Thursday, February 9, 2017


Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP, says it so clearly.  In her article, "Catholic Social Media: Why Its Important to our bishops and pope," she lays the reasons why we need authoritative voices and as such, respect is due them. I've often bemoaned the false news and the angry tone often portrayed on social media.  Sister gives us these criteria to help us judge whether or not what we are looking or reading will really help us.

1. Does this article/writer/website give other people in society (lay leaders, politicians, Catholic organizations) more benefit of the doubt than the bishops or the pope?
2. Does this article either subtly or overtly make personal attacks?
  • Name calling or the use of disrespectful nicknames.
  • Attacks against a person’s character (i.e. judgments about a person’s inner life based on outward actions).
  • Negative judgments about a person that communicate condescension, bitterness, or contempt.
3. Is this article opinion or fact based? If an opinion, does the writer share his thoughts humbly while giving the people involved the benefit of the doubt? Or does the writer share his opinion as if it is fact while assuming the worst of those involved?
4. Does this article unfairly assume intention, make conjectures about a person’s inner life, and base analyses on guesses rather than facts?
5. Does this article present itself as sharing objective information in a journalistic style while subtly adding in phrases of opinion that sow doubt and direct the reader to make certain conclusions?
6. Does this article/writer/website hold up certain Church teachings with reverence and respect while dismissing other teaching as non-essential or simply wrong? Or does this article/writer/website gloss over certain Church teachings or subtly subvert them because they are seen as unpopular or uncharitable in the secular world?
7. Is this article’s headline sensational? Does it suggest something scandalous without clear evidence? What would a non-Catholic think upon reading this headline? Does this headline portray events in the worst possible interpretive sense?
8. Does this article use scare quotes to suggest intention and to manipulate readers to absorb the information or a person’s words in a certain way rather than allowing the reader to make his or her own judgments about what was said?
9. Does this article use logical fallacies? (Uncharitable articles are often full of bad arguments.)
10. Does this article/writer/website set itself up against the hierarchy as a “guardian of orthodoxy” or as a de facto alternate Magisterium? Or does this website set itself up against the hierarchy as a prophetic voice of correction and worldly common sense?
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Zeke Weeks

Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble

Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP, is the author of The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church. She blogs at Pursued by Truth.
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