Resignation of America editor should not surprise Catholics, expert says

All of the kafuffle surrounding the resignation of Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, as editor of America Magazine is unfounded, according to First Things editor Fr. John Neuhaus.

Fr. Neuhaus expressed his views on the issue in a column published in the Boston Globe yesterday. He explained that the leadership of the Jesuits decided that Fr. Reese should be moved into a different ministry, which sparked a controversy that the “oppressive Pope Benedict XVI” allegedly ousted him from the editorial chair.

Fr. Neuhaus pointed out that America had come under much criticism in recent years for undercutting its mission “to present as effectively as possible the teaching of the Church.”

He said Fr. Reese seemed to have “seriously misunderstood” the notions of fairness and balance and confused them with neutrality.

“The problem was a basic mistake in editorial policy,” explained Fr. Neuhaus. “It was thought that being ‘fair and balanced’ required publishing on an equal footing articles that supported and articles that opposed the Church's teaching, as though the Church's teaching was but one opinion among others.”

Some of the articles to which Fr. Neuhaus was referring addressed the issues of same-sex marriage, embryonic stem-cell research and homosexuality.

“The practice of America suggested to some the magazine's neutrality or hostility to the Church's teaching,” he said.

“I dare say that an editor working for Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, or the National Rifle Association who regularly turned a publication into a platform for those opposed to the mission of the organization would soon be looking for another job,” wrote Fr. Neuhaus.

“A Catholic magazine … may decide to publish an exchange or debate between conflicting positions, but there should be no doubt that the magazine is on the Church's side.”

He called Fr. Reese his friend and defended him as a man who works for the Church and has taken a vow of service and loyalty to the Church and the Pope.

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.