavor.  What could go wrong?]

That said, it’s a legitimate question, and obviously I have my own reasons for getting involved. For what it’s worth, I’ll recap my answer.

To begin, the basic ambition ofCrux is simple: To get the story right. Catholicism is a complicated and difficult beat; it’s hard enough to be accurate, comprehensive, and balanced in the way we cover the news without trying to accomplish another agenda.

That said, I also believe that ifCrux can get the story right on a regular basis, one natural consequence could be softening divisions in Catholic life.

[…]

IfCrux becomes a trusted forum for all voices [“all”?  I’m not seeing a lot of balance.  Just look at their staff.] in the conversation, it will create a virtual space in which members of different Catholic tribes can build friendships. Over time, that can’t help but have a positive effect.

So, yes, I suppose helping to mitigate polarization is part of the plan. Just don’t ask us to think too much about it, because most of the time we’ll be too busy trying to nail down today’s news.

Crux is slick. They have had a big, splashy roll out. My jury is still out. My sense is, however, that Crux is poised to out-Herod Herod, or out-Fishwrap Fishwrap.

And there must be bails of money behind it.

But, for now, we are on Crux Watch.

The moderation queue is ON.

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50 Responses to Crux – Fr. Z’s initial observations

  1. LeeF says:

    John Allen’s observations are generally worth reading of course. As for the rest of the writers, they aren’t really there to explain Catholic teaching to the world as Father notes, but their own interpretations of and wishes for same. The danger is that they put a more polished veneer on institutionalized dissent and constantly represent the teachings of the Magisterium as optional and any church leaders who correctly present the Faith as out of touch, as if popular opinion should drive doctrine the way it does in Protestantism.

    And the reason so many of these dissenters stay, despite whatever reasons they give, is simply that enough bishops and priests don’t challenge their misguided beliefs more forcefully from the pulpit. If they squirmed in their seats more on Sundays, they would soon just walk on down the street.

  2. kpoterack says:

    I had the same reaction.

    I linked to one of their articles which the Catholic Herald linked to in which Archbishop Paglia of the Pontifical Council for the Family indicated that communion for divorced/remarried was unlikely to happened. Heartening, but what I read of this and other of their articles was that – while they were less frothing at the mouth – they were definitely articles written by liberal Catholics. Even at their best, where they had balance and accurate information, it struck me that something was missing – the faith.

  3. A Sinner says:

    I read this post only because you were introducing a new publication, and I wanted to find out more about it. Normally, I ignore anything from the National “Catholic” Reporter and similar outlets. We may all belong to the same organization, but we do not share the same beliefs. In my opinion, their religion is a separate and novel religion, regardless of the organizational umbrella under which it may fall. And to the extent a priest, bishop, cardinal, or even pope subscribes to their religion, I feel obliged to ignore him as well.

  4. Maynardus says:

    This isn’t a “me too!” post but I must confess when I heard about this venture, and again when I had a chance to check out the site, that I had the exact same thoughts about it as you do. Out-fishwrap-the-NCFishwrap indeed! I am unaware of anyone who writes for the Boston Daily Worker Globe on a regular basis who is friendly to the Catholic Church except perhaps Jeff Jacoby (their “token” conservative) who is Jewish. The place is full of Ted Kennedy/James Carroll “catholics”… including their favorite ex-priest Mr. Carroll himself.

    The Globe hates the Catholic Church, and one should assume that any “news” they report on Her will be tinctured with bias if not outright malice. I cannot think of any MSM outlet I would trust less to report upon the Church, excepting perhaps NBC; and nothing I have seen on the Crux website so far has changed my mind. There is literally no reason to trust that this venture will be anything other that a “slicker, smarter” mouthpiece for dissent, with the object of pushing their version of “catholicism” further into the mainstream (if that is possible).

    I have been wondering since they hired him what need the Globe had for Mr. John Allen, of whom you speak always very highly. I now know the answer and I’m afraid it’s not a good one. His name and involvement gives this whole thing a veneer or respectability in many people’s eyes, and fosters the perception that the site will be about “Catholic” “news”… alas, I cannot believe that it is anything other than a more sophisticated outlet for lukewarm “catholic” propaganda….

