Fr. Reese resignation not so ‘tragic’, says Catholic journalist


A Catholic journalist and former editor of a diocesan newspaper has suggested that “[dissident] Catholic journalists feeling ‘unfree’ [in their work at Catholic journals] would do well to go over to secular publications where their view of the Church would be quite welcome.”

John Mallon made these comments in a recent issue of Inside the Vatican in response to the Catholic U.S. media’s reaction to the allegedly forced resignation of Fr. Thomas Reese from America magazine.

In his analysis, Mallon noted that some “outraged editors of leftist Catholic journals” called Fr. Reese’s resignation “tragic” and “a sad, disappointing and to some degree shocking development.” They said his departure would put a damper on all “thinking Catholics.”

“The implication is that if you accept the authority of the Magisterium you are an unthinking, unwashed peasant who is an embarrassment to the … American Catholic Church,” said the former editor of Oklahoma City’s Sooner Catholic. “And this perhaps is what is most offensive about theological dissent: the inherent snobbery of it all.”

Mallon wrote that dissenters “mistakenly believe that truth is arrived at via dialogue instead of Revelation and Magisterial discernment.” The dissident press presents itself as “self-proclaimed prophet,” he stated.

He also referred to a comment made by Fr. Pat McCloskey, editor of St. Anthony Messenger, that Fr. Reese’s resignation “will cause more and more Catholic thinkers to say that they want to write for publications that are not identified as Catholic and to teach at schools that are not identified as Catholic, because there is more freedom there.”

Mallon seems not averse to this idea

“The irony is that of all the publications angry over the Reese dismissal, all but two, the NCR and Commonweal, are run by religious orders, not laity,” Mallon observed.

Meanwhile Catholic publications run by the laity with a mission to support and educate on authentic Church teachings “operate at great personal sacrifice to those involved and run on very tight budgets,” he said.

“Perhaps the Vatican should take note of this imbalance, that lay-run self-supporting journals tend to support the Church while those run by religious orders tend to favor dissent and are the first to denounce being ‘repressed’ when their positions are called into question,” he challenged.

Mallon observed that several people working for these lay publications are “refugees from the diocesan Catholic press” who were forced out of their jobs because they were “too Catholic.”

“By no means extremists or zealots, they were run off by clergy who were threatened by a Catholic diocesan editor with an orthodox ‘bias’ when they wanted dissent given an equal (or superior) footing,” Mallon claimed.

“Unlike Fr. Reese, these journalists did not have a religious house to return to, to discuss their future with their superior,” he said. “No, they were stuck with bills to pay, mortgages to be met, families that might have to be moved across the country and so forth.

“In this, there is a note of hypocrisy in the ‘outrage’ being voiced in the dissident Catholic press over the Reese affair,” said Mallon. “Fr. Reese’s story is not tragic. He will be well cared for by his religious order.

“But when did the dissident Catholic press ever utter a word on these same principles of ‘dialogue’, ‘open debate’ and ‘justice’ regarding Catholic journalists forced out, not by the Vatican, but by diocesan officials for being faithful to the Church?” he concluded.

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