The “Catholic Church Attack Engine” at the Boston Globe appears to have filled up with gasoline this past week. On Friday they published a rather biased “Editor steers church paper into controversy“ piece going after The Boston Pilot–quoting, of course, the standard-bearer dissenting Catholics the Globe apparently has on “speed-dial” who are invariably quoted saying something critical about the Catholic Church. Today, we have a journalistic rehashing of the complaints from August that the Archdiocese of Boston excluded in its public list of priests accused of sexual abuse, those priests who came from religious orders or other dioceses.
BCI has said this before and will say it again, if the Boston Globe is really concerned about the sexual abuse of children and about victims having the courage to come forward with claims of past abuse, why has there been no investigation whatsoever of the matter of sexual abuse of children in public schools, where the problem is reportedly far more extensive, or a call for public disclosure of the names of public school teachers accused of sexual abuse of children? Why is that?
Front Page Hypocricy
This is to Michael Rezendes, reporter of the piece today in the Globe, “Many alleged abusers left off church list.” Your carefully-worded Wikipedia entry–written by username “Script8″ who, coincidentally, has only contributed on Wikipedia to your profile and nothing else–says the following:
For nearly a decade Rezendes was also a member of the Globe’s Spotlight Team, where he shared a Pulitzer Prize for investigating the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. For his reporting and writing on the Church, he also shared the George Polk Award for National Reporting, the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, and numerous other honors.
Rezendes was the lead writer and reporter on the opening story of the Globe’s series on the Church…In addition, Rezendes broke the stories about similar cover-ups by Church officials in New York City and Tucson, Arizona…Rezendes and the Spotlight Team were also Pulitzer Prize finalists for a series of stories that uncovered abuses in the debt collection industry.
As a Spotlight Team member, Rezendes played a key role in many of the Globe’s most significant investigations, including those probing the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, financial corruption in the nation’s charitable foundations, and the plight of mentally ill state prisoners.
This background suggests reporting skills which are not at all in evidence in your article today or your coverage of the problem of child sexual abuse in society.
Catholics acknowledge the pain that hundreds of victims of sexual abuse by clergy in Boston have experienced. And the Globe report begrudingly acknowledges that the extent of disclosure by the Boston Archdiocese “compares favorably with the vast majority of the nation’s 195 dioceses, which have released no official lists at all.” Michael, arguably the Catholic Church is now the safest institution in the world for children. You know that. After nearly 10 years of disclosures of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, surely you are aware that your own work has made it easier for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy to come forward and not fear they are alone.
So, if you and the Globe really give a rat’s @#$ about victims of sexual abuse, why have you not tackled the much greater problem of sexual abuse in public schools and other public institutions?
BCI is going to restate and add to what we said in this post back in August.
Why is there no effort by the Boston Globe and Attorney General Martha Coakley to have public disclosure of the names of public school teachers who have abused children? This article on LifeSiteNews says that according to Charol Shakeshaft, researcher of a little-remembered 2004 study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.” According to the 2004 study “the most accurate data available at this time” indicates that “nearly 9.6 percent of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.”
George Weigel, writing in First Things in 2010 said:
The sexual and physical abuse of children and young people is a global plague; its manifestations run the gamut from fondling by teachers to rape by uncles to kidnapping-and-sex-trafficking. In the United States alone, there are reportedly some 39 million victims of childhood sexual abuse. Forty to sixty percent were abused by family members, including stepfathers and live-in boyfriends of a child’s mother—thus suggesting that abused children are the principal victims of the sexual revolution, the breakdown of marriage, and the hook-up culture. Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft reports that 6-10 percent of public school students have been molested in recent years—some 290,000 between 1991 and 2000. According to other recent studies, 2 percent of sex abuse offenders were Catholic priests—a phenomenon that spiked between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s but seems to have virtually disappeared (six credible cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009 were reported in the U.S. bishops’ annual audit, in a Church of some 65,000,000 members).
Remember that number–six credible cases of sexual abuse by priests were reported in 2009 out of 65 million Catholics. In New York City, Archbishop Dolan shared word on his blog that the “rate of sexual abuse among public school teachers is 10 times higher than that of priests.” The statistics were from a NYS Special Commissioner of Investigation report that substantiated 78 abuse cases by teachers in 2009, and 73 such cases in 2010. There were 78 cases in just NY City Public Schools in 2009, but 6 across the entire Catholic Church nationally. Where is the problem, really? Why does the Boston Globe not insist that similar work be done in Boston Public Schools or across the state, and that a list of accused teachers be published?
On March 12, 2011, the NY Times published a report about widespread abuse problems in more than 2,000 New York state-run homes for the developmentally disabled. Despite a state law requiring that incidents in which a crime may have been committed be reported to law enforcement, state records show that of some 13,000 allegations of abuse in 2009 within state-operated and licensed homes, fewer than 5 percent were referred to law enforcement.