  5. Legisperitus says:

    “Ban” is like “policy,” a man-made rule that can be changed. Churchmen just make up the moral law, in other words.

  6. Charles E Flynn says:

    Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae did not strike me as a political document.

  7. AndyMo says:

    “Some people stay afterwards to say the Rosary, in unison.”

    How else would you say it? Is there a polyphonic Rosary that no one’s told me about?

  8. Montenegro says:

    I lived for 13 years in the AD of Boston, from 1997 until 2010, through the dark years of Card. Law and the horrible abuse scandal. Sadly, I really have nothing kind to say about the ADB or Boston itself. I think the rot there started decades ago, with the air cover given to the Kennedy family’s apostasy by Card. Cushing.

  9. nola catholic says:

    “Crux is slick. They have had a big, splashy roll out. My jury is still out. My sense is, however, that Crux is poised to out-Herod Herod, or out-Fishwrap Fishwrap.”

    I reached a similar opinion when I visited it in the first week of its roll-out. John Allen had a few of his balanced, insightful pieces, even if I disagreed with some of his points. But it is apparent that he’s not the one making personnel and editorial decisions.

    When I read the other articles (the actual ones written by Crux writers, not the ones outsourced from other news organizations like the AP) I noticed immediately that they were not written by informed and orthodox Catholics. After clicking on the names and reading about the authors, it became clear that these writers have no business reporting on the Church. They are not informed enough about its teachings to provide readers with accurate descriptions and important information. Moreover, many of them appear to have their own agendas opposed to magisterial teaching, which is evident in their articles.

    I was actually very excited about this site as it offered an opportunity to put the resources of a mainstream news organization from a Catholic city behind a broad, full spectrum news gathering operation devoted solely to Catholicism. The hiring of the widely respected (on all sides) John Allen seemed even better. Unfortunately, the site appears to be just one more avenue for mainstream media to provide at best inaccurate and at worst biased coverage about the Church. The inclusion of “lifestyle” or “spirituality” type pieces and “advice” columns from those who have no understanding of and experience with Catholic moral teaching and spiritual discipline only makes things worse.

  10. SaintJude6 says:

    I read a couple of the articles after they were linked to at Pewsitter. Those and the faux-Catholic advice column were enough to show me why I will never return to the Crux site. Just another place for dissenting Catholics to serve their poison in small, regular doses. Maybe Pelosi can pen a guest column.

  11. Johnsum says:

    My take on this initiative by the Globe is that it aims to influence the Church anyway it can by exerting influence on the local Cardinal. It puzzles me why John Allen, a generally well regarded catholic writer, would hang out with yet another flea bitten dog of a newspaper. It is just looks too much as if John’s reputation is being used in a bate and switch operation. Did he not have another way to make a living?

  12. Gerard Plourde says:

    It’s rather curious that the Boston Globe would launch this. Are they thinking that the Catholic population in the Globe’s coverage area is an untapped market niche which might be enticed to subscribe to the Globe and increase its circulation? The paper was purchased from the New York Times Company a little over a year ago by the founder of a hedge fund who also owns the Red Sox and the Liverpool F.C.

  13. majuscule says:

    A quick look at Crux shows the comments on the articles filled with the usual suspects from the Fishwrap. (Well of course, comments powered by Disqus™ on both sites.) Unless someone applies a little moderation I see the Crux comments section becoming the new playground of Fishwrappians. Of course I recognized a few commenters of a more traditional nature, who often take a lot of flak from liberal Fishwrappians.

    And what’s with all the Catholic dating ads? Is that the demographic they are after?

  14. benedetta says:

    Not sure how they expect to “get the story right” (as if writing about someone’s faith is…just a “story”) and accurate to boot when the very people who are writing are explicit polarizers whose track record has been to blame and attack the Church…the people who assume wrongly that “the hierarchy” and “the people” are somehow at odds constantly…and of course the fundamental assumption there is, once again that hierarchy and authority are wrong. This is a value that they will dictate for their own desired results. So, nothing new under the sun here.

