by Jack Rakosky

At 12:14 am this morning, April 30, the number of signers (23322) for the petition “Support the Sisters” at Change.org exceeded the number of signers of the WhatIfWeJustSaidWait petition.

It appears the “Support the Sisters” petition was initiated at 9am on April 23, 2012. It grew rapidly.
* By April 24: 10,000 signatures.
* By April 29: 20,000 signatures.

The National Catholic Reporter had is first story on April 18, 2012. Its blog on the issue, “Sisters under Scrutiny,” was started on April 24 with a “Support our Sisters” Facebook page.
* By April 29: The “Sisters under Scrutiny Blog” had accumulated 30 articles.

According to Google News, the sisters issue has generated many related news articles:
* Around April 18-20: about 829 related news articles.
* April 24: 335 news articles.
* This past weekend: an additional 181 articles.

At the National Catholic Reporter blog, Tom Fox writes:

I cannot recall any time in recent history that the Catholic church was highlighted twice in columns in a single issue of The New York Times. But this is the case today and … is yet another indicator of the tremendous outpouring of support on behalf of U.S. women religious in general.

Those two NYT articles (here and here) were listed as the two highest e-mailed articles yesterday evening.

The two petitions – one on the liturgical translation and one on the nuns – are similar in many ways. Both involve actions of the Vatican bureaucracy with a nebulous assisting role by American bishops. In both cases, line staff (priests, sisters and their collaborators) bear the brunt of the implementation of the changes required.

One large difference, however, is that while the liturgy petition involved something that affected the lives of almost every American Catholic, relatively few laity will be impacted directly by the sisters issue.

Why did American Catholics, the Catholic media, and the secular media not get very interested in the liturgy issue even though it affected directly the lives of American Catholics?

What can those interested in liturgical issues do to communicate better with American Catholics, the Catholic media, and the secular media?

Do those interested in liturgical issues need to get better organized? The WhatIfWeJustSaidWait petition had a very good mix of priests, lay ministers, and laity spread across the country, e.g. more than 200 in my diocese. Yet that network was not able to organize to get greater media attention and more petition signers.

How come?

Jack Rakosky, a regular Pray Tell reader, has an interdisciplinary doctorate in psychology and sociology, and spent twenty years in applied research and program evaluation in the public mental health system. His current main interest is voluntarism, especially among highly educated people at retirement age.

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