One might argue that is New York, not Massachusetts. Here in Massachusetts, in 2007 then-U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan reported on his study of 11 years of records at the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission. Sullivan found “very concerning neglect and abuse trends”, especially sexual abuse, in state-supported vendor-operated group homes for the disabled. In the report, he said:
“Unfortunately, after reviewing data from the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, our office did note some very concerning neglect and abuse trends in Contract Vendor operated community residences, as compared to the ICF/MRs and State operated community residences. These neglect and abuse trends, particularly sexual abuse, were of great concern to our office and shows that residents in our community homes are at a greater risk of being abused and/or neglected.”
What are Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Michael Rezendes and the crack Spotlight Team doing about the “very concerning neglect and abuse” of the disabled in state-supported homes? What is Attorney General Martha Coakley doing? Nothing that we can find reported publicly.
This 2001 report from the Guttmacher Institute says, “Almost one-third of females and nearly one in 10 male high school students in Massachusetts say they have experienced sexual abuse. Where is the outrage? What is the Boston Globe doing about this? What is Martha Coakely doing? Nothing that we can find reported publicly.
Martha Coakley is quoted as saying, “By failing to name the visiting priests and those from religious orders they’re sending a mixed message to the public…’’ Martha, how do you justify the mixed message YOU are sending to the public by your complete and utter failure to investigate and publicly disclose names of those guilty of sexual abuse of children in public schools or of adults in state-run facilities?
Yet the drumbeat goes on and the criticism continues, asking for the release of yet more names by the Catholic Church. How the Globe and Attorney General justify their front-page hypocricy to themselves personally and to the public is a mystery.
Is this paragraph by Rezendes an example of unbiased news reporting?
To many committed Catholics, his brown robe and sandals – the attire of a Capuchin friar – symbolized a refreshingly humble alternative to his predecessor, the imperious Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who resigned as archbishop and decamped for Rome after 58 of his priests signed a letter urging him to quit because of his handling of the burgeoning abuse crisis…
It is not even factually accurate. “Decamp” means “to depart suddenly.” Cardinal Law resigned in December of 2002 and he did not “decamp” to Rome after 58 priests signed a letter urging him to quit. As reported in February of 2003 by the Associated Press, Law, in fact, went to Maryland a few months after leaving Boston and was chaplain to the Sisters of Mercy of Alma. Perhaps Mr. Rezendes should reread the Globe archives to see the Globe’s own story from November 2003 that acknowledged Law was living in a convent in Maryland. It was not until May of 2004 that Law was named to his post as archpriest at Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. And where exactly does the reporter get his facts to justify the opinion of “many committed Catholics” that Cardinal Bernard Law was “imperious”? Would those “many committed Catholics” be the people he interviewed for this story?
Why Boston Archdiocese is Not Releasing Names of Religious Order Priests and Those from Other Dioceses
This is the explanation given by Cardinal O’Malley and the Boston Archdiocese in August 2011:
“Another issue to which I have given substantial consideration has to do with listing names of accused priests who are not priests of the Boston Archdiocese, but are religious order priests or priests from other dioceses. After careful consideration, I have decided to limit the names that are being published on our website to clergy of the Boston Archdiocese. I have decided not to include names of religious order priests or priests from other dioceses on our list because the Boston Archdiocese does not determine the outcome in such cases; that is the responsibility of the priest’s order or diocese. I recognize that, over the years, many religious order priests and priests of other dioceses have served within the territory of the Boston Archdiocese, including in assignments at our parishes.
In its 2004 report, the Archdiocese published information with respect to the number of religious order priests and priests from other dioceses who had been accused of abusing minors while serving within the Archdiocese. Archdiocesan policy is that, as soon as an accusation of misconduct is received against a religious order priest or a priest from a different diocese, we immediately notify law enforcement, as well as the superior of that order or the bishop of that diocese, and revoke the accused priest’s faculties to minister within our Archdiocese. Under canon law, it falls to the superior or to the bishop to investigate and evaluate the accusation, taking appropriate canonical action. I urge the religious orders and other dioceses to consider their own policies with regard to publishing the names of accused clergy. I hope that other dioceses and religious orders will review our new policy and consider making similar information available to the public to the extent they have not already done so.”
Bishop Accountability and SNAP
Terrence McKiernan, founder of BishopAccountability.org, is featured prominently in the Globe article. Yet oddly, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote the Globe story tells us virtually nothing about McKiernan, or about his organization. Who is McKiernan? It is virtually impossible to find much about his background anywhere. This piece from the SNAP 2009 Conference brochure describes him as follows:
Terence McKiernan founded BishopAccountability.org in 2003 and is the organization’s president. Terry holds master’s degrees in Classics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Bristol in England. Before his involvement in the church crisis, he was an academic editor and a consulting firm manager.
