CNN 'Belief Blog' Piles on Comparing Penn State to Catholic Hierarchy

The liberal media is very eager to underline the parallels between the Penn State sex-abuse scandal and the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal. There are some. But the media elite betrays their enthusiasm to drag the church through the P.R. mud again by dwelling overwhelmingly on anti-Catholic activists to offer a rerun of everything that went wrong, and very little about what has gone right since newspapers blew the lid off the American church scandal in 2002.

No one should be shocked that CNN's so-called "Belief Blog" -- which of late has made an enormous deal out of promoting liberal "reforms" in the Catholic Church like throwing out all the biblical injunctions against homosexuality -- jumped eagerly in line. Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor, awarded 12 church-bashing paragraphs to not one, not two, but three "advocates for abuse victims."  Faithful Catholics just got a space for an official no-comment:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which represents the American Roman Catholic hierarchy, declined to respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Many abuse victims applauded Penn State for firing top officials and criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not taking similarly dramatic action.

Gilgoff did end the story with fairly objective analysis from two religion reporters, but neither was defending the church. Memo to Dan Gilgoff: You may call me and other Catholics at (703)683-9733 for comment when officials won't talk.  But you didn't want anyone to defend the church, or you might have made another phone call. I would tell you the Catholic priest scandal was much worse than a football coach scandal, because a football coach doesn't make solemn vows to God to shepherd souls with the deepest love and integrity. But to drag the church through the mud now is a gratuitous cheap shot.

The Gilgoff story began:

Both are managed by male dominated-hierarchies. Both are revered by millions of people. And both allegedly dealt with accusations of sexual abuse of children internally, without going to law enforcement authorities.

To many victims’ advocates, commentators and others, the parallels between this week’s allegations about how Penn State dealt with reports of sex abuse and decade-old revelations about sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church are uncanny.

Notice how liberal offense at any "male-dominated hierarchies" lead them to greater aggression? Even The Huffington Post can report that Protestant clergy sex abuse is a problem, but the media prefer to focus on the hierarchical church. "The idea of one big conspiracy appeals to us: 'The Church' did it and then covered it up."

Speaking of cheap shots, for those who may not be aware, CNN was one of those networks to leap immediately in 1993 on abuse claims against Chicago's beloved Cardinal Joseph Bernardin -- within church circles, a liberal favorite -- claims that were lated recanted as lies. Oops. CNN's Bonnie Anderson even said "at that point, as a journalist, it did not matter whether she believed [accuser Steven] Cook or not." (This is especially sad when CNN would delay for months on sex-harassment charges against Bill Clinton -- because somehow, he was holier and more perfect than Cardinal Bernardin.)

The scandal erupting in 2002 uncovered real abuse, broad and deep. But anti-Catholic activists for victims receive absolutely zero scrutiny. Once again, Gilgoff, like other lazy anti-Catholic reporters, quoted David Clohessy without doing any legwork about his own priest coverups within his own family:

“Both institutions are big and powerful and hierarchical and have very carefully crafted public reputations that they value,” says David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “There’s an obsession with an institution’s image over children’s safety.”

Dave Pierre of NewsBusters has reported that David Clohessy covered up for his own brother, Father Kevin Clohessy.

David said he had known for years about the allegations and agonized over whether to report his brother to authorities. He even contemplated distributing leaflets outside his brother's church. But in the end, he did not go to the police.

"It will probably be a quandary until the day I die," said David ...

Then ... In April 2002, David learned that the Boston Globe was about to publish Kevin's name as a priest that the paper had identified as a child abuser. Rather than having his brother endure the sudden embarrassment, shock, and humiliation that so many priests face when they are unexpectedly thrown into the public spotlight, David called Kevin to warn him of the impeding news. "Thanks for the heads up," replied the abusive priest.

Pierre also noted recently that Clohessy plainly told Time magazine their vision at SNAP is to get Pope Benedict in handcuffs and have him thrown in jail like an international war criminal:

"We don't think the Pope will be hauled off in handcuffs next week or next month. But by the same token, our long-term chances are excellent. We've been around 23 years, and we can't count the number of times when church officials or church observers have said to us, What you're asking won't and can't ever be done. Ultimately, we believe that victims, witnesses and whistle-blowers across the planet will continue to come forward, and at some point the evidence and political courage will cause the ICC [International Criminal Court] to act. "

Is that where Dan Gilgoff and other journalists want to go? Putting the Pope in handcuffs? Can't they see that this displays an animus and an ideology that's worth questioning? Can't liberals and secularists be tremendously dogmatic?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis