Friday, March 20, 2009

Why was Joanna doing this?

I didn't see this interview when it was broadcast, some of my parishioners said they thought Joanna Bogle was indeed fierce, angry etc., etc. I am afraid that if I were her and not being listened to I would have just got up and walked out.

My question is why wasn't there a bishop speaking up to defend the Holy Father? Who is the bishop who is concerned with "Life" or "Third World" issues? Failing a bishop, why was there not some highly trained spokesman from the Catholic Media Office, or the Bishop's Conference, from Eccleston Square, or the Diocese of Westminster, or, or, or....?
Why is it that Auntie Joanna, pedals on her bike to the BBC, having got her notes together on her kitchen table, is the only person whoever defends the Pope and the Catholic Church. Is it that all the official organs we have actually are unwilling to do it? or do not hold Catholic doctrine? or they just incompetent?
I thank God for Joanna Bogle, I think I might start wearing a badge, "Joanna Bogle for Westminster", but she shouldn't have to do everything, unresourced by the Church.
A great deal of criticism has been poured out on Fr Lombardi and the Vatican Press Office, a great deal more should be directed at our own Media Office and the way in which our Bishops proclaim the Catholic Faith.
Surely we cannot depend on Joanna and the Pope to be the only communicators or defenders of Catholicism?
Isn't the prime function of the Church to communicate salvation? The lamentable way it has been doing it recently says something significant about where we see our priorities.
How sad we can't find someone to be to be interviewed by Jon Snow!

thanks to Patrick Madrid for the video


JARay said...

Dear Fr.,
The show was on Channel 4 not the BBC, I'm told.
Joanna did a wonderful job and was more than a match for both Snow and that other woman. Yes, she spoke with passion and was very provoked when that B*****d Snow declared that she should surely agree that the Pope was condemning millions in Africa to offensive statement without a shred of objective truth, if ever there was one!. How dare he! He was certainly out to provoke and to offend.
Personally I do not think that any of your professional spokesmen could have bettered Joanna's robust replies.


Patricius said...

Precisely, Father. I saw the interview live and was appalled at Snow's patronising manner. I felt that Joanna Bogle was "set up" from the outset. She did valiantly but
she was neither a cleric to "represent" the holy father nor a spokesperson for a Catholic aid agency to balance the Christian Aid spokeswoman.

berenike said...

Have a neb and see how efficent and up to date the Scottish Catholic Media Office is ...

Joanna is lovely, so warm and normal, and gives a damn. Go her!

old believer said...

I am afraid I disagree. Joanna Bogle came over like a raving lunatic trying to shout down arguments. Anyone undecided by the arguements would have been swayed by the calm and reasoned responses from the Christian Aid spokeswoman. Not an edifying spectacle.

Fr. Ray, what would you do with a married couple who came to you for advice if one of them were HIV positive?

Anonymous said...

The reason that Johanna was doing this, is probably because the media contacted her. They would not have contacted an official spokesperson, because official spokesmen know how to deal with the media and they would not have been able to rattle them in the way they did with Johanna. She walked into a bear trap with this, and I salute her for doing it, but she isn't experienced enough to tangle with someone like Jon Snow in an interview, esp a hostile one. The church does need to have a moratorium on handling the media, because they are very hostile, and people need training at how to do this; there is an art to it. Anyway, I've put up a post asking people to go and support her on You Tube, because there's a bunch of morons leaving horrible comments at the mo. We should all go on and defend her.

Recusant said...

I asked the Communications Office at the Bishops Conference exactly the same question. No reply so far. Nor, frankly, am I expecting one.

As for Joanna on Channel 4; it was a car crash. She probably caused the loss of many wavering members of the Church and destroyed any chance of a sympathetic hearing from thousands more. I don't doubt her integrity, nor her motives, but the way she conducted herself - shrilly, aggressively and hysterically - allowed Jon Snow to treat her like a raving loon.

Channel 4 is no friend of the Church and they knew exactly what they were going to get from Joanna, and she provided it. She must, in future, resist the temptation to accept their invitations: I don't think we can afford what, at best could be described as Pyrrhic victories or, more likely, the complete marginalization of our point of view.

Laurence England said...

It is outrageous and scandalous that no senior UK cleric has been willing to publicly defend the Holy Father on this issue. We don't need Nero to get the Church thrown to the lions anymore. The Bishops just leave the door on the latch, take an afternoon nap and let the lions walk right in.

Richard Duncan said...

A few weeks ago, I was in the CTS bookshop near Westminster Cathedral when a customer asked the sales assistant for a book by Joanna Bogle. When the customer had left, the sales assistant's colleague said that she had never heard of Joanna Bogle and asked who she was. She was told by her colleague that Joanna was "reactionary old bat" who was always speaking up for the Pope and "nutty traditionalist causes".

