Monday, March 29, 2010

Reporting on the Church Scandal

The clergy sexual abuse scandal is once more being reported through newspapers, radio, television and the Web. Only this time, it involves Catholic clergy in Ireland and Europe. The New York Times has been publishing stories that brings into question Pope Benedict’s knowledge of the abuse, as an Archbishop, a Cardinal in the Vatican, and as Pope; and his failure to act on that knowledge. John Allen, on the National Catholic Reporter Website, has been offering clarifications on the story, that all should keep in mind. In America magazine, Web columnist, Michael Sean Winters, blasted the New York Times for inaccuracies in their reporting.

After reading all this, and listening to radio and television interviews of Allen and Father Thomas Reese, SJ, I suddenly realize that there is a difference in the reporting of these current scandals, compared to the reporting of the American Church scandals. Back then, some of the newspapers, the Boston Globe in particular, had religion reporters who could provide context and deep background. They were religion literate, who knew their subject and could get beneath the surface of a story. Now, most news outlets no longer have such reporters on their staff, and you can tell this in some of the reporting.

This means that those of us who are concerned about the Church, need to look at the reports that have come out, and will come out; with open eyes and minds.

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