July 22, 2019

The Church and the News Cycle—Must Change

Each day, the headlines tell it all:

The Catholic Church Needs a New Doctrine of Scandal  (Religion News)

Sex Scandal was Catholic Church’s 9/11 (New York Post)

Priest Sexual Abuse: Why the Catholic Church Continues to Struggle with Sexual Abuse Scandals (USA Today)

I firmly believe that the Catholic Church has had issues within its ranks for years and has chosen to deal with them internally. As such, it is not prepared at even the highest levels to deal with the media and the accusations that seem to come out daily in our newspapers and magazines. I don’t think the sexual abuse issues started in 1950 or the year 1900. I think they date back centuries and most probably were not as serious in 1850 as they were in 1950. Today, with social media and the internet, news travels at warp speed, especially bad news.

But rather than launching a positive program that promotes our good and faithful priests, the Church is viewed as retrenching and accepting the criticism of the media. By doing so, they are giving the public the impression that the majority of priests are substandard and weak people. And further, that within the Church, the good may coexist with a minority of pedophiles and homosexuals who have been given a “green light” to practice their pathetic lifestyle because, in the end, it will all be covered up by the Church hierarchy.

This has got to change. We cannot continue to sit back and accept the criticism of the media without speaking out. Many people now have the impression that most priests fall into the “deviate” category because no one has ever told them any different. Each day, the public reads the same “crap” over and over again even though most of it is a rehash of old cases presented in the news as “new” news.

The Catholic Church needs a competent public relations staff.  Someone has to speak up for our faithful Catholic priests and bishops; but apparently, it will not be the Vatican. His Holiness appears overwhelmed or maybe the media presents him that way. Most bishops have never held a press conference and I am not necessarily advocating that they start but it is depressing as a Catholic to sit back and take this criticism without any effort being made by anyone outside of the Catholic League to defend the Church. I can’t even imagine what a day is like in the life of a faithful priest who sits and reads the articles that accuse the Church and its priests of sexual crimes that have been committed by only a small portion of priests and never mentions, even once, the good that our priests do in the Church.

In the end, maybe the good done in the Church does not matter? Maybe our faithful priests must accept that they are now viewed as substandard individuals who live in what appears to be a Church that accepts and protects its priests from prosecution for their lifestyle? A Church that has seminaries filled with homosexuals in training. A Church with leaders that are powerless to correct anything as they also participated in or covered up the same crimes? A sad situation, but this is what the public sees day after day.

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Written by
Donald Wittmer

DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati's Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.

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Written by Donald Wittmer