BY MICHAEL MULLINS
The National Catholic Reporter’s Joe Ferullo attributed the decline in the Sacrament of Penance to the influence of TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey. He says Winfrey, who this month ends her 25 year reign at the top of her profession, “changed the image of confession”.
Ferullo quotes Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara, who points to an episode of the talk show in 1987, when Oprah revealed she had been a victim of sexual abuse as a child. She shattered “the fourth wall“ between subject and interviewer, and shifted dramatically what we expected to view on television.
Oprah subsequently transformed TV from the “idiot box” into a confessional booth. “Post-Oprah, the notion that confession is something private, something hidden, became hopelessly medieval. In America today, confession is best done in public: shame is gone, replaced by more therapeutic bywords like ‘closure’ and ‘catharsis’.”
On the end of the marriage of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Get Religion queries the “Catholic” label placed on it by the media.
“Do we need some explanation as to how Catholicism shaped their marriage? My guess is that Catholic doctrine meant a lot less to their marriage than, say, that of Tolkien.”
Criticising the “devout Catholic” label placed on her by the media, the blog describes Shriver as a self-styled “Cafeteria Catholic”. Shriver once said:
“I find that I don’t spend a lot of time trying to square my own daily life with the institutional ‘Church.’ I pick and choose. I remember doing a long time ago a show about cafeteria Catholics, American cafeteria Catholics. And I think I’m probably a cafeteria Catholic.”
Bloggers have unanimously welcomed the naming of Conventual Franciscan Father Vincent Nguyen as Melbourne’s new auxiliary bishop. The appointment sees the first Ordination in Australia of a Vietnamese born Australian Bishop.
Apriestdownunder quotes Archbishp Denis Hart’s assertion that “as a Franciscan he will bring fresh perspective to our deliberations as a conference”.
Australia Incognita calls it “a promising appointment”, and Sentire Cum Ecclesia says: “I don’t think anyone was expecting this… in all our speculations about future Bishops, it can be too easy to over look the religious among us.”
Country Deacon makes a point on the attention given to Judgement Day, which did not arrive yesterday, contrary to the expectations of a few Evangelical Christians in the US.
“I hesitated before blogging on this. I don’t want to mock the sincere beliefs of a group of Christians. That’s cheap. They’re already easy targets of the likes of Richard Dawkins. And some of them will be disconsolate on Sunday 22 May… May God bless such Christians, and enlighten them. Can that be read without it sounding patronising?”
There was blog comment on the Perth Record editorial on Bishop William Morris that was headed: “A Bishop That Had To Go”.
Holy Irritant said it set a new record in bad taste. He says: “A ‘warning bell’ in the editorial was the reference to Christopher Pearson as a reliable source for information on the Bishop Morris issue. This is akin to hiring Richard Dawkins as a guide to the Vatican!!”.
Australia Incognita says “Good to see, at long last, an official Catholic media outlet in this country actually speaking up! .. The Record: Australia's best diocesan newspaper by far… It is often quite bold in its editorial line - as this week. Quite a contrast to the wimpy Catholic Weekly of Sydney, or any of its other equivalents.”
Father Bob reflects on his invitation to say a prayer at the start of an Age employees meeting on Thursday to discuss the massive loss of jobs due to the outsourcing of most of the paper’s subediting functions.
“It was a secular setting. I had to choose my words carefully… It’s humbling to be asked to do a priest thing in the marketplace. It reinforces, also, my conviction that there’s a whole mass of aussie spirituality, out there, waiting to help revive religions grown weak after 240 years of white occupation.”
A curious post from Methuselah's Beard at Being Frank in New Zealand, about a suggestion that it’s better to participate in an Erotica Expo promoting positive values than it is to picket the event.
“Some of my friends, themselves strong Catholics, chose to express their faith not on the picket line or the demonstration, but by attending the expo… Over time, perhaps, enough people with like minds could sculpt such an expo into what it should be – a dignified celebration of the erotic, and the beauty of God’s creations.”
The Catholic Herald’s William Oddie writes on the Queen’s visit to Ireland.
“We Brits, in contrast to the Irish, have conveniently short memories… the fact is that we consistently behaved abominably in Ireland. We like to think of ourselves as a tolerant and civilised people; and on the whole we are. But we also have very selective memories; we are inclined to think that apart from a few untoward and probably unauthorised events, we can’t have been all that bad in Ireland. But what happened [on Bloody Sunday] represents only the tip of a very large iceberg.”
But Austen Ivereigh at America’s In All Things is more optimistic that “past antagonisms” can be buried, describing the visit as “a compelling witness to what happens when two Christian nations throw off the weight of the past and embrace their common humanity.”
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every Monday.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.