Saturday, October 2, 2010

Perhaps TIME magazine should just refrain from covering religion?

It all starts with an article by Dawn Reiss in Time magazine on the faux-"ordination" of "female priests":
Alta Jacko is the mother of eight children. She is also an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Jacko, 81, who earned her master's degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University, a Jesuit Catholic school, says being a priest is what she was called to do.

Officially, of course, the Catholic Church's Canon Law 1024 says that only baptized men can receive holy orders. But there is a movement against the no-women rule; it began eight years ago when a cluster of renegade male clerics (including a European bishop whose identity the female priests won't reveal in order not to risk his excommunication) ordained the first women. Now, in Jacko's hometown of Chicago, three women have entered the priesthood.

Factually and journalistically speaking, things go downhill from there (even the caption mispells "diaconate"). Thorough analysis is provided by journalist watchdog Get Religion (Media Ordains Female Priests) and Deacon Greg Kandra ("Failing the test of TIME"), the latter concluding:
The debate over women being ordained priests won't be ending any time soon -- and the Church has its hands full trying to explain and make explicit something many in the pews find hard to understand in the first place. Intelligent people can disagree about whether or not the Church's stand on this issue is theologically sound or socially just. (Though the official Vatican document leaves little room for dispute.)

But what can't be disputed is that TIME's treatment of this particular story is just plain shoddy.

I'd like to hear a TIME editor explain why this piece was allowed to be published in its final form, without even attempting to follow the kind of basics taught in Journalism 101.

As a member of the Catholic clergy, I find this sort of inaccurate and incomplete reporting annoying and disappointing.

But as a journalist? It's just embarrassing.

Now, TIME journalist Dawn Reiss responds in the critics, defending her piece.

And it gets worse.

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