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And in the twisted-reporting category...

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 21, 2010

Today's award for the most flagrantly misleading reporting goes to...

(drumroll, please)...

Actually we have a tie.

Amanda Lee Myers, who wrote the AP story on Bishop Olmsted's statement that Joseph Hospital cannot be considered a Catholic health-care institution, shares today's award for starting out her report this way:

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman's pregnancy to save her life.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion...

Yes he did. And what would you call a surgical procedure that ended a pregnancy? 

But a headline writer at USA Today captures a share of the award for this gem:

Ariz. hospital loses Catholic status over surgery

The headline suggests that Bishop Olmsted was shocked to learn that the hospital does surgery. That's nonsense, of course. He was offended by a particular sort of surgery: the surgery that is performed to end a pregnancy by destroying the unborn child. There's a word for that surgery. Not a particularly fancy medical word. A word that we all know. Just one more letter than "surgery," so it would fit on the headline easily. Starts with an "A." Most journalists know the word-- and use it, on those increasingly rare occasions when they actually want readers to understand...


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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  • Posted by: steve.grist2587 - Aug. 30, 2017 5:24 AM ET USA

    Thank you for the insightful article. Clearly, our culture over-shares, without even considering the spiritual direction you suggested. If the unintended consequence is to legitimize the sin, then ill-considered sharing of past sins causes far more harm than good. Furthermore, given our depraved culture, revelations of more sin often seem gratuitous. (This discussion almost seems hypothetical since 'sin' is no longer a part of our cultural vocabulary.)

  • Posted by: philipjohnmorrissey9990 - Aug. 30, 2017 2:48 AM ET USA

    thanks. wonderful article for this time.

  • Posted by: Grace2014 - Aug. 29, 2017 6:50 PM ET USA

    Thank you.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Aug. 29, 2017 3:49 PM ET USA

    I also found it surprising that this came on St Augustine's day. What I got out of this is that Christians are reeking piles of manure who need to stay covered in snow. Yes there needs to be prudence about past sin, but the dynamic of sinners in relationship with the merciful love of God is fundamental to who we are as Christians. Much as many enjoy imagining the virgin Church also crammed wall to wall with innocent virgin Christians, repentant sinners witness the efficacy of the Resurrection.

  • Posted by: 1Jn416 - Aug. 28, 2017 8:50 PM ET USA

    I find it ironic that this was published on St. Augustine's feast day. If the Doctor of Grace held to this standard, we would not have The Confessions. There can be good reasons to share our sins and difficulties in certain circumstances with certain people. This is not to endorse a tell-all attitude by any means. But helping others by showing the work of God in our lives, and seeking support for moral areas we find difficult, are two good reasons to share at the right times.