One assumes that The New York Times would have been glad to receive an Op-Ed article from the new Archbishop of New York. The Archdiocese of New York is responsible for a very important part of the city’s educational, medical, and charitable life. The newspaper refused to print it. Such censorship only whets the appetite to know what was thought not fit to print. There are many items that the Times, which claims to publish everything that’s fit to print, has printed although they were not fit. There were, for instance, its mockery in 1920 of Goddard’s hypothesis that rocket propulsion can take place in a vacuum, a denial of Stalin’s forced famine in Ukraine and a whitewash of his show trials by its Moscow bureau chief Walter Duranty, its advocacy of Fidel Castro, and its benign regard for the Soviet spy Alger Hiss. So there had to be some journalistic equivalent of a cerebral stroke to make the editors of the Times unable to print Archbishop Dolan’s words.
The cause of the apoplexy was the Archbishop’s imputation of bigotry to the newspaper. His charge was not self-indulgent whining. He did not have to go back farther than a couple of weeks for examples. First, in reporting widespread child abuse in Brooklyn’s community of Orthodox Jews, there was not the “selective outrage” which animates The New York Times against criminous Catholic clerics, whose numbers are in fact proportionally much smaller than other religious and professional groups.
Then there was the sensational front-page publicity of a paternity suit involving a Franciscan friar, going back twenty-five years, and getting more space than the war in Afghanistan and genocide in Sudan. Headlines also claimed that the Pope was seeking to “lure” Anglicans into his fold, when in fact he was responding to a petition. Then a columnist invoked the Inquisition, portrayed the theology of priesthood as neurotic sexism, and even mocked the Pope’s haberdashery. The Archbishop said that her prejudice, “while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.” While a free press is free to criticize, said the Archbishop, such criticism should be “fair, rational, and accurate.”
Hostility raised to such a pitch that journalistic standards are abandoned, is provoked by an awareness that the Catholic Church continues to be the substantial voice for classical moral standards and supernatural confidence amid the noise of a disintegrating behaviorist culture. A tabloid is still a tabloid even if its editors dress in tweeds. Churchill said, “No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.” Not to worry. Christ promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against his Church. He did not include The New York Times, 30% of whose work force has been laid off in the last year and a half.
by Fr. George W. Rutler
November 8, 2009