by Ed Wilkinson
In case you need another reason for the necessity of the Catholic Press, look no further than the current controversy surrounding the Administration’s attempt to redefine who the Catholic Church is and what it does.
You won’t find much about this in the secular press that is too preoccupied with the latest sexcapades of the most recent passing starlet.
The Church is in a fight for its life, and no one seems to care except those who take their faith very seriously. Even good Catholics are missing the action because they are so preoccupied with their own day-to-day living.
In its attempt to ram through the Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare), the government issued an exemption for those religious institutions that have moral objections to certain parts of it. In other words, Catholic Church agencies will not pay for a plan that includes sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. The problem is how the Administration has defined what is and what is not a church agency. Under the new definition, not even Mother Teresa qualifies as a Catholic. In order to be a Catholic agency, the Administration says that the group in question should employ only Catholics and assist only Catholics. That also would leave out Catholic Charities, one of the largest social service agencies in the country. Not Catholic, say Administration guidelines!
The goal, of course, is to limit the number of those who wish to opt out of paying for a plan that would violate their consciences, a practice guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The reality is a practice that eliminates the Catholic Church from carrying out its mission of reaching out to the baptized as well as the unbaptized. And the Administration is counting on most Catholics not noticing or not caring enough to make a difference.
In response, the U.S. bishops launched a prayerful and educational campaign called the Fortnight for Freedom, which was held for the two weeks leading up to the Fourth of July, the day of American Independence. If you haven’t been reading the Catholic Press, you have no idea of what I’m talking about. The daily press completely ignored the effort that included major events in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., as well as in almost every diocese in the country.
“Media bias has rarely been so starkly naked,” says Bill Donohue, the feisty director of The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Donohue compares the media coverage of the Fortnight for Freedom events and the competing “Nuns on the Bus” campaign.
While the media ignored Fortnight events attended by hundreds of thousands, they found time to cover Nuns on the Bus, which in fact included only two nuns who made the entire bus trip. CNN did eight stories on the nuns and none on the bishops; MSNBC did six on the nuns and one on the bishops; and CBS News did two on the nuns and none on the bishops.
Donohue charges that the nuns were helped by Faith in Public Life, which is funded by atheist billionaire George Soros and whose Catholic Program Director is John Gehring, a left-wing operative who sought to manipulate the media against the USCCB events.
Grassroots Catholics who are reading the Catholic Press just might be the deciding factor in what is shaping up to be a close race for president. Should Catholics prevail, the members of the secular press will wring their hands and wonder what happened because they will have missed the real story.