Meet the Depressed

Meet the Depressed

I caught yesterday’s Meet the Press re-broadcast last night. The whole show was about Pope Benedict XVI and the panel was like a cast of thousands, too many really for a good discussion.

On the pro-Benedict side we had Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., publisher of Catholic World Report for which I am managing editor; Joseph Bottum, editor at First Things and contributor to The Weekly Standard; and Fr. Thomas Bohlin, US Vicar for Opus Dei.

On the anti-Benedict side were Thomas Cahill; E.J Dionne; and Sister Mary Aquin O’Neill, RSM, PhD, director of the Mount Sinai Agnes Theological Center for Women.

I couldn’t tell where John Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek, stood because I think his goal for the show was to drop as many names and quotations into every answer that he possibly could. He was so full of other people’s words, I had no idea where he stood or what his point was.

Fr. Fessio did the best job, and I think he ticked off Tim Russert. Russert asked him, “Father Fessio, the Catholic Church, in fact, could alter its teaching on birth control, the use of condoms or on married priests or on female priests, true?” Father responded by saying that one is true and two or false. When asked why, he said, “First of all I want to encourage all the listener-watcher-viewers here, for every hour you spend watching television, please spend five hours reading good books, because we really can’t have a serious discussion on these very deep, deep, mysterious issues with a bunch of sound bites.”

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
15 comments
  • I can’t watch these shows anymore.  I’m constantly sinning watching them – and believe me, I don’t need any more help in the sinning department.

    I’ve been actually flipping the TV off – not by remot control, but with the use of my middle finger.  I’m ashamed to say that the “F-Bomb” has been thrown out by me a time or two (ok – probably dozen).  My passion for my Church, my pope, etc is really working overtime.

  • I wrote this on the Amy v McDo post when Meet the Press came up:

    Fr. Fessio was quite good on Meet the Press. Did anyone else think Russert was rude to him…when Fessio said he needed hours to explain Church Doctrine vs uthor_url>
    64.40.239.22
    2005-04-25 12:02:09
    2005-04-25 16:02:09
    I love it that Russert was annoyed.  He milks every ounce of humanity and viewer identification out of his blue collar, Catholic, Buffalo NY, “go Bills” background, and strikes me as more than a little strained in his efforts to do so.  The dopiness of his questions only cements that impression.

    By the way, I used to watch these shows a lot.  Then I stopped, cold turkey.  How did I do it?  KIDS!  The road to salvation passes through the city of aggravation. 

  • Quicky unsolicited review:
    * Thomas Cahill’s next book should be tited, “How To Seeth on TV Without Your Head Imploding.”  Yowza, I’m sure not even Hans Kung’s head was as close to implosion when he learned that his fellow German had been made Shepherd.

    * Dom’s right—they had about two dozen too many guests on at once.  I was waiting for them all to sing “I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing.”

    * Tim Russert didn’t need to snipe back at Father Fessio, but whether Father was wise to complain to Russert is open to debate.  Catholic reps NEED to come up with pithy responses to dumb media questions.  The media form demands it. (Helen Alvare did it very well.)  Yes, the issues involve some complexities but TV is TV and you have to anticipate beforehand what kind of questions a confused quasi-Catholic fellow like Tim Russert is likely to pose, and be ready for it.  Once he started his answer, his content was excellent.  But I would think part of the goal is to get asked back on.  Russert didn’t even acknowledge him at the show’s close!

    * Can someone buy Mr. Russert a Catechism?

    * Jody Bottum had some great repartees to Mr. Cahill, basically telling him that his entire sophist diatribe amounted to dissent on sex.  Cahill could only shoot him a trademark sneer.

    * The Opus Dei priest looked like just the guy to play St. Escriva in the Lifetime Channel’s movie of the week.  Jet black, a-little-dab’ll-do-ya hair, crisp clerics, kindly face.  I’d have paid good money to see him blurt out, “What a crock of s***” during Cahill’s bizarre rant. Just one time!

    * Is it wrong to wonder if the Church will consider allowing men to be nuns?  Just asking.

    * Thanks for the Barlett’s Quotes, Mr. Meachem.  Good to have you taking up a chair.

    * EJ Dionne.  Sigh….Show of hands—who’s glad that the Dionnes and the Steinfels’ and the editorial staffs of Commonweal and the NCR are in their 50s and 60s and not their 20s?

  • My question was why didn’t anybody spike the ball – or indeed at least begin sputtering with incredulity – when Thomas Cahill piped up with “Jesus said, “We must include everyone just as God does.”” I turned it off at that point, since obviously he was reading from some other bible than I’m familiar with. The one I’m familiar with says “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

  • Fessio is like any Jesuit of the old school, as he can pick apart the weaknesses of any challenger. But on top of that, he is such a gentleman about it, as if less interested in “winning” an argument than he is in getting to the Truth.

    Mr Russert makes much of his Catholic background. All the more reason for him to know better than to ask such a stupid question.

  • They replay it Sunday evenings on MSNBC. Plus TiVo is a modern-day wonder for recording shows that are on when you are sleeping or at Mass. It’s a blogger’s necessity.

  • Hi, all –

    Slightly off-topic, but the mention of Fr. Bohlin prompts me to ask:

    What is the real deal w Opus Dei? Their site says good stuff obviously, but “anti”-OD sites say it’s like a cult, uses aggressive/deceptive recruiting techniques, etc. Anyone a member or know any members personally?

  • An OD priest out here in La La Land gave a seminar to a men’s retreat on maintaining spiritual identity in Hollywood.  It was amazing.  He distilled Pope John Paul II’s exegesis on Genesis 1, esp our being made in God’s image and likeness, and he moved from the theological to the aesthetic, brought out the evangelical power of art, etc.  It was fantastic.

    I’ve known OD priests in Canada as well, and some lay people deeply involved.  I saw no evidence of drinking spiked Kool-Aid, mass suicides, secret handshakes, or robotic obedience.  It’s been a bit of a mixed blessing for some former members, but so has everyday parish life.  The fact that the founder, St. Josemaria Escriva—who only died in 1975—is already a saint says lot about his reputation for holiness. 

    The idea behind Opus Dei (the sanctification of daily life and its duties being at the heart of the baptismal call) pre-dates Vatican II by almost 30 years and echoes the simple message about loving heroically that we heard from Bl. Mother Teresa.  And John Paul II.

  • Hi, Dom and Patrick:

    Thanks for the feedback. I was hoping the whole “cult” thing was just a product of either the misinformed or those w more devious motives.

    God bless –

  • Patrick, you crack me up.

    However, whenever someone goes into the whole “I think it’s so unfair that women can’t be priests”, instead of your answer, I usually pipe us and say “I think it’s so unfair that men can’t have babies!”.  Which usually gets a confused look and a great opening to explain how those are the same objection.  It’s fun to watch folks figure out the whole Bride and Bridgegroom thing and then have to take back their objection.

    Then again, I work with teenagers…

  • “Is it wrong to wonder if the Church will consider allowing men to be nuns?  Just asking.”

    LOL!  Patrick, I’ve been wondering the same thing!

  • I don’t particularly care about having babies. Not after watching at least one labor and delivery. (The results were fine though.) But I do have a beef about women complaining how they can’t be treated like men, especially when they weren’t complaining on the Titanic.

    Know what I mean?

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