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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Page One

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Ever hear of WikiLeaks? When the New York Times began publishing “The War Logs”, a collection of classified military documents in 2010, many decried this as unethical and unpatriotic. The New York Times, with members of the board from the same family that has owned it since 1896, went with the stories and documents anyway, maintaining its journalistic independence.
 
But what kind of journalism is WikiLeaks? It’s an online entity – no paper involved at this stage if at any. Is it a news source or a news organization? This question, and many more, is explored in this fascinating documentary that follows four Times journalists throughout 2010 and the morphing of a newspaper into a multiplatform source for news.
 
Nostalgia is present in the film as well; Carl Bernstein talks about how the Washington Post  brought down a president with its reporting on Watergate in the 1970s. Hard reporting, confirming details, checking sources.  Then there is embarrassment, but owning up to the worst in journalism, when New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s stories hyped Hussein’s search for weapons of mass destruction, information that proved to be false, but fed into President Bush’s decision to go to war.
 
The most interesting issue for me was about the face-off between news as business  for profit and news as an essential element of democracy. When the Tribune Company (that owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and other outlets and companies) filed for bankruptcy protection in December, 2008, the face-off shown in the film between businessmen who know nothing of journalism and journalists who do what they do as a calling, made me want to stand up and cheer for freedom of the press.
 
The question for the New York Times, and every other newspaper still in existence in the United States (so many have folded – literally), is how do you pay reporters and support news bureaus around the world? Print advertising diminished so fast that newspapers were left gasping for funds as loyal employees were laid off. You find revenue through online subscriptions and online advertising, in addition to publishing the news on paper.
 
“Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times” only touches the myriad issues and challenges to authentic journalism. The film is imperative for citizens who want to participate in a democracy rather than a political economy.
 
 


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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Ultimately there is no friend who can fully understand us, who can walk with us all the way. We must go forward and walk on our own in response to who we are and who we are called to be in God. —Thomas Merton

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