The Irish Media vs The Catholic Church

Apologies for my absence in recent weeks. I know you’ve all been suffering severe withdrawal symptoms. But I am back to replenish you once more with regular blog posts. I’m going to return to my roots on this blog and explore an issue that has pretty much bothered me ever since I first trained as a journalist: what I perceive to be the inherent prejudice shown by the Irish media against the Catholic Church.

Media Perception of the Catholic Church

When I was studying for my Masters in Journalism in Dublin City University, I was fascinated by religion and felt much more of an affinity for religion than I do now. I completed a thesis on Opus Dei. I was able to clarify what the Immaculate Conception actually meant. I expressed belief in the idea of divine justice.  as a result, I became the go-to person for religious issues.

Though nothing was said, there was a definite vibe that my classmates considered belief in the Catholic Church to be quaint at best and ripe for scorn at worst. And I have seen this vein of thought carried through in pretty much all the coverage I have read and heard since then, aside from contributions made by well-known Catholic commentators.

Catholic Cross

Examples of Recent Coverage

This issue was brought back into my consciousness recently by three items on radio stations. On Today FM, Ray D’Arcy made the sweeping, catch-all statement that the Catholic Church had “f***ed up this country.”. This remark won him a lot of praise on print media.

The other two incidents were on my local radio station. One priest was accused of warping children’s minds by reading a pastoral letter about the abortion referendum. Another presenter began a discussion about a thorny issue relating to burial rights in a reasonable, measured manner, but the discussion soon descended into a broadside against the Catholic Church as a whole.

What Right Have I to Comment?

After all, I have now become one of those wishy washy Catholics who frequents churches on special occasions and for what I call ‘sexy masses,’ Masses held in the open, or with lots of singing, which makes worship easier. But I believe you can’t ever wash away the faith you were born with. And that is why this unbalanced coverage of Church issues in the media bothers me.

There is an awful lot wrong with the Catholic Church in Ireland, and it is brilliant that the media has played such a strong role in holding the Church responsible for its actions. But I feel that because of these scandals, the media sees ordinary priests and believers as fair game, and that media coverage takes a tone that it would not take with representatives of other religions. I believe journalists simply wouldn’t get away with it.

The fact that I’m less of a believer now may weaken my argument. After all, there’s nothing more tedious than people becoming offended on behalf of people who might not necessarily be offended. My view is simply that of a human being who doesn’t like to see the genuine beliefs of others being disrespected. I don’t think they deserve to be treated as if they are simpletons. And I know a lot of good priests, who are already doing a hard, lonely job, and whose job is made that bit harder by media coverage that tars them with the same brush.

Why the Scorn?

This is not an academic article; I would have to do a good deal of research to pinpoint the reason. I can only surmise that it’s an ongoing backlash against decades of oppression. Look at us, the coverage seems to gleefully say. We can get away with writing whatever we want about the Church.  Aren’t we cool, the way we can kick over the traces of the old Ireland?

What Can the Media Do?

I’m not looking to go back to the days of censorship and pro-Church coverage. I would just like to see a more balanced approach to media coverage of the Catholic Church. I want to read articles that offer neutral coverage of Church events. I would like to hear radio interviews that show respect for the other person’s opinion. I want to see media coverage that makes intelligent efforts to address the question of whether the entire Catholic Church has ‘***ed up the entire country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “The Irish Media vs The Catholic Church

  1. The immaculate conception so called, is a lie, and a heresy.
    Mary was not sinless at all.
    she did not die a virgin either.
    what exactly are you going to replenish your catholic friends with.?
    Assuming that you are any sort of decent journalist, why dont you do a bit of research worthy of the name, and really examine the dogmas of rome, to see if they can genuinely be justified by Scripture.
    ??

    1. This blog is not about the veracity of the Immaculate Conception. It is an opinion piece about the attitude I perceive that the Irish media has to the Catholic Church. Rebuttals are always welcome, but I would prefer them to be well thought out and respectful in tone rather than reactionary and personal.

      1. my comments were not altogether meant to be taken personally.
        I wasnt going to read all of the article, because it was too long.
        well thought out ypou say, In what respect may I ask.
        The statements that i made on your blog were quite simple statements to understand, and fact is i was not trying to have a deep theologigal argument with you.
        that would be pointless, because i sort of take it for granted that most catholics have not read Scripture, but instead follow traditions e.t.c…
        I was genuinely not attempting to cauase offence..i have a very direct approach when communicating with people.
        apologies for ruffling your feathers a tad.
        😀

  2. It’s funny – I find that many people in Ireland aren’t really that religious, not the majority of us yet we go to church/mass on a relatively regular basis. When I lived in the UK, people were more ‘all or nothing’. I have to admit I cringe and won’t follow someone who has ‘God’ or ‘Christian’ in their bio (or any other religion) as I think it is something that should be relatively personal if someone has a relationship with God rather than bible bashing the rest of us. I agree with you though, there are bad and good in all and it’s a rather flippant approach to say the Church as fxxxed the country. It did many terribe things but it wasn’t just the Church, it was also society as the COI church held many similarities e.g the patriarchal society wasn’t just Catholic

  3. Derbhile,

    I love this post. I think it take courage to write an article like this. It is a very difficult time to be a practising catholic/Christian. It seems to be impossible to avoid being placed in a conservative reactionary box.

    1. And the thing is, I don’t align myself with conservative Catholics. It’s difficult when you want to be a Christian, but don’t want to be fundamentalist or a Bible basher.

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