On Saturday Sept. 23, a Mass to stress the importance of Catholic journalism was celebrated at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights by Bishop Robert Brennan; it was concelebrated by Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio; Msgr. Sean Ogle, chairman of the board of DeSales Media Group, the ministry that produces The Tablet; and Father Christopher Heanue, rector of the co-cathedral.
In his homily, Bishop Brennan discussed the parable of the sower. In that parable, Jesus says, “Some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up.
“Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
“And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
Bishop Brennan, who is the publisher of The Tablet, likened Catholic media to these seeds. In spreading Jesus’ message, he said, there will be times when Catholic media’s content will fall on the path, on rocky ground, or among thorns.
He noted that the farmers listening to Jesus’ parable were probably thinking how wasteful the sower was with valuable seed.
However, Bishop Brennan said, this is how Jesus’ message must be spread. His message must go to all corners of the earth and through every means possible. This is the only way that the good fruit of Christianity can grow a hundredfold.
After the Mass, The Tablet sponsored a brunch to honor and thank its benefactors through the paper’s membership program.
A lively discussion about Catholic media took place after the brunch.
At a Q&A session, Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio noted the First Amendment lists among our basic freedoms the freedom of the press and freedom of religion.
He said these freedoms are so vital because the Church and journalism seek one common end: the truth.
Bishop DiMarzio quoted Pontius Pilate, who said to Jesus, “What is truth?” The bishop said this attitude of relativising the truth is even more prevalent today, and Catholic media plays an invaluable role in giving its audience the truth through fair and unbiased content.
Others spoke about biased reporting along partisan lines. One of the benefits of a faith-based media company is that Catholic journalists play the middle of the road and the only lens they employ is how the story will affect Catholic tenets and the faithful.
But even when Catholic journalism is being judged alongside secular news outlets, Catholic media stands alone, a point that Msgr. Ogle made before delivering the closing prayer at the brunch.
He noted that Catholic journalism “functions within the great commission of Christ, to go forth and teach all nations.”