    What would help heal the divisions more than a venture such as this would be for some to admit to the travesty and failure reaped upon young people through writing and teaching with these value judgements, with reparation, apology, and renewed obedience to rightful authority. Starting with Pope Francis.

  15. Imrahil says:

    What of those who cannot accept in good conscience various teachings of the magisterium [official Church policy]? Are we still to consider ourselves Catholic, or should we go elsewhere?

    There’s a classical answer for that.

    If what you are holding is a heresy, you’ve seperated yourself from Church (or are in danger of doing so by making your stand public, but we all agree that this is a technicality). Otherwise, you are still Catholic and should consider yourself so.

    In neither case, you should go elsewhere. Rather: change your opinion.

  16. ChrisRawlings says:

    Here’s the thing: if you’re going to create a website and call it “Crux,” you had better be really, really sure you know what that even means. When you treat the Church primarily as a participant in a global game of socio-political capture-the-flag and not as a Bridge wide-eyed and astonished at the lavish mercy and love of God hanging bloody and beaten on the solemn object of our redemption, then you’re already completely missing it.

    I have no opinion of where the people at Crux stand with regards to all of this, and I hope that the choice of “Crux” was indeed thought out and deliberate. But I can confidently predict that they won’t do much better than anyone else in the media if they don’t take their namesake seriously.

  17. ChrisRawlings says:

    Of course, I meant “Bride,” and not “Bridge.”

    And I should add that I do not mean to infer that Crux doesn’t understand the nature of the Church. Maybe it does, after all. But that is something time will tell.

  18. JesusFreak84 says:

    I do have to wonder at what point we reach “peak CTA-esque,” ie at what point does a new “medium” just get lost in what’s already out there? The question seems to be if the fishwrappers will stay in their current echo chamber or move to a new one. I think we ARE getting close to a critical mass in general on the internet. Would a Facebook or Twitter or even fishwrap even be able to get started today, in the noise? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  19. robtbrown says:

    . . . Pope Francis has taken a different, and historically significant, tack, says the Rev. Drew Christiansen at Georgetown. For him, the beliefs of faithful Catholics ought to define the faith – at least as much as the hierarchy does.

    [Is that even true?].

    It seems to be Jesuit double talk.

  20. Nicholas says:

    Fishwrap is now young and hip. This effort will, I fear, succeed in the short term, but we know who will win in the end.

    We must pray for Fortitude in the times to come, as I fear what those in my generation will have to deal with much worse than what you had to.

  21. Imrahil says:

    An aside remark (for those who indulge in chuckling about names),

    Lisa Miller is practically (i. e., “Lisa Müller” or “Lieschen Müller”) one of the German expressions for “Jane Doe”.

  22. John V says:

    From what I’ve seen, Crux appears to be an effort by The Boston Globe to prop up and revitalize the “Council of the Media” that Pope Benedict spoke about near the end of his pontificate in a talk with the priests of the Diocese of Rome. Reflecting on his personal experience of the Second Vatican Council, he spoke of what he called a “Council of Journalists” which managed to establish a popular understanding of the Council that distorted its true nature. According to Benedict, the “Council of the Fathers”, the “true Council”, and its deliberations and and writings, proceded from within the faith, but struggled to be realized. The “virtual Council”, however, proceeding from secular, political categories, was able to get its interpretation to the general public more efficiently. He concluded by saying “It seems to me that 50 years after the Council, we see how this Virtual Council is breaking down, getting lost and the true Council is emerging with all its spiritual strength. And it is our task, in this Year of Faith, starting from this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realized and Church is really renewed.”

  23. msc says:

    At least they subtly pay tribute to the power of Latin in the Church by using a Latin title. It sounds like Nugae might be better.

  24. greg3064 says:

    I like being in a prayer group with people who don’t think I’m crazy. I like parish life, the chances to volunteer, meet and greet. I like seeing the same parishioners in the same pew week after week. I like being with people very different from me but the same in this: we are seekers, some days frustrated doubters, some days drawn, as if magnetized, into the mystery. Many, like me, were born Catholic. Keenly and even painfully aware of Catholicism’s many and gargantuan flaws, we stay Catholic. And we will die Catholic, too.

