Archbishop Dolan on the Media

In a forthcoming interview that will appear in the Register, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan tells correspondent Paul Barra that the media in New York have been ”exceptionally attentive” since his installation earlier this year.

“They have been interested in what I have to say, they have joined in the chorus of welcome, and I can’t keep up with the requests for interviews and articles and appearances,” the archbishop told Barra.

That was Oct. 26.

A few days later, the archbishop published a column on his blog, The Gospel in the Digital Age. He said he had offered it first to The New York Times, but they declined it.

He told Barra in the interview with the Register: “As I’m speaking with you now, there are some matters that have been aired in the local press that I feel as a Catholic leader that I must take strong exception to, and intend to do so. As Catholics, we must never pass up an opportunity to catechize.”

The archdiocesan spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, explained: “The Times’ op-ed editor told me that they do not publish op-ed articles in response to items in the newspaper. He offered to forward it on my behalf to the letters editor, but I thanked him and declined.”

The archbishop’s column, titled “Foul Ball!” asserted that anti-Catholicism is as much a national pastime as baseball — and that it seems to get an easy pass in the pages of The New York Times. The latest example, he said, was an Oct. 24 column by Maureen Dowd, a screed against the Vatican’s “inquisition” (her word) of women religious (it’s known as an “apostolic visitation”). The column is dripping with vitriol for the Church’s traditions — and on many points is ill-informed, recycling stereotypes about the Pope and Catholic teaching that, to well-informed Catholics, makes Dowd look sillier than the traditional faith she seeks to poke fun at. “Nuns were second-class citizens then and — 40 years after feminism utterly changed America — they still are,” she writes. “Nuns need to be even more sepia-toned for the über-conservative pope, who was christened ‘God’s Rottweiler’ for his enforcement of orthodoxy. Once a conscripted member of the Hitler Youth, Benedict pardoned a schismatic bishop who claimed that there was no Nazi gas chamber. He also argued on a trip to Africa that distributing condoms could make the AIDS crisis worse.

“Il Papa is even willing to bend Rome’s most doggedly held dogma, against married priests — as long as they’re clutching the Anglicans’ Book of Common Prayer.”

Dowd, a product of Catholic education, makes no effort to explain things such as the fact that the “pardon” Pope Benedict offered a Lefebvrist bishop (actually, the lifting of an excommunication) had nothing to do with that bishop’s opinions about the Holocaust or that the Latin Catholic rule on celibacy is a changeable discipline, not “dogma” (perhaps she could not resist the nice phrase “doggedly held dogma”).

I’m waiting for a response from Times public editor Clark Hoyt on whether he sees a pattern of anti-Catholic bias in the Gray Lady’s pages. And does it help the Times’ credibility to publish a column chock-ful of un-fact-checked opinions?

—John Burger