Action Alert!

Unwanted advice, offered and received

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 03, 2012

Someone named Lindy McDowell, writing in the Belfast Telegraph, opens a column with a seemly display of humility:

I wouldn’t presume to tell the Pope how he should go about his business or to advise the Vatican on matters theological.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you? You know what the very next word will be.


Of course. The resolve not to give unsolicited advice to the Pope lasted for the space of a carriage return.

…I do know that the censuring of Fr Brian D’Arcy the latest Irish priest to be disciplined by Rome (there are now six in total) is not the Church’s savviest move.

Two can play this game.

I wouldn’t presume to tell Lindy McDowell how to write a sentence in the English language.

But I do know that if you write complex sentences including descriptive clauses with unclear references and parenthetical remarks the failure to use punctuation is not a savvy move.

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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