Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Bishops Spoken Words and What the Journalist Wrote

The Times carries a not very satisfying interview with my bishop. Ms Gledhill seems to emphasise division and negativity in her write up. In fact in this clip he is actually saying something quite different, characteristically he is being honest and realistic.
It is worth comparing and contrasting reality the of the video with  what Ms Gledhill , this Times journalist, has chosen to write, it is illustrative of the journalist's "art". So many of the wiser points Bishop Conry makes are ignored by her.
Ms Gledhill should be thoroughly ashamed of the last part of this little piece which appeared today The Times.

thanks to James for finding the video


Mark said...

Can't see any factual inaccuracies here - just opposing 'spin'. I thought the Bishop came over actually incredibly well. A thoughtful and honest man!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Certainly not factual inaccuracies but a little more than an opposing spin.

Richard said...

Bishop Kieron should be the next Archbishop of Southwark. He came over as honest, and spoke without the usual church speak that you get from clerics.

shane said...

Ah, Ruth Gledhill. A few years ago she reported:

"Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt...."


tempus putationis said...

Para 4: There's no mention in the video of discussion of priestly loneliness, alcohol dependence etc. So when did this conversation take place? Conversely the relevant point made in the video that 'most serious psychologists would say that celibacy is nothing to do with child abuse and vice versa' is not included in the written version.

Similarly, the point made near the end of the video regarding a predicted general acknowledgement of this 'human problem' causing a 'ripple effect' through the rest of Europe, was ignored.

The 'angle' of the article could have been that the Bishop was calling this a timeless, 'human' problem rather than one centred largely in the Catholic Church (!). (Which is only one-sixth of the world).

But news writing involves selection, and inevitably, selection depends upon the values and attitudes held by the journalist, subs and the publication in question.

georgem said...

Was this the full interview, or edited highlights? Was there an off-camera chat preceding it? My guess is yes, in which case the bishop knew what was coming.
I listened with two different ears so I can understand the defence of the bishop.

BUT the questions were straightforward. There were no googlies, no subtle traps.
Call me devil's advocate, but I would say that Ruth Gledhill pretty much stuck to what the bishop said.

For example, there was no real defence of the Pope over the German question, the misguided and unforced use of the term "holed beneath the waterline", (Ruth Gledhill double-checked that's what he meant), "irreparable damage", the lack of overall abuse statistics, what the Church is now doing to root out the miscreants.

All this points to one thing:
A somewhat naive and unprepared man beguiled by a seemingly "soft" interview into making some rather unfortunate comments with, some might say, (me), an apparent "but what can you do?" complacency.

Instead of turning the interview round to make dynamic and positive comments, the bishop merely answered the negative questions in a negative and woolly way and, overall, appeared unsure of his ground. It was an opportunity squandered.

This bishop needs media training. Fast.

Independent said...

The article in the Times tells one much more about Ruth Gledhill than it does about the Pope. Obviously the Times on Catholic affairs is as reliable as the Guardian is on Jewish affairs. Both papers see particular subjects with their own agenda in mind.

Fr Mark said...

The bishop's overall tone and his refusal to fall back on institutional special pleading of the "it's-not-fair-they're-opicking-on-us" variety were very positive I thought. i was rather disturbed however by the obviously deliberate passing over the opportunity to defend the Pope (I see nothing wrong in allowing an accused priest to live in church accomodation while undergoing therapy - and it now appears that the decision to return him to ministry was not only not taken by the pope, but was taken after Ratzinger's tenure at Munich had ended). The choice of the word "rigid" (used twice in the written article, though only once in the video a far as I could tell) to describe the Church's moral teaching is not the best use of vocabulary on the part of one whose job is to defend that teaching.

mikesview said...

Nice to know that Ruthie and The Times are so concerned about past-OR-al work!
Of course the tired old red herring of celibacy had to crop up didn't it? There are plenty of churches (i.e., just about all the others) who have always had married clergy and who have well-besmirched records of sexual misdemeanour.

