Cardinal George said the late Pope John Paul II had expressed high ideals for the press in his speeches and encyclicals, talking about the media's role in creating a town square and helping transform the world into a "global village."
He said the media, particularly in the last century, has even come to see itself as an "ersatz" church at times, solving society's ills.
"If anyone doesn't believe that, take a look at the Tribune Tower," he quipped, eliciting laughter from the audience packed into the McCormick Tribune Center Forum.
He admitted, though, that the media's "in-built" penchant for finding conflict in stories "drives religious people to be frustrated with the media."
Cardinal George said stories on Catholic funding problems focused on the closing of schools -- sometimes inaccurately fanning concerns -- rather than on what the church was doing to manage the crisis.
You already have a newspaper to tell people what the church is doing, or has The New World been forgotten so quickly? Don't blame the Tribune because the spin falls flat.
Similarly, on the sexual abuse scandal involving priests, the media necessarily reported the story about the abuses, which Cardinal George called "deeply perverse" and a "betrayal" to church members.Hmm... I'm just fascinated by the "keeping people together; that's our job" statement. That approach can cover all manner of sins, no? As we've spent three years learning all too painfully, gut-wrenchingly, day in and day out, it already has... all manner of crimes, too. And what of teaching, sanctifying, healing, consoling, nourishing, elevating the soul? Those aren't the church's jobs? As long as everybody's in the tent, everything's OK?
He said some rumors, though, were accepted as true, and the great efforts of the Roman Catholic church to help victims often went unreported....
To McClory's question that the church isn't always forthcoming with journalists, Cardinal George said the church's role is "keeping people together; that's our job."
Dear Eminence, if we're really going to be forthcoming, can't we just say "Bella figura; that's our job"?