Bishop accuses Chicago Tribune of anti-Catholic bias in Notre Dame coverage

The ongoing debate over next month’s University of Notre Dame commencement appearance by President Barack Obama took a new turn today when Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Chicago accused the Chicago Tribune of anti-Catholic bias in the opinion pieces it has run in recent weeks on the controversy. In a letter to the editor published today, he also cited a Tribune article that he said “features Catholics who have acted against Catholic Church teaching on in-vitro fertilization.”

The three opinion articles he cited included an April 3 Tribune editorial saying Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George was “deeply out of line” for his comments on the controversy, a March 31 column by Notre Dame alumnus Don Wycliff urging the university not to cave to pressure from opponents of Obama’s appearance, and an April 3 article by Obama campaign co-chairman William M. Daley, which Bishop Paprocki characterized as part of the Tribune’s effort “to enlist dissenting Catholics to be the mouthpiece of the newspaper’s attacks against the church’s teaching authority.”

“I don’t recall the Chicago Tribune ever running such stories and editorials against any other church or religion, let alone with such frequency or invective, so I can only conclude that the know-nothing views of the Chicago Tribune have not changed,” he wrote, referring to the anti-Catholicism of the Know-Nothing movement — and of the Tribune — in the mid-19th century.

Father Dear writes about his night in the Las Vegas jail

Franciscan Father Louis Vitale Brian Terrell, a Catholic Worker from Malloy, Iowa, stand outside Creech Air Force Base during Holy Week and the annual Nevada Desert Experience to end nuclear war preparations and unmitigated militarism. (Photo from Nevada Desert Experience)

Franciscan Father Louis Vitale and Brian Terrell, a Catholic Worker from Malloy, Iowa, stand outside Creech Air Force Base during Holy Week and the annual Nevada Desert Experience. (Photo from Nevada Desert Experience)

Digging a little deeper after yesterday’s blog post on the arrest of 14 peace activists who were guided by their faith to enter Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas on Holy Thursday, we found an interesting account of the event from Father John Dear, one of those accused of trespassing.

The group had been in the midst of a 10-day vigil at Creech to call attention to the dangers the unmanned drones — controlled from the base — pose to innocent people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Writing on, Father Dear described the group’s initial encounter with the soldiers, machine gun at the ready, who approached the nonviolent trespassers. Here’s an excerpt:

At the first notice of our presence, a young airman approached, fear in his eyes, and he began yelling, ordering us to turn around. He had an M-16 slung over his shoulder and he swung it toward us. His order notwithstanding, we continued to walk and started to sing.

The poor airman was undone and started shoving, first a friend, then me. He was growing furious, so we knelt down. Soon three other soldiers approached, all of them toting machine guns. Together they shouted, as if that would make any difference. We assured them we were unarmed, and we offered them our roses. The poor airmen, they stood befuddled. Should they shout louder? Should they open fire? Whatever their script, it failed them in the face of nonviolence. Meantime another drone flew overhead.

Link here for the rest of the story (with apologies to Paul Harvey).

CNS correspondent from India raises uncomfortable questions about anti-Christian violence

Journalist Anto Akkara, who has covered the church in India for Catholic News Service for years, recently released a book on the continued violence in the Kandhamal district of India’s Orissa state.

Kandhamal is the scene of Hindu extremist violence against Christians which began last August and continues today. Sixty people were killed and 50,000 people were displaced by the violence. Churches and homes were burnt to the ground.

In his book, “Kandhamal — A Blot on Indian Secularism,” Akkara retells the horrors of the victims and discusses the gross impunity of the local government in controlling the Hindu mob attacks.

“I think the the ashes in the Kandhamal are not of the churches or the Christians there. I think the ashes are the ashes of Indian secularism,” Akkara said.