Friday, February 18, 2011

What a week for Catholic Press Month

At Catholic newspapers in the United States such as the Catholic Standard & Times, February is Catholic Press Month. It’s a time when Catholic newspapers take stock of their value to society.

Many fewer Catholics are reading the paper than in decades past. But they are reading Catholic news.

Philadelphia became ground zero for the major news story of the past week: current and former priests plus a lay teacher were indicted and arrested in connection with a city grand jury report regarding clergy sexual abuse of minors.

The grand jury released its report on Thursday, Feb. 10. Since the CS&T’s deadline for publishing on Thursday is Tuesday evening, our Feb. 10 issue didn’t have the news.

But our web site had full coverage of the district attorney’s press conference and the early response by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

For each of the first two days of coverage almost a thousand visitors hit our web site, more than double the average number for a typical day. Most of them found our coverage through Twitter and Facebook posts and by logging in directly to our site, (yes we know it’s a clunky URL; we’re working on that).

Today we posted a follow-up story , and the traffic has been equally high.

People wanted to read about this important Catholic news, and they weren’t satisfied with the secular coverage.

They sought out the Catholic perspective on news from a source they have trusted for many years. Now they can find us online and even on their mobile phone: tap us on your cell at

Overall newspaper circulation continues to dwindle and the Catholic press is not immune. But traffic to Catholic news web sites continues to rise. That is true for the Catholic Standard and Times.

It’s also true that this newspaper’s mission to inform, educate and inspire (a three-word tag coined by our former editor, Cardinal John Foley) is as vital today as it was 116 years ago at our founding.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A harsh, revealing light on abortion

This week Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams rode to the rescue to human decency and defense of the law. Excellent work by him, his staff and the grand jury's voluminous report alleging murder, conspiracy and a laundry list of crimes coming out of a West Philadelphia abortion clinic.

In case you missed the story, it's an informative if unsettling read.

That Philadelphia and Pennsylvania health and licensing officials turned a blind eye to what can only be termed a chamber of horrors at the Women's Medical Society is tragic enough. If this isn't the agencies' unspoken policy of "don't look and don't touch" an abortion facility, then it has to be gross negligence on the part of agency staff.

Either way, I suspect that this part of the story is only just beginning.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia in its statement called the goings on at the clinic "abhorrent and intrinsically evil."

It also said: "The report's use of the language of 'infants and babies' for the unborn and the charges of murder underscore our conviction that every child in the womb is created in the image and likeness of God."

That's the real eye-opener in this case: murder charges on the clinic's only licensed physician, Kermit B. Gosnell, extend to the killing of children at an abortion clinic.

That is what happens with an abortion -- a child dies. Of course, it is illegal to abort a child after a certain point of gestation, thanks to Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act. But at any stage, it is killing an innocent human life. No matter what one chooses to call that life (baby, fetus, clump of tissue).

The heinous part of this story is that the babies were delivered alive then killed. But if they were several weeks earlier in their term and killed by chemical or mechanical means, the act would be legal.

This story shines a bright and inescapable light on abortion: the practice, legal or not, destroys a living human child.

The case against this particular abortion doctor and his clinic indicts the abortion industry and its legal underpinnings. It is an industry built on the death of the human family's most innocent and needing of protection, our children.

The other victims are the women who feel compelled to seek an abortion. They are particularly vulnerable and need social support and the care of medical professionals. No one deserves to be exploited as the women appear to have been in this case.

They deserve the support of a close-knit community and, if they become pregnant, a quantum leap in safe, professional prenatal medical care and postnatal professional services, including adoption services.

The quandary over abortion in this country has to resolve those two points: preventing the death through abortion of children at any stage of gestation, and supporting the women who experience an unexpected preganancy.

Resolving those goals remains the work of millions of committed people in this country who never again want to witness murdered children and maimed women as a result of abortion, legal or not.