Boston Pilot Front Page Problems

A few eyebrows were raised at BCI upon seeing the front page of the current issue of The Pilot.  We will cover the issues in two parts. The first concerns the article, “Labor secretary says parents’ example of faith, hard work shaped her,” which highlighted the “Catholic faith” that motivates Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, but failed to mention she is pro-abortion.

As most BCI readers know, BCI primarily focuses on governance issues and typically stays out of ideological issues because there are many other blogs that make those their focus. But sometimes we find that something rather obvious hits us in the face, and after prayerful consideration we may decide to cover the factual information about the situation.  Today is one of those.

The article (or better put, a “puff piece”), “Labor secretary says parents’ example of faith, hard work shaped her“, comes from Catholic News Service (CNS), a financially and editorially independent division of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here is how CatholicCulture critiqued the piece:

In an article that is appearing in diocesan newspapers across the United States, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is presented as a model Catholic politician. The article begins:

The office of Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis includes images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a glass crucifix and a sculpture of Mary and Jesus. Her Catholic faith, she said, “is a part of my life. My faith is what motivates me.”

The lessons her faith teaches about hope, about helping others, about seeking higher things is something woven into the fabric of her daily life, she said. “I do it in a quiet way,” she said.

The laudatory profile by Catholic News Service, an independent division of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, fails to mention Solis’s record on the sanctity of life: she has earned a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America for her uncompromising support of legalized abortion.

Catholic World Report opined:

“…this glowing account of a Catholic public servant fails to mention a couple facts about her time in office, including her 100% pro-choice rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America (and a corresponding 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee).

A few seconds spent with a Google search on “Hilda solis abortion” get these results:


Click the first link to OnTheIssues.org and you will see that this is not necessarily someone who should be held up on a pedestal as the role model of a Catholic politician in public life:

* Voted “yes” on allowing and expanding embryonic stem cell research
* Voted “no”on the federal partial-birth abortion ban
* Voted “no” on restricting interstate transportation of minors for abortions
* Voted NO on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime
* Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life
* Recommended by EMILY’s List of pro-choice women
* Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record
* Rated 0% by the National Right to Life Committee, indicating a pro-choice stance

In addition, Solis, along with 47 other Catholic members of Congress, sent a letter in 2006 to then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington D.C. in order to dissuade him from refusing them the sacraments because of their pro-choice legislative voting. Solis signed a “Statement of Principles,” released to the public on February 28, 2006, which affirmed Catholic Democrats’ commitment to their faith as well as disagreement with the Roman Catholic Church on some issues. They stated that on those issues, such as abortion rights, they decided to follow their conscience instead of the Church teachings.

No mention of the above facts is found in the Catholic News Service profile of Solis, republished by The Pilot.

Catholic World Report concluded, “What a pity that of the many faithful Catholic public servants working tirelessly to promote authentic human flourishing in our country, CNS decided to highlight one who has demonstrated such a lack of concern for the most vulnerable among us, especially as we head into the Labor Day weekend.”

BCI feels criticism lies with CNS, but it also lies with the editors of The Pilot for running the CNS piece. Although the article was not written by The Pilot, someone at The Pilot decided to run it, and to run it on the front page of the paper where it gets the most prominent attention. How does The Pilot vet CNS articles and decide whether or not to run them?  How do editors at The Pilot and other diocesan newspapers send a clear message to CNS that this sort of “Catholic journalism” is misleading to faithful Catholics?

BCI will write to both The Pilot and CNS to ask for their response to these concerns, but you can and should as well. Write to Tony Spence, director and editor-in-chief at CNS at: tspence(at)catholicnews.com and Antonio Enrique, editor of The Pilot at editorial(at)thebostonpilot.com.

Note: this post is about the matter of the publishing of this article, and this post is not about whether bishops should refuse Communion to Catholic pro-abortion politicians. Please do not go in the latter direction in your comments.

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16 Responses to Boston Pilot Front Page Problems

  1. Pilot Reader says:

    The Pilot is usually very good. Their editorials and opinion pieces are usually very solid. The only problems they’ve had are with CNS (Catholic News Service) opinion pieces and articles.

    Big shame on Solis for wrapping herself in the Catholic faith for political gain and then selling out our faith when it comes to her votes and advancing her career.

    Big shame on CNS (USCCB) for this puff piece on a leader who calls herself Catholic but doesn’t care to be formed and informed by Church teaching.

    Lesser shame, but shame nonetheless, on the Pilot for trusting a puff-piece-profile on an Obama appointee without doing the google search you suggest.

    I recommend that readers also email Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, the general secretary at the USCCB, and ask him to convey to the USCCB administrative board & Archbishop Dolan (USCCB President) that CNS profiles like this undermine the practical application of Church teaching and someone at CNS should be reprimanded (“don’t let it happen again”) or fired (if the editorial staff/reporter has done these sort of things in the Mass).

    • Good idea to also contact Msgr. Jenkins. BCI believes the email address for Msgr. Jenkins is rjenkins(at)usccb.org. (By the way, did you mean to say that someone at CNS should be fired if they have done these sorts of things in the “past” instead of in the “Mass”)?

    • Lazarus' Table says:

      Pilot Reader, I think that is precisely the ‘political gain’– when a ‘public’ Catholic sells out his/her faith for ‘popular advantage’. Catholics are very welcome in the political arena so long as they don’t take their Catholicism too seriously or allow it to influence their decisions. It allows for a slow but steady erosion of respectability for the Catholic faith while at the same time making the Catholic faith less a threat to those opposed to it.

  2. Little Red Hen says:

    I read only the first paragraph of the article and wondered how any faithful Catholic could end up in a cabinet-level post in the Obama administration — I should think that adherence to Catholic teaching would be a disqualifying factor. Why didn’t the Pilot staff think of this, too? Like Pilot Reader, I agree that they are to blame for not getting the facts.

  3. Fr. Bill says:

    DOUBLESPEAK is not new to the media, the church or politics …
    it all reminds me about the what the Lord says about the Luke Warm …

  4. Mack says:

    The article is very troubling, yet revealing in a certain way. It mentions images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the crucifix, a statue of Jesus and Mary — it’s as if she thinks these symbols are the only thing that matters. I’m all in favor of religious symbols, but to use them externally without realizing what the faith means, is useless. It shows the gap between faith and culture.

    It reminds me of Jeremiah’s famous Temple sermon — “The Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord!” and the people apparently thought that all that mattered was the external practice of religion. Jeremiah had a few choice words about that.

  5. The comment from Jack has been removed.

  6. TheLastCatholicinBoston says:

    Jack,
    That would be the anti-orthodoxy, new vision, Vatican 2 Am-church.
    There is hope that Benedict is working on crushing this demon.

    Re; the matter of the publishing of this article…
    I love the Pilot, I get it free at my parish, it makes great kindling to start my wood stove. It is a great resource for news about the diocese, kind of like a school newspaper. I consider the article in question to be par for the course and of very little surprise.

    • Concerned Catholic says:

      Last Catholic,
      I agree that the decision to include the profile on Solis from CNS was a bad one. But I call on you to back up your “par for the course” comment. Please identify 3 other articles over the past 6 months that you consider on par with this one.

      The Pilot made a mistake on this one but overall it is an orthodox and good expression of the Catholic faith, much better than many other Catholic newspapers.

      • TheLastCatholicinBoston says:

        I prefer the Wanderer. You consider the article on Solis a bad decision, I consider it an outrage and an affront to the faithful.

        I’m glad you are concerned.

        To me it has always read like an in-house newsletter for the diocese with two notable exceptions:Clark Booth on the Bruins and Mike Pukulic;he writes like a Catholic man should. Inclusion of these writers preserve the spirit of John Boyle ‘OReilly The Pilot founder and author of ‘Ethics of Boxing and other Manly Sport’; among other writings…

        My assessment of the Pilot today in general is that it is a soft-hitting provincial and quaint paper representing some not particularly orthodox consensus of what it means to be a Boston Catholic in today’s world. Things may have changed, and I promise I’ll take a peak before the next yule log.

