CNN's Jack Cafferty slammed the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI during his regular commentaries on Wednesday and Thursday, for a total of three times during the course of a week, as he also targeted them on March 25. On all three occasions, Cafferty also read mostly Catholic-bashing e-mails from viewers.
During the March 25 "Cafferty File" segment, the CNN commentator wasted little time in trying to cast the Church in the worst possible light, forwarding the NY Times's recent slanted coverage of the abuse scandal: "Here we go again. Time now for another chapter in the tawdry tale titled: The Pope and the Pedophile Priests. The New York Times reports that top Vatican officials - including the future Pope Benedict XVI - refused to defrock a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys." He later asked as his "Question of the Hour" if Benedict XVI should resign. The five responses he read at the end of the hour all criticized the Pope and the Church.
Father Thomas Brundage, who oversaw the Church's canonical proceedings concerning the "Wisconsin priest," Father Lawrence Murphy, took the NY Times and the AP to task on March 29 for their coverage of this case. He stated that he hadn't been contacted by either organization to comment on the Murphy case, and that the two falsely attributed two quotations to him. Brundage also defended then-Cardinal Ratzinger against the charge that he was directly involved in the case: "I have no reason to believe that he [Ratzinger] was involved at all. Placing this matter at his doorstep is a huge leap of logic and information." The priest also credited the current pontiff for expediting the handling of sex abuse cases.
Almost a week later, Cafferty went further during his 6 pm Eastern hour commentary on Wednesday:
In the middle of Holy Week and with Easter right around the corner - the Catholic Church is launching a massive P-R blitz to defend the Pope's role in the growing sex abuse scandal. Instead of contrition and asking for forgiveness, get a load of the following:
The Vatican is pushing back against the idea that Pope Benedict the 16th should take personal responsibility for the child abuse scandal... and it's defending his management of abuse cases. Some Catholic officials are suggesting it was the previous Pope, John Paul the Second, who blocked investigations into pedophile priests....Pure garbage.
The real "garbage" is Cafferty's misleading spin. The Pope did ask for forgiveness on behalf of the Church. In his recent pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland, Benedict acknowledged the "often inadequate response" to sex abuse allegations in the country and noted that "in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children." He also apologized to the victims: "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured....It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel."
The commentator later had the audacity to ask, "Would the Catholic Church benefit from forcing Pope Benedict out?" The Church doesn't work that way, Jack! Cafferty would go on to read five more viewer responses, all of which took negative views of the Church. One went so far to call for the "extinction" of the institution, and paraphrased Karl Marx: "Since justice is unavailable from a foreign country like the Vatican, a boycott is in order. No more tithing or sending our kids to Catholic schools, or 'faith based' contracts. Drive them to extinction like any other evil corporation, an irony that Darwin would love. Snatch the opium from the lips of fools, they will thank you later."
During his Thursday "Cafferty File," the CNN personality first bemoaned how it was "sad that during the holiest period in the Catholic Church, the faithful are distracted by the sins of their Church," and again attacked the Vatican for defending itself: "The Church is lashing out at those who dare to expose the sexual abuse of children by priests. The Vatican plays victim, claiming it was 'attacked' by the New York Times during Holy Week." He also attacked the Catholic League Bill Donohue, though not by name: "One spokesman for the Church tries to write the sexual abuse of children off as a 'homosexual crisis.' Like that makes it ok... grown men abusing children is ok because it's a 'homosexual crisis.' Any excuse to avoid the truth."
That's another misrepresentation from Cafferty. On Wednesday's Rick's List, Donahue explained that "in 2004, John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City completed its study of this abusive question in the Catholic Church, studying priests between 1950 and 2002. What they found...was that 81 percent of all the victims have been male and that 75 percent...of these victims are post-pubescent, meaning that it's homosexuality driven. It is simply, flatly wrong. It's not a matter of my opinion to say that this is a pedophilia crisis. It's been a homosexual crisis all along. We need to talk honestly." In other words, Donohue wasn't saying it was okay, as Cafferty asserted, but that the scandal has been labeled incorrectly.
The commentator also went out his way to praise the lawyer pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the Vatican: "A lawyer in Kentucky- bless his heart, William McMurry, wants to try to get some justice for the tens of thousands of children around the world who could never speak for themselves." His "Question of the Hour" continued on this theme: "Should Pope Benedict be required to answer questions under oath about the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic Church?"
Unlike the two earlier commentaries, Cafferty did read one viewer e-mail which defended the Catholic Church: "Maria in Tucson writes, 'No. Now leave my father alone! Isn't anything sacred anymore? Why must we feel like we have to continue destroying everything as if a sense of vengeance will correct the past?'"