U.S. Catholic Bishops

Parade of 2016 yearenders: Crux takes several looks at surprising year in Catholic news

Parade of 2016 yearenders: Crux takes several looks at surprising year in Catholic news

So how much Catholic news was there in 2016.

Apparently quite a bit, and we are not just talking about angry Catholic voters in depressed corners of the Rust Belt, as in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Thus, the journalists in the team at Crux didn't produce one list of Catholic stories, when preparing to mark the end of 2016. They went with four lists, I think. Maybe there are more.

It won't surprise you that the ever quotable Pope Francis got one list all by himself. Of course, there's quite a bit of info linked to Amoris Laetitia and the reaction to it. 

Then there's a list of developments at the global level. This includes updates on clergy sexual abuse and the persecution of Catholics in various locations. However, the section that I think will interest most readers is the take on the role of faith in the Brexit debates, battles over the treatment of refugees and the struggle to define what is and isn't "European," in terms of thinking about the future.

Finally, there is an essay with this headline: "Looking back at 2016, the Year of Surprises: Church in the U.S." Yes, the elections get some digital ink. However, the really interesting material is related to the elections on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here is a long chunk of that:

... The election of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles as president and vice-president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops just ten days after Trump captured the White House was also noteworthy.

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Was this big news or not? U.S. Catholics share a symbolic hug with the Lutheran left

Was this big news or not? U.S. Catholics share a symbolic hug with the Lutheran left

Long, long, ago -- back in the 1980s -- an evangelical Presbyterian pastor in the Denver area asked me an interesting question. It went something like this: If the old mainline Protestant churches are shrinking and losing power, why do they keep getting so much news coverage in the mainstream press?

I think he was talking about the Episcopal Church, but the conversation ended up being about all of the famed "Seven Sisters" of the oldline Protestant world. And who are the "Seven Sisters"? Historians and sociologists have grouped these flocks under that label -- the United Methodist Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; Episcopal Church; United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church (USA); American Baptist Church; and the Disciples of Christ.

There are lots of reasons that these churches receive so much attention in the news, starting with the fact that for decades their leaders have spent large amounts of time debating issues that journalists think are important, such as sex, war, economic justice, race, gender and the environment. While doing so, they have consistently steered to the cultural, political and doctrinal left. For journalists, that's the very definition of news.

In my experience, most -- not all -- of the religious believers found in American newsrooms are liberal Protestants or progressive Catholics. Long ago, I put it this way:

Walk into a meeting of the Religion Newswriters Association and say, "The Lord be with you,'' and a large number of the reporters in the room will say, "And also with you.'' A few will say, "And with thy spirit.''

The "Seven Sisters" still make news, but their impact seems to be fading. If you want to see an example of this, consider the short, short, short recent Religion News Service piece with this headline: "US Lutherans approve document recognizing agreement with Catholic Church."

Then there is this rather earth-shaking lede:

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Reporters should ponder what religious left is telling the Supreme Court about marriage

Reporters should ponder what religious left is telling the Supreme Court about marriage

On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear those same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Proponents of redefining marriage are confident they’ll win in June. If so, that will be a decisive -- and divisive -- juncture for organized religion in America and frame competing religious liberty claims the media will be covering in coming years.

A previous Religion Guy Memo advised journalists to examine  the “friend of the court” briefs in these historic cases. The religious arguments for traditional marriage are familiar,  perhaps especially for GetReligion readers. But now that all the briefs are filed, newswriters should consider the somewhat less publicized religious argument on the opposite side.

The key brief comes from the Episcopal Church’s bishops in these four states (.pdf here) with the president of the Episcopal House of Deputies, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, Judaism’s three non-Orthodox branches, a dozen pro-gay caucuses and 1,900 individuals.

Though there’s strong religious support for marriage traditionalism, these gay-marriage proponents insist they’re also part of the religious “mainstream,” noting that the United Church and Unitarians stem directly from New England’s Puritans and Pilgrims. The Episcopalians likewise have colonial roots. The brief also cites recent ideological support from the large Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Presbyterian Church (USA), though they didn’t join the brief.

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RIP David Carr: A struggling Catholic voice at The New York Times is gone

RIP David Carr: A struggling Catholic voice at The New York Times is gone

If you closely followed the career of media critic David Carr, then you knew that he was a practicing Catholic, yet he also made it clear that he wasn't sure if he was a faithful Catholic. For many readers -- fans and critics -- this made him the perfect New York Times Catholic.

Former GetReligionista Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote about some of this in a GetReligion post back in 2011 and, in one of her first bylines at The Washington Post, she produced a quick piece on the religion-angle in Carr's death. Try to ignore this, from the new Post piece:

New York Times journalist David Carr, who died Thursday, had a complicated relationship with religion. In his 2009 book “The Night of the Gun,” Carr wrote about his father’s faith compared with his own.
“My father is a man who swears frequently goes to church every day, and lives his towering faith,” Carr wrote. “I am a man who swears frequently, goes to church every Sunday, and lives in search of faith. He is a man who believes that I am not dead because nuns prayed for me. I am a man who believes that is as good an explanation as any.”

A kind of brass-tacks, but vague, faith shows up again in the most famous passage from that book, in which Carr rips into his own life, exposing a man so hooked on drugs that he would place his own children at risk. How many of you have already seen a piece today in which the following passage -- with good cause -- is featured?

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Quote of the year on Catholics and American politics

I don’t know how you feel about anonymous quotes, but, as a rule, I am opposed to them.

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Shock: Bishops decide to defend Catholic tradition!

OK, let’s deal with some basic questions about Catholic bishops and politics.

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