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Jack Valero is absolutely right when he says that the English media are not anti-Catholic

Let’s not forget that Rupert Murdoch is a papal knight

By on Monday, 27 September 2010

Jack Valero is absolutely right when he says that the English media are not anti-Catholic

Jack Valero is hammered by Protect the Pope today for saying, in an interview with Zenit, that he does not believe the English media are anti-Catholic. Here is what he said:

“I don’t believe in that ‘anti-Catholicism’ of the [English] media. As I said, there is much religious ignorance and much indifference. On the other hand, the media is interested in dramas and controversies, and not in happy stories: this is how they function. That is why the majority of religious news that appears has a negative context — sexual or financial scandals, hypocrisy, etc.”

Mr Valero is absolutely right. There is a lot of negative stuff in the media – and such newspapers as the Independent and the Guardian are clearly anti-Catholic – but it does not follow that the media here are anti-Catholic. On the contrary. Two of the most powerful newspapers in Britain, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, are largely pro-Catholic. The Telegraph has a Catholic editor, Tony Gallagher. Two of its recent editors, Charles Moore and Martin Newland, a Downside boy, were Catholics.

On August 6, furthermore, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph published a joint editorial attacking the secularists who were trying to undermine the Pope’s visit. This “unequivocal support of the Holy Father’s state visit” from “the most senior and reputable newspaper and media group in the UK” was welcomed by Protect the Pope, as it was by all of us.

Such smut papers as the Sun and the News of the World tend to be pro-Catholic, too, even if they do regularly publish saucy pictures. The editor of the NoW, Colin Myler, is a Catholic, and has been described as ”devout”. Nor should we forget that Rupert Murdoch was made a papal knight for giving millions of dollars to the Church. As for the mighty Spectator, its editor, Fraser Nelson, is a Catholic, and so are its deputy editor (Mary Wakefield), its assistant editor (Freddy Gray, late of this parish), its arts editor (Liz Anderson) and its assistant books editor (Clare Asquith). The director-general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, is also a Catholic.

Yes, yes, yes, of course so-called Catholics can be very anti-Catholic; in fact, the most virulently hostile anti-Catholics are often Catholic by birth. All the same, if I were a secular humanist I might begin to feel there was a Catholic conspiracy at work in this land. I greatly admire the loyalty that inspires the Protect the Pope website, but I have to say that it is as devoid of nuance, irony and scepticism as Protest the Pope, and has been too ready to see anti-Catholic plots.

Peter Tatchell is no threat. He has no power. The threat comes from our respectable middle-class rulers, most of whom welcomed the Pope’s visit but at the same time would agree with Tatchell on such matters as abortion, gay marriage, contraception and embryonic stem-cell research.

  • Oliver McCarthy

    So Peter Tatchell is anti-Catholic, and so too, by inference, are the “middle-class” rulers, who rule us, and who agree with him.

    Well, thank goodness for such wonderful, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-contraception, anti-stem-cell research 'papers as, er, The Sun and The News of the World! And the BBC, of course!

    (I know the mainstream media establishment is a cosy little world and all, and I know that respectable establishment journalists aren't really supposed to disagree with each other – especially over footling things like religion – but can't Stuart Reid read his columns out loud before he publishes them, or just do something that amounts to a basic reality check?)

  • EditorCT

    Oliver, I'd be happier if Stuart Reid and others stopped giving positive publicity to Jack Valero and Catholic Voices – who are nothing more than the latest batch of dissenting Catholics on the block. The best of them, a young woman, kept saying in reply to questions “My understanding of Catholic teaching is…”

    As it happens, she got it right each time, but that merely serves to underline their primary concern which is with image not substance.

    She must have KNOWN she was giving Catholic teaching – so why the apparent uncertainty?

    It is precisely the certainty of Faith and morals that Christ willed to give us through His Church. Don't water that down for the sake of a silly image makeover.

    Overall, Catholic Voices is dangerous. That the bishops of England have approved them, only serves to confirm this fact.

  • pattif

    It is perhaps unwise to judge the mainstream British media through the rosy afterglow of the Papal visit. The tabloids are quite adept at running around the crowd to get to the front, where they then proclaim themselves the leaders in the direction the crowd was going anyway (remember 'It Was The Sun Wot Won It'?). My own recollection is that, Papal Knight or no Papal Knight, Mr. Murdoch's flagship publication was in the vanguard of the relentless smear campaign last Easter against the Holy Father.

