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when

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 28, 2010

I won't be surprised if it rains tomorrow.

Did I just predict rain? No. I said it could rain.

By the same token, a leading Vatican official has said that the Pope could issue an apology for sexual abuse during a worldwide gathering for priests in June.

Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told U.S. public broadcaster PBS on Tuesday that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the pontiff issues a mea culpa at the meeting.

The Washington Post story carries a somewhat more provocative headline:

Vatican: Pope may apologize for abuse by priest

That's still not inaccurate; he "may" apologize.

And it may rain tomorrow. Then again, maybe not.

A few days earlier, there was no "may" in the headline that appeared in The Independent:

Pope will make historic apology for abuse

The Independent story quoted no Church official by name; it referred only to "Vatican sources." Those sources might have included Cardinal Levada or theoretically even the Pope himself. Or else the "sources" might have been a couple of the men who check bags outside St. Peter's basilica.

The point here is that headlines often promise what a story can't deliver. Yet headlines are what catch the eye. Keep that in mind the next time you read a story--or, perhaps, maybe just a headline--about the latest news from the Vatican. 

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