Of collars and quarrels - Catholic Courier

Of collars and quarrels

To the editor:

In the Courier’s August issue, letter writer Paul Vitale of Auburn writes castigating Courier columnist Father Richard McBrien, Notre Dame Theologian, on what Vitale says is the good father’s "convoluted theology" and further that he denigrates traditional Catholic teaching.

In his opening paragraph Vital writes referring to McBrien and I quote, "Taking off his suit and tie and putting on his collar has fooled very few." He is referring to a period when Courier articles by priests did not include pictures of the authors wearing the Roman Collar. The exception was the Bishop’s photograph. McBrien was shown as a young man in a suit and tie.

One evening in that time frame while browsing the cable channels I stopped on one showing an elderly, kindly, humorous, grey haired priest wearing his Roman collar while being interviewed by Fox’s Bill O’Reilly. The subject was the Catholic priest sexual scandals of the time. I was proud of that priest and how he presented a fair and balanced factual assessment of the problem. I then was stunned in reading the credits that the elderly priest was the same young McBrien in the Courier’s credits.

I wrote to the good father at Notre Dame asking him to please consider updating his picture and wearing the collar, stating if ever the church needed Priests that were proud to wear that collar then was the time. Much to my surprise he answered advising he had scheduled a visit to the photographer and would send one with the collar to the Courier. Months went by and no new picture. I wrote him again and he replied he did send one. I called the Courier who acknowledged receiving it. In the next issue the updated picture was presented but was cut off to his chin thus eliminating the collar. I wrote a letter to the Courier editors who corrected the picture to show the collar and soon all priests were photographed in kind.

Vitale signs off his letter and I quote, "Shame on the Catholic Courier for publishing his column."

I say thanks Courier for showing a balance of articles. We readers are fully capable of separating in our view the various opinions. Too, we respect an individual’s right to politely disagree.

John Compton

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous Courier format did excessively crop columnists’ photos, often obliterating Roman collars as well as ties, necklaces, foreheads and chins. Yet we have never encouraged priests to be photographed without their collars. We simply use whatever photo the columnist supplies unless we realize it has become quite outdated.

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