Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is it time for Margaret Russell, editor of the "Catholic" Free Press, to resign?

Vatican II, in its Decree on the Media of Social Communication (Inter Mirifica), has this to say:

"The principle moral responsibility for the proper use of the media of social communication falls on newsmen, writers, actors, designers, producers, displayers, distributors, operators and sellers, as well as critic and all others who play any part in the production and transmission of mass presentations. It is quite evident what gravely important responsibilities they have in the present day when they are in a position to lead the human race to good or to evil by informing or arousing mankind.

Thus, they must adjust their economic, political or artistic and technical aspects so as never to oppose the common good. For the purpose of better achieving this goal, they are to be commended when they join professional associations, which-even under a code, if necessary, of sound moral practice-oblige their members to show respect for morality in the duties and tasks of their craft.

They ought always to be mindful, however, that a great many of their readers and audiences are young people, who need a press and entertainment that offer them decent amusement and cultural uplift. In addition, they should see to it that communications or presentations concerning religious matters are entrusted to worthy and experienced hands and are carried out with fitting reverence.

The public authority, in these matters, is bound by special responsibilities in view of the common good, to which these media are ordered. The same authority has, in virtue of its office, the duty of protecting and safeguarding true and just freedom of information, a freedom that is totally necessary for the welfare of contemporary society, especially when it is a question of freedom of the press. It ought also to encourage spiritual values, culture and the fine arts and guarantee the rights of those who wish to use the media. Moreover, public authority has the duty of helping those projects which, though they are certainly most beneficial for young people, cannot otherwise be undertaken.

Lastly, the same public authority, which legitimately concerns itself with the health of the citizenry, is obliged, through the promulgation and careful enforcement of laws, to exercise a fitting and careful watch lest grave damage befall public morals and the welfare of society through the base use of these media. Such vigilance in no wise restricts the freedom of individuals or groups, especially where there is a lack of adequate precaution on the part of those who are professionally engaged in using these media." (Nos 11-12).

And in No. 14, we read, ".....To instill a fully Christian spirit into readers, a truly Catholic press should be set up and encouraged. Such a press-whether immediately fostered and directed by ecclesiastical authorities or by Catholic laymen-should be edited with the clear purpose of forming, supporting and advancing public opinion in accord with natural law and Catholic teaching and precepts. It should disseminate and properly explain news concerning the life of the Church. Moreover, the faithful ought to be advised of the necessity both to spread and read the Catholic press to formulate Christian judgments for themselves on all events."

A Catholic press should be edited "with the clear purpose of forming, supporting and advancing public opinion in accord with natural law and Catholic teaching and precepts."  And this so that the Church's children may be "salt and light" to give "savor to the earth and brighten the world." (No. 24).  To this end, the same paragraph insists that "those who have charge of the media" must "strive to turn them solely to the good of society whose fate depends more and more on their proper use."

But time and again, The Catholic Free Press, official newspaper of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, has failed to live up to the demands of Inter Mirifica.  The newspaper has often given a place to dissent from Catholic teaching and precepts while promoting even those who advance New Age occultism.  See here and here and here and here for a few examples.

This is most unfortunate.  And an ongoing source of scandal to the faithful who possess a right to receive Catholic doctrine in its purity and integrity (Veritatis Splendor, No. 113).  The Catholic Free Press has done violence toward the faithful, assaulting that very right time and again with dissent from revealed truth and ideologies which are hardly consistent with Catholic teaching and precepts.  In the words of one Catholic layman, left as a comment at this Blog, "Dear Paul, I have written three letters over the past two years to complain to Bishop McManus about the 'Catholic-Free' Press giving print space to dissenting Catholics. I am glad to have discovered your blog. I am also glad I am not the only one who has noticed this trend. My courageous and faithful pastor has dumped the CFP from our parish.

I urge all faithfull men of the diocese to boycott CFP and dump into the trash this newspaper until Margaret Russell resigns and an independent editorial board can be set up so that anti-Catholic dissent cannot be surreptitiously published." - Michael F. Poulin.

I have received numerous other comments echoing this concern.

Perhaps it is time for  Margaret Russell to resign.  If she finds it too difficult to live up to the guidelines established by the Church and outlined in Inter Mirifica for the establishment and maintenance of a sound Catholic press, perhaps it is time for someone more qualified to fulfill the role of editor.


Wendy said...

I say yes....and the sooner the better. She has failed in her position. What often finds its way in the CFP is pure garbage.

FitchburgVagus said...

I stopped reading it years ago and decided to subscribe instead to the National Catholic Register. I never looked back. The CFP is just horrible at times.

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