The following email from Matthew Gambino, General Manager of the Philadelphia Catholic Standard and Times, was sent to me the other day. It concerns a letter to the editor of mine that the CS&T approved and edited for publication, and then in fact did publish, giving it a prominent "framed" space in the newspaper.
The letter mentioned a family wedding I attended in a Catholic parish in Media. I wrote about the general mayhem and loud talking among the congregation before Mass. The point of the letter was to attempt to address a problem that seems to exist in a lot of Catholic parishes today. In the letter I also expressed disappointment in the wedding homily.
This letter, as I said, was approved for publication and then published prominently in the newspaper. I received many comments afterwards thanking me for writing it (from priests and neighbors). Almost everyone I spoke to agreed that the loud talking issue before Mass in many Catholic churches is an issue that should be addressed.
It should also be noted that I did not use the priest's name in my letter to the CS&T, but merely mentioned "the priest." He could have been a visiting priest. Regardless, the letter--my words--were initially approved for publication.
After my letter to the CS&T was published, I wrote the editor and asked if the CS&T would like to reprint an article of mine on sacred architecture previously published in The Philadelphia Bulletin.
I did receive a response from Mr. Gambino, but it was not about sacred architecture.
It shoud be noted that after reading Mr. Gambino's letter, I opted to telephone him as well. Mr. Gambino told me that he would have canceled my subscription had I been a subscriber to the newspaper. Mr. Gambino laughed at me when I pointed out that issues like wild talking and socializing before Mass need to be addressed.
The unprofessional behavior of the CS&T is disturbing.
MY PUBLISHED LETTER IN THE CATHOLIC STANDARD & TIMES:
I attended a wedding Mass at this beautiful church about a month ago. It was my first time in Nativity and the architecture and interior design of the church seemed to promise an equally beautiful ceremony. As a side note, it was good to see that the "remodeling" frenzy that followed Vatican II did not harm Nativity in any way.
While the church was beautiful, I was disappointed in the quality of the Mass at this particular wedding. Before Mass, people stood and talked--in fact, they talked quite loudly--all over the church. Initially there was a tendency to whisper but this soon gave way to reception-like normal voices, and even laughter. Gone was the traditional quiet one used to expect (before Mass) in Catholic churches. It was like sitting in a cafeteria and watching old friends say hello to one another after slapping each other on the back.
The pastor should address this problem in one of his sermons in the future. There was plenty of time to chat and "get down" after the Mass.
Another disappointing thing about the Mass,was the homily. The priest, rather than using the pulpit to speak, stood in front of the couple and talked to them like he was chatting them up in a bar. He kept saying, "Wow, they met in Barnaby's, wow, isn't God great, wow, oh wow!"
I lost count of the "wow's" after a while, but many of the people around me in the pews seemed to be wincing. The off the cuff homily was pure stream of consciousness bar talk. The only thing missing was a high five and a baseball cap.
One expects something more formal at a wedding. A litany of WOW's might be okay at the reception, but we don't need to hear this very dumbed down and condescending talk in the middle of Mass.
Sorry to have to write this.
Date: Fri, 03 Jun 2011 12:25:43 -0400
From: "Matthew Gambino"
Subject: Re: Fwd: church architecture submission
Well, if it isn't Thom Nickels, the man who wrote a letter to the editor
which we published May 26. Publishing that letter was a mistake for
which I am truly sorry.
You could not stop at a good comment about the beautiful church. You
had to complain, as if there are not enough complaints in the world
today. You took a cheap shot at the priest -- you didn't have to name
him, he is the only priest at that parish. It wasn't enough that you had
to criticize his homily, you had to call it and him "dumbed down and
You couldn't bring yourself to keep a mean-spirited insult to a fine
man and fine priest to yourself. You had to express it. And so you
insulted him and every priest trying his best to preach and minister to
Again, I regret bitterly that we published your letter; we never should
have allowed such garbage in this newspaper.
Please, save your strength in the future. Send no further
correspondence or phone calls or any communication to the Catholic
Standard and Times. I wanted to cancel your subscription but I see you
are not a subscriber.
Keep your complaints and your negativity to yourself. The world does
not need them. Make the gripe article you sent the last thing you ever
send this newspaper. Your name will never appear in it again.
Director and General Manager
The Catholic Standard and Times
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103