By any measure, the summer of 2017 has been an unusually rocky one for the Catholic Church.
Over the course of just a few weeks in June and July, the Vatican was hit by alleged financial crimes by administrators of its children’s hospital, the controversial ouster of the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican Finance Chief Cardinal George Pell facing a legal firestorm over sexual abuse charges in Australia, additional priestly pedophile cases in various countries and the Vatican security force’s busting of a cocaine-fueled gay orgy in the residence of a leading prelate and ally of Pope Francis.
Where the major U.S. broadcast news networks are concerned, several of the above scandals have been played up quite extensively, while others, at least so far, have been totally ignored. For example, all the major domestic television networks have been covering Cardinal Pell’s travails, but none covered the cocaine-fueled orgy in a building right next to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Take the case of Spanish-language television leader Univision. True to its almost obsessive coverage of any and all priestly pedophile cases, on July 14 the network actually led its principal national evening newscast with news of one such case at an orphanage in Mexico.
MARIA ELENA SALINAS, NEWS ANCHOR, UNIVISION: These are the headlines: a priest is at the center of another scandal involving grave abuse of minors at an orphanage in Mexico that he was in charge of. Investigations indicate he raped the girls.
Univision, like other leading U.S. media outlets, has substantial numbers of Catholics in its audience, so major Catholic Church scandal news is obviously of legitimate interest and news value.
But the networks’ silence about the sudden exit of Cardinal Muller from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and especially the silence about the salacious scandal surrounding a high-ranking monsignor who is a secretary to one of Pope Francis’ closest collaborators, appears to be yet another instance of the media’s penchant for playing up scandals which are seen as damaging to conservative defenders of the Church, while sweeping under the rug those that are damaging to progressive leaders and/or agendas in the Church.