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Catholics and Contempt

Catholics and Contempt

How Catholic Media Fuel Today’s Fights, and What to Do About It

by John L. Allen

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The culture of contempt—the lust to wound perceived opponents who are seen not just as wrong but as evil— has become global in scope. Fed by the rise of “cheap speech” in media, seismic shifts in digital technology, and a boom industry based on selling outrage, people are increasingly unable to understand, much less dialogue with, their ideological rivals.

The Catholic Church understands itself as the evangelizer of culture; yet this culture of contempt has evangelized much of the Church. A distressing range of Catholic media platforms and commentators have introduced the poison of contempt into the heart of Catholic life. 

In this timely and important new book, Vatican journalist and Crux Editor John L. Allen Jr. offers a bracing analysis of our fractured Catholic media landscape. Examining six case studies of the culture of contempt wounding the Church—four from around the globe, and two from the United States—Allen offers not only a sobering look at the direction Catholic media has headed but an urgent call for it to change course.

More Info

Publisher: Word on Fire
ISBN: 978-1-68578-995-4
Binding: Paperback
Page count: 304
Dimensions: 5 x 8
Thickness: 0.88 (in)
Language: English
Release date: Jun 07, 2023
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About the Author

John L. Allen Jr. is the St. Francis de Sales Fellow of Communication and Media at the Word on Fire Institute and the President and Editor of Crux, an independent online news site specializing in coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church. Allen is also the Senior Vatican Analyst for CNN, the author of eleven books on Catholic affairs, and a popular speaker both in the US and abroad. He lives in Rome with his wife, Elise Ann Allen, who is a Senior Correspondent at Crux.

What People are Saying

“All those involved in Catholic media—not just professionals, but any Catholic with a social media account—should be wary of a growing culture of contempt. Jesus teaches us to speak the truth in love, but some of our discourse has become toxic and obscene. In this helpful book, veteran Catholic journalist John Allen shines a light on this harrowing problem and offers a way out. Read this book and learn how to contribute to a culture of compassion.”  

Bishop Robert Reed, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston, president of CatholicTV, Chairman of USCCB Committee on Communications

“When John Allen has something to say, we would all do well to listen. When John Allen has something to say about and to Catholic media, we would be fools to not pay attention. Catholics and Contempt is no mere condemnation meant to go viral, a punching down on fake news made by fake people. It offers an invitation, and a challenge, for Catholic media to be better, to strive to create good things, and to recognize the responsibility of sharing the truth of current moments and of the faith. This book is a gift, precisely because it reflects the very best of its author: it is challenging, measured, and sharp. I encourage you to pick it up, learn from it, and apply its lessons. ”  

Katie Prejean McGrady, author and host of The Katie McGrady Show on The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM

“John Allen offers a fascinating and insightful read that clarifies the confusion around some of the most explosive stories to have hit Catholic news. He presents a comprehensive lay of the land in Catholic media, provides a compelling perspective into the motives that drive and shape narratives, and calls for a cultural shift from contempt to honesty and respect. It is a timely read as we look for pathways forward that lead to a more healthy and unified Church.”  

Heather Khym, cohost of the Abiding Together podcast

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