How Catholic is your media?

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The offices of U.S. Catholic got a call from a local reporter after Cardinal Francis George's opening address to the bishops, specifically about this line: "[Bishops] have recently begun discussions on how we might strengthen our relationship to Catholic universities, to media claiming to be a voice in the church, and to organizations that direct various works under Catholic auspices." The reporter wanted to know if USC was "concerned."

Our immediate answer was, quite frankly, no: We see our role at USC as journalists within the structure of the church, and we make great effort to present the teaching of the church while we also report the conversations of American Catholics around issues of concern, including when there is disagreement.

There are many readings of George's statement: Some think it directed at newspapers such as the National Catholic Reporter, which is not directly connected to the hierarchy. Others think he might also be talking about loud voices on the right, such as Bill Donohue's Catholic League, which is also independent of the hierarchy but claims to speak for Catholics.

But it begs the question: What is the role of media in the Catholic community? House organ for the bishop? Cheerleader for being Catholic? Watchdog? And who is doing a good job?