    I’m 20. When I talk to my parents or grandparents about why they are Catholic, they give a lot of reasons like this. “I just like to go to Mass and see everyone.” Or “People really just need to believe in something.” But here is what is important about the new evangelization. Someone my age looks at the Church and has to make a decision: am I really going to commit the rest of my life to a church? If “going to church” is just “what I do” on the weekend, because I get to see people and I hear people sing, then there is really no point. If that’s religion then religion is 100% eliminable. The only church worth being involved in (ie. the only Church) must a) make a claim to being true, b) bear expectations about my behavior, and c) take itself seriously.

    The vision of Catholicism advanced by Eagan has nothing to offer the young. It might have something to offer people who have been Catholic their entire lives and continue to practice by inertia. But it’s pointless.

  25. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    ChrisRawlings says, ” if you’re going to create a website and call it ‘Crux,’ you had better be really, really sure you know what that even means.”

    Oxford Dictionaries online offer two meanings in contemporary English: “The decisive or most important point at issue” and “A particular point of difficulty”; the comparable Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary, one: “the most important problem, question, or part”; a copy of the COD which I happen to have gives only “Difficult matter, puzzle”. I don’t know if any of these are related to the derived antique senses “torment”, “trouble”, (or even “perdition”, “disaster”, “catastrophe”).

    It is good to be circumspect as ChrisRawlings suggests. But I would not be surprised if the modern (Oxford suggests 17rh-century), everyday sense suggestive of what is ‘problematical’, ‘difficult’, largely informs the choice, in keeping with what might be called the ‘horizontal’ and ‘superficial’, the senses, even the intellect, detached and mis- and over-valued, which Fr. Z has illustrated. Might it not be that their starting point has largely approximated that St. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23, verbum crucis as scandalum, stultitia?

  26. SteelBiretta says:

    So we have “Fishwrap” for the NCR and “The Bitter Pill / RU-486” for The Tablet. What shall we call “Crux”?

    I nominate “The Horcrux,” after the object in the Harry Potter books that contained a piece of the Dark Wizard Lord Voldemort’s soul. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Horcrux

    [Yes, that is what occurred to me as well. It’s sort of automatic, isn’t it?]

  27. VexillaRegis says:

    Imrahil, haha! The column should be renamed: “Ask an average person about the Catholic faith.” The answers would be the same in either case…
    Sehr amüsant!

  28. Mike says:

    Another nominally Catholic wasteland, sadly not worth wasting even ten minutes on.

  29. Andrew says:

    “So we have “Fishwrap” and “The Bitter Pill / RU-486?. What shall we call this?
    Yesterday’s hangover or hesterna crapula in Latin.

  30. danhorse says:

    When will these so called Catholic news sites actually employ people who know something about Catholicism? Crux is a real disappointment. They are getting it very wrong.

  31. SaintJude6 says:

    Horcrux it is!

  32. OrthodoxChick says:

    Crux strikes me as just another in a long line of former print media now trying to make the conversion to social and online media. That’s the only way they’re going to get the prized 20-40 year olds that they need to support them. Every day, fewer and fewer 20-40 somethings are getting their news from a newspaper or other print media. They live online, hence the attempt at a flashy, newsie website like Crux. But I predict that crux will struggle to gain a new following among the 20-40 somethings because young people in that age group seem to be divided not between conservative Catholics and progressive catholics, but between conservative Catholics and non-practicing catholics. If it were a toss-up between progressive catholics and conservative Catholics, then Crux could expect to attract at least half of that prized 20-40 demographic. The youth just don’t seem to be lining up that way from those whom I know. Instead they strike me as being either all-in for hard identity Catholicism, or non-practicing. Those who are non-practicing will label themselves as a Catholic, as with any ethnic or cultural label one might apply to oneself in the U.S. such as Irish, Italian, etc., but that doesn’t mean they’ll actually live and practice the Catholic faith. It doesn’t usually translate to pew sitting and Mass attendance, and if that’s the case, then it sure as heck isn’t going to translate into hits and page turns on the Crux website.

