Just who’s engaging in a PR campaign?

Just who’s engaging in a PR campaign?

A big deal was made in the Boston media over the weekend about some Catholics refusing to give to a second collection. This weekend, the second collection was earmarked for the Catholic Communications Campaign, which supports media bodies in both the archdiocese and nationally. To be honest, I’m skeptical of collections that benefit agencies of the bishops’ conference; I have a hard time believing either that (a) the money will be used in accord with the Church’s teaching or (b) that what they do does anything but build up the bureaucracy.

Still, I’m curious about the front-page treatment of what was a very minor story. For one thing, the headline splash on the Boston Herald‘s front page on Saturday claimed that “Catholics stiff P.R. collection.” First, the collection had not happened yet, so to say that it had been stiffed was premature. Second, it is an oversimplification to call it a P.R. collection, as if the money was going to pay for the archdiocese’s PR firm. It also funds the archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, and the TV station.

The crux of the dispute it seems comes from those who are protesting parish closings and Voice of the Faithful, which attaches itself like a leech to anyone who appears to challenge the hierarchy.

I’ll be curious to see, after the smoke clears and the money’s been counted, if the actual donations are down this year. And even if they are, I wonder how much can be attributed to the Herald’s pre-emptive headline.

In the past, I’ve found the Herald’s treatment of the Church to be more evenhaded than the Globe’s, but sometimes, as in this case, it is not. I suppose it’s hard to resist some sensationalism.