Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Brief Guide to Repentance for The Argus

Yesterday, I had a brief conversation with a news editorial member of The Argus.

Having got the 'general impression' that the newspaper's editorial team are perhaps now regretting their article - though they cannot bring themselves to admit this - I heard a couple of ideas from one of the team as to what could be done by The Argus to 'redress the balance'. Speaking privately with this lady and in no way speaking in any other capacity than as a parishioner of the Church, I remained unconvinced that The Argus 'peace plan' will see the restoration of the good name of the priest at the heart of their malicious character assassination.

The editorial news team member admitted that 'journalists do not always get the full story'. You can say that again! Having stated well and truly that I am no spokesperson for Fr Ray Blake, merely a parishioner of his Church, I outlined why it is that I considered Fr Blake unlikely to co-operate with The Argus in their plan to 'readdress the balance' of their scurrilous article since if the same thing happened to me, I would want justice to be done. I still have no reason to believe that despite their protestations of innocence, yet with a strange attending desire to 'readdress the balance', neither Fr Blake, nor those who recognise the injustice that has been perpetrated against him will, or indeed should merely 'let them off the hook'. That's not how forgiveness works.

"Exhibit A: Behold the treasure of the Church, Your Honour, and, while we're at it, behold how St Bartholomew's Anglican Church failed the 'test of holiness'."

I got the impression from the news team member that The Argus are having trouble with two aspects of the basics of not just Catholic belief, but a universal understanding of forgiveness. So here is a brief guide for The Argus news team, who I have reason to believe are currently bricking themselves...

"Exhibit B, Your Honour. Behold how the man banned from 44 streets in Brighton and Hove defends Fr Blake from accusations made in the local and national media."

And for good reason!

St Lawrence of Rome: Focus of Fr Ray's blog post
Step 1: Apologise. As journalists, I know this is incredibly difficult for you because you will fear that any apology may see an admission of guilt that you fear you have to withhold should any further action be considered by the offended party. Still, if you are genuinely bricking yourselves and feel remotely guilty that you have more or less destroyed the reputation of a Catholic priest innocent of any wrongdoing in this regard, because you have misrepresented him, I would suggest a full and complete apology may be the way forward even if your contrition is not perfect.

How's about a centre spread, double-page apology, restoring Fr Blake's good name and giving the reasons why it is that the article concerning him was a misrepresentation of his blog post, with both his post and his telephone comments being taken wildly out of context from what he was speaking of, namely, the Feast of St Lawrence who called the poor 'the treasure of the Church', even though they rarely 'appear' to us to be treasures because a proportion are fully capable of leaving used needle where they have slept, lying in order to get money out of priests and disrupting Church services.

No, Bill, one apology spread through the world's media may suffice...
It's a 'spiritual thang', you may not understand it, but as Fr Blake made clear in his blog post, we are called to show love and charity to these poor people. Instead of commending Fr Blake's reflection on the poor as the 'treasure of the Church', you instead spitefully and knowingly highlighted his honest experiences as a parish priest to more or less the complete exclusion of both the content and context of his post and the underlying message. If you did do this at all, it appeared as a footnote to your article, by which time the damage to his reputation had been well and truly 'done', ironically much like St Lawrence's back when he was martyred at the hands of the Roman Emperor, Valerian, by being grilled to death.

Step 2: Reparation. This is like unto the first step, just as unpleasant to the offender, yet wholly neccessary if restitution is to be made for the offense committed. You have dragged the good name of a priest through the mud in your local rag. Secondly, its been picked up by the national press, so now vast numbers of the population of the United Kingdom and elsewhere believe a good priest who regularly showers gifts upon the poor despises them and wishes they were all put on a ship and sunk quicker than the Belgrano. Some form of reparation is in order. Therefore, as well as contributing either financially or physically to the tireless work of the St Mary Magdalen Soup Run supported, manned and financed by the parishioners of Fr Blake - which you scandalously neglected to mention in your hit-piece - it would be an act of justice to ensure that the centre spread apology with detailed reasons for the utter misrepresentation of his blog post that occurred, be promoted to the national press, including such media outlets as Yahoo, such newspapers as The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, the Sun and all other newspapers and news agencies which sullied the name of this fine and upstanding man of God. Anything short of this would not constitute reparation of the outrageous slur cast upon his name and would fall short of any natural or supernatural understanding of repentance.

