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a mote in the eye

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 19, 2003

The New York Daily News reports from the woodshed:

About 80 reporters and editors sat in stunned silence Friday as Msgr. Francis Maniscalo began his scolding at the diocese's annual World Communications Day luncheon. "To agree the story was real and that the media made a contribution by reporting it does not mean that, overall, the coverage did not also produce a severely distorted view of the bishops and their efforts," said Maniscalo, communications director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Maniscalo, an editor of a diocesan newspaper in the early 1990s, agreed the church scandal needed to be covered intensely by newspapers and television. But the monsignor noted that many journalists covering the scandal are unfamiliar with church law and dogma.

Excuse me?

If journalists had greater familiarity with Catholic doctrine and canon law, they would have been more critical than they were of the bishops' handling of the crisis. Further, chastisement over imperfect grasp of these matters should be directed closer to home than the press corps. Here are two excerpts from abuse-related depositions of Cardinal Law:

(June 5, 2002) Attorney Macleish: Are you familiar with the doctrine of broad and strict mental reservation? Can you describe what that doctrine is, please?

Cardinal Law: I'm not sure that I can describe it accurately. It feels like I'm in a moral theology exam here.

(February 3, 2003) Attorney Macleish: And you state: "After consultation with my canonical advisors, I write to suggest that the easiest way for this to go forward would simply to wait out the necessary five years and then proceed if you so decide in that way. Thus you would not have to reference to Rome and you would make the acceptance in accordance with canon 268 if you so choose."

Cardinal Law: And I'd have to see canon 268, but I think what that refers to -- and I stand corrected -- but I think the fact is I'm not giving approval.

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