Ken Woodward and Church of the ‘Times’

For more than a week, many of my friends have been encouraging me to read an article by Ken Woodward that appeared in the most recent Commonweal magazine.  I didn’t get to read it until today, but I must admit that what I had heard is true:  the article is excellent.

As you may know, Mr. Woodward was the religion editor at Newsweek magazine for many years.  His piece, entitled Church of the ‘Times’ examines not only how the paper has covered the sexual abuse crisis confronting the Catholic Church, but also what Mr. Woodward calls the Times’s worldview.  Here’s Mr. Woodward:

No question, the Times’s worldview is secularist and secularizing, and as such it rivals the Catholic worldview. But that is not unusual with newspapers. What makes the Times unique—and what any Catholic bishop ought to understand—is that it is not just the nation’s self-appointed newspaper of record. It is, to paraphrase Chesterton, an institution with the soul of a church. And the church it most resembles in size, organization, internal culture, and international reach is the Roman Catholic Church….

…The Times, of course, does not claim to speak infallibly in its judgments on current events. (Neither does the pope.) But to the truly orthodox believers in the Times, its editorials carry the burden of liberal holy writ. As the paper’s first and most acute public editor, Daniel Okrent, once put it, the editorial page is “so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.” Okrent’s now famous column was published in 2004 under the headline “Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?” and I will cite Okrent more than once because he, too, reached repeatedly for religious metaphors to describe the ambient culture of the paper.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to take the advice of my friends and read the entire Church of the ‘Times’ for yourself.

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6 Responses to “Ken Woodward and Church of the ‘Times’”

  1. I just read that article this past weekend; I am far behind in all of my reading so I just got to it myself.

    I thought it was a great article and very well put. It gave the whole discussion some new and very much needed perspective.

    Last week I gave a workshop called Faith and Facebook at our diocesan (Albany, NY) catechetical event. The topic actually covered Facebook, blogs and all forms of social media as a way of evangelizing, faith sharing and catechesis. Your blog was prominently featured and generated a good deal of discussion.

    Peace to you, peace to all.

  2. Robert K says:

    Ken Woodward’s assessment was very astute, thanking for calling attention to it.

    It is clear to me Archbishop Dolan, that now that you have bravely challenged the NY Times, you will be receiving the same kind of treatment as Pope Benedict… long front page stories that attempt to implicate you through innuendo and speculation but fail with regard to facts.
    Victims of sexual abuse deserve truth and respect…something which I am greatly concerned that the Times is willing to sacrifice in order to preserve an idealogy and to sell newspapers.

    You are in my prayers!

  3. Rob says:

    Please, Archbishop Dolan, this is no time to be shooting the messenger.

    The issue here is not the NY Times, it’s a church that has protected men who should have been arrested and put on trial. I’m growing more ashamed of my church every day.

  4. Brian Taber says:

    Archbishop Dolan,
    Thank you for your courage in facing the New York Times. It is difficult to go up against the New Religion of New York.
    Truth always prevails in the end.
    Ken Woodward’s article was very helpful.

  5. Andy Piacente says:

    Way to go Archbishop. Finally! FINALLY!! Someone to take on the bigots NY Times. The same NYT that showered Pope Pius the XII with gratitude in the 1940’s now attacks this very same Pope and the current Pope. It is shameful what they do.

    Read anything by my good friend Sister Margherita Marchionne (google her) about this great Pope.

    Any self respecting Catholic who purchases a NYT paper has lost some of their sense of Catholicism. They are shameful.

    AndyP/Doria2 – Yonkers, NY HOSEA 4:6

  6. Mary Ward says:

    Woodward echoes what has been repeating in my head for a long while. I have a dear friend, lapsed Catholic, who peppers every opinion with, “I read it in the Times,” to verify its “gospel truth.” Never mind that her opinions are on more than one occasion at odds with the facts and biased, the point is that she has a preconceived world view and quotes “chapter and verse” to defend it. I’ve long wanted to say to her that she belongs to the religion of the Times and it is her bible. Why not? Isn’t that how multitudes spend Sunday morning?