Monday, May 10, 2010

Not exactly the idea of 'spinning' the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross has in mind.

Rome conference aims at improving media coverage of Catholic Church
Rome, Italy, May 9, 2010 / 06:26 pm (CNA/EWTN News).-

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome announced an upcoming conference to help journalists around the globe improve their coverage of hot-button issues in the Church today, such as bioethics, ecumenism, Pope Pius XII and the recent controversy surrounding clerical sex abuse. (I don't suppose it will come as a shock to readers that the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross is an Opus Dei university and seminary. This conference was first held in 2008 and is slated to be repeated every two years.)

“The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict XVI,” will take place in Rome from September 6 to September 12. The seminar will be held in English and is open to all working journalists, though space is limited.

Listing the topics that will be addressed at the seminar, the university said that in addition to discussing the most pressing issues of today, conference leaders will also educate participants on the nature of the Church and how the Vatican functions. The seminar will also touch on the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, now in his fifth year as the Holy Father, and will give insight into his thinking and leadership approach.

In addition to classroom sessions, the seminar will also provide on site visits and personal meetings with curial officials and veteran Vatican correspondents. Conference speakers include Vatican officials Cardinal Francis Stafford, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, Msgr. Charles Brown, and Msgr. Patrick Burke, among others.

“Covering an institution as old and as large as the Catholic Church has always been a huge challenge, and in today’s shrinking world, it’s becoming ever more necessary to tell even local stories about the Church from a global perspective,” Rev. Prof. John Wauck, president of the organizing committee, said in a May 7 press release. (I really think this means to tell it from the Vatican/OD perspective.)

“The seminar should help reporters do that,” he added.“What’s more, Rome is an ideal setting for reflecting on religion and the media with journalists from around the world.”


What's most frustrating to me about this particular seminar is that there is zero representation from academics or ecclesiastical representatives who might represent the other face of the Church, the one that actually works in the trenches and is the face of the Church to the vast majority of the globe. That face of the Church of which Michael Kristoff recently wrote.

I get it that Opus Dei isn't overly interested in that face of the Church or those people that face reaches. OD has assigned to itself the business of communications and publicity for the Vatican bureaucracy. They are interested in exactly the kinds of people that this seminar is designed to reach---media movers and shakers, the people who are instrumental in creating the public face of the institutional church. These are the media people whose columns and coverage reach the educated and wealthy in the developed West. That's why this conference is conducted in English, not Latin.

Leaving theology aside, the monopolization of Church communication by Opus Dei is a bad thing precisely because it results in biased communication, stressing the Vatican face of the Church over any other face of the Church. Believe me, I understand the importance of this imbalance to promulgating the theology of Opus Dei and it's vision of Catholicism. I understand why Benedict is perfectly willing to support such imbalance because it's his vision of the Church.

What bothers me is that this perpetuates the myth that somehow Catholicism transcends Christianity, not to mention secular society, and that because of it's long history the Vatican can not be judged by anyone elses standards but it's own. (It's own, not God's.)
At this point in time the Vatican is having to come to terms with the fact that while it's one thing to control the message, it's quite another to assume your spoon fed message will be eaten by the intended recipients. What the Vatican and it's communications people now have to deal with is that reporters from secular media outlets no longer accept what the Vatican puts on their spoon. This process has been accelerated by the sheer facts of the abuse crisis. The facts were bad enough without the penchant for certain Vatican voices to blame anything and everything as justification for their own actions. It was Vatican insiders themselves which have precipitated the media's closer scrutiny of the stuff on their spoons. Now it's OD to the rescue to remind reporters that the Vatican's traditions and longevity demand a different style of coverage, and oh by the way, pay no attention to all the modern media apparatus at our University.

What modern OD communications people do know is that an ability to control or invent seemingly official and credible media outlets--in order to shape a given message-- can still produce serious effects with in a culture. We've seen this process have great effect for the Tea Party movement in the US with all it's corporate generated seemingly credible grass roots media campaigns. Liberals can delude themselves that the Tea Partiers have only served to destroy the Republican party, but the truth is much more subtle. Tea Partiers will also have impacted the Democratic party as the official Dem structure decides to move even further right in order to pursuit the ubiquitous 'swing' vote with it's disenfranchised Republican bloc.

Opus Dei, coupled with the Legion, has been involved in this strategy of inventing 'credible' media sources for a long time. I frequently use articles from these sources because they are easily accessible on the Internet. (Not too mention fun to comment on). The Vatican press office may give the appearance of not knowing what they are doing, but that's more a product of Cardinals who can't stay silent in the face of criticism than it is the Press Office's inability to use modern media for it's own purposes.

Don't be surprised if Benedict's 'leaked' desire to create a Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization is heavily populated with academics from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. It's one of the things they do best--'evangelize'.


  1. Oh, we can be sure that the OD evangelizing against VII media outlets will be "improving media coverage" of the ODC platform, churning out a lot of propaganda for their new fascist-Vatican agenda. They would like to deny that we exist, that there is a legitimate opposing force against dissolving VII and real reform.

    Wow, what a title for their conference: “The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict XVI,” ... I am sure they will "cover" up a lot of the truth, especially since they won't be "covering" all the voices there are in the Church and that make up the Church.

    The article sounds like it was written by John Allen. Same school of thought.....

