August 24, 2018

449 words 3 mins read

A Bishop Does the Right Thing and the Post-Dispatch Deceives You

It’s Friday, and our archbishop in St. Louis has done a great thing. (Maybe today would be a good time to thank a priest. Give him encouragement.) But the town blog used deception to report the story.

Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis asked Missouri’s Attorney General, Josh Hawley, to review all of the archdiocese’s records regarding abuse cases. Hawley agreed to the Archbishop’s request.

Archbishop Carlson deserves our praise and respect for his openness and honesty.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and its bloggers Jack Suntrup and Nassim Benchaabane, deserve scorn. They deceptively and misleadingly indicate that Hawley, not Carlson, initiated the investigation. My email to the bloggers is quoted below.

The facts in the case, in order:

** Archbishop Carlson sent a letter to AG Hawley on Thursday requesting an AG review of all of the Archdiocese’s record pertaining to abuse. ** Hawley agreed.

Those are the facts. But the Post-Dispatch led with this misleading headline:

Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 8.41.51 AM.png

And this lede, which is misleading to the point of lying:

Screen Shot 2018-08-24 at 8.42.09 AM.png

I expressed my disappointment to the bloggers directly:

The headline of your report on the AG’s investigation of archdiocesan abuse records is misleading to the point of being a lie. Please correct it, along with your opening paragraph.

AG Hawley made no move until prompted by Archbishop Carlson. Your lede could have shocked readers by accurately highlighting the St. Louis Archdiocese’s remarkable openness. Instead, you chose to write a scandalous headline that puts the Church in the worst possible light.

The abuse scandal is salacious and disturbing on its facts. The story doesn’t need your tabloid embellishments.

Please correct.

In the eighth paragraph, the writers finally got around to admitting that Carlson was the movant, not Hawley.

No one can accuse me of going light on the abusive priests and their leaders who covered up their crimes. And I am troubled by Carlson’s actions an auxiliary bishop in St. Paul, Minnesota in the 1990s. But there’s no excuse for the Post-Dispatch to embellish the scandal with headlines and ledes that simply not true. When a bishop does the right thing, be big enough to admit it.

Thank a Priest Today

Yesterday, I encouraged you to thank God for priests and why. Today, how about thanking a priest directly.

Chances are you know a good priest. Why not take a few minutes today to write him a thank you note and drop it in the mail? Let him know that you admire his devotion and work for God and humanity, that you pray for him during this time of siege, and that his work improves lives and save souls.

Such a note would be a great counter to the media’s salacious untruths.