I suspect that this is Channel 4's view of Joanna as well and that they chose her as a spokesman for precisely that reason, i.e. in the hope that she would not put up a credible defence. They clearly got more than they bargained for in this instance, but trying to fix the result of a contest by choosing what you think of as unequal opponents is one of the oldest journalistic tricks in the book.

In the meantime, the Cardinal has written a fairly robustly worded letter to the Times. Of course, as you say, this needs to be followed up with a more proactive media strategy, but it would be churlish not to acknowledge it.

Terry said...

Well Fr, I think Eccelstone Square couldn't believe their luck when Joanna was called up. If she did a great job, they could claim the glory and if she screwed up, well, we were never asked they'd say.
A win-win situation for them.

What a pathetic lot they are over there. As St John Chrysostom said, "The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops". How very true.

Jonathan said...

My bishop believes the church's teaching on contraception can change. I disagree with him the magisterium disagrees with him. It is best if he doesn't speak and cause scandal. I think the media would be best seeking responses from prominent faithful priests who are prepared to stand firm. If an interviewer is clearly hostile, question their hostility and intolerance to your opinion. Christian Aid - thats a joke don't they get Catholic parishes to collect for them?

georgem said...

The Bishops Conference of England and Wales has a dedicated "media bishop". Who he? Exactly.

Clare A said...

Jon Snow is disdainful of the Catholic faith and probably of Christians in general - did you note how he sneeringly referred to 'Jesus Christ' while Joanna was trying to speak? She became agitated because she was not given enough time to make a point. The Christian Aid woman was heard politely, whereas Joanna was interrupted. I doubt that any official spokesbishop would have had more chance of being heard.

J Snow's series on British Battlefields has an episode on the Boyne - he really makes no secret of his contempt for Catholics.

Michael Petek said...

I saw the interview. I know Joanna quite well, and I don't have any complaints about how she came across.

Channel 4 could make Malcolm Muggeridge sound like a raving lunatic if they wanted to.

Kate said...

Where are the shepherds?
Why did it fall to the courageous Mrs Bogle to explain and defend the teaching of the Church?
I spoke with a Maggie Doherty at Westminster today, on another pro-life matter-the amendment sought by Patricia Hewitt, M.P., to remove the risk of prosecution of those who assist others to travel abroad, in order to commit suicide. She referred me to the February newsletter emailed to every diocese. I pointed out that Patricia Hewitt's amendment would not feature on it, as it has only just been made public, and that as the Parliamentary debate is on Monday, there is an urgent need for the Bishops to state the Catholic Truth about helping people to kill themselves.Ms. Doherty referred me to the 'Care not Killing' organisation and said the Bishops speak through this. I said that admirable as Care not Killing is, it could hardly claim to speak for the Catholic Church, and repeated my statement that the Bishops should speak directly on this issue, as it is of such grave importance.Ms. Doherty mentioned Archbishop Smith and Bishop Longley as being Bishops with a responsibility for Life issues.I replied that all Bishops had a responsibility to teach re pro life, in their dioceses, which Ms Doherty didn't comment on.She did state that all Bishops would be pro life. I re stated that the Catholic faithful need to hear from their own Bishops, the Catholic Truth about assisting with suicide...there was a long pause....
Eventually Ms. Doherty invited me to email my concerns to a Charles Wookey, at the Dept.for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship.

mafeking said...

You are absolutely right of course. Why is it left to Joanna to defend the faith. Isn't that what Bishops are supposed to do?. Whenever there are awkward questions to be answered on contraception, abortion , AIDS, homosexuality they suddenly go missing. Why am I not surprised?. Somehow I think they are cowering in the corner somewhere hoping everything blows over - as usual. I wonder what St. Peter and St. Paul would make of them - not much I would think. They love the world too much now and don't seem to want to be the "sign of contradiction" they should be. Cormac's letter, although good was too little, too late and yet another opportunity to preach the gospel to a wider audience was missed.

Truth to tell though it's been left to lay people like Joanna, Daphne McCleod et al to defend the faith for years. Their passion and enthusiasm (and knowledge) puts our Bishops to shame. Anectdotedly, I've heard that one of our Bishops wasn't able to explain what an indulgence was to a group he was addressing and the same Bishop to a different group told them that he thought it was possible that a future Church Council could make it possible for there to be women priests. Such ignorance in a Bishop (given this is his specialist subject) is staggering to me.

Joanna if you're reading this you did a great job and you're a great advert for everything that is good about the Church.

nickbris said...

