Thursday, December 27, 2012

Underreported Stories of 2012: Peter Laarman for Religious News, Bill Moyers for Other Stories

It's that time between Christmas and new year's when news commentators like to compile lists of who said what when during the year that is now winding down. This year, I'm particularly drawn to several lists of underreported news stories of the year.

At Religion Dispatches, Peter Laarman lists thirteen religious stories that went missing in 2012. Laarman notes that the strong support of many religious groups for gay and lesbian rights, which bore fruit in the victories for marriage equality in four American states this year, went generally unnoticed by the mainstream media.

I also like his recognition that hardly any mainstream outlets noticed the fact that the U.S. Catholic bishops could not find a unified voice to affirm a statement about Catholic social teaching when they met this fall. As he notes, older bishops solidly grounded in traditional Catholic social teaching (and the theology of Vatican II) found the statement mealy-mouthed. But, as he also observes,

Ominously, however, conservative younger bishops cited a different reason for wanting to kill the statement: like good Republicans, these younger princes of the Church increasingly reject Catholic social justice thinking: they believe that the Church should support private charity, and that bishops should restrict their statements to "matters of faith."

And it's those right-wing younger bishops, whose understanding of the Catholic faith is not strongly grounded in Catholic social teaching, but who grew up after the Reagan revolution and who take neoconservative politics and reactionary restorationist Catholicism for granted, who increasingly dominate the U.S. Catholic episcopacy. They were put into place by John Paul II and Benedict to do precisely that.

And the effect on American Catholicism has been lamentable, and will by all indicators grow only more grim in days to come, as many Catholics simply walk away from the highly partisan Republican machine into which these bishops are turning the American Catholic church.

I'm also impressed with the list of underreported stories from 2012 that Bill Moyers has compiled, with the assistance of the editors of progressive news sites like Alternet, Truthout, Common Dreams, The Root, and Tom Dispatch. These include "the accelerated spread of poverty and concentration of wealth in the United States" (Don Hazen at Alternet) and the "media blackout" of accurate stories about climate change that recognize the connections between environmental destruction, the oil industry, Wall Street, and the corporations that own and control the mainstream media (Craig Brown, founder and director of Common Dreams).

What are your thoughts about underreported news stories of the year, readers?

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