Media Watch

GOP Offers Consolation Prizes to Catholics

USA TODAY, Feb. 15—Republican leaders have made several conciliatory gestures toward Catholics since the GOP controversial decision to pick a Protestant Chaplain over a priest who received more votes for the post from a bipartisan search committee, the national daily reported. Among the consolation prizes listed in the paper were:

• Speaker of the House Denny Hastert's invitation to Chicago Cardinal Francis George to sit in the speaker's box during the State of the Union address.

• Passage of a House resolution to honor Catholic schools.

• A 413-1 vote to award New York's Cardinal John O'Connor the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest civilian honor.

K.C.'s Catholic Paper Blasts AIDS Series

THE CATHOLIC KEY, Feb. 13—An editorial appearing in the newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph addressed a series of articles on priests with AIDS that recently appeared in The Kansas City Star.

“The series evoked a storm of sewer-level invective from the ever-ready anti-Catholic bigots, as evidenced in the e-mail messages on the Star's Internet site.

“… The fact is, the series was not news. It is based on old information. It went over the same ground tracked by the National Catholic Reporter in a story published on April 17, 1999, and a three-part series by Catholic News Service in 1987.

“… The Star estimated the AIDS-related death rate among priests to be ‘about 4 per 10,000 — four times that of the general population rate of roughly 1 per 10,000.’ But the appropriate comparison groups for priests is surely not the general population, which includes women and children, but rather adult males.

Concluded the diocesan newspaper: “… From our point of view, there is enough misinformation and bigotry about the Church without having a powerful news organization purposefully add to it.”

Denver Has Ceremony for Homosexual Unions

ROCKY MOUNTAN NEWS, Feb. 15—On the first day of Denver's new Domestic Partnership Registry, 81 couples took part in a civic ceremony which gave their relationship some legal status.

The Denver City Council approved the registry late last year in large part to give homosexual, lesbian and straight couples the chance to gain insurance and other benefits enjoyed by married couples. Denver is the 36th city with a domestic partners registry, the Colorado daily reported.

Mayor Wellington Webb and other city officials congratulated the couples in a brief ceremony in the second-floor rotunda. “Strong family bonds are what make our society great,” he said.

New York's Bishops: Same but Different

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Feb. 12—The approaching retirement of New York's Cardinal John O'Connor prompted the Times to offer a reflection on the city's past bishops.

The Times noted that 10 out of New York's 11 bishops, and all of its archbishops have been Irish. The exception, Bishop John Dubois, was harassed by the city's Irish community, and the diocesan trustees, who at one point tried to withhold his salary.

“‘You may vote the salary or not, just as seems good to you,’ Bishop Dubois famously told the trustees. ‘I can live in a basement or a garret. But, whether I come up from the basement or down from the garret, I shall still be your bishop.’”

The Times gave Msgr. Florence Cohalan, author of a history of the Church in New York, the last word on Cardinal O'Connor's legacy.

“Msgr. Cohalan ventured that Cardinal O'Connor, who is expected to retire soon, will be remembered as a ‘very good caretaker.’ Asked whether he meant for souls or of the Church itself, Msgr. Cohalan said the two went together. ‘An archbishop who does his duty frequently has to speak up on issues that irritate people, like divorce [and] abortion.”