Joanna did the best she could,nobody can win an argument against ignorant people.

It was a "get-up" from start to finish.John Snow is a BERK from start to finish and the other silly woman from Christian Aid needs re-educating about what Christianity is all about.

It wouldn't do any harm if Cormac said something.Unless he has of course and I missed it

gemoftheocean said...

I think it's time people WERE passionate.

Some blow dried "spokesperson" can try to be so smooth and bland that the issue comes off as "no big thing" - Joanna was passionate, and had facts.

Yes, there should be a bishop with cajones to drive in on these BBC types...they need to stop hiding behind their secretaries and be equally as passionate.

This Snow guy is a real piece of work.

James said...

Although I sympathise with Joanna Bogle's passion on this issue, I am not sure I agree with the caricatures of John Snow's behaviour which have appeared on this blog and on other similar ones. His interview was conducted professionally. Joanna started ranting before anyone had done anything which could be regarded as "agressive" towards her.

The difficulty is, of course, in presenting abstinence as the ultimate safe way of combatting the transmission of sexual diseases. It may be. But this is of little comfort to a sex worker in Harare or anywhere else. We have to recognise what is actually happening and help people in any way we can. If condom use saves some sex workers from a painful death, who are we to condemn their use?

bernadette said...

"Why is it that Auntie Joanna, pedals on her bike to the BBC, having got her notes together on her kitchen table, is the only person whoever defends the Pope and the Catholic Church."

On this ocasion I think it might have been Channel 4, Fr., but she does pedal to the BBc quite often, too.

The short answer is that the MSM loves to polarize extremes. They ring her. She says yes. The more whacky the better. JB fits the bill. She winds up well. I find it toe-curlingly upsetting (and that's putting it politely). There is no need to lose it quite like that. A sense of humour and a quick wit are all that's needed, not that constant shrill diatribe.

But of course the MSM media love it. It confirms that we Catholics are all nutters.

I would add that many of us do, in our own way, get a foot in the door and on radio programmes to stick up for The Church and The Pope. The morning after Pope Benedict was elected, radio 5 were of course having a secular field day on the God's Rottweiler theme. There were NO calls defending him or even sounding mildly sane, for that matter. I couldn't stand it anymore. I pulled my car onto the hard shoulder of the motorway and gave what I thought was an eloquent defence and explanation of where he's coming from.

Catholics aren't banned from picking up the phone, everyone.

bernadette said...

Michael Petek. Did you watch it ? It was not good. It was embarrassing. It was like watching a shark toy with a tadpole.

And I am getting increasingly tired of hearing/watching/reading the people who claim to represent me.

Mrs Shark.

Semyon said...

We need a Catholic media academy. A selective program based out of Westminster admitting two or three Catholic graduates or young professionals per year. They would be given instruction on the Faith and Social Teaching, of course, but the Academy would pay for the best in the business to give them media training. Well dressed and good looking these young people could go on the TV and calmly debunk the wearisome myths on which these debates seem to hinge time and time again. Think "Thank you for Smoking" meets "Diary of a Country Priest"... Maybe Fr Sherbrooke could run it when gets +Westminster next week.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

This is one of the reasons why it is taking a long time to nominate a new Archbishop of Westminster. At the end of the day, who would you prefer to lead the English Church in an age of rising anti-Catholicism? Terna candidate (A) who fully shares Pope Benedict's litugical and ecclesiological vision but is hesitant and unconvincing under cross-examination, or terna candidate (B) who is a theologically middle-of-the-road man and indifferent to the Benedictine project, but who is media-savvy and can handle a hostile television interview with skill, conviction and tenacity?

jack richardson said...

Richard Duncan points out that the Cardinal has written a letter to The Times. However, how many people will read that? I hope the new Archbishop will be more media wise.

Richard Duncan said...


I imagine the Cardinal wrote to the Times because it published the vicious anti-Catholic slander and the disgraceful cartoon, and not because it is the "Newspaper of Record" and is read by The Great and the Good.

But you are right, in itself a letter to the Times is nowhere near enough and that the new AoW needs to be a lot more media savvy.

Anonymous said...

Well done Joanna! I woulda slapped the pair of them!!

Gladiatrix said...

Surely Damian Thompson is the obvious choice to speak to the media?

Peter Porter said...

This is the first time I've seen the now notorious news item featuring Joanna Bogle and Jon Snow and, frankly, I'm appalled. I write as a believing, orthodox Catholic who supports the Church's position on condoms, but I've never seen the case presented worse.

But look at her body language from the start. It suggests that the row had begun before the interview and she had come on set wound up. Her profile looks overwrought and her belligerance starts from the outset. Continually on her television and radio appearances (bar EWTN and they are embarrassing enough) she emerges as a bullying hysteric.

