I wrote yesterday that I thought Catholic commentators were unfairly piling on to the UK Papal Visit Team after the British Tabloids went after them for publishing an “embarrassing” glossary which, they claimed, demeaned the Mass.
My radar went up because I thought to myself, “since when are the British tabloids so concerned about the Mass being treated with reverence?” In fact, it should come as no surprise that the UK media is on 24/7 “scandal watch” until Pope Benedict’s upcoming visit to the UK this week is finished. They know Catholic scandals sell papers.
This morning I woke up to find an email from the UK Papal Visit Team in my inbox, along with a complete copy of the “Guidance Notes” (which I’ve published below). Here is the statement from John McAleer of the UK Papal Visit Team:
The Papal Visit Team at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales produced a document, “Guidance notes for those supporting the events of the Papal Visit.” This document was made at the request of our partners who are involved in the production of the Liturgical Celebrations and at the request of members of the media.
The document explains to our partners, some of whom may have had little or no understanding of the Catholic Church, about the Catholic understanding of the Mass, a Beatification, and Benediction. Our partners have requested this document to ensure that they themselves offer a professional and dignified service during the Papal Visit.
Our partners have been trained to use technical terms that are universally understandable in event management and production, however, the Bishops of England and Wales would prefer that our media and production partners use more fitting terms that would also be more familiar to a Catholic audience.
This document is not meant to patronise but to inform and to ensure that our partners who are working behind the scenes of the Papal Visit have a proper understanding of the nature of Catholic events and can offer a service that the Roman Catholic community would expect. The document has been very well received from our partners. [Attached is the full document:]
As you can see, either the UK Daily Mail intentionally took the last page out of context, or they only had access to the last page. In either case, I think they did a disservice to the UK Papal Visit Team’s clear intentions, whatever the quality of the final product may be.
I’ve complained about UK Catholic communications departments and products before, but I’m wary to add to the criticism this time, partly because it comes from tabloids which are looking for Catholic controversy anywhere they can find it. It’s one thing to have a disagreement within the Catholic family, it’s another to get your dirt on family members from outsiders who have a long reputation of being harmful gossips.