no use taking cover behind talk about " innocence," or behind accusations ol inaccuracy, sensationalism, and so on.
Most journalists know how difficult it is to get information on
Catholic affairs. The reporter tends to be passed on and on, because no one is bold enough to commit himself to a statement of fact, let alone opinion. "Oh, you really ought to see the
()wing to the importance of Canon," and so on.
When Pius XI died, 1 was one of a large number of journalists who flew to Rome. We included some distinguished writers: Noyes. Walpole, and others.
Do you think we could get any reliable information at the centre of the Church? No. At that time. when the world was looking sympathetically towards Rome, I was handed a dog-earned twopenny pamphlet about the ceremonies at a Pope's death, and the priestly donor said, indifferently. " F don't think it is at all accurate." I didn't discover anyone who fared better.
The painful fact is that in the field of public relations, the Church is inefficient. And it is not a case of her " innocence " about worldly journalism, as " Jotter " thinks.
She knows what to do, and occasionally does it, e.g., when Rome was liberated and Allied war correspondents arrived, an American cleric was put in charge of an information office. Rome had been long under the shadow of the Axis, and the need of a "good " Press was obvious.
But soon, I believe, the Church lapsed into the old casual ways.
I write as a Fleet Street journalist and a non-Catholic, but one who has never disguised his admiration for the great Church. But in this matter I have lost patience.
78, Purley Downs Road. Purley, Surrey.
Sta. As a Catholic and a journalist. I think there is one aspect of the " mother and child " controversy which the Catholic Press should carefully examine. I have grave doubts whether the whole setup of the Vatican arrangements on Press facilities-the liaison with the Catholic Press or the ordinary Press -is all that it ought to be in the year 1951, when news and views can be, or ought to be. rapidly transmitted throughout the world.
It was on Monday. October 29, that Pope Pius XII delivered his famous 7,000 words address to the Italian Catholic Union of Midwives. His Eminence Cardinal Griffin, in a statement issued on November 12. said (inter alio): "The text of the Holy Father's address was published verbatim in the same day's issue of the Osservatore Romano, but this complete text runs to some 7.000 words and was not available in this country for some days. In the meantime publicity had inevitably been given to various Press reports."
An editorial note in page two of THE CATHOLIC HERALD for November 9 says. " THE CATHOLIC HERALD was unable to obtain the authentic text of the Pope's speech in time for
publication last week. Readers should remember that whereas they often read their Catholic papers on Sundays, these in fact go to press from Wednesday to Thursday morning."
I submit, sir. that if the Vatican press arrangements were all that they ought to be a complete and authentic English translation of the Pope's speech on Monday, October 29, ought to have been in your office by the evening of that day. It could then have been printed in your issue of Friday, November 2. What would readers of the English daily papers think if one of them had said, for example, on the morning of October 30: "Yesterday, Monday, October 29. President Truman made an important speech in Washington, which we hope to print as soon as we get it." The White House in Washington, of course, looks after the Press too well for any such thing to happen.
There are, or there ought to he, many able linguists at the Vatican. Much misrepresentation of the Pope's October 29 spccch that has occurred in some sections of the daily Press need not and might not have occurred if full and authentic translations of the Holy Father's speech had been available in half a dozen languages to journalists in Rome ten minutes before His Holiness began to speak, or just after he began speaking.
Has the Press department at the Vatican ever heard of " hand-outs"? If not, why not?
14. Raynham Avenue. Manchester, 20.
Press Liaison Officer?
SIR, How refreshing to read in the current edition of your paper, authoritative and clear statements covering the Holy Father's speech to obstetricians and midwives.
How much more refreshing, howeNer, this would have been for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, had these statements appeared in the secular daily Press and without delay. Much harm to the Catholic cause and insult to the Holy Father would have been avoided thereby.
Has the Catholic Church in this country any machinery for dealing with Press matters? If not, it does seem to me that the time is ripe for some action to be taken. Quite apart from the aspect of defending Holy Mother Church. what a grand opportunity existed for publicising our glorious Faith when the controversy in question was headline news.
The time is long past when defence of the Faith should in such cases with laymen writing letters to the Press. Their knowledge is not always equal to their enthusiasm and our Faith does not always benefit from their well-meant efforts.
1 opine that a Press Liaison Officer is necessary. with power to call upon a panel of clerical authorities, so that both speed and authority can come to our defence when our enemies attack.
May I, therefore, appeal for some action, not alone to help Catholics. but also to show the light to nonCatholics, many of whom are sincerely seeking the right road.
E. D. Browne.'
Mayiends. ()Viands Close. Weybridge.