Imagine if a newspaper disproportionately and endlessly harped upon decades-old crimes committed by black people. Even if the stories were all true, people would be rightfully outraged at the paper’s overt racism in consistently and repeatedly targeting the past misdeeds of people of one particular race. The public would never allow such blatant bigotry.
Such a comparison can be applied to the Boston Globe and the Catholic Church, except this bigotry is real, and there is no public outrage.
Today (Sun., 11/20/11), the Globe has a ridiculous, top-of the-front-page, 2,444-word article bashing the Catholic Church.
Three months ago, in August, the Archdiocese of Boston released a sweeping list on the Internet of all of its priests who were accused of abuse. Much to the consternation of many priests, the list even included those who have been exonerated.
Today’s article profiles complaints by critics of the Church that the archdiocese’s lists did not include the names of accused members of religious orders and members of other dioceses. Fair enough.
But today’s Globe article is remarkably dishonest for a number of reasons.
First, the objection by Church critics (about not releasing the names of religious order priests) was already widely aired and reported three months ago. Today’s Globe article simply rehashes this exact same issue with the addition of some different names. In fact, the themes and content of today’s hit piece are virtually indistinguishable from an article in August – by the very same Globe writer!
Second, the article profiles the case of a Rev. Czeslaw “Chet” Szymanski. The article quotes an anonymous accuser to give the false impression that the man was a known abuser. The Globe makes no mention of the fact that Fr. Chet was killed in a car crash in 1987 without any public accusations against him whatsoever, and his first accuser did not surface until 2009. (In nearly two decades of relentlessly pursuing the issue of abuse in the Catholic Church, the Globe has never cared to fully explore the issue of abuse accusations against previously unblemished and long-deceased clerics.)
Third, the article features a shifty individual by the name of Terence W. McKiernan, who runs a high-profile web site called BishopAccountability.org.
BishopAccountability.org will publicly post the names, pictures, and cases of accused priests, no matter how flimsy the allegations may be. A lone individual could invoke the discredited theory of “repressed memory” to lodge an allegation against a long-deceased priest with a previously unblemished record, and BishopAccountability.org will still do everything in its power to post the priest’s name and picture on its site as if the cleric were a convicted child molester.
Again, this dubious practice has never seemed to be an issue that concerns the Boston Globe.
(By the way, I personally busted McKiernan and his site a couple months ago for dishonestly violating their own posted policy of not posting the cases in which accusers have recanted their claims. Readers can learn about this episode.)
We must demand justice and compassion for victims of clergy abuse. This is not optional. Abusive priests devastated countless lives. They pulverized the faith of legions with their revolting, criminal, and sinful acts.
But fairness and perspective have long gone out the window in the reporting of the Catholic Church abuse narrative. Egregious prejudice and bigotry have taken over.
Anti-Catholicism is alive and well at the Boston Globe.
-- Dave Pierre is the author of the book, Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church. Dave is also the creator of TheMediaReport.com and is a contributing writer to NewsBusters.