For those of you unfamiliar with DC, the Catholic Information Center is a Catholic bookstore (and much more) located in downtown DC. It also happens to be the meetup place for my Council of the Knights of Columbus. They originally had a book signing scheduled today for Cokie Roberts, and that prompted a scathing editorial from the Washington Times which reads like something written in New Oxford Review rather than a secular newspaper. Roberts is a dissenter from Church teachings on issues such as abortion, and I agreed with the editorial that it was not proper for CIC to be hosting this event. Well, Fr. Arne Panula, who heads the CIC, agreed and canceled the event. Evidently they were not aware that Roberts held such a position and they took the right course of action. They actually did this before the Times’s editorial was published, and to their credit the Times gave kudos to Fr. Panula and the CIC.
What struck me about this affair was, as indicated above, the harsh rhetoric employed by the Times in their original editorial. One could easily have mistaken it for the rantings of a rad-trad blogger. While the Times was right to rebuke the CIC when it believed that Roberts was still scheduled to appear, some of their criticisms were a bit unfair. For instance, the original editorial states:
In “The Da Vinci Code” book and movie, Opus Dei was portrayed as a radical right-wing vigilante force dispatching assassin monks to liquidate heretics. The truth is Opus Dei has never been very courageous in countering modernist trends that undermined tradition in its own church. The most obvious example is how the group was actively antagonistic to those who fought in the trenches for decades to bring back the ancient Latin Mass that was suppressed after the liberalizing Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.
This is news to me. Opus Dei has always seemed to be on the frontlines, ready to fight for orthodoxy and truth. I am not aware that it was “openly antagonistic” towards those who fought to bring back the TLM, but perhaps others know what the Times is alluding to. Then there is this:
The Opus Dei bookstore also has done things that are just plain weird and dubious from a Christian perspective, like selling the Harry Potter books, which glamorize witchcraft.
Oy. Perhaps the CIC ought not have sold the Harry Potter books simply because they are not really overtly Christian. When I worked at the Basilica’s bookstore we sold some Pat Buchanan books that had little to do with religion, and that always seemed a bit odd to me. But I’ve always seen books in Catholic bookstores that are not overtly religious in nature – things like the Lord of the Rings and it doesn’t bother me that much. As for the witchcraft stuff, well, that’s always a fun argument but I’ll just kindly disagree with the Times on that one.
All that being said, it is refreshing to see a secular news source passionately defend the Church’s teachings. Would that some nominally Catholic blogs and magazines be so diligent.