    The demo they and Fishwrap have is aging. The demo they need to attract in order to replenish their circulation (once their aging demo is gone) simply isn’t interested in what Crux is selling. Let them write whatever they want, it’s not like too many folks will be lining up to read it. That’s unfortunate for Mr. Allen, although his presence will likely give them a bump initially.

  33. Imrahil says:

    Dear Vexilla Regis, thanks :-)

    Dear greg3064,

    I wonder.

    There was once a old wife who said: “We married because we were in love. There have been hard times where we were in love because we were married. Now we’re just married, and in love: there’s no difference between the two of them.

    If you ask people some question which is difficult to answer, chances are that they just pick up some answer they have heard flouting, and give it. What I (with some calculated optimism, sure) suspect in those answers is a deeper feeling about the truth of the Church claims and the bonds of Christ’s Mystical Body, which they just can’t express, so they go for some explanation, while what they really mean may just be “I’m Catholic, that’s why”.

    – Note that I don’t share the modern enthousiasm about “deeper feelings” as opposed to clear thinking. They are, unless expressing something really unexpressible intellectually, lacking; but they’re still not nothing. –

    After all, if it is put to the test and they face a public excommunication, many of them have submitted; and others, as Loisy did, bore their excommunication in sadness.

    And indeed the question “why are you Catholic” is a difficult one. Chesterton gave a good answer, good also for its (let me call it) shyness, when he said “The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” I myself, when put to the test, might perhaps in an unfortunately rather dogmatic tone say: “Because it’s the truth”. I wonder whether not counterquestions like “why not? shouldn’t I? why aren’t you?” would be better answers.

    Anyway, we do not know whether the answerer is at heart an unbeliever who goes to Church for entirely societal chit-chat sort of reasons; or whether he is just a (possibly, on many counts, misinformed) believer who lacks the schooling to answer correctly. The latter is (probably) a failure of catechesis (in the broader sense where also the failure to listen to catechesis is included), but it would not make him an unbeliever.

  34. Charivari Rob says:

    On the ground here in the Church in Boston for 15 years now.

    With the hiring of John Allen, I thought that maybe the Globe was making some sort of a move to have religion writing and reporting of a quality they haven’t had since Michael Paulson left the religion beat years ago.

    I’m not entirely sure about the point of Crux, though. It almost seemed as though the ownership thought they would set this up because they somehow have special proximity or a foot in the door with “the Church”. That they could position themselves as a go-to portal on matters Catholic. …like someone had the idea that Cardinal Sean would be their in to the trendy and popular Pope Francis. That theory mostly doesn’t stand up, of course (for a lot of reasons).

    Lately, I wonder … John Henry bought the Globe from the Times for roughly a tenth of what they paid for it a few years ago. It’s a safe business deal, as one shrewd local observer commented – even if the paper went belly-up, its real estate is worth what he paid for the whole package. I wonder if this is an early step in building a nice little media mini-empire, a portfolio of “magazines” – websites packaged with news and content for particular interest groups. More flexible than the print dinosaur.

    Anyway… I revised my cautious optimism down several notches. That was with the arrival of the news that they hired Margery Eagan. Once that happened, it became pretty clear that this isn’t intended to be an endeavor held consistently to the highest journalistic or investigative or education standards.

    Well, for a little while, the rest of the country can now share in what we’ve had here for years with her writing.

    It isn’t just her disagreements, mistakes and/or distortions of Catholicism (though those are problem enough). It’s her… I don’t know quite how to describe it.

    The telling thing is if you read her in recent years at her previous gig (Boston’s other major daily – The Herald) and looked up some of her columns that touched on news and events related to Catholicism, and went to the Herald’s commbox (think “Mos Eisley”), you would find that among the people THERE – which include a goodly number of people who have their own disagreements, anger and even hate towards the Church (to say nothing of regular trolls) – there was often a surprising degree of consensus that Margery was angry, spiteful, and vitriolic to the point of being incapable of speaking with any degree of reason about the Church.

