.- Speaking to a joint meeting of Catholic communicators in Florida this week, Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said in a speech that ousted ‘America’ magazine editor, Fr. Thomas Reese, should have better represented Catholic teaching during his time with the Jesuit-run journal. The Archbishop, who shared a podium with Fr. Reese during the three-day long meeting of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada and the Catholic Academy of Communications Arts Professionals, said that the cleric’s participation in the event was planned before the recent ‘America’ scandal.
He said that while he believes Fr. Reese to be a “fine gentleman” and a “fine priest”… “I generally find myself in agreement with a recent editorial in Our Sunday Visitor and with Russell Shaw's op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal that a priest-editor, who in some way is expected to represent the magisterium of the Church, cannot appear to give equal weight in a publication sponsored by a religious community to articles which present the teaching of the Church and articles which dissent from it.”
Fr. Reese’s resignation from the controversial weekly reportedly came at the request of his Jesuit order. Reese’s supporters such as the National Catholic Reporter have argued his departure has been the consequence of “pressure from Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently headed by now Pope Benedict XVI.
According to the Reporter, the Vatican had long standing objections to several articles published in the magazine, which favored condom use for AIDS prevention, homosexual priests, homosexual unions and other issues of dissent from Catholic teaching.
Critics say that ‘America’ gave to much support to those against the Church’s teachings and too little support of it.
Archbishop Foley used his brief stint as editor of Philadelphia’s Catholic Standard and Times at the time of the document ‘Humanae Vitae’s 1968 release, by way of example.
“A number of Catholic publications”, he said, “ignored the fact that there was dissent from the encyclical; a greater number highlighted the dissent and put the encyclical in a subordinate position. I decided to use the encyclical as the lead story and to use the dissent as a separate story on an inside page with the jump of the encyclical story from page one -- and then I did an editorial in support of the encyclical.”
He explained that he “felt that the encyclical represented the official teaching of the Church, which had to be highlighted and with which I happened to agree then, as I do now, but that the dissent was a significant fact that could not and should not be ignored.”
Highlighting this proper balance, he thought that, “the official teaching of the Church should be supported editorially -- both through comment and through story placement. If I were still an editor, I think that would remain my publication philosophy today.”