Action Alert!

Another vivid illustration of the need for reliable sources of Catholic news

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 01, 2008

In Brisbane, Australia, Archbishop John Bathersby is nearing a showdown with a dissident parish community. What are the facts? The Australian offers one version:

Church liberals believe the Vatican is under pressure to close St Mary's by members of the ultra-conservative Opus Dei grouping, which is close to Cardinal Pell and Rome's influential bishop, Javier Echevarria.

What a lovely little conspiracy theory! It's Archbishop Bathersby who has called St. Mary's parish to account, yet The Australian takes it for granted that dark forces at the Vatican are involved, and forges ahead from that starting point to suggest that other darker forces are manipulating the Vatican: certainly Opus Dei (which is a "grouping"-- nice journalistic precision there) and possibly the Elders of Sion. If you were reading a suspense thriller, this would be great stuff. But since The Australian is supposed to function as a newspaper, you might wonder how accurate it all is-- particularly in light of the final phrase.

It's true that Javier Echevarria is a bishop, and he does live in Rome. But he's not the Bishop of Rome; he's the prelate of Opus Dei.

Rome does, indeed, have an "influential bishop." His name-- for the benefit of any Australian editors who might be reading this note-- is Benedict XVI.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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