You don't have to be on your knees, but it helps...
Step 3: Pray. Prayer doesn't come naturally to atheistic hacks of local newspapers who see in priests a soft target, fair game for a pack of wolves to tear to pieces in the press. Still, it should be recommended. The Rosary is a good start, but equally the simple repetition of the Hail Mary you may find beneficial since in the Mother of God is a refuge for poor sinners who have offended the Most High through such sins as detraction and calumny, especially of a priest who has done no wrong in the regard in which you presented him. God is merciful. His priests are merciful. Yet, in order to acquire the mercy of God, poured out lavishly upon sinners and all mankind who seek it, an examination of conscience is required and words and actions are necessary in order to repair the vast damage that you have done. If only you were Catholics, you could go to Confession. Grace is not cheap. The damage that you have done can be repaired. All that is required from you at The Argus, is humility and the admission that you have wronged a just man by wicked means and unjustifiable actions.

Not amused: Argus delenda est
I fully acknowledge that the likelihood of these things taking place is slim, since the standards of journalism at The Argus are so low that you may not even recognise the moral and spiritual quagmire that you have set for yourselves and then fallen into. If you wish to be dragged out of the pit that you now inhabit, I offer you the above brief guidelines to repentance.

I fully believe that through the intercession of Our Lady and St Anthony of Padua, your newspaper is headed for a disaster of not inconsiderable proportions. It can yet be avoided, but it will require a complete 180 degree turn-around on your behalf that we Catholics know and understand as repentance. You have made unwittingly the Woman who crushes the head of the serpent your sworn enemy. Become her friend now, before it is too late, since the One she holds in her tender, loving arms, is the all-powerful God, in Whose place at every Mass stands each and every Catholic priest.

Our Lady, Queen of the clergy, pray for the clergy, for us and pray for The Argus.

Who is she that cometh forth, bright as the sun (not to be confused with the Murdoch tabloid of the same name), fair as the moon, terrible as an army set in array?

Once more in Latin:

Quae est ista quae progreditor quasi, aurora consurgens, electa ut sol, terribilis ut castrorum ordinata? 

Her prayers with her Divine Son are more powerful than both Newsquest, the company that owns The Argus and Gannett, its US parent company. Do you really want to take this Lady on?

If The Argus do not play their cards right on this one, someone, and it need not be the offended party himself, may just contact the gigantic US firm known for serious and quite shocking 'cutbacks' in staff that owns them to let them know exactly...

To Bill Gardner, Lucy Pearce and the whole of The Argus news team: 

You may stand by your man, you may even stand by your story, but are you 100% sure that Newsquest and, moreover, Gannett, will stand by you?

Because of you, Fr Ray Blake, parish priest of St Mary Magdalen Church has fallen on hard times.

Anyway, must dash, my friend whose just finished his law degree is coming over for a beer. He must be literally chomping at the bit to defend a client or even prosecute. Say a prayer for him that he gets the pupilage he's after.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I think a civil action for PROFESSIONAL defamation would not be out of place.

JB said...

My Brother in Christ,

You do well to separate the needs of repentance and restitution and to remind the offending parties of the Mercy that is always available.

I only add the Lord's Words, "I tell you on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by yours words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:36)

Those in positions of responsibility and influence should recall the words of St. James, "you know that those who teach shall be judged with greater strictness." (James 3:1)

Please may those offenders embrace the Lord's Forgiveness and Mercy.

Roses and Jessamine said...

Well done, Bones.

I wonder if Mr. Gardner may be contacted at The Shchmargus directly? Surely as the responsible, professional "eyes and ears of the public" that he is, he should be interested in talking to some of his readers and answering a few questions in a reverse interview?

Or is he cowering behind the skirts of his mummy newspaper clutching a big teddy bear called Mr. Snook?

I found:
and he's a Twitter too, oops, I meant ON Twitter of course.

The Bones said...

Jo Alexander

I am under no obligation to publish your comment.

To assert that I do is just too much of a dogmatic stance for me.

Roses and Jessamine said...

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