In the more than 26 years I have spent at the Catholic League, never have I read a more irresponsible, and just plain dumb, report on clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church until I read the CNN Interactive report, “Pedophile Priests Operated at this California School for Decades.” It is featured on the front page of CNN’s website.
To begin with the title is inaccurate: none of the molesting priests in the story are pedophiles—all are homosexuals. How do I know this? Because every one of these alleged victims was a teenager at a high school. Quite frankly, CNN is involved in a cover-up. It wants to deflect attention away from homosexual priests, who account for the lion’s share (80 percent) of the abuse. Less than 5 percent of the abusers have been pedophiles.
As I have said many times (just recently to NBC), the clergy abuse scandal is long over. In the last year we have data for, there were three substantiated cases of abuse made against over 50,000 members of the clergy. That comes to .006 percent, which proves my point.
CNN also proves my point: virtually all the cases it discusses occurred many decades ago, extending back to the 1950s.
Why is CNN doing a big story on old cases of Catholic clergy sexual abuse? Kids are being raped in the public schools all over the nation, and it is going on right now as we speak, so why did CNN not do a big story on that? And if the subject is pedophilia, why not probe Hollywood—it is rich with source material.
Why did CNN choose one Catholic high school out of the entire country to describe the offenses of sick homosexual priests who abused teenage boys decades ago? Because it could not find any new dirt, that’s why.
The CNN story further maligns the Church when it offers a totally false quote from Patrick Wall, an angry ex-priest who can always be counted on to slam Catholicism. “Other religious institutes are reporting out lists of credibly accused, they’re saying who they are, when they knew about them, where did they work, everything else.”
This is a bald-face lie. Which religions? Name them! There may be an occasional release of accused names from a few denominations, but no religion has outed more abusers than the Catholic Church. And where is the analogue to New York Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan? He outed former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. What minister, rabbi, or imam can CNN name who has outed one of his own senior clergy members? They sure didn’t do it at CBS or NBC.
It is embarrassing to note that CNN put five reporters on this non-story. They clearly spent too much time Googling and not enough time speaking to practicing Catholics. This explains why they write about the “Hierarchy of the Secular Clergy,” an esoteric term used in some canonical texts; it draws distinctions between members of the clergy. But this is not the way Catholics speak about the hierarchy.
What the reporters were trying to get at, in their own obtuse way, was the distinction between diocesan priests and order priests. The former constitute two-thirds of all priests; the latter comprise the other third. The diocesan priests are under the authority of a bishop; religious order priests are not—they have their own hierarchy.
Why does this matter? Because it shows how clueless these reporters are. “The hierarchy of the Catholic Church that most people are familiar with is called the ‘secular clergy.'” Really? Why don’t one of these five reporters stand outside a Catholic church on a Sunday and ask the parishioners if they even heard of such a thing as the “secular clergy”?
To say CNN is not a religion-friendly media outlet is too kind. This kind of reporting—sifting through old stories looking for dirt on the Catholic Church while participating in a cover-up—smacks of hatred.
Contact Richard Davis, executive vice president of News Standards and Practices: [email protected]