Quick Hits: press coverage of Islam and violence; police too ignored abuse complaints

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 16, 2016

  • The Bridge Initiative is unhappy with the coverage of Islam provided by Catholic World News (among other outlets). In a report on Catholic public attitudes toward Islam, the Bridge Initiative—an initiative of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown—finds that 45% of Catholics think Islam “encourages violence more than other religions around the world.” And why might that be?
    The headlines of Catholic articles dealing with Islam have a negative sentiment overall, and the primary emotion conveyed is anger. Of the online Catholic outlets examined, Catholic Answers and Catholic Culture had the most negative sentiment in their titles related to Islam.

    The Bridge Initiative is dedicated to inter-religious understanding; CWN is dedicated to providing world news. Unfortunately, news headlines in recent years have often involved acts of violence, committed by radical Muslims. The Georgetown group shows a strong preference for news outlets that quote frequently from statements by Pope Francis about Islam, which have been overwhelmingly positive. But the Pope has, it seems clear, deliberately avoided mentioning Islam in his comments on terrorist violence. So the substance of the Bridge Initiative complaint seems to be that in the editorial judgment of CWN, it is more newsworthy when terrorists murder people, citing their zeal of Islamic law, than when scholars meet to say that Islamic law does not justify murder. And if we sound angry about the shedding of innocent blood, so be it.

  • The Kansas City Star has found a pattern of “gross negligence” in the handling of sex-abuse cases by the city’s police department. “Never in my career with the KCPD have I seen such a systemic failure,” wrote one investigating officer. Catholic readers may recall that it was in Kansas City that a Bishop Robert Finn became the first American prelate convicted of criminal charges, and subsequently resigned, because of his mishandling of sex-abuse complaints. The fact that the local police department had a much worse record does not excuse the failures of Bishop Finn. But it does provide a timely reminder that while the Catholic hierarchy has been singled out for public criticism (and I am quite willing to agree that the Church should be held to a higher standard), other institutions—the police, the judiciary, the press, yes even the Boston Globe-- have also been culpable of ignoring and even covering up clear evidence of abuse.

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: R. Spanier (Catholic Canadian) - Sep. 20, 2016 12:18 AM ET USA

    The ACMCU was established with a $20 million gift from HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia. It's Founding Director, John Louis Esposito, is the Bridge Initiative's Project Director. The Bridge Initiative is not "dedicated to inter-religious understanding". Rather, its stated mission "is to highlight the problem of Islamophobia" which it defines as "prejudice towards or discrimination against Muslims..." but isn't "Rational criticism of Islam or Muslims based on factual evidence..."

  • Posted by: winnie - Sep. 19, 2016 4:11 PM ET USA

    Saudi Prince Alwaleed gave Georgetown $20 million dollars in 2005. Saudi Arabia lives by and exports a radical fundamentalist fiorm of Islam. No wonder the Alwaleed Center is critical of your truth-telling. As the old adage goes," He who eats my bread sings my song."