  35. Genesispete says:

    The Boston Globe is as Catholic as the Nuns on the Run. Genesispete don’t play that thing!

  36. Tito Edwards says:

    I’m willing to give Crux a little more time, but I have to say that they are off to a not so good start.

    At the forum last week John Allen stated that Crux had the opportunity to be more or less a balanced reporting outlet to hear both sides of the story. He also said he hopes that Crux doesn’t become one of the tribes, ie, orthodox, social justice, etc.

    But the problem with that analogy is that there is no social justice tribe, if there is one, it’s a democratic party website with a thin Catholic veneer.

    I’ve been involved with the promotion of Crux from the very beginning, willing to give them a chance. I’ve been defending them for the most part and disappointed by the quick judgements thus far.

    But I have to agree with Fr. Z on this one, their short track record is not good. And if they are the NCReporter but with lipstick, then they will lose my support.

  37. lmgilbert says:

    Father, I agree with your analysis completely. BUT, I think we are missing a bet here. Why not adopt the same strategy here that you have with various polls and urge your articulate and well-formed readers to enter the fray? Or specific frays as they come up.

    I have done that in numerous responsive posts, and they have let everything I have written stand, including my observation that Margery Eagan and Lisa Miller are not qualified for the positions they occupy.

    There are far more of us than them (at least the editorial staff), we are far more learned ( not difficult) and have more wit. It would be a tremendous exercise in literary apostolate, a school for intramural apologetics, and in the process we may well change some minds worth changing.

    One argument that I have made there is that if they wish to advance the cause of women in the Church, they can hardly do so by putting unqualified women such as Eagan and Miller in sensitive positions. Personally, I do not think the cause of women needs advancing in the Church, but THEY do. By the way, the general editor Hanefin is no more qualified that Eagan or Miller. So why is the Boston Globe not making an effort to find qualified women,when there are so many women out there now with advanced degrees in all matters theological, many of whom can write very well, who would be capable of addressing sensitive issues with learning and tact and thereby soften the divisions within the Church ( one of John Allen’s goals for the CRUX) and make CRUX look good in the process? Why, if they are trying to advance the cause of women in the Church, are they putting Catholic women in such a bad light by giving us female heterodox writers who have not yet failed to be ridiculous?

    Well, they raise any number of issues, and it maybe that the real draw, and the overall impact will be positive due to the response of orthodox Catholics in the combox. At least it is a possibility we should not discount out of hand. Surely it would not be a great task to out-think them, out-write them and outwit them, for their own eternal welfare.

  38. Bea says:

    From dictionary.com
    crux
    noun, plural cruxes, cruces [kroo-seez] (Show IPA)
    1.
    a vital, basic, decisive, or pivotal point:
    The crux of the trial was his whereabouts at the time of the murder.
    2.
    a cross.
    3.
    something that torments by its puzzling nature; a perplexing difficulty.
    ————————————————
    They think they are defined by #1, (defining Church teachings and/or what it should teach),
    but they are #2 to Faithful Catholics and
    to 2 (maybe 3) generations of Catholics who never learned their Faith properly, they are #3.
    ——————————————–
    “What we (they) have here is “a failure to communicate”..Cool hand Luke.
    We need to have once more; the Church’s list of Forbidden Books/Readings.
    We need to bring back those good old words: “Apostate/Heretic”
    ————————————————————
    Crux‘s ”spirituality editor”?
    should be called
    Crux’s “heretical editor”.
    How about “HERCRUX” ? for Heretical Cross.
    It seems they want to out-church the Church.

  39. greg3064 says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    If you ask people some question which is difficult to answer, chances are that they just pick up some answer they have heard flouting, and give it. What I (with some calculated optimism, sure) suspect in those answers is a deeper feeling about the truth of the Church claims and the bonds of Christ’s Mystical Body, which they just can’t express, so they go for some explanation, while what they really mean may just be “I’m Catholic, that’s why”.

    That’s a good point. I imagine I would not give a particularly deep reason when put on the spot either.

