John Wilkins: How to walk the tightrope
There’s an interesting article in this week’s issue of Commonweal by the former Tablet editor John Wilkins. (It’s available here, but you have to log in to read it.)
It’s headlined “The Tightrope” and it’s about the difficulties that editors of independent Catholic newspapers sometimes face in reconciling the pursuit of truth and respectful loyalty to the Church hierarchy. It’s main focus is on newspapers that sometimes challenge the Magisterium of the Church, but some of his points are relevant to anyone who works in (or uses) the Catholic media.
Here’s a taster:
I felt at the Tablet that I was walking a tightrope. I had a double responsibility. Yes, I had a responsibility to the Catholic faith and its official interpreters, but also one to the claims of all the baptised, who are called on to take a lead in the world. I never met a colleague from any continent who did not walk that tightrope. What happens if public opinion in the Church is unwelcome to the authorities? What should the independent Catholic media do then? To what extent can independent Catholic editors, like secular editors, invigilate power? …
Pius XII said that informed public opinion is necessary to the Church’s life. If that is the case, there has to be a way to communicate that opinion. Here, independent Catholic media that are critically loyal have an indispensable role to play provided their approach is founded on knowledge, research, love of the Church, humility, self-discipline, self-examination, and readiness to accept correction. At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church defined itself as a hierarchically structured people’s Church. In that case, open channels for public opinion within it are even more essential now than before.
Photo: South Korean Kwon Won-tae walks a high wire during the World High Wire Championships in Seoul last year (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)