Do Not Be Afraid

by | Mar 31, 2010 | Catholicism, Pope, Priests

During this Holy Week I am distracted by the inflammatory articles condemning Pope Benedict.  The media has taken it upon themselves to report only half truths in order to sell their anti-Catholic message this Holy Week.  If you inwardly cringed upon seeing these news reports, do not be afraid to dig deeper and then defend the truth and the Pope. 
The most enlightening information about this media created scandal is that the New York Times article which started this hysteria did not accurately and fully state the facts in the Father Murphy case.  In the 1970’s, the Milwaukee Diocese took action to remove Fr. Murphy from contact with children and purposefully did not give him a new pastoral assignment. The NYT leaves out the fact that the police were notified in the 1970’s of the accusations. This is most definitely not a case of the Diocese hiding sexual abuse or moving a priest around to a new congregation. Jimmy Akin at National Catholic Register does a wonderful job laying out the time line and facts, complete with links to the original documents for your review. 
Take a moment to read what Father Thomas Brundage, the former Diocese of Milwaukee judge, who presided over Fr. Murphy’s trial from 1996-1998, says regarding the media’s lack of accurate facts in the case, the Vatican’s involvement in the case, his own investigation of the abuse allegations, and the current stance of the Church on abuse cases.  Fr. Brundage states in part, “The fact that I presided over this trial and have never once been contacted by any news organization for comment speaks for itself.”

As always, Thomas Peters at American Papist and Catholic Vote Action provides an excellent compillation of articles and references guiding you through the myriad of anti-Catholic bigotry rampant in the mainstream press.

Discussing this latest media witch hunt of Pope Benedict with friends I learned that many people wrongly believe that a high percentage of Catholic priests are pedophiles and the Catholic Church continues to cover up any and all sex abuse allegations.  A 2002 survey for the Wall Street Journal-NBC News, found that 64 percent of the public think that Catholic priests frequently abused children.  This anti-Catholic slant is outrageously unfair, but not surprising given the media fixation on this issue.  While it would be unfair to blame the media for the scandal in the Catholic Church, the constant drumbeat of negative reporting surely accounts for these remarkably skewed results. 
  A 2004 study titled  Sexual Abuse in Social Context: Clergy and Other Professionals found that:
The issue of child sexual molestation is deserving of serious scholarship.  Too often, assumptions have been made that this problem is worse in the Catholic clergy than in other sectors of society.  This report does not support this conclusion.  Indeed, it shows that family members are the most likely to sexually molest a child.  It also shows that the incidence of the sexual abuse of a minor is slightly higher among the Protestant clergy than among the Catholic clergy, and that it is significantly higher among public school teachers than among ministers and priests.

More attention should be given to Pope Benedict’s unprecedented advocacy for those victimized by Catholic clergy abuse.   After being elected Pope, Pope Benedict’s first actions were in support of those victims and further disciplining members of the clergy.  Read “A Papal Conversion” by John L Allen, Jr. for additional facts on how Pope Benedict has led the church to address and face this issue.

Thomas Peters, offers us this advice: “Do not be afraid” – do not be afraid to learn the full truth about the Pope’s (lack of) culpability in these proceedings. Do not be afraid to ask the news outlets which have kept this story alive why they have a vendetta against the pope? Do not be afraid to ask if they are out to discover the truth or if they are out to silence the “inconvenient voice” of our pope?


Lisa Henley Jones