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When FAIR is neither fair nor accurate May 5, 2008

Posted by Daniel Downs in church, justice, media bias, news, politics, public schools, religion, sexual abuse.
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The liberal leaning media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting demonstrated its conspiratorial campaign against the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict in a recent article. In the article titled Pope Gets Pass on Church Abuse History, FAIR begins by mentioning recent coverage by Washington Post and New York Times of the Pope’s persistent address of the past sex abuse problem. After paying retribution money in the multiple-millions, priest tried in court or removed from their position, and the development of new church policy, blood-thirsty liberals like FAIR remain unsatisfied.

FAIR resorts to typical liberal tactics of deception by employing resources they quote out of context to give legitimacy to their smear campaign. Referring to a 2005 article by London’s Sunday tabloid The Observer, FAIR says:

But has Benedict “persistently addressed” the scandal? Not according to London’s Observer newspaper. The Observer reported (8/17/03, 4/24/05) that in 2001, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, sent a confidential letter to church bishops invoking a 1962 doctrine threatening automatic excommunication for any Catholic official who discussed abuse cases outside the church’s legal system.

The Catholic League exposed FAIR’s fraudulent efforts in a recent news release. Catholic League president Bill Donohue points out:

“The document did not apply to sexual misconduct—it applied only to sexual solicitation that might take place in the confessional. By sexual solicitation it meant ‘whether by words or signs or nods of the head,’ the priest may have crossed the line. Because the policy was specifically aimed at protecting the secrecy of the confessional, it called for an ecclesiastical response: civil authorities were not to be notified because it involved a sacrament of the Catholic Church, not a crime of the state. Guilty priests could be thrown out of the priesthood and a penitent who told someone what happened had 30 days to report the incident to the bishop or face excommunication. In other words, the document detailed punitive measures for miscreants—just the opposite of a cover-up.”

Not only did the media experts at FAIR not read the Vatican documents, but they committed the unpardonable sin of failing to do any fact checking. The likely reason is a thorough trust of like-minded reporting by leftist reporters at liberal tabloids like The Observer.

Not only was Fair not accurate in their reporting, they were attempting to unjustly discredit the Pope based purely on old information. They used previous comments before Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope to somehow prove he was not genuinely sorry for the past abuses of priests or about ensuring the Church prevents future abuse.

For example, FAIR accused the Pope of dismissing early media accounts of the sex abuse scandal as a campaign against the Church back in 2002. Several facts should be pointed out: (1) The fact is the liberal media is biased against the Church; (2) Cardinal Ratzinger did make that statement; but (3) who could honestly expect a leading priest to suspect many of his associates were committing such terrible sin especially as reported by a biased media without sufficient evidence?

FAIR also brought up a case against a priest and head of a seminary in Mexico. Cardinal Ratzinger did not prosecute charges against this priest. However, when the cardinal became Pope, Benedict called for the priest’s resignation. Could it be that the Pope had additional information about the priest’s misconduct? The fact that the Pope removed the priest from service is not good enough for FAIR. Only destroying the reputation of the Pope and the credibility of the Church is apparently acceptable to the leftist media pundits.

FAIR’s biased and inaccurate reporting only proves that Cardinal Ratzinger was correct. It is only a bigoted media campaign to hurt the Church. FAIR’s liberal bigotry against the Church is further substantiated by the fact that not a peep of criticism has ever been heard by liberal media experts about the sexual abuse committed by public school teachers. As reported by NewsMax, sexual abuse committed by public school teachers and other staff is far worse a problem than the reported abuse by the Church priests.

The above commentary should not be construed as a Catholic defense. This author is not a Catholic, but he does respect the Catholic Church. The moral and ethical influence of the Church is still a vital necessity to achieving the kind of society envisioned by the people who established the United States in covenant with God, each other, and future generations. It is the legitimacy of the Church’s designated societal role that liberals seek to discredit in order to validate their contrary political agenda.

When the church leaders or individuals churches fail, a tragedy for both the Church and society has occurred that requires critical evaluation, preventative remedy, and restoration. Individual leaders who do evil are not the sum total of the universal Church of Jesus Christ. Stereotyping all church leaders is no more valid than stereotyping all educators because some have sexual abused children.

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Comments»

1. Isabel - May 13, 2008

FAIR’s response to the Catholic League can be read at: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3366

2. Daniel Downs - May 13, 2008

I did. I also read 1962 Crimen Sollicitationis document, and I still agree with the Donohue. The legal document is actually about priests making sexual advances or committing sexual acts in the context of taking confessions. The supposed cover up is due to the fact that the Church has its own court system, its own laws, its own penal system. Priests, church employees, lay persons are all responsible by Church law to report any sexual impropriety within a 30 day period or less. Those who fail to report may be penalized. Those take the legal affairs of the Church outside it may in fact be excommunicated. However, the threat was not meant to keep priests, bishops, or cardinals from revealing appropriate content by way of instruction to those bringing accusation of sexual misconduct of priests. The 1962 legal document and cannon also threatens priests found guilty of sexual solicitations or acts with the possible loss of their position as priest.

The question is whether priests who commit sexual abuse should be tried a second time by secular courts. The problem with it is related to the same confidentiality issues. If public officials are also accountable to the same justice, then my response is yes. But If parents of victimized children are willing to settle the situation privately, then I my yes is hestiatingly qualified.

Nevertheless, I still think FAIR’s reporting was biased and unfair concerning Pope Benedict.

3. Daniel Downs - May 13, 2008

I did. I also read 1962 Crimen Sollicitationis document, and I still agree with the Donohue. The legal document is actually about priests making sexual advances or committing sexual acts in the context of taking confessions. The supposed cover up is due to the fact that the Church has its own court system, its own laws, its own penal system. Priests, church employees, lay persons are all responsible by Church law to report any sexual impropriety within a 30 day period or less. Those who fail to report may be penalized. Those take the legal affairs of the Church outside it may in fact be excommunicated. However, the threat was not meant to keep priests, bishops, or cardinals from revealing appropriate content by way of instruction to those bringing accusation of sexual misconduct of priests. The 1962 legal document and cannon also threatens priests found guilty of sexual solicitations or acts with the possible loss of their position as priest.

The question is whether priests who commit sexual abuse should be tried a second time by secular courts. The problem with it is related to the same confidentiality issues. If public officials are also accountable to the same justice, then my response is yes. But If parents of victimized children are willing to settle the situation privately, then I my yes is hesitatingly qualified.

Nevertheless, I still think FAIR’s reporting was biased and unfair concerning Pope Benedict.


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