    And then there was Mr. Thompson's BBC, running Fergal Keane's rehash of the already-refuted allegations in that pre-visit Panorama Prgramme (isn't in interesting how lapsed Catholics rarely declare an interest?), Mark Dowd's heavily slanted 'The Pope's Divisions' and Robert Pigott's hatchet job on St. John Vianney Church, using its parishioners as a backdrop to a piece from a 'Catholic Voice for Reform' claiming that most Catholics dissent from Church teaching.

    If the above examples don't count as anti-Catholic, I'd really hate to see genuine anti-Catholic reporting.

  • James H.

    Catholic Voices was formed specifically to be the counterpoint to the trendy-Catholic viewpoint being put out by the media. They were not started by the bishops' conference. Calling them dangerous and dissenters is just wrong. Can you provide an example of them giving information that ran contrary to church teaching?

    Catholic Voices is the one organisation doing the job we all wish had been done for years. Please, they can do without the friendly fire!

  • EditorCT

    James H.

    Planet Earth calling! You want examples of Catholic Voices' dissent? Which suggests either that you haven't seen any of their interviews or performances on TV OR that you don't know dissent from doctrine – a not unusual malady in those of a certain age in the Church today.

    Anyway, in no particular order, here are some commentaries which put it all together now, one, two, three…

    As for “friendly-fire” – I'm no friend of the dissenting (anything but) Catholic Voices – rest assured. Notice the one sure sign of an out and out liberal is the use of the term “Lefebvrite” – Austin, self-confessed writer and subscriber to The Tablet, eat your very liberal heart out.

  • Kevin

    James H

    I totally support Editor CT. Also, see this. I wrote to Mr Valero privately about his appalling performance on the Sunday Morning Live programme re: statements he made on condoms and homosexuality. He said he would get back to me. He didn't. Frankly, I'm not interested if he does. I'll take my cue from the Catechism and from Papal / Magisterial documents, not from him, or his colleagues.

  • EditorCT

    Thanks Kevin – I missed that link. Yet more damning evidence for James H to chew over…

    Well, James H… Are you now convinced – in the face of the facts (i.e. the irrefutable evidence of the words of the “Catholic Voices” brigade themselves) that these people – and I do mean “these people” – should not be claiming to represent Catholicism, in any public forum?


  • Ratbag

    Rupert Murdoch a Papal Knight. A classic example of an oxymoron!

    Jack Valero has been on another planet. Did he go to a reputable High Street optician to buy those rose tinted reading glasses?

    Where are today's answers to G K Chesterton, Fulton Sheen and Hilaire Belloc today?

    I'll tell you where – they are too lacking in attitude, assertiveness as well as nuance, irony and scepticism…

    …and too darn lily-livered to stand up to the likes of Tatchell, Fry, Pullman and Dawkins and their like.

  • Kevin
  • James H

    OK. I admit that evidence is pretty damning. Though it seems their problem is more a lack of conviction than outright dissent. Pretty standard, alas.

    I'm disappointed the Catholic Union is backing them, now.

  • Protect the Pope

    Stuart Reid’s comparison of Protect the Pope with Protest the Pope was surely made to give offence. Protest the Pope have been lying, misrepresenting facts and distorting the the truth about Pope Benedict in order to stir up anti-Catholic protests. Protect the Pope has been attempting to challenge their character assassination of the Holy Father.

    I apologise for not meeting Stuart Reid’s high journalistic standards for nuance, irony and scepticism but its been enough of a challenge trying to keep up with the deluge of anti-Catholic attacks in the media over the past two months. This is a one-man operation, balanced between my other responsibilities as a deacon in the Diocese of Lancaster.

    One final thing, I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase ‘anti-Catholic plots’ about the media and I have definitely never talked in terms of a conspiracy. But I do believe that Protest the Pope, and its celebrity supporters, have organised themselves to do as much mischief during the Holy Father’s visit as possible. They’ve admitted as much themselves when it was disclosed that Hitchens, Dawkins and Robertson discussed the possibility of arresting the Holy Father during the state visit.

    By the way, I do agree with Mr Reid when he writes that: ‘The threat comes from our respectable middle-class rulers, most of whom welcomed the Pope’s visit but at the same time would agree with Tatchell on such matters as abortion, gay marriage, contraception and embryonic stem-cell research.’

