Last Sunday, we wrote briefly about Peter Steinfels, a religion reporter at The New York Times and a popular pundit on things Catholic, and his apparent disinterest in online Catholicism. This week, Angelo Matera — publisher of Godspy, a high-quality production about which we’ve written before — writes in with a view of Catholic currents at odds with both the secular press and predominantly conservative St. Blog’s Parish:
“In regard to the Steinfels comment about St. Blogs, John Allen’s “The Word from Rome”column in The National Catholic Reporter every week is much more influential. “And I say this as former CEO of The National Catholic Reporter’s orthodox competitor, The National Catholic Register. Furthermore, on a related issue, and to provide an objective counterpoint to Garry Wills’ limited perspective [see The Revealer, “Don’t Mess With Religion Reporters”], here’s a quote from John’s column this week, about Brian Barras, a 22-year-old seminarian:
‘“I’ve spent considerable time talking to Catholic young people, whether delegates to World Youth Days or seminarians at the North American College and various institutions in the States. They tend to share with Barras a hunger for a rich devotional life, a deep affection for John Paul II, and a tendency to take traditional stances on doctrinal and moral questions.
‘What Barras adds is optimism, generosity, and an infectious warm personality. That these qualities have been augmented rather than dimmed by the recent trauma in the American church says something potentially good about the church – and unquestionably good about Barras.”’
“This [writes Matera] is certainly not the impression you get from the secular media.
“When I met with John Allen in Rome last year, it was clear that he’s part of the growing number of Catholics who are disenchanted with the polarization and narcissism of organized American Catholic interest groups. These groups don’t reflect the people in the pews. Catholicism is not like the electorate, which, with the breakdown of the parties, is fundamentally individualistic. Catholicism is a communion, which is why, despite the dire predictions of pundits on the left and the right, the Garry Wills and the Rod Drehers, it is still standing and going strong despite the scandals. Catholics are connected to each other sacramentally, through their parishes and lay groups, not virtually. Despite the best intentions of bloggers and media pundits, “information” by itself has little value, and is never sacramental. The media that matter most in the Church are those that best reflect the moderation and communitarianism of Catholic life. Yes, this is a very ‘establishment; perspective,’ but it’s the truth.”
Matera goes on to discuss what he calls the “libertarian-Conservative, anti-institutional bias” of many prominent Catholic media figures; we’ve posted his ideas on the matter in the comments section immediately following this post.