The following is a genuine email exchange. Names and locations have been changed as appropriate.
From: J. [NAME@hotmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 11:52 AM
To: Perry, David
Subject: Your beautiful article on pope Francis on cnn.com
Thanks David for a very well written article on the pope.
non-believer perception of papacy, and of the catholic church.
direct hits with me, and I thank God that you wrote it as you did. I do
find Francis’ attitude, his behaviour, to be very refreshing, while at
the same time, not deviating from Christ’s core
teachings and those of the church. I do think that Francis, over the
course of his papacy, will have brought a large number of people to the
catholic church, or at least to Christianity as a whole.
Thank you so much for writing. It means a lot to me
when people read my work, think it makes sense, and reach out to let me
know. So much of the discourse on the internet is hostile or otherwise just noise and shouting, rather than conversation.
said, your comments have provoked a few thoughts that I thought I might
share with you. I would be very careful making assumptions about the
relationship between identity, especially public identity, and truth. I
do try to write in a pragmatic, careful, way, making only what claims I
feel I can support, as a way of building a case for my perspective.
while I don’t wear my religious identity in public, plenty of CNN
writers do, so I think you’re wrong there to see some kind of CNN
anti-Catholic bias. They employ John Allen Jr., of National Catholic
Reporter, one of the great writers on the papacy in the English-speaking
world. He’s on CNN all the time, including today, to talk about
Francis’ latest encyclical (which is quite something!).
the point, CNN also gives a platform to Bill Donohue, the
arch-conservative Catholic who has built a message of division and
rigidity into a highly profitable media profile. In fact, CNN published
an essay of Donohue’s right next to mine, in which he argued that
Francis’ papacy has a new tone but no new message. I disagree with
Donohue. I wonder sometimes how he can justify his positions and his
profits in light of Scripture, but I was glad CNN put our essays
opposite each other.
At any rate, I just wanted to suggest that
message and identity might not always be as linked as they appear, nor
do I see evidence of anti-Catholic bias in CNN opinion selections.
I really do thank you for writing. I am filled with joy when people
read my essays, consider them, and respond positively. It’s why I am a
P.S. I’m Jewish