The media knows this and, as others have suggested, they choose her because they know that she will present the Catholic case in the worst light and do more harm than good. Somebody she respects should tell her to desist but I doubt if it will make any difference. Behind her championship lies an incorrigible vanity and desire to show off. Publicity is the breath of life to her. It does considerable harm to the Church and makes an uncomprehending outside world think that Catholicism means fanaticism and bigotry. If she quietened down and presented the Church's teaching cooly and objectively she would soon stop being invited.

I also hate the way she refers to the Church as 'us' and 'ours' and appoints herself as an unofficial spokesman. Sorry, I don't buy the Miss Marple image either and see that as merely part of a self-conscious act based on black and white films of the 'fifties.


Henry said...

She started off OK, the interviewer was rude and wouldn't let her finish what she was saying, then she lost her rag. Not very creditable. But the key question I would ask is

Would you have sex, with a condom, with someone who definitely had HIV?

Sounds about as safe as running across a busy motorway.

Martin Black said...

I saw the interview and I agree with the comments from Peter POrter, Bernadette, James and Recusant. Jon Snow may be anti-Catholic but I thought that he conducted the interview professionally. I thought that the represenative from Christian Aid was dignified, wrong, but dignified. And as a Catholic I was embarrassed by Joanna's shrill, agressive and almost hysterical conduct. I quite agree that an unbelieving public will not have been persuaded by her behaviour and that she may actually have done harm. Of course we should be passionate in our defence of the truth but I think one can be passionate without resorting to such uncontrolled outbursts.

Moira said...

No, Henry, I wouldn't but I am not the wife of a perhaps badly educated Zimbabwean who believes that wives are meant to be obedient and who knows very well how to enforce that obedience.

Henry said...

Moira, would you trust such a husband to use a condom correctly at all times? And incidentally, why would being a Zimbabwean make such a husband be any more feckless and abusive than if he were of any other nationality, which seems to be one of the implications behind the question?

If the answer is no, as it might well be, the women needs to be helped to get away from this husband and able to support herself independently, otherwise there will soon be two people dead instead of one.

George said...

Moira, Henry and others please read the following which is part of a larger interview/article the link is attached for the full story.

Then make your minds up about this scandalous condom issue! I posted this on Joanna's blog yesterday.

I followed up a link that one of your commentators Roger had posted. This was and interview with a nurse working in Uganda at the front line of AIDS care, absolutely heart-rending. What you said in that interview was spot-on the ball and it's the others that need to get their heads out of the 'sands of ignorance and bigotry'. See below:

AFRICA/ Jovine, sick with AIDS, with her husband dead and six children now orphans: "what do I need condoms for?"
INT. Rose Busingye venerdì 20 marzo 2009

To discuss the problem of AIDS either from a newspaper editorial office or from the political office of one of the several European Institutions is one thing. To talk about it having first hand knowledge of the situation of dozens of HIV-positive women, and of their children who have been infected, is a very different matter. Rose Busingye is the director of Meeting Point in Kampala, a place of rebirth for four thousand people, either sick or orphans, who would be otherwise condemned to live ignored and abandoned to their destiny, stigmatized by AIDS. In this place with its profound humanity, the controversy on the use of condoms to eliminate the scourge of AIDS resounds like a faraway echo.

Rose, how do you feel hearing so much controversy about a problem you have to fight every day?

Whoever fuels the arguments regarding the Pope’s statement should actually understand that the true issue about the spreading of AIDS is not the condom. To speak only about this is to stop at the consequences and never address the origin of the problem. On the contrary, at the root of the spreading of AIDS there is a behavior, a way of being. Also, let’s not forget that the great emergency is to care for the many people who are already infected, and for them the condom has no use.

However, it is also true that something can be done to avoid a further spreading of the disease, and in this case prevention is useful, isn’t it?

I’ll give you an example, to show how at times people really do not understand the situation in which we are living here in Africa. A while ago some reporters came to make a feature on the activity at Meeting Point. They saw the conditions of the HIV-positive women who are here and they were moved by it. They decided to make themselves useful, to do something for these women, and they gave them some boxes of condoms. When Jovine, one of the women, saw them she said: ”My husband is dying, and I have six children who will soon be orphans. What is the purpose of these boxes of condoms you are giving to me?” The deep need (The ‘emergency’) of this woman, and of many others like her, is of having someone who looks at her saying: ”Woman do not weep!”. It is absurd to think of answering her need with a box of condoms, and the true absurdity is not to see that the human being is love, affectivity.

For the full article/interview this is the link: