Deal Hudson, in his weekly e-letter, gets some clarification from the official spokesman of the Archdiocese of Boston regarding news reports on the meeting Archbishop O’Malley had with Voice of the Faithful leaders last week.
According to Hudson, Fr. Christopher Coyne says he was misquoted by the reporters.
“I was asked a question to characterize the meeting of Voice of the Faithful with the archbishop,” Coyne told me, “and I responded by saying that they [the members of VOTF] told the archbishop that they were not dissidents. In making the statement, I did not in any way express the position of the Church or the archdiocese in Boston regarding Voice of the Faithful” (where the bans against them are still in effect).
Now that’s a big difference. According to Coyne, he wasn’t giving his own opinion, let alone the Church’s position. He was merely telling the reporter what VOTF told the archbishop. But that brings up another point: Why would he simply repeat back to newspaper reporters what VOTF had told him about their organization? Coyne made a classic media gaffe in allowing VOTF to define itself through his own mouth. Because Coyne said it in a major media organ, his credibility will now be used to give VOTF legitimacy.
Deal then goes on to pass on information from his sources about whether the ban will actually be lifted.
And what about Archbishop O’Malley? Does he support VOTF? Highly-placed sources close to this issue (who can’t be named at this time) have told me that it’s highly unlikely O’Malley will be lifting the ban—at this point he’s merely listening to their concerns. He’s going to look more closely at the group before he makes a decision, but from what I’ve been told, I’m betting those bans will stay firmly in place.
That’s good news, if true. I guess we’ll just have to continue to wait and see.
It also confirms what I’ve been saying. The Church relies too much on the secular media, which often shows itself hostile, or at best apathetic, to her, to get her message out. Bishops and diocesan spokesmen must learn how to deal with the media and must go to the people directly when necessary to convey the truth. Why did it take Deal Hudson calling and asking for Fr. Coyne to get the word out that he had been misquoted? Why didn’t the diocese put up a statement on its web site the day of the event? Why didn’t a demand for a correction go to the Boston Globe and Associated Press immediately, along with the demand going on the web site and in the diocesan newspaper? We can’t leave it to the secular media to frame the story and to (inaccurately) convey the message.