Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

The Times, same-sex unions, and dissident priests, continued

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | May 18, 2012

Earlier this week I wrote about a remarkable report in the New York Times, which asserted that some Catholic priests bless same-sex unions. The Times report was remarkable, I argued, precisely because the paper treated it as unremarkable—as if “everyone knows” some priests give such public gestures of approval for homosexual alliances.

Terry Mattingly, who began this discussion, has continued it and added some good exchanges with his readers. Mattingly believes that the reason for the odd handling of this story in the Times is the 2nd of the 3 possible explanations that I outlined the other day. I favor the 3rd hypothesis. But we’re actually not too far apart in our surmises. Mattingly writes:

I want to propose another scenario, one based on my own experiences in newsrooms and past conversations with liberal Catholics, including journalists. What if the source or sources for this information are, in reality, liberal Catholics and ex-Catholics IN THE TIMES NEWSROOM? [emphasis in original] They know about these rites or have participated in them, yet they do not want to betray their own liberal priests? Thus, the reference is simply stated as fact, because the people in the know are actually involved in the news process.

Let me suggest an amendment. Possibly some Catholic members of the Times editorial staff attend Catholic churches where priests bless same-sex unions, and since they have no experience of other parishes, they presume—mistakenly—that the practice is widespread. In my own experience I have found that journalists working for large urban newspapers, if they are Catholics, tend to cluster around the most liberal parishes in the metropolitan region. Sure enough, a reader has written to report encountering Times reporters and editors at a Catholic parish noted for its social activism and its policy of welcoming homosexual couples.

So maybe Times reporters are deliberately covering for priests who defy Church policies (Mattingly’s theory). Or maybe Times reporters are gravitating toward parishes where such defiance is commonplace, so that they come to take it for granted (my theory). Either way, the Times is helping a tiny minority of dissident priests to subvert Catholic teaching.

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: Defender - May. 18, 2012 4:59 PM ET USA

    Wasn't it just within the past couple of years or so that St. Francis Xavier parish refused Cardinal Dolan's request not to participate in the Gay Pride parade? Seems to me that there are plenty of parishes in NYC (et al) where the pastors either have no control, the cardinal has no control or the priests are probably gay themselves and feel they are fighting back for what should be (and, of course, they shouldn't be priests anymore). The NYT probably doesn't have far to look there.