Another reality check on WomenPriests news coverage

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 01, 2017

Quiz for careful readers: Where’s the giveaway in this lede from a Charlotte Observer story?

An international group defiantly opposed to the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests Sunday ordained its first woman Catholic priest in the 46 counties that make up the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.

Did you catch it? By referring to “the 46 counties that make up the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte,” the reporter is carefully not saying that this is the first woman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Charlotte. But wait: If she’s located somewhere within the Catholic diocese, but she’s not part of that diocese, how can it be accurate to call her a “Catholic” priest?

It isn’t, of course. The ceremony at “Jubilee! —a nondenominational faith community” was not a Catholic ceremony, and Bridget Mary Meehan is not a Catholic bishop, and Abigail Elztroth is not a Catholic priest. Which, unfortunately, means that this really is not a news story.

Try this headline:

Small group of women ordains new minister for sect

See what I mean? It’s accurate, but if that’s the real story, it’s not even going to merit a headline.

It could be a blog post, though—and sure enough it is. Yet even for that I have an editorial question: Why didn’t the photographer take a few steps back, and use a wide-angle lens, so that we could all see the throng of joyous young people packed wall-to wall and singing their full-throated praise?

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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  • Posted by: cmaedunne9213 - May. 02, 2017 7:52 PM ET USA

    The feminists and the Spirit of the 1960's (a/k/a "silly season of the 60's") do not go down easily into that good night, do they? They are not Roman Catholics at all. They are not anything at all--they are self-excommunicated, which means they are outside the mystical body of Christ, and are members of the anti-Christ. Please pray for these misguided women--I believe that by committing this particularly egregious sin, they have endangered their souls. This is not at all good news.

  • Posted by: nix898049 - May. 02, 2017 3:02 PM ET USA

    The last line in the article also indicates the fake priest was poorly catechized. Excommunication removes one from the Communion of Saints. No one who is excommunicated goes to heaven. I hope she will take it seriously or join the Episcopalians and leave my Church alone.

  • Posted by: iprayiam5731 - May. 02, 2017 2:30 PM ET USA

    excuse me, isn't this exactly what you wanted in your last post: more vocations? (I kid, I kid.) But a commenter in the last post hit the nail on the head. Lack of vocations is a feature not a bug for the anti-tradition-minded. The shortage of priest is a justification for rethinking the priesthood.

  • Posted by: feedback - May. 02, 2017 1:25 AM ET USA

    Almost all of the comments from Charlotte Observer completely dismiss the journalistic hype in calling the event "Catholic" or "Roman Catholic." But describing the person as "the first Catholic woman priest in a Catholic diocese" is outright dishonest manipulation. Good catch.