26 September 2008

The Traditional Latin Mass in St. Louis as Covered by the Review

The St. Louis Review has drawn attention in this space often.  As the official Catholic newspaper, it of course will be the ordinary vehicle for the Archdiocese to inform its faithful, and to promote the faith.  

Ideally, the goals of the editor and the goals of the Archbishop when it comes to promoting the faith would perfectly coincide.

The Review's decision to print the CNS story that obfuscated and attempted to excuse Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Biden's pro-abortion record is an example of how this is not always perfectly realized.

The Review does a very good job in its mission overall, and there has been some really great coverage at times, such as the in depth issue at Archbishop Burke's farewell announcement.

However, on another matter in today's issue, there is a story about the Traditional Mass one year after the motu proprio that doesn't quite satisfy.

It is well-known that Archbishop Burke is a strong supporter of the widespread availability of the Traditional Mass.  Bishop Hermann also has often celebrated this form of the Roman Rite.   Therefore, it is nice to see an article about the local support for the TLM.

The article is well-written by Jennifer Brinker and highlights many of the area's Traditional Mass locations-- the Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine, Assumption Parish, other locations and finally St. Francis de Sales Oratory-- the largest TLM-only community (averaging about 1200 people for Sunday Masses) and  a kind of center for the Extraordinary Form in the Archdiocese.

Therefore, I don't want to be misunderstood about the quibble I am about to make.  It is a molehill, not a mountain.  

The amount of space allotted on a given page and the choice and location of photos are editorial decisions.  Thus, I have an issue with the layout of this story.  The headline reads as follows:

Latin Mass supported, one year after papal ruling

On the front page the only community mentioned is the West County Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine, and the article states that this relatively new (and growing) location has 40 families and draws 100-150 faithful on Sunday.  There is no picture accompanying the story on the front page; it is included on the back page of that section.  It is a photo of that Oratory with about 15-20 people visible.

Now, although the article discusses and gives information about other locations, and notes as I said above the very large and growing numbers of the faithful at St. Francis de Sales, my question is this:  Is the arrangement of the story to include only the smaller location on page one and including only the sparsely populated photo in back designed to give an impression that the headline should be read to say this?:

Latin Mass supported by few, one year after papal ruling

I am in no way knocking the West County community-- everything I have heard from people who attend there has been positive about the Oratory and the Benedictine priests who administer it.  That is not the point.  I think that if I wanted to print a story about the fact that the TLM is really supported in this Archdiocese, the picture I would run would be slightly different-- St. Francis de Sales is just down the street from the Review, attracts a ton of people each week in a gorgeous setting just tailor-made for the Traditional Mass, and would make a great picture to visually support the thrust of the story.  

If the intent was to try to promote some of the lesser-known Mass locations, why not print multiple pictures? 

Again, noting that I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill, I can't help but put the layout of the story in the context of the Review's treatment of other stories on the TLM, especially in the run up to, and coverage of, the motu proprio issued last year.  Typically, the position of the Review has been lukewarm at best.

And so, I am done.  The article is here.


Latinmassgirl said...

The Review Is Not a Fan of the Latin Mass

When I dealt with the media as a public relations manager, and I had several human interest stories published myself, it was always understood that THE MOST important paragraph goes first, along with a catchy headline, then as the article reads on, the LEAST important information is LAST. This is because most readers only read the first part of an article.

The set-up of the article is obvious trying to treat Saint Francis de Sales as the least important Latin Mass oratory. Any good reporter, who wasn't interjecting their own opinion would have begun with SFdS! The Review has an obvious agenda. That is why we made the decision to discontinue our subscription years ago, along with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

thetimman said...


I would not assume that the reporter necessarily decided the subject matter order of the story, and regardless, may not have known where page break would be.

KC said...

Saint Louis seems the capitol of the Extraordinary Form for this continent, as far as numbers are concerned. Such statistics deserve analysis, investigation, and to the extent that a diocesan journal finds them to be true (and such numbers do not lie) celebration and promotion.

That such unique statistics are neither truly analyzed or investigated in print by those uniquely positioned to examine the issue is sad. That the negligence extends to neither celebrate or promote the development of this adherence to tradition shows the SLR to be either biased against emerging trends in the local church or unable to discern the same.

Which is it?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Brinker has written some very nice articles about the Oratory and the Latin Mass in the past.

I found it very refreshing that she focused the article on other Latin Mass communities at the beginning of the story, because it clearly shows those in St. Louis who are either opposed or uninformed that the Latin Mass is not held 'captive' in only one Parish in our Archdiocese.

