EDITORIAL: Chaput’s criticism of media ignores facts

Archbishop Charles Chaput, in his latest weekly column written for the 1.5 million Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, seems to blame the media for the church’s recent problems.

He refers to a Gallup Poll in which 60 percent of Americans have little or no trust in the mass media’s ability “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.” He claims media coverage of religion “has been eroding in both quality and fairness for years” and contains “a disdain for Catholic belief."

The fact of the matter is, if it were not for the media, Americans would most likely never have known the extent of the clerical sexual abuse that has occurred nationally and internationally in the Roman Catholic Church over at least the last five decades. More importantly, church officials might still be covering up this abuse by handling complaints on their own and not contacting civil authorities, thereby allowing suspected pedophile priests to have continued access to children of all faiths.

Before 2002 when the child molestation conviction of a Boston priest first broke the scandal open nationwide, church officials handled abuse complaints by sending suspected predator priests to church treatment clinics, then often sending them to new parishes where the faithful had no knowledge of the suspected pedophile’s history. This pattern was documented in the last 10 years by two Philadelphia grand juries. They found that not only did church officials fail to turn suspected pedophiles over to law enforcement officials, they ordered other priests and nuns to leave matters to them if child abuse was suspected.

In fact, the defense of the Rev. Monsignor William Lynn at his recent trial was that he was only following the orders of his now-late s...

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