What the media don't tell you and when they don't tell it
If ever there was a day when secular news coverage provided a lesson in the need for a reliable Catholic perspective on the news, today was that day. Consider:
- A CNN post bore the headline: Federal program denies grant to Catholic group to help sex trafficking victims. So if you rely on CNN exclusively for your news coverage, you now finally have that story: a story that was covered here on CWN nearly 2 full months ago! “Critics of the Obama administration were quick to scrutinize the move,” CNN reports. But CNN reporters weren’t so quick to scrutinize the Obama administration, were they? Stay tuned for future coverage on CNN. In coming weeks, the network might notice that the US bishops filed a freedom-of-information request about the reasons for declining the grant; that an initial decision in favor of the bishops’ program was overruled by political appointees; that a former director of the program explained how the new Obama-administration approach would harm victims of sexual trafficking; and that speakers at a Congressional hearing denounced the episode as a blatant show of anti-Catholicism. After unearthing those stories—give them a few months to catch up with all that—CNN reporters might finally notice that this is a story about religious liberty.
- From Fox News comes the story that sexual abuse of children has been a common problem in Hollywood. Do you expect that we’ll now see daily headlines about sexual abuse by movie moguls, and editorials calling for changes in the film industry? Not likely. But you must agree—don’t you?—that this story makes it clear that sexual abuse is inevitable when you hold people to the tough standards of celibacy that are required in Hollyw….Oh, wait.
- Patsy McGarry, the religion correspondent of the Irish Times, takes a sympathetic look at a scholar’s argument that sacramental confession may have aggravated clerical sex-abuse. The argument runs like this: Some priests who abused children confessed their sins. According to those who did so, and reported their experiences, their confessors did not make any special demands on them. Therefore, the “very process of Confession itself might therefore be seen as having enabled the abuse to continue.” Now if the abusers have been honest and accurate in recounting their experiences, and if the few confessors covered by these recollections are typical of all Irish priests, then there’s certainly a problem to be addressed here; priests should be instructed to treat sexual abuse seriously. But even in that worst-case scenario, the failures of some confessors do not justify an indictment of sacramental confession. Like abusers, liars and adulterers and white-collar criminals and petty thieves sometimes have their consciences eased by confession and then go out and commit the same sins again; does that mean that confession contributes to dishonesty and infidelity and fraud and theft? Count on it: this Irish Times article will be flourished by Irish government leaders as they pursue their drive to require priests to break the confessional seal.
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