It was also refreshing to read the comments of Father Deken, who is a diocesan Priest, regarding the Latin Mass in contrast to Father Bede or Father Lenhardt ( I LOVE them both) who are known through their vocation for their support of the Latin Mass. That a diocesan priest would offer such stark analysis on the LM is hugely meaningful, however the subtlety is lost to those of us who look too deeply into the motives of the Review.

The Truth and Beauty of the Tridentine Mass overcomes (even in print) the attempts of the 'world' to trivialize it. Each time an article is printed about the Mass, this Truth and Beauty will make it's way into more and more Catholic hearts. We may not see the benefits immediately, or ever, however the Truth is undeniable and unstoppable.

Mark S.
New Haven

Anonymous said...

I read and believe,the top staff of the St.Louis Review should be fired! Not only was the article poorly written, non professional, and again full of false information, it also is another smack in the face of Archbishop Buke, and the wishes of the Holy Father.

Why does the editor continue to use the Church's newspaper for his voice of anti-Catholism? He must really think hes smart. He seems really proud to set in that chair.

Why do the real people in charge continue to allow this person to receive a paycheck?

He continues to divide the Church into two seperate groups. The Church is ONE RITE with two forms my friend. What is your problem?

These people are no better than the NCR. They're a joke! Shameful reporting, at best. Im sure they are laughing and having a great time now, but when the announcement of the new Archbishop comes they will be gone.

It is so clear that the Review doesn't like SFdS, or the Latin Mass in general. He has continued to push things like the Biden story and other anti-Church items for years now. Is he even Catholic, I have to ask myself?

Who cares what he prints? I cancelled that subscription a long time ago for the same reasons, but different topic.

Why should my parish pay for this crap to come into my house when anyone can go to the internet and get good solid teaching of the Catholic Church.

Personaly TODAY, I call on all Catholics to cancel that rag, until the Editor is retired.

The Archdiocese should really be ashamed of this one. More ashamed of even St.Cornon,St. Stans.

The Review, is the OFFICIAL VOICE of the OFFICIAL TEACHING of the Roman Catholic Church in St. Louis. GIVE ME A BREAK. Is this what the Arhcdiocese wants of ITS paper? Is this what the Archdiocese whats to teach us through her paper?

Isn't it amazing the Archbishop, the Aux-Bishop, and top staff is clearly supportive of such topics, and the "paid" support-staff, are not? My Sunday offerings pays for items like this?

This will continue until the so called "editor" is gone. Cancel your subscriptions until he is replaced!

If anything will get the Arhcdiocese attention with this, money will.

-A Very Concerned West County member of a non Latin Mass parish.

LOL bet you didn't see that comming.

thetimman said...

KC, you said it better than I did.

Mark, you are right about Brinker, this is not her fault. What really bothers me is the editorial decisions that are either signs of an intentional disregard for the TLM or evidence of lack of editorial judgement.

When have you ever seen a photo of a full Latin Mass congregation in the Review? You know that de Sales, for example, is practically full every sunday. Even when the mp came out last year, the Review ran two photos-- one of a 1950s parish, and one from a church in boston. Give me a break.

And, apart from the story itself, if I may be a little partial, Father Lenhardt was Archbishop Burke's episcopal delegate in implementing the motu proprio, and his service here could have been more publicly acknowledged.

To the extent that the Review seeks (and I don't presume to know how much is intentional) to minimize and marginalize the TLM, it is an insult to the faithful of the Archdiocese.

Anonymous said...

thetimman, I have to say your take on this story disappoints me. The St. Louis Review finally does an article about the Latin Mass, and you snark at it. The Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine, where I go to Mass, finally gets some press, and you critique the story placement and photo. There must be a conspiracy at the Review – “Let’s write a lengthy article on the Latin Mass. Let’s write a headline, ‘Latin Mass supported, one year after papal ruling.’ BUT let’s put the picture on the back page, so readers will get the subliminal message that people really don’t support the Latin Mass.”

Come on, you should rejoice at the story! My fear is that some Review editor will read your blog and say, “These people are never happy. We do a nice story on the Latin Mass, and they complain. Well, that’s the last time they’ll see a story on the Latin Mass.”

This article can only help the cause – people who didn’t know about the Latin Mass revival, and the several locations throughout the Archdiocese where It is offered, might now start attending.

Every so often we get a victory – let’s declare it and revel in it for a little while!

cp said...

I *did* cancel my subscription to the Review. One of my priests told me my church had to pay for my subscription regardless. I was then just not reimbursing my church for my subscription (nor was I receiving the paper).

thetimman said...

anon at the ss g and a oratory,

I didn't snark on the article, but pointed out why I was disappointed. I am glad that your oratory and the other places that have the Mass were written about, truly. The low-level of my dissatisfaction I tried to make clear. We just disagree.

No need to worry about this post suddenly making the editor become anti-TLM. I am sure his thoughts on the matter are already defined.