    I don’t think people with with wishy-washy, inarticulate reasons are eo ipso unbelieving. But in some cases, I do think it is indicative of very different attitudes about what being a Catholic is about. The cases of Eagan and my relatives are probably different. My conversations with relatives have been somewhat extensive, and they often make relativistic claims, I imagine because they feel as though there is a need to justify church attendance today. I find Eagan’s comments more worrying because she is the “spirituality editor” for a Catholic publication, who, since she seems to disagree with Church teaching, would hopefully have some insightful things to say about why she nevertheless continues to be Catholic (particularly since the answer may be prepared).

  40. Pingback: How to Become Pope - BigPulpit.com

  41. David In Colorado says:

    My question is this: If you follow the money behind “Crux” and the parent company “Globe”, Will you find George Soros?

  42. Sonshine135 says:

    Random thoughts:

    “The sensual parts of Catholicism. The bread, wine, incense, candles, phenomenal stained-glass windows. Smudged forehead ashes at the start of Lent. Anointing with oils. Palm Sunday. White lilies crowding the Easter altar, the liturgical season in sync with our own. [All great things. But these are externals, literally skin deep.]”

    Idolatry anyone?

    “What of those who cannot accept in good conscience various teachings of the magisterium [official Church policy]? Are we still to consider ourselves Catholic, or should we go elsewhere?”

    I believe the official term for you Madam is a heretic.

    “But [BUT!] Pope Francis has taken a different, and historically significant, tack, says the Rev. Drew Christiansen at Georgetown. For him, the beliefs of faithful Catholics ought to define the faith – at least as much as the hierarchy does. [Is that even true?]”

    I believe the Pope’s term was “informed conscience”. The key word there is informed.

    “For Jesus, of course, forgiveness is the ultimate Christian act, a way for humans to reflect God’s love and grace. But I think Gandhi said it best: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.””

    Unless you are a Bishop or Priest, who can never be forgiven. This was news to me. I thought that the ultimate Christian act was to die for Christ, to become obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross.

    “So, yes, I suppose helping to mitigate polarization is part of the plan. Just don’t ask us to think too much about it, because most of the time we’ll be too busy trying to nail down today’s news.”

    Think too much about it? It doesn’t seem like there is much “thinking” happening at all over there. Yet, I take comfort that at the end of days, I took heed to the warnings that many would deceive, and still many more would be deceived.

  43. wmeyer says:

    “Happily, it seems to me that Crux has the potential to make the National catholic Fishwrap irrelevant. “

    I thought they had made themselves irrelevant decades ago? As to Crux, I remain lukewarm.

  44. Charivari Rob says:

    I see in a few comments above where some seem to be reacting as if Crux presented itself as Catholic.

    Have they actually presented themselves as such?

    From the beginning, I’ve never thought they were going to be a Catholic website – just that they were going to be a website about Catholicism.

    My concern is when they present Crux as journalism.

  45. chuckharold says:

    I read Crux. I also read NC Reporter and NC Review. I check them out daily. ( I know that is too much) They all have problems. Fr. Z is a bit nit-picky in this article. But, he is right when he observes the lack of mention of God, Christ, etc. But let’s be honest about a few things: the polls show that most people leave the church before they are 24 years old, and they leave because of how the church handled the priest sex crisis, or its stand on gays, or similar reasons. The church is becoming more irrelevant each day to more and more people. [NO! We can’t accept this premise. It is not the CHURCH that is becoming irrelevant. The Church is founded by Christ and entrusted with His authority to teach the Truth. People are drifting farther into the domination of the dictatorship of relativism, for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is that the Church hasn’t done a good job of teaching and worshiping for decades. But it is not the CHURCH which is irrelevant. The Church is relevance incarnate.] Research also shows that people don’t join churches because of their theology – that comes later. They join because of the music, the preaching that is related to their lives, activities for the family, special needs like AA, etc. Young people grew up or are growing up in a new world compared to anyone over 50 years old. Churches are still using email as their latest communications device, yet young people left Facebook years ago and have moved on to snapchat and instant messaging. Science has moved most people beyond natural law which most have never heard of anyway. If the church wants to engage people it has to change its approach to getting people in the door and keeping them from leaving. Modern culture just doesn’t accept church teaching any more. As the Cardinal of Chicago stated recently, we are becoming an inconsequential cult. I think you have to read Crux to know what the issues are for the people and NC Review to know what the issues are at the other end of the spectrum.

