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Journalists avoid asking tough questions about women claiming ordination

Catholic World News - June 08, 2011

At GetReligion, journalist Terry Mattingly critiques a Baltimore Sun report on two Maryland women who claim to have been ordained as Catholic priests.

As is so often the case, Mattingly observes, the newspaper report treats the women’s impossible claim as fact; they claim to be Catholic priests and so they are identified as Catholic priests.

But Mattingly goes further, and Sun cooperates with the women by failing to ask certain very obvious questions, and then withholding some information that might prove inconvenient to the advocates of women’s ordination.

Thus, the newspaper story mentions that the female “bishop” who performed the ordination traces her episcopal lineage back to the “Danube Seven” women who were allegedly ordained by 3 Catholic bishops in 2002. Nine years later, only one of those “Catholic bishops” has been identified—and he was a member of a schismatic sect. Why don’t reporters press the leaders of Roman Catholic Womenpriests to identify the other two bishops, if in fact there were others? Since this is the crux of their claim to ordination (leaving aside the theological argument that ordination of women is impossible), ordinary journalistic standards would require reporters to ask the question.

There is a reason, of course, why Roman Catholic Womenpriests refuse to divulge the identity of the bishops involved with the Danube Seven. If there are Catholic bishops engaged in such rituals, they are subject to excommunication. So the Danube Seven if protecting them (again, assuming that they exist). But why is the press protecting them as well?

Mattingly asks a related question with respect to the “ordinations” in Maryland. The Baltimore Sun mentions that the ceremony was attended by a number of people “who are employed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore but who support the ordination of women.” But the paper does not name names, nor do photographs make it possible for archdiocesan officials to identify the culprits. The Sun does not even give the name of the Catholic school at which one of the women claiming ordination had served as a religion teacher—although that information is easy to obtain.

Journalists are paid to ask questions and provide answers. When they cover stories about women's "ordination," however, reporters show a remarkable willingness to avoid the obvious questions.

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Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: umpynelson3459 - Jun. 08, 2011 6:41 PM ET USA

    why would the reporter want to ask questions that could make the women and him both look silly?

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