The Los Angeles Times has joyfully discovered a way to keep the clergy misdeeds of the Catholic Church forever in the minds of its readers and the public: the obituary page.
Take a look at the obituary of former bishop G. Patrick Ziemann. At over 900 words, it's not so much an obituary as it is a gleeful relishing by Duke Helfand and the Times over the sins of a Catholic authority.
1. A former Catholic priest comes forward Monday (4/20/09) to claim that another priest abused him as a teenager nearly 30 years ago. (The accused priest has no other similar public complaints and denies the allegations against him.)
2. A former school teacher was sentenced Wednesday (4/22/09) after pleading no contest to eight felony counts, including having sex with two girls under the age of 16. The man "admitted to having intercourse with the girls, performing oral sex with the teens and taking extremely explicit nude photographs of his victims -- including pictures of him with one of the girls - before sending the images over the Internet."
Now it's quiz time! To which story did the Los Angeles Times devote two generous color photos and a 640-word article? Which story did the Times totally ignore?
When a veteran middle-school teacher in nearby Santa Monica pleaded guilty last month to "multiple counts of illegal sex acts" and molesting nine young girls, the Los Angeles Times didn't feel the story warranted their newspaper. Although the Times had reported the teacher's original arrest and some follow-up last May and June, the news of teacher's guilty plea only went as far as the paper's blog.
Last November, a coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) filed a discrimination lawsuit against his employer. The suit included the astonishing charge that the district assigned a principal to a middle school even though it knew the guy had recently faced a molestation-related investigation. Within months of his new assignment, the principal was arrested and charged with molesting four students. Again, although the paper had reported other episodes of this particular narrative, the Times jettisoned the news of this stunning lawsuit to the paper's blog and never reported it in their actual paper.
It could be Christmas approaching, or it could be the Catholic Church's success last month in its support of Proposition 8, the initiative to restore marriage in California. But it's curious to see what's been on the minds of the folks at the Los Angeles Times in the past few weeks:
1. "Pope's new edict on the priesthood" (Mon. Nov. 17, 2008, editorial): The Times finds it "troubling" that the Church employs psychologists to screen candidates for the priesthood. It also goes without saying that the Times does not like the Church's policy of disallowing men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies to be priests. In the end, the Times finds the Church's policies "cruel" and "unprofessional."
2. "What would Mary do?" (Sun. Nov. 30, 2008, editorial): Surprise! The Times likes the idea of women priests in the Catholic Church.
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: