The media’s sins of omission

Sep 11, 2018 by

by Damian Thompson, UnHerd:

Imagine a political party with a billion members. Its leader is credibly accused of covering up the activities of a network of sexual predators holding high office in the party. He refuses to say anything.

The organisation could fall apart. This crisis will disturb the lives of the hundreds of millions of people who take their party membership seriously. Yet the international media are in no hurry to cover the story. And, when they do report it, they try to discredit the party members pointing their fingers at the leader.

I’m sure you’ve guessed the identity of this ‘political party’: the Catholic Church. The mainstream media, especially in the English-speaking world, have stifled and twisted the allegation that Pope Francis rehabilitated Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington DC, knowing that he was a serial sex predator. Worse still, Francis brought this dirty old man into his inner circle and appointed his protégés to top jobs in America and the Vatican.

The allegations come from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who served as Francis’s own nuncio (that is, ambassador) to the United States from 2011 to 2016. They’re incredibly detailed. The most startling revelation is that Francis lifted sanctions placed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI, who – knowing that the American prelate was suspected of seducing young seminarians – tried to force him into silent retirement. Viganò thinks Francis’s actions are so disgraceful that he wants him to resign as Pope, and all McCarrick’s friends in the US hierarchy to follow suit.

The media immediately set about trying to find holes in Viganò’s 11-page testimony. Fair enough. If Viganò – a conservative who couldn’t stand Francis – was telling lies, then they should be exposed.

[…]  Fleet Street long ago dispensed with specialist religion correspondents. In their absence, editors turn to ‘progressive’ Catholics who babble like Hillary Clinton about a vast right-wing conspiracy against cuddly Francis.

It remains to be seen how journalists will deal with further revelations about Francis that we can expect over the next few weeks. These may finally compel them to address the actual story rather than trying to shoot the messenger.

But by then it will be too late: the media will have become part of the cover-up.

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