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Time continues misrepresentation on Pope Benedict

December 15, 2010

In an issue that names Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook as the “Person of the Year,” Time magazine lists Pope Benedict among other important newsmakers, with a short piece that contains several glaring errors.

In reference to the Pope’s much-discussed statement on condom use in Light of the World, the Time article by Kayla Webley reports that the Pontiff “said only that a male prostitute may choose to use a condom to prevent the spread of the HIV infection.” That’s not quite what the Holy Father said. But the next paragraph of the Time piece is spectacularly misleading. Time reports:

It seems 30 years ago, during a brief tenure in Munich, the Pope, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, had transferred a known abusive priest to his own archdiocese, ostensibly for therapy. But just days after his arrival, the priest was allowed to serve among the flock and subsequent sexual assaults occurred.

The facts:

  • At the time in question, the future Pontiff held the title of Cardinal, not Archbishop.
  • Cardinal Ratzinger allowed the notorious priest to live within the Munich archdiocese while receiving counseling. He was not transferred “ostensibly” for therapy; he was admitted to Munich for that purpose and that purpose only.
  • The vicar general of the Munich archdiocese gave the priest a parish assignment without informing Cardinal Ratzinger. Notice how Time tries to finesse the question of responsibility by saying that he “was assigned’—thus creating the inaccurate impression that Cardinal Ratzinger made the assignment.

The facts of the Munich case are now widely known. If Time does not present them accurately, the reader is left to wonder whether the reporting is malicious or merely incompetent.


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  • Posted by: filioque - Dec. 15, 2010 7:10 PM ET USA

    This a pretty lame rejoinder to Time. First, it is irrelevant whether Archbishop Ratzinger was a Cardinal in 1980. He was Archbishop and responsible for the Archdiocese. Second, the assignment to a parish occurred two years, not a few days, after the priest went to Munich. As reported on March 16, 2010, "Father Hullerman was given a parish assignment in September 1982-- 7 months after Cardinal Ratzinger resigned his post as Archbishop of Munich...." You can do better.

  • Posted by: rpp - Dec. 15, 2010 6:20 PM ET USA

    I all charity, I find the, in general, the reportage found in "Time" magazine is not incompetent. While I may be wrong in this particular case, I think the explanation lies elsewhere.