6/17/2005

Seminary selectivity

No one "who has been part of a gay subculture or who has lived promiscuously as a heterosexual [should] be admitted [to a Catholic seminary], no matter how many years [previously] that might have occurred," Cardinal George said during the bishops’ meeting in Chicago.

In this extraordinarily badly written Chi Trib story, by Margaret Ramirez, billed as religion reporter (a slot that has seemed an afterthought to Trib editors since Steve Kloehn left the beat a few years back [later: make Manya Brachear a nice exception to this]), we don’t know if he said it from the podium or in an interview.  The quote above is doctored (here) for clarity’s sake, but as printed, probably accurately, it sounds off the cuff — not that George is the most articulate of speakers or incapable of making off-wall statements.

In any case, what he said justifies neither lead paragraph — “As the nation's Roman Catholic bishops gathered in Chicago Thursday for a meeting to review their sexual abuse policy, Cardinal Francis George said homosexual men should not be admitted into seminaries” — nor headline — “George: Seminary no place for gays.”

Ramirez’s analysis is like a cartoon: broad outlines of issues are offered, with reference to what “is being debated,” “critics [who] have charged,” “others [who] have said,” and the like.

The zero-tolerance ban may violate Catholic teaching “on redemption,” she writes — an odd usage that implies salvation itself is threatened by church discipline and imposing of penance for sin.  Ramirez may get things just enough wrong no matter what she writes about, but that’s little consolation to readers of news about religion and the church.

1 comment:

Margaret Ramirez said...

In response to your attack on me, Cardinal George delivered those remarks during a press conference on the first day of the bishop's meeting. He was on a panel with two other bishops' responding to questions from reporters around the country. The comments were also reported by NPR religion reporter Jason De Rose. I beg to differ with your opinion that this does not justify a lead paragraph, since it was a turnaround from statements he has made in the past on homosexuals in the seminary.

As to your characterization of my analysis being like a cartoon, i can only say that I was given 800 words to write on this complex issue AND the day's events at the bishop's meeting. This is a daily newspapers, not The New Yorker.
If you are indeed a former reporter, you should understand the nature of this business and fitting complex issues into small space. If you are not a former reporter, you have not right to criticize.