Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cokie and Joan

If you can't be with us this Tuesday for "In Conversation" with Cokie Roberts and Joan Chittister, don't despair. Mercyhurst University will have it online very quickly. Watch their site mercyhurst.edu or our site, joanchittister.org and I'm sure it will be up within a couple days.

Meanwhile, here's an excerpt from an interview that the Jesuit-published America magazine had with Cokie three years ago. It's title was: "Catholic woman in the public square." You can find it in its entirety online here.

In the world of media, have you seen coverage of the church by mainstream media change? Have media been harder on the church? Not hard enough?

Well, I think Pope Francis is being treated like a rock star. And that was true of John Paul II when his papacy began. And the media, for the most part, take the church seriously. There are always complaints about coverage of scandal versus all the good things that go on, but that is true in every field. It is not news that thousands of planes take off and land safely; the one crash is news. But for the American Catholic Church, unfortunately, the question of media coverage cannot be separated from the sex abuse scandal. I have personally been involved in several media-outreach efforts by the hierarchy on this and the tin-ear and fundamental ignorance about molestation in the early years of the unfolding scandal was truly shocking. There was only one Christian response: This is a crime. We are horrified. What can we do as caring people to help? How can we make amends and prove to you it will never, never happen again? That’s not what anyone heard. Finally, we are hearing those responses after hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements. That’s money that could have gone to educate poor children, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, help pregnant young women see the way clear to give birth to their babies. You get my furious drift. And equally maddening: it caused the bishops to lose their moral authority at a time when it could really be used on those issues.

As a woman in media, have you found prejudice against you? As a Catholic woman? As a woman of a certain age?

Of course. I don’t think I’ve been discriminated against officially as a Catholic woman. But certainly sex and age. Let me count the ways. And when I say officially, I mean no one has denied me a job or a raise. But are there people in this society still who think that to be a believer is to be a little bit simpleminded? Sure. And to be a Catholic, still a little simpler still? Yes.

One of the blue heron that lives at the East Pier.

Our bleeding hearts make me so nostalgic for my grandmother's garden.