Michael Petek said...

During the Falklands War the submarine HMS Conqueror holed the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano beneath the waterline.

She sank as quickly as she did because, it is said, her watertight bulkheads weren't closed for battle.

Now, about the CES policy on sex education . . .

Richard said...

I don't think the Bishop needs any media training - we don't want a bishop sounding like a politician - forever defending their position, and never directly answering the questions posed.

Mike said...

Bishop Conry seems to accept that the allegations about clerical abuse in Germany must be true (because there have been so many proven cases elsewhere – and because the problem of paedophilia is one we have always had and will always have?). That will no doubt please the atheist/secularist crowd but is it necessary? Could he not have said, let us see what the investigations show? I was also staggered by his answer to the question about the Pope. (With friends like these…?)
So let’s step back and see where we are:
Bishop McMahon says he doesn’t have any objections to somebody in a Civil Partnership being a Headteacher of a Catholic school.
The CES (also defended by Bishop McMahon) says that the CFS Bill has now been amended to the satisfaction of the Bishops.
Bishop Conry falls backwards to avoid defending the Pope.
Meanwhile Cardinal O’Brien says that when the Pope comes to Scotland he hopes he will give the Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland “hell”. No pussyfooting there. Perhaps Cardinal O’Brien needs to give a bit of advice to his English colleagues. Ah, but they prefer negotiation to confrontation and it is patently so much more successful, isn’t it?

georgem said...


Media training is not about how to obfuscate. It's about how to answer honestly while providing the context; fleshing the subject out, as it were. Yes, abusive priests sin seriously against their victims, their calling and against God. Yes, it was wrong to move abusive priests from parish to parish. Yes, it was wrong to attempt to cover it up.

But then you add the context - how many priests there are worldwide doing good and holy work. How the Church believed until recently, as did psychologists/psychiatrists for 30 years plus and quite erroneously, that therapy was the cure. What measures the Church now has in place to root out the perversions, plus the strong public condemnation of such abuse made by the Pope who, it is emerging, is not directly implicated in the Munich scandal. That's not dodging the questions and it would have taken 2 minutes max to get that across.

I accept the bishop did his best, but were I a passing Catholic I'd be thinking what's the point?

Sharon said...

The latest update from the Munich archdiocese indicated that the then vicar general placed Fr H in a parish during the term of Cardinal Ratzinger, who knew nothing about it.

Gregory the Eremite said...

Another vote here in favour of media training for bishops.

A major thrust of such training is to enable someone to put over the message that they wish to put over succinctly, accurately and in a way that will be understood by the audience. Another thread is to ensure (as far as possible) that one's words are not misconstrued (or deliberately misinterpreted).

As such, this sort of training might be seen consistent with 1 Peter 3:15.

Of course, such techniques can themselves be (and are) misused. But that is a separate issue.

Mark said...

Although Media Training would be beneficial in enabling Bishops to get over the message they want reported a hostile, sceptical press will always 'twist' things their way. When we're talking about scandals we have no defence - moving offenders to other Parishes to strike again, vows of Silence, whilst inactivity reigned! How can you defend this, other than admit defeat and work on improving our response in the future!

the owl of the remove said...

Re: "media training" - Bishop Conry, or as he was then, Monsignor Conry, was the head of the Catholic Media Office in the mid-nineties!

fidelisjoff said...

"it's own rigid moral code ..... It has failed" let's be precise individuals have sinned grievously. The church fails at a local level when it fails to teach the Gospel. The Church has not failed, it is infallible on faith and doctrine, it's members have. Rigid sounds negative but flexible that really would be nice wouldn't it? The church is faithful on those things that can never change i.e. The deposit of faith e.g sunday obligations, yes to life and no to abortion and contraception, a male only priesthood etc. The Church is only seen as rigid when it doesn't do what you want when we mature spiritually we see the church acts like it's bridegroom out of love. I am not impressed very secular in his language and ideas.

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