What led to his “involvement in the church crisis”? Various web searches turn up Terence McKiernan, 57, of Natick, and Terence McKiernan-White, a former copy editor for the Cornell University Press. But why does the Globe not share whatever other credentials and background that give him credibility and standing to be quoted in matters of Church governance, besides McKiernan’s self-appointment as the “president” of BishopAccountability.org? And who exactly are the main sources of funding for BishopAccountability.org? What is their budget? How is McKiernan compensated?
Then there is the matter of the agendas of McKiernan and his SNAP colleagues. BCI and others have said it appears they will never be satisfied.
This September article from Our Sunday Visitor,”Report Questions Motives of Clerical Sex Abuse Victim’s Groups” bears reading. Here are a few excerpts:
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and their allies have “decided to wage war on the Catholic Church,” says a report released last month by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Catholic League President William A. Donohue said he sent two trusted friends in July to observe SNAP’s national conference in Washington D.C. What they reported back, said Donohue, was an event marred by open hostility toward the Catholic Church.
“For three days, people were talking about an evil institution,” he told Our Sunday Visitor…
Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who has represented abuse victims, also reportedly said, “This immoral entity, the Catholic Church, should be defeated. We must stand up and defeat this evil.” Garabedian did not return a message from OSV seeking comment.
The Catholic League report says McKiernan “went on a rant” against Archbishop Dolan, accusing him of refusing to release a list of 55 “predator priests” and saying he hoped to “find ways of sticking it to [Dolan].”
McKiernan — who told OSV he is an orthodox Catholic who attends Mass, prays the Rosary and goes to confession — said he may have been “too opinionated” in his Dolan comments, but stood by his statement that the archbishop is not releasing names of accused priests.
McKiernan is a regular speaker at SNAP Conferences. SNAP, of course, has their own problems, like issuing a press statement Aug 10, 2011 to attack a falsely accused priest after he has been legally exonerated and the alleged victim found to have fabricated claims. (“The defense [for Rev. Borowec] produced evidence at trial that demonstrated the complaining witness fabricated the charges and was seeking attention with intent to obtain money from the church. Prior to trial, the prosecutor suppressed evidence regarding the complaining witness’s mental health history and prior false allegations she made against another priest”).
Here are a few pieces from TheMediaReport.com on BishopAccountability.org and SNAP:
Glaring Hypocrisy From SNAP in Penn State Abuse Story
“Do As I Say, Not …”
November 2011 -
Bravo! Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas Slams SNAP
“My take is that they have a hatred toward the Church. Their mission is no longer to assist victims, but is to strike at the Church and wound the Church.”
SNAP Misleads Public On False Accusations – Again
More frustrating dishonesty from SNAP.
No Fairness For Innocent Priests at BishopAccountability.org
Tarnished. (w/UPDATE: Anti-Church site admits “error”!)
Have Michael Rezendes or the Globe reported any of this information? No.
Has the Boston Globe ever reported anything about those priests falsely accused of abuse–and the devastation to their lives and health that come from false accusations aired publicly? No.
BCI will close by re-running this excerpt from the piece by George Weigel (“Scoundrel Times)” in First Things:
Yet in a pattern exemplifying the dog’s behavior in Proverbs 26:11, the sexual abuse story in the global media is almost entirely a Catholic story, in which the Catholic Church is portrayed as the epicenter of the sexual abuse of the young, with hints of an ecclesiastical criminal conspiracy involving sexual predators whose predations continue today. That the vast majority of the abuse cases in the United States took place decades ago is of no consequence to this story line. For the narrative that has been constructed is often less about the protection of the young (for whom the Catholic Church is, by empirical measure, the safest environment for young people in America today) than it is about taking the Church down—and, eventually, out, both financially and as a credible voice in the public debate over public policy. For if the Church is a global criminal conspiracy of sexual abusers and their protectors, then the Catholic Church has no claim to a place at the table of public moral argument.
BCI is sending this blog post to Mr. Rezendes at the Boston Globe. His email is email@example.com. At the end of this post, where it says, “Share this,” do us a favor today. Click on the graphic that says, “email” and send a copy of this post to Mr. Rezendes. Or, better still, copy and paste the post into a new email, and ask Michael one question: When are you going to run a spotlight series about sexual abuse of children in Massachusetts public schools and call for the public release of names of public school teachers with credible claims of sexual abuse against them? While you are at it, also send a copy to Martha Coakley <firstname.lastname@example.org> and ask her the same question.
Let us know if you get a response.