There are days when the age of specialty websites and reporters are especially cruel to the old guard in the mainstream press. This is one of those days for the leaders of The Baltimore Sun.
If you read the newspaper that lands in my front yard, this morning's tree-pulp edition contained zero about the biggest story in town. It's clear that the Sun has its sources in some offices in the Archdiocese of Baltimore (click here to see what I mean), but not others.
However, if you are a news fanatic who reads Whispers in the Loggia, then you heard the big news, in depth, early Monday night from the omnipresent Rocco Palmo. Yes, I know. He didn't name his sources. However, ask The Los Angeles Times if his track record is good.
More on Palmo's scoop in a moment.
If you read the Sun, then the following information just went up online this morning. It's easy to note that it appears there are key elements in the life and recent career of the city's new archbishop with which the editors are not familiar.
Yes, this is the whole report:
Bishop William E. Lori, previously of the diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., was named as Cardinal Edwin O'Brien's replacement as head of the Archdiocese of Baltimore by Pope Benedict XVI, the archdiocese announced Tuesday.
Lori, 60, becomes the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore. He replaces O'Brien, who served as archbishop from October 2007 to August 2011 before leaving the post to become the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.
Archbishop-designate Lori will be introduced at a news conference at 10:30 a.m. today at the Baltimore Basilica. Lori was ordained a priest in 1977 and a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1995, according to the archdiocese. He has served as Bishop of Bridgeport since 2001.
I am sure that there is more information to come, once the Sun folks look it up online. Meanwhile, if you read Palmo, you already know this:
From its founding in the lone American colony founded by Catholics, the Premier See of Baltimore and its illustrious occupants have stood as a preeminent icon of religious freedom in these States. And now, the golden thread of that 223-year line is set to continue with particular vigor in the choice of its 16th Archbishop.
As soon as tomorrow, sources tell Whispers that Pope Benedict will name Bishop William Lori, 60 -- leader of Connecticut's Bridgeport diocese since 2001 -- as the next head of the nation's oldest local church, first shepherded for 18 years by John Carroll, a cousin of the lone Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, and founder of the nation's first Catholic university at Georgetown shortly after his appointment in 1789.
And the solid hard-news hook for the key words in that lede (I refer, of course, to "religious freedom")?
The chief protege of the capital's late Cardinal James Hickey (who ordained him a bishop at 43), Lori has come into an even brighter spotlight over recent months as the appointed head of the bishops' newly-created ad hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, and thus the quarterback of the church's recent surge against the contraceptive mandate of the Federal health-care reform law.
While the skirmishes have included Lori's penning a widely-circulated swipe at America magazine following an editorial in the Jesuit journal lamenting the bishops' strategy on the issue, in his most recent comments on the hierarchy's tense face-off with the White House, Lori said he found a meeting last week with Obama administration officials "distressing" given a stance that, he said, made the policy appear "non-negotiable" and "here to stay." The tenor of the sit-down "does not bode well for future discussions," the bishop told Catholic News Service.
And you need more of a local news hook? Perhaps even a news hook related to the postmodern Catholic who is the apple of the Sun's editorial eye?
In Baltimore's case, however, the liberty concerns aren't limited to Washington. A concerted religious freedom push by the Maryland church failed on the floor of its state legislature last month, as the cradle of American Catholicism became the seventh US jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriage. With its enactment, the bill's lead champion, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, became the nation's fifth Catholic chief executive to sign full recognition of gay unions into law. (For purposes of context, Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage into law in 2008.)
As a binding referendum on the issue is expected to be held in November -- prior to the move's entering into force next year -- any new archbishop will arrive to find his tenure's first major battle already lined up.
So it should be a rather dark day in the Sun editorial offices. But cheer up, folks! Maybe there will be another WomenPriests exclusive to cover between now and Easter. The Sun team will hear about that -- perhaps they will even help do the planning for the rites -- way in advance.
UPDATE: We now have a full Sun report on the appointment and, I swear, the lede might cause the Divine Mrs. MZ's head to explode. Are you ready?
A Catholic bishop who has been at the forefront of fighting the Obama administration's contraception policy will lead the Archdiocese of Baltimore and replace Cardinal Edwin O'Brien.
Bishop William E. Lori of the Bridgeport, Conn., diocese, becomes the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore, a historically important seat given that the Roman Catholic Church established its U.S. base in the city.
But, but, but ... What about the national leadership post he holds in the Catholic hierarchy? That shows up later and, sure enough, the same talking point defines that biographical detail, as well.
Lori heads the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops' recently created ad hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, making him the church's leader in the fight against the birth control mandate.
Go ahead, read it all.