  • Damian

    Of course the UK (not just English media thanks) media is anti-Catholic, the spectrum of reporting of all things Catholic goes from downright hostility based on erroneous facts through to reporting events whilst tacking on anything negative. I have yet to see fully balanced reporting, or even the counter point of an exclusively positive representation highlighting the good done by Catholicism. The damage done by this bias is to poison the minds on the disinterested & embolden the hostile further. I think to then criticise Protect the Pope for bravely refuting & challenging this anti-Catholicism is pretty rich from the Catholic Herald. You need to get out from behind your word processors and experience the state of people views on Catholicism “on the ground”. Maybe then you might see the need for the Catholic Herald to defend the Holy Church & Holy Father a bit more.

  • tiggy

    Em , no hes not, and yes they are. The BBC are the worst and the “Today” programme was has been unrelenting in anti-Catholic rhetoric for a long time now. Certainly since the Holy father was in Australia for the world youth gathering.

  • Ratbag

    Here! Here!

  • Anne

    I completely agree with Damian. There IS anti-Catholicism in this country! Just see what some non-catholics who have had the privilege of using our schools say.They use our schools which we pay for out of our own pockets as though they have an absolute right to do so. They insult our Church and Faith.The Catholic Herald should publish just how many billions we catholics save this country by providing our own schools and colleges. We need the facts to defend the work that our Church does.

  • Protect the Pope

    Here are a few of George Weigel's recent comments on the anti-Catholicism of the UK media in the run up to the Holy Father's visit:

    ‘the British media (generally vicious in the run-up to Benedict’s arrival)…the op-ed pages were filled with raucous anti-Catholic blather for weeks before Benedict XVI set foot in the United Kingdom…the BBC—which had disgraced itself with forays into the Paisleyan fever swamps of anti-Catholicism in recent months…’

    In my opinion, George Weigel sums up the anti-Catholicism of much of the UK media perfectly.

  • EditorCT

    James H,

    I can see why you say “lack of conviction” but that is the root of most dissent – i.e. they don't actually believe the claims of the Church, especially the claim to teach with divine authority.

    That, with all due respect (and I do respect your honesty here) IS the problem.

    God bless.

  • SS1

    EditorCT is just flat wrong when he says that “Catholic Voices is dangerous”, and refers to the “dissenting (anything but) Catholic Voices”.

    It is true that Jack Valero got into a tangle on the “Sunday Morning Live” show, but he did not at any point advocate the use of condoms to combat AIDS. What he was trying to say was that the church is against contraception and promiscuity, and therefore a corollary of that is that it does not believe condoms should be used to combat AIDS, and that if people did follow the Church's positive teaching on marriage and faithfulness that would itself address the AIDS crisis. This is orthodox Catholic teaching. Although his interview performance was a disappointment, I think we must recognise the two-pronged attack that was being made against the Catholic Church at the time by two ferocious representatives, and in such circumstances even experienced speakers can lose their composure.

    More generally on the Catholic Voices point, I saw people from the group appearing on TV and radio a number of times over the period of Pope's Visit, and it is simply incorrect to say that they dissented in any way from the Church's teaching – rather they presented it in a positive, faithful, compassionate and even joyful way. Go to the Catholic Voices website and have a look at some of their interviews if you don't believe me.

    I haven't seen the interview that EditorCT cites, where “the best of them, a young woman, kept saying in reply to questions “My understanding of Catholic teaching is…” but even EditorCT acknowledged that she correctly expressed Catholic teaching, Lay people often feel a little hesitant in a public setting about pronouncing definitively on difficult topics for fear they lack the necessary theological grounding, so her reticence is forgiveable. The fact that she spoke rightly and well shows that she need not have worried. Shouldn't we be praising these efforts and supporting them, rather than creating an imaginary dissent and then attacking it?

    I think that Catholic Voices, and indeed the many, many Catholics interviewed by the media at the various events did a great job in showing Catholicism to the wider world. I'm sure the Pope Benedict would be proud of them all.

  • Pmangod

    There are two sides: Good and Evil. The World sides with Evil. They look for good in evil. What good can you get from evil? The lesson of course, not to play with snakes. Because they spit poison. The world is the snake, and many of you are the snake charmers, and the snake comes out of the bag, looks, hisses and spits its poison. This is the best simple example of World's Media. They only write what they think is news. They have no scruples. No morals as do true Christians. Their morals as it is stated above, look for good in evil. Thus the news.

    Peace be with you always

  • paulpriest

    I'd be more worried as to the reasons why Jack Valero said the media wasn't anti-Catholic.

  • Walter Ellis

    You say that Rupert Murdoch is a papal knight, Stuart.  And so, of course, was Jimmy Savile.