Using the sexual abuse scandal as a backdrop, a dissident former bishop from Australia, Geoffrey Robinson, has penned a book on the Catholic Church. As a Statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference clearly articulates, Robinson's book is riddled with serious theological and doctrinal concerns. The Conference also concluded that Robinson's book ultimately questions a number of Catholic fundamentals, including:
- the nature of Tradition;
- the inspiration of the Holy Scripture;
- the infallibility of the Councils and the Pope;
- the authority of the Creeds;
- the teaching authority of the Church;
- the nature of the ministerial priesthood; and
- central elements of the Church’s teaching of faith and morals.
In other words, Bishop Robinson's book stands in stark opposition to the most fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith. So when the lowly Robinson wrote to Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony to inform him that his book tour would include a stop in his diocese, it was the duty of the Cardinal to deny Robinson permission to speak. Canon 763 of the Code of Canon Law and paragraph 85 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it the obligation of bishops to protect the the sacred deposit of the faith.
Yet it a brute display of dishonesty - or flat-out ignorance - two articles in the Los Angeles Times have given the utterly false and misleading impression that Cardinal Mahony denied Robinson permission to speak in an effort to silence the former bishop because of his views on the sexual abuse scandal. The Times's reporting is incredibly erroneous - and dishonest. The culprits are "Times Staff Writer" Duke Helfand and opinion writer Karin Klein.
In his book, "Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus," Robinson argues that the church's celibacy requirement has contributed to the sex abuse crisis. He openly criticizes the papacy for failing to provide leadership. And he wonders whether the Catholic Church has been more concerned with managing the scandal than confronting it.
Those positions have put Robinson squarely at odds with church leaders on three continents.
WRONG. Helfand is either being dishonest or dim in his reporting. As noted above, it is because of Robinson's doctrinal positions, not his positions on the handling of the scandal, that have put Robinson "squarely at odds" with church leaders. In fact, as their release clearly states, the Australian Conference PRAISED Bishop Robinson for his work during the abuse scandal. Helfand saw this and reported this. So why does he mislead his readers?
Helfand's agenda in the article is clear. He and the Times clearly want their readers to believe that the abuse scandal is the real reason that Cardinal Mahony denied Robinson permission to speak. And by all indications, Helfand's scurrilous goal was achieved. Days later, the Times published a number of indignant letters to the editor (6/14/08). One letter cried how "Mahony is trying to stop Robinson from speaking on the mishandling of the clergy sexual abuse scandal by the hierarchy." See how Helfand's dishonesty was interpreted? For Helfand and the Times, this is "mission accomplished."
The Times is clearly dedicated to going out of its way to portray the Catholic Church in the most unflattering way possible whenever it can. We've cited the Times several times before for its anti-Catholic tilt. (See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this.)
In the interest of space and brevity, this is only a portion of my full article at my personal blog, TheMediaReport.com.