typography from below

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 07, 2005

In last week's column, the NCR's John Allen discusses, quite sympathetically, then-Cardinal Ratzinger's book The Europe of Benedict in the Crisis of Cultures. This quotation caught my eye:

"Before long it won't be possible to affirm that homosexuality, as the Catholic church teaches, constitutes an objective disorder in the structuring of human existence," [Ratzinger] writes. "And the fact that the church is convinced that it does not have the right to bestow priestly ordination on women is considered, by some, to be irreconcilable with the spirit of the European constitution."

What amused me here is the rigidity of the NCR's politically more-correct-than-thou style-sheet, which obviously forbids capitalizing the initial "c" of "church," even when it functions as a proper noun (this isn't Allen's own doing; it's de rigueur in the NCR) -- a bewilderingly stupid and retrograde affectation, since, ideology apart, it increases semantic confusion instead of reducing it. Ratzinger's original text wouldn't decide matters in this instance, since by the conventions of German orthography all nouns, common or proper, get an initial capital. Still, there's little doubt he'd have no sympathy for these typographical shibboleths, especially in the service of low church Leftist neuroticism. That the NCR should insist on painting its own colors over Ratzinger's prose is an act of parochialism as obtuse as changing "negro" to "African-American" in the speeches of Jefferson Davis.

That said, the NCR at least is an independent entity, with no connection to the Catholic Church beyond the adjective it retains on its masthead, and its goofiness in this regard is a self-inflicted wound. More bizarre and inexplicable is the fact the USCCB's Office of Communications, including the Catholic News Service, adheres to a style-sheet that is almost as flaky. Neither individually nor collectively can the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops of the United States summon the clout to bring about the appearance of "the Church" in official publications, even when the reference is unambiguously to the Catholic Church. Perhaps Sister Sharon Euart wrote the machine-language code for their spell-check software and they haven't figured out how to change it. Taking an example at random, I find at least sixteen instances of "church" in this CNS story where CWN -- or Moscow's Patrice Lumumba University, for that matter -- would have printed "Church." It's not an insuperable obstacle -- as when listening to a person with a speech impediment, one learns to correct the defect more or less automatically -- but it would be gratifying to cure the disease that produces the blemish in the first place.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jul. 09, 2005 8:30 PM ET USA

    Big "C",,, little "c?" Come on, guys... This is beginning to sound like a bad episode of "Columbo." Bloody knife, but no intense consideration of the intent to murder or the "murderer" himself... (or themselves) As one commentator alluded lto, that's the real issue. Maybe people will get more excited when they start spelling "God" with a small "g." a.o. is right... but understated. Rebellion is rebellion and needs to be responded to and punished.

  • Posted by: SentimentalGent - Jul. 09, 2005 2:30 PM ET USA

    The lack of capitalization of "Church" is not anything new to me, having worked in journalism for the last 14 years. When I started as a reporter, I frequently pointed out the when the Catholic Church was referred to a body, it was always capitalized, which went against the style book. Of course, over the years the capitalization rules I learned as a child are no longer used in journalism, such as references to "pope" and 'president," when those words referred to specific people.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jul. 08, 2005 1:08 PM ET USA

    Indeed, the lowercasing of "Church" is an agenda-ridden act of disobedience & a rejection of the Authority of Jesus & His Church. As a former journalist, I can state that the NCR & its lackey John Allen know that they have a journalistic duty, when quoting someone, to tell the readers that "church" is their own word by putting the word in brackets, since His Holiness used the word "Church." But the NCR & Allen would have to have integrity & a desire for the Truth... which is not their goal.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jul. 07, 2005 2:44 PM ET USA

    Rome, after all, has the ultimate power to discipline and even expel. Rome, after all, does not often care to use her power for reaons usually known only to her. If this is the actual case. why are we even shocked when Diogenes brings us these glaring and even outrageous cases of contradiction? It is the wise man who can explain "Rome" and her enigmatic behaviour to me that I now want to find.