At Easter and Christmas, you can count on seeing a rise in stories in both print and video purporting to give “the real story” on Jesus and the Catholic Church. This year’s no different with a large portion of the news attention being given to a priest sex-abuse case from several years ago and allegations that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, had a hand in it. The problem is, as usual, that the media is making sure to omit certain facts about the situation. Deacon Greg Kandra of Beliefnet.com writes in his blog that New York Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is tired of the treatment. His homily from last night’s Mass addresses the facts and suggests that Catholics should not be silent in the face of this kind of action by the media:
In recent weeks, we have all been reminded of the evil that some of our brothers inflicted upon children. These men are our brothers and we all, priests and bishops, share some of the responsibility for the harm they have done, for we could not believe it was possible. For this reason, we must resolve to be vigilant in the protection of those young people in our care. We must humbly seek forgiveness of those that have been robbed of innocence and the faithful whose trust was abused.
I do want to take a moment to speak about The New York Times mischaracterization of the role of the Holy Father when he was Archbishop of Munich and then Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The fact is that the paper omitted significant facts with respect to the case of a certain priest in Wisconsin. The reality is that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not have competency over Canonical Trials in 1996 when the case is believed to have first been referred to Cardinal Ratzinger. Moreover, the priest in question, a Father Murphy, was in the midst of a Canonical Trial. He died before a verdict was rendered. The case of the priest in the Munich Archdiocese also is presented as a definite error of judgment when all the facts are not known.
Bishop DiMarzio goes on to speak of the Church’s standing policy today that any such incident is immediately publicized and reported to the local authorities. However, his point about this latest series of attacks is that we Catholics should not simply shake our heads at the unfair mischaracterizations in the media and go about life as normal. Speak up! Whether it will actually change any minds in the news rooms – and journalists are notorious for making up their minds early and not allowing any facts to get in the way of their narrative – isn’t the point. The point is in demonstrating that these editors have readers who know they’re not giving the whole story. They’ll continue to skew the facts and omit what doesn’t support their particular perspective, but they’ll know they’re alienating even more subscribers in doing so.
Read Bishop’s entire homily for more detail. It’s worth it.