A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, March 08, 2013

Tom Wright on the Media as Hypocritical Moral Police

Preach it, Tom!
I listened in disbelief as John Humphrys interviewed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor on Radio 4's Today programme this week. Surely, he said, like a headmaster addressing an errant teenager, if highly placed people knew about the behaviour of Cardinal Keith O'Brien, somebody in authority should have done something rather than covering it up? I waited for the former archbishop of Westminster, who sounded weary of the whole thing, to come up with any of the phrases that might have stopped the interview in its tracks: "Jimmy Savile"; "BBC"; "people in glass houses". Perhaps he was too polite. So Humphrys pressed on: the church claims it can tell people how to behave, so surely it has to live up to those standards itself?

The joke here is that it is usually the media that tell people how to behave. Yes, the church sometimes "speaks out". But if it's moralising you want, turn on the radio. Or pick up a newspaper. And the institution the media especially love to attack is of course the church. There is a logic to this. The media want to be the guardians of public morality, but some people still see the church that way. Very well, it must be pulled down from its perch to make way for its secular successor.

Don't be fooled when "religious affairs correspondents" look prim and solemn and shake their heads at the latest clerical scandal. They are enjoying every minute of it. It keeps them in a job (did anyone imagine that the real "religious affairs" of this country, the prayerful and self-sacrificial work that goes on under the radar every day of every year, would ever make headlines?). More: it makes it easier to sustain the fiction that the journalists have taken over as the nation's moral police.
The entire post, "The church may be hypocritical about sex, but is no one else guilty?" here.


Patrick said...

He's right on the media. The world will always seek to displace God and His people.

BUT, this is becoming a massive problem. I'm not Catholic, but, it is becoming a huge problem.

Catholics I know agree. IF they don't get these creeps out of the laity, eventually the Catholic church is going to face revolution.

I have close friends who are on the edge right now over this trash, it's becoming too common.

You just can't have God's leadership people acting like a bunch bachanalian priests. Not long term.

Allan R. Bevere said...


You are right; it is a big problem and the Catholic Church must deal with it appropriately, and my guess is Wright would agree.

But nobody is as sanctimoniously self-righteous as journalists and politicians.

OrigamiGirl said...

I see what he means about the media - it's no doubt true that they are equally moralising. (Like the Daily Mail and it's cross between 'ban all porn' and 'here are pictures of 16 year olds in bikinis' but I don't think the right response from a priest would be "you guys are just as bad!" ... Turning the blame back round wouldn't achieve anything. And it would look like sad deflection.

It's a terrifying thing. It's not just the latest person - but the magdalene laundries, the orphanage on Jersey, Jimmy Saville. Stories again and again. It is often from the church. The church sent kids to these places where it knew people were being mistreated and it makes me want to cry. All of these stories are about power - using it, manipulating it and always wanting to keep it. A position of ministry comes with power and that can so easily be abused it seems.

I just hope that we are in a period of exposing lies and it will stop from here.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Thanks for your thoughts OrigamiGirl,

I agree that just pointing the finger at one another's hypocrisy is a bad idea, but I think Wright's point was that the media is quick to point out to the church what they themselves do as well, even though they don't acknowledge it.