The Catholic Angle

The Catholic Angle

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?

Image: Salvatore Vuono /”>Image: Salvatore Vuono /


About the Author

Diane M. Houdek is Digital Editor for Franciscan Media as well as an editor in the book department. She is the author of Lent with St. Francis, Advent with St. Francis and Pope Francis and Our Call to Joy. She is an avid knitter and spinner and shares her home with four rambunctious dogs. Born and raised in Wisconsin, she has tried her hand at urban farming and a host of other pursuits and hobbies.
  • Emenousek

    This is an interesting post, and it really got me thinking. I think that we as Catholics love to hear that people share something in common that we really value. I come from St. Louis, and whenever natives meet, they always ask each other where they went to high school. Its a similar thing. We get excited when we hear that someone went to the same high school because its something in common.
    It can be a lot of fun, but I also see a potential danger in it. When we start looking for Catholics in the news, it sets up a sort of inside/outside dicotomy of us v. them. We start to see people as either one of us or not one of us, a mentality that quickly leads to devisions. We must keep in mind that God calls everybody and that he established the Church not to seperate the righteous from the unrighteous, but to bring all into the unity of righteousness with him.
    I think it is very important for Catholics to have a presense and a voice in the media, but I think a much better voice than just telling the Catholic story is a voice that engages the secular story with the Catholic story. By that, I mean that we must use popular stories such as the superbowl or the Tucson shooting to promote the views of the Church, not by criticizing the culture or creating devisions, but by exposing the beauty of the Truth.
    On the positive side though, it does give a bit of hope. Our culture has been becoming increasingly secular, and its promising to hear that those involved in media hold values. It also gives a public presence to a marginalized portion of society. In this sense, I see value in these types of stories. But we must be careful that we never lose our ultimate goal of unity with all in Christ.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for such a wonderful, thoughtful response.

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