    It should provide us with a lot of new insight as to the inner workings of "how the Vatican functions."

    Spin is the nature of this beast.

  2. And no papal audience for the women religious meeting in Rome. The pope has a sudden need to see Portugal. And Cardinal Rode had a sudden need to be "out of town" also.
    And the scene of one priest alone saying Mass with 800 silent and silenced nuns facing him.
    There will be such a need for the "mysticism and prophecy" that is the theme of this meeting as the storm clouds gather over Rome.

  3. What intrigues me in this attempt to improve the public image of the Church, is that the emphasis is all on educating the press about the Vatican. The assumption here is that poor reporting in the past is all a result of misunderstandings resulting from ignorant, misguided reporters.

    I would be far more impressed at efforts to train the Curial officials in the ways of the press, so that they might think more carefully before making stupid and offensive remarks.

  4. coolmom, I read that article after I posted this. The photo of the priest alone behind the twenty foot altar is truly worth a million words.

    There is something truly sad about Benedict's choice to avoid these very real religious women under the excuse of honoring an apparition of Mary.

    Butterfly, speaking of John Allen, did you read his take on Cardinal Pell's possible appointment? Allen really needs to get out of Denver.

    Here is one of the links. I'd give the other but NCR seems to be having problems.

  5. I mentioned this before - but it bears repeating:

    The master of Papal Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, has advanced degrees in the 'psychology of communication'.

    Navarro-Valles redux.

    Anon Y.Mouse

  6. Yes, Colleen, I had the sickening occasion to read his take on Pell & agree he needs some journalistic and spiritual renewal and perspective far away from Denver, which seems to be the ODC's capital for marketing and promoting their brand (spin, spin & more spin until you are so dizzy you can't see straight - or even care to see straight) of "Catholicism." NCR does seem to be having problems. I just tried to go there and could not get in to their website.

    I'd be interested in reading more about what the women in the Church who were in Rome had to say. It is utterly astounding to me that these men in the Vatican want to ignore the voices of women. It's outrageous. They will have to face the consequences of their ignorance one day, and I hope it is real soon, because I really don't think that Jesus is going to have much more patience with this kind of denial of the Holy Spirit in women.

  7. I notice that the article named clerics (but of course) and then referred to "others."

    May one assume that to include women religious and garden variety layfolk who are experts in the art of communications?

    Oh, yes ....

    These people continue to prove to the world how inbred, self-centered and arrogant the clerical structure is.

    Jim McCrea

  8. "These people continue to prove to the world how inbred, self-centered and arrogant the clerical structure is." the Middle Ages it was very common for the clergy & hierarchy to refer all those NOT of the noble or clerical class as: "The Simple".

    As demeaning as 'others' is (overtly & implicitly)...and it is VERY demeaning, I would rather be called "Others" then....."The Simple"


    In re women religious, the 'wise men' of the Vatican might as well have said:

    "Sssh! are talking".

    Anon Y. Mouse

  9. While the men in the Vatican are so busy saying "sssshhhh, men are talking" they are not hearing what God is trying to tell them - "I am the Lord your God and put no false gods (men) (money) (ego) before me."

    word is popworne

  10. This is an informative article. I didn't realize that Opus Dei is so important in the Church. I don't know if you may be overstating their importance here. I never really heard all that much about them. Are they that large a group? Aren't a lot of other religious orders larger?

  11. Mareczku it all depends on how one defines importance. Like the Legion, OD has a mission heavily involved in targeting the salvation of the wealthy and using OD resources, which are extensive, to create media sources to spread their version of Catholicism.

    Secrecy amongst their ranks, both lay and clerical is difficult to penetrate, but they heavily surrounded the late JPII and included sympathisers like Cardinal Dzwicz, his personal secretary, his press secretary, a lay man with a doctorate in sublminal communcation, Dr. Valles, and many other sympathizers or members such as Bertone and Sodano.

    As the Legion and Cardinal Sodano show, you don't have to be big in numbers to have influence, just big in the right number$ with access to more, and then it helps to have the right message which is all about obedience to the magisterium, the exalted and necessary status of the celibate sacramental priesthood, and the necessity for joining our suffering with Jesus in this world in order to obtain salvation in the next world.

    The latter years of JPII's pontificate served well to underscore their message and influence.

  12. FYI - Opus Dei asserts its 'official membership' to be some 89,000.

    ...of course they have been using that figure for nearly 10 years now, which should act as a clue that they are not telling the whole truth.

    Of course - they are not, in any sense. That figure does NOT include the many thousands of Associate members (of whom many are clergy). Nor does it include the even larger number of ancillary members, who are referred to as: Cooperators & Collaborators (who need not be Christian or even Theists) .

    In Chile in 1950, the number of 'official' OD members was some 2500. But the number of Cooperator/Collaborators was some 15,000. The number of clerical 'Associates' at that time is unknown, but certainly large.

    ...and that was in a 3rd world nation largely populated by llamas.

    Do the math.

    Those with eyes to see can perceive that the figure of REAL global OD membership is closer to the range of 750K to 1 million.

    Realty...not fantasy or mere 'conspiracy theory'.

    When you add in the vast multitudes of Communion & Liberations, Neo-Cats, LC/RC, Miles Jesus, Focolore, Charismatics, etc.....we have quite any army of 'ancillaries'.

    Anon Y. Mouse