Action Alert!

deja vu in the British press

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 07, 2009

Two different London newspapers carried stories this week about a Vatican official who was cruising slowly through Rome's red-light district, and when police tried to stop his car he set off on a high-speed chase, causing a crash that injured three police officers before he was finally arrested.

Does this sound familiar? It should.

The incident described in the London papers actually took place more than three years ago. The prosecution's case against Msgr. Cesare Burgazzi has just now come up in court, so a few reporters-- perhaps new to the Italian beat-- ran with the story as if it was news. Sure enough, their reports percolated through the internet and were picked up by various bloggers and second-hand news merchants, and the unfortunate Msgr. Burgazzi had his second 15 minutes of international notoriety.

If you read this week's stories carefully, you'll notice that there is no mention of when the incident took place. So you can't actually say that the stories are false. But you can remind yourself always to question the accuracy of British reporters covering Vatican news.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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