One wonders: Is anti-Catholicism the last permitted prejudice? View the approved and publicly flaunted ignorance of the facts. Recently, 75 Catholic academics signed a letter criticizing House Speaker John Boehner for his legislative record on alleviating poverty. Left-handed compliments came swift and sure, with the Syracuse Post Standard Editorial Board providing a sample: “It is a welcome change to see a Roman Catholic politician challenged for a position on an issue other than abortion.”
Such routine inaccuracies are getting boring. The US Catholic hierarchy sided with the Wisconsin unions; the bishops wrote a letter to Congress and called our representatives to remember the “least of these;” they published a Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in 2005, very little of which dwells on abortion and much of which implies radical societal change. And then there are all those soup kitchens and hospitals and charities and … Never mind. Doesn’t matter. See no good; hear no good. We’ll throw our cheap shots left and right because people wearing red drapes make easy targets.
And then there are all those “finally’s” in reference to the academics, like this blogosphere headline: “I love it. Way to finally find your way, Catholics …” (way to finally split your infinitives) or this first line: “Finally, someone from the Christian community has spoken up and pointed out that Charity and Social Justice are central and important basics of Christianity … that there is more to morality than abortion and gays …” I see another headline, shrouded in the dream-like fog of an ethereal future: “Finally, all those ‘finally’ people have finally caught up: Christians have been writing about social justice from time immemorial – and Catholics have been leading the charge. We see that, finally.”
God knows (and I mean that literally), the Catholic hierarchy deserves its share of criticism – both in practice and doctrine. But there is a world of difference between legitimate, educated evaluation and uninformed snubs. Our editorial boards would probably think twice before they drooped their intellects so low vis-à-vis Hindus, Buddhists, or Muslims – and they would be called on it, deservedly, if they did.
Do us a favor, oh you who sit in your skeptical citadels: Practice basic journalism in reference to the Church of Rome. You might learn a thing or two.