There’s an apocryphal story about a headline in a diocesan newspaper: “Tornado Hits State; No Catholics Killed.” As writers and editors in the Catholic publishing world, we’re always attuned to the Catholic angle on events large and small. Like a local angle on national events, it gives us a way to make news items specific to our particular audience.
When I read the breaking news that Gabrielle Giffords had been shot in Tucson, I found myself checking the list of Catholics in Congress for her name. I didn’t find it, but that night I discovered that another victim, Judge John Roll, was not only Catholic but had come to the event after attending daily Mass. Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old who was killed, was also Catholic. Tucson’s bishop, Gerald Kicanas, was one of the central figures in the Masses, memorial services and healing services that followed.
Celebrities who are Catholic make popular and interesting profile pieces for St. Anthony Messenger. I’ve been fascinated for several years now at the way late-night comedian Stephen Colbert works his own Catholic faith into one of his character’s traits on the Colbert Report, often with surprising results. I find myself watching not so much for the over-the-top stories about the pope and the war on Christmas, but for more subtle things like his references to social justice and to finer points of Scripture, doctrine or rituals.
This week there have been a number of stories in the Catholic press and on Catholic blogs about Catholic angles on the Super Bowl. We profiled the chaplain of the Green Bay Packers several years ago. The Catholic News Service blog has a piece on the wager between the bishops of Green Bay and Pittsburgh. The Knights of Columbus website Fathers for Good has an article on the deep Catholic roots of each team.
These are just three examples that come to mind. Sometimes it seems like a pragmatic approach to getting a good story, to finding the right approach, to fitting something into our particular niche. But it works because that Catholic identity resonates with our audience. It’s a sense that we share a way of looking at the world, that we know and believe the same things, that we have a shared understanding of God, that joins us together.
What are your thoughts when you hear that someone is Catholic?