It's time for another round of the religion-beat exercise that your GetReligionistas call the "mirror-image game." The goal is to look at the coverage, or lack of coverage, of a news event and then try to imagine the coverage that would have resulted with a few details of the story switched around.
Yes, the "mirror-image" debate of all time would be the shouting matches about mainstream news coverage, or lack of coverage, of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. People have been studying aerial photos and videotapes of that gigantic march for decades, trying to imagine the coverage it would receive if that many marchers were on hand for a cause on the cultural left (think "War on Women").
Now, this "Got News?" item focuses on a Catholic march, literally, around and around a Planned Parenthood facility near Denver. What made this march different was that it focused on a specific, holy rite called a "Eucharistic Procession (or Corpus Christi procession)," in which worshipers march behind a "monstrance" (images here) containing a large host that has been consecrated as the Body of Christ.
A powerful, solemn scene unfolded at Planned Parenthood in Stapleton, Colorado ... as Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila led some 1,800 Catholics in a Eucharistic procession seven times around the abortion center.
“It was truly a moment of grace, a moment of blessing, a moment of praying to our Lord that hearts may be changed,” Archbishop Aquila said. “It was wonderful to see how many turned out today.”
The liturgical nature of the event is crucial to this story:
“No shouting or arguing,” the Archdiocese of Denver website stated in describing the event. “Only prayerful witness to the love and mercy of God.”
To ensure the sacred nature of the Eucharistic procession, the archdiocesan liturgy office set the tone for the event, and organized the logistics of the transferring the Eucharist to the site in addition to providing prayer books for those in attendance.
Before the procession began, Father Scott Bailey addressed the crowd and emphasized the importance of silence. “Silence is an essential part of the procession as we unite our voices with those who have been silenced by abortion,” he said.
Police officers worked with seminarians (that must have been a sight) to ensure safety in the streets. Officers made sure that the rite did not "impede traffic or cause an inability for cars to enter or leave the facility."
The biggest complication was that they prepared for 500-800 worshipers and an extra 1,000 or so showed up.
A local blogger at the scene did report that there was one "sour note."
One man set up a position where he harangued us all at the top of his lungs, helpfully explaining to us that all Catholics are going to hell, that our Church is a “whore” and our Pope the anti-Christ. I was grateful even for this. He wore his anti-Catholic bigotry with such pride he made it clear to any who were watching that the sole soul present given to bitter hectoring was NOT Catholic.
I can find no mainstream news coverage of this Eucharistic Procession, even though one could argue that it represented a major change in strategy for Catholics demonstrating against abortion rights. One can totally imagine Pope Francis leading such a procession, offering worship rather than confrontation.
Now, time for that reverse image in a mirror.
Would this march, with the same number of participants, have received significant local, regional or even national mainstream news coverage if it consisted of:
* LGBT protesters marching around the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Denver?
* Catholic parents marching around a Catholic high school, seeking changes in church teachings on, oh, birth control and the ordination of women?
* African-American Catholics marching at a police station, offering their support for #BlackLivesMatter?
* Catholic nuns marching at the state capitol, calling for the end of the death penalty? (Actually, this isn't really a mirror-image event since it involves the same Catholic "defense of life" theology as the Eucharist Procession in question.)
* (What the heck.) Denver Broncos season-ticket holders protesting the signing of Mark "butt fumble" Sanchez to play quarterback for the Super Bowl champs?
What think ye? Got News?
Would there have been news coverage of these "mirror image" events, as opposed to the Eucharist Procession at Planned Parenthood? If so, what would be the logic of this news decision?