Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Media Show Best of Times and Worst of Times for Church

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Media Show Best of Times and Worst of Times for Church

Article excerpt

Within an hour, March 21, CBS' "60 Minutes" showed Americans the Catholic church both shining and tarnished.

One segment told of the fall from grace of Santa Fe's Archbishop Robert Sanchez (NCR, March 19). Several women told of sexual dealings with the archbishop. In the background lurked the simmering pedophilia problem, indications that Sanchez was excessively benign to known perpetrators, covering up, thus corrupting the chaste spiritual climate celibacy allegedly was designed to cultivate.

Another segment analyzed the report of the Truth Commission on El Salvador (NCR, March, 26). A devastating indictment of brutality by a fascist-style Salvadoran government, and an equally forceful condemnation of collusion by the Reagan and Bush administrations, the report also depicted the Catholic church as a beacon, a sign to the nations of commitment and even heroism.

It recounted again the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero, then the four churchwomen, the six Jesuits and their companions. And by implication it told of many other missionaries, lay and religious, whose stories might be quieter, whose daily martyrdom (it means witness, after all) might not make headlines, but whose lives and words and works carry on what is best of the ideal life and teachings of Jesus and every prophet of every denomination who tried to lift up humanity on wings of hope.

Two Jesuit leaders talked to Mike Wallace--symbols, too, in their way--men of learning and substance, their lives tempered by such tragedies as Salvador, priests struggling for justice for their dead colleagues while struggling to keep their live brothers' spirits high and dry as the church sails on a sea of discouragement.

The normally abrasive "60 Minutes," by coincidence or whatever, fairly showed both the shine and the tarnish, reached for compassion as well as condemnation. The program came a few days after ABC's "20/20" offered a similar mix of the spiritual and sordid. …

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