A recent story on St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke and his consistent defense of Catholic teaching exposes the difficulty many reporters have in seeing the difference between courage and controversy.
Peter Slevin of the Washington Post wrote: "At a time when significant segments of the Catholic population are breaking with the church on such issues as embryonic stem cell research and abortion, Burke is adhering to Vatican orthodoxy endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI -- and he expects the same of all Catholics in his archdiocese."
While the archbishop makes it clear that his "agenda" is simply following Church teaching, it is not clear that Slevin sees it that way due to his apparent confusion regarding the real reasons why the archbishop is acting in a way that is so contradictory to the average tolerance we usually see emanating from the hierarchy. Archbishop Burke is not holding his finger to the wind and determining what he will or will not do based on what "significant segments of the Catholic population" will accept.
No, Archbishop Burke is committed to saving souls; to preaching the truth and to seeing those large segments return to the Church out of love for her teaching. This is why he persists, regardless of public opinion.
It does not matter what the world may say when someone is dedicated first and foremost to Christ; but it sure would be nice if reporters like Slevin could see the value and the inspiration that accompany a man like Archbishop Burke who loves his flock so much that he defies the neat little political boxes into which the media would like to place him.
Would that there were 200 American bishops who created the kind of controversy that inspired this Washington Post reporter to write the story in the first place For as Professor James Hitchcock commented to Slevin: "There are quite obviously deep divisions within the church. Archbishop Burke is one bishop who has chosen to confront them directly, as opposed to other bishops who may prefer to minimize them."