For several months now, I have wondered when a major news organization was going to send a reporter and photographer out into the vast plains of Western Kansas to visit St. Fidelis Friary, which is next door to the giant Basilica of St. Fidelis — which is better known as the “Cathedral of the Plains.”
This small monastic community in Victoria, Kan., consists of five Franciscan Capuchin priests and a brother. At the moment, there is also a Catholic layman living quietly in that facility — the defrocked former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
If you’ve ever driven across Kansas, you have seen this church — because it’s hard to miss. I put it this way in an “On Religion” column last fall.
The Cathedral of the Plains can be seen long before Interstate 70 reaches Victoria, with its Romanesque spires rising out of the vast West Kansas horizon.
This is a strange place to put a sanctuary the size of the Basilica of St. Fidelis, but that's a testimony to the Catholic faith of generations of Volga-German farmers. This is also a strange place to house a disgraced ex-cardinal.
However, the friary near the basilica has one obvious virtue, as a home for 88-year-old Theodore McCarrick. It's located 1,315 miles from The Washington Post.
Now, we have a pretty lengthy television report from a Fox News team that made the long journey to try to knock on McCarrick’s door. (If there is a print version of this story, I have not been able to find it.)
I found myself wondering: Is it significant that it was Fox News that ventured out into the Kansas plains to cover this particular story?
Does that, in a strange way, prove that continuing to cover the McCarrick scandal is now officially “conservative” news territory — as in news that is only of interest to conservative Catholics and cultural conservatives in general? If so, why is that?
Here at GetReligion, I have argued that the heart of the latest chapter in the multi-decade Catholic clergy-abuse crisis can be summed up in three questions: