The UK Daily Mail has published an article today which I fear does a disservice to the UK Papal Visit Team. Here is the Daily Mail’s headline and lead:
“The Pope star, headlining at a gig near you: Catholic bishops under fire for ‘cringe-making’ guide to the Papal visitCatholic bishops have likened the Pope to the headline act at a series of gigs in a ‘cringe-worthy’ guide to his visit this week which insiders fear exposes the Church to ridicule.In a list of ‘useful terms’ in the official booklet, the three open-air Papal masses – the most solemn occasions of the historic trip – are referred to as ‘shows’ or ‘gigs’, terms normally associated with rock concerts.The document also compares the clergy who organise services – known as liturgists – to ‘performers’ or ‘artists’.Injecting even more showbusiness style, the leaflet translates weighty terms such as ‘sanctuary’ into ‘stage’ and the distribution of Holy Communion into ‘giving out’.Religious words such as ‘spiritual’ and ‘uplifting’ become ‘enjoyable, fun, exciting’.
I read the glossary differently: I think the UK Visit Team is trying their best to educate media about what the proper terminology is to describe these things. For instance, reporters will often (mistakenly) describe the Eucharist as “Bread and Wine”, while the UK Visit Team is telling the media that it should actually be described as “Blessed Sacrament [or] Holy Communion.”
In other words, the right column is listing words and phrases that reporters might be tempted to use, but the left column is telling them what words and phrases they should use if they want to be accurate. Certainly, reporters often make basic mistakes when trying to describe what they are seeing at a Catholic Mass or event, and its understandable that the UK papal visit team is trying to avoid these mistakes if possible.
Granted, they could have done a better job at it. But I still think the Daily Mail hasn’t proven by any means that the UK papal visit team is suggesting that reporters use imprecise/misleading/silly terminology in their reporting.
I am currently attempting to obtain a copy of the full document so I can read this glossary in its proper context.
I am concerned because bloggers in the UK (and now, the US) are busy criticizing the UK Visit Team about this “embarrassment”, when they should actually be going after the Daily Mail for taking the glossary out of context… I hope.
The ironic thing here is that the Daily Mail may have unwittingly proven the papal visit team’s point that when it comes to reporting Catholic topics, the press is in dire need of some remedial education in basic reading and comprehension.