  46. Lutgardis says:

    chuckharold, did Cardinal George himself write that we are becoming an “inconsequential cult,” or is that phrase rather taken from Robert McClory’s June 2013 response in NCR to Cardinal George’s concerns about Catholic support for same-sex marriage, a column which included *McClory’s* prediction for where Catholicism is headed if the Church does not make accommodations, etc.?

    While Cardinal George’s most recent Catholic New World column does address limits our current society and government place on faithful Catholics (“Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers.”) Cardinal George certainly does not imply that those who remain faithful will be reduced to an inconsequential cult.

    Instead, he speaks of not losing hope because there still remain “good and faithful people,” and his conclusion describes a Body any faithful Catholic would be proud to have remained a loyal part of: “Catholics do know, with the certainty of faith, that, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the church, in some recognizable shape or form that is both Catholic and Apostolic, will be there to meet him. There is no such divine guarantee for any country, culture or society of this or any age.”

    A church in recognizable shape or form that is Catholic and Apostolic is not an inconsequential cult.

  47. The Cobbler says:

    Thoughts on the content from Crux:

    Pope defies the politics of the whole world, decision dismissed as “politically motivated”. Riiiiight.

    Comparison with being American but not necessarily in agreement with America. Comments about my own feelings on being American shall be omitted owing to my unwillingness to defend them in lengthy formal argument.

    Incense, candles, ashes, even anointing with oils (!? as in the Sacrament of Confirmation?!)… reduced to the sensual? Not blessings? (I could compare this to lusting after a woman’s body without regard for the person, if I knew it was intentional… I have rather strong views on worship though — these days I would rather talk to an ancient heathen who slaughters bulls before Zeus than a modern who thinks of the whole deal the same way they think of a postcard. However, I probably should be careful about such analogies — just as a man whose eye is first caught by a lady’s figure might come to appreciate her as a person, anyone going to Mass because the traditional sacramentals feel right might ultimately get more out of it than they bargained for.)

    And a rather subjective way of looking into what Jesus thinks — though the conclusion isn’t so much wrong as missing the opportunity to reflect on the relationship of many very great things… (Unless Fr. Z omitted an interesting followthrough to focus on Ghandi, but I’d be surprised — he’s almost inevitably quite on top of whatever’s worthy of note.)

    Thoughts on the comments, starting with Fr. Z’s:

    The Harry Potter reference could prove to be the most controversial name you’ve given to a leftward-leaning publication, but I for one will take it, Master Chief. However, you lost me at Red Hat groups; I’m not sure what pews and Linux have in common, unless it’s a queuing algorithm I haven’t pondered.

    ‘“Some people stay afterwards to say the Rosary, in unison.”

    How else would you say it? Is there a polyphonic Rosary that no one’s told me about?’
    Well, if you pray the rosary by yourself you can sometimes get a round robin going.

    (In all seriousness though, if the writer in question joins these spontaneous little rosary groups, that would be quite a cause for hope.)

    Aaaaand… yup, that’s all I have to add that others haven’t already.

  48. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    chuckharold says, “Research also shows that people don’t join churches because of their theology” – who are these “people”? What “research”?

    And, “Science has moved most people beyond natural law which most have never heard of anyway.” “Science”? And what do many who talk about ‘justice’ and ‘injustice’ imagine they are talking about?

    And, ” I think you have to read Crux to know what the issues are for the people”. “The people”? Burke’s “grasshoppers”?

  49. Ichabod says:

    I unsubscribed from Crux tonight……
    I know, I know “What took you so long?!”
    I gave it the ‘ol college try but in the end their choice of stories to cover and their spin against the Church is too much to bear.

  50. Elizabeth D says:

    I unsubscribed from it too.