The media are falling over themselves to relay a salacious report that the Catholic Church in the Netherlands may have surgically castrated "as many as 10 young men" over a half a century ago, in the 1950's.
The message from these outlets is clear: "The Catholic Church is bad, bad, bad. The news gets worse every day!"
A closer examination of the facts, however, reveals that there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye.
In an excellent piece of investigative journalism at GetReligion, George Conger suspected that there may be some important context missing from this story, such as, "How many people were castrated in the Netherlands during this period?"
Conger then found an important academic journal article that reported that 400 men were castrated in the Netherlands between 1938 and 1968 as part of a government eugenics effort. Not a single media outlet reported this.
So, in other words, the 10 cases allegedly involving the Catholic Church would account for a mere 2.5% of all the cases in the country.
And Conger notes that that it was the Dutch government that was ultimately responsible for making castration decisions. Conger asks, "Could the Catholic Church order the castration of a young man? How was that possible?"
Regarding the article from the New York Times, Conger concludes:
"Professionally this is sloppy work. It is also offensive. The Catholic pedophile scandal in Holland is a horrific case of abuse, betrayal and evil. Tossing the incendiary charge of castration into this cesspit of moral corruption cheapens the suffering of those who were abused. It tells the true victims of abuse, 'well it could have been worse, you could have been castrated'."
Bravo to Conger.
In yet another attempt to discredit the the Catholic Church, the media has misled readers by not putting this story in its proper context and proportion. In other words, business as usual.
-- Dave Pierre is the author of the book, Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories. Dave is also the creator of TheMediaReport.com and is a contributing writer to NewsBusters.