    • Bob of Newton says:

      I agree with TheLastCatholicinBoston. Why call attention to anything The Pilot says? Why give it face time? I am 71 years of age and, until I saw it mentioned today, I thought it was out of business many, many years ago. Frankly, I would not know where to find it even if I were inclined to read it. Look at the stats: 10-15% of the RCAB population attends Mass regularly. If it is available “free”, how many of those 10-15% are going to pick it up and read it (or even use it for kindling). I bet BCI has a higher readership!!!

  7. Alice Slattery says:

    I was surprised that the editor of the Pilot didn’t at least do a Google search on Sec, of Labor Hilda Solis before deciding to print that front page article falsely presenting her as a wonderful model of a faithful Catholic. But I do applaud the editor for printing articles by Dale O’Leary,such as,”Protecting children from toxic education”(9/2/11,p.11). Printing her articles kind of makes up for the fact that The Pilot never revealed the fact that the GLBT educator from Boston, Kevin Jennings, who had been appointed as the Czar for “safe schools” in the Obama education cabinet, was in favor of promoting the program agenda to “Queer” our public school system. [edited by BCI because of lack of relevance to the topic of thic post]

    Thank God that Dale O’Leary has been very able to see through this charade [edited by BCI] Because she and other Catholic writers , such as Fr. Roger Landry and William E. May, have alerted parents to what has been going on [edited by BCI] Kevin Jennings recently has left the U.S. Dept. of Education.
    Perhaps the Pilot editor will print articles by Fr. Landry and Wm. Mays , as well as more of Dale O’Leary’s excellent articles.

  8. Lazarus'Table says:

    In its account of Jesus’ temptations, the Gospel tells us the devil saved his best, and most appealing, temptation for last. “I’ll surrended to you all the kingdoms of the world….IF you but kneel and worship me.” The same temptation when the crowds wanted to make Jesus king. As a king, Jesus would have had alot of power and influence. COuld have really changed things and helped HIs people. But he rejected both temptations.
    There’s a tendency in society today, I believe it is called synergy, where a person can hold 2 opposing views at the same time, invokinf whichever is more useful in a given situation. Liked “I personallyh don’t like abortion but I wont force my views on others.” Or, “I won’t allow my religious beliefs to influence my political decisions.” A divided heart. Divided loyalties. Trying to serve both God AND mammon.
    Jesus rejected that temptation. I wish Ms Solis had rfejected it, too. I hope God will help all of us to reject it.

  9. DBP says:

    Oh, please….like this is news for the Pilot? Antonio Enrique may be more centrist than previous editors, but this kind of sneaky leftyism has been around for years. To wit:

    - The former pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Southie (McDonnell?) used to write a “social justice” column on a weekly basis that would have made Leonardo Boff wince;

    - [edited by BCI; there is no confirmation to this point]

    - The paper ran movie reviews from CNS each week; one of them carried water for “Brokeback Mountain,” and failed to rate it “O” (Offensive) even though it clearly depicted homosexual activity in a positive light;

    - The Archdiocese ran off former editor Phil Lawler, who’s now enjoying a fine career as an editor, writer and journalist in his own right, because he was too “rigid;”

    - And (my favorite) former editor Fr. Peter Connelly (sp?) used to regularly feature fluff pieces on the Kennedy family, especially that lovable rapscallion Ted, who nearly singlehandedly made the case for an alternative Magisterium that supports abortion.

    Tell you what: ask the head of Boston’s Catholic Charities – the guy that is the big mover and shaker at 66 Brooks Drive and who is described by the Cardinal Archbishop as a wonderful priest – ask him what he thinks of Solis. You’ll get the same answer as you saw in this Pilot article.

    So what’s worse – Enrique publishing this garbage, or the same reality being espoused by your ‘catholic lite’ leadership?

    • Mack says:

      What are you referring to in regard to Fr [edited by BCI]? I don’t think he was involved in any scandal.

    • DBP says:

      Mea culpa. I stand corrected. Spoken in haste, regretted forever. I was thinking of another priest, the one who was head of Covenant House in New York. My apologies to all of the readers and most especially to Fr. [edited by BCI. It is best to not have incorrect information out there at all].

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