In the Catholic media today, it is becoming harder all the time to keep a free space for public opinion inside the church. A fictional letter from a hierarch may help to illustrate the pressures. He is writing to the editor of an independent Catholic journal, with which he is not entirely pleased.
I was glad to have the chance of a full and frank exchange about the policies of your journal when you came to see me. Let me now write to follow up on our discussion.
Your journal is independent. The church does not pay for you and the church does not authorize you. Like the free media everywhere, therefore, you live by the marketplace. If people buy your journal, it prospers. If they don’t, you go out of business, unless you can find a patron to subsidize you. You pride yourself on this—you are free, you say, you are not controlled, you are not a puppet, you are not in the business of public relations, you can speak truth to the authorities without fear or favor.
I keep trying to explain this to Rome. Part of the trouble is that they think all Catholic media are owned by local bishops and are their mouthpieces. For the Roman curia, therefore, I am held to be at fault if you seem to step out of line. You must be reflecting my real views, they say to themselves. If not, why...