Update - NCR on Dolan’s Victim Program

As discussed earlier, Cardinal Dolan of New York has established a new program for victims of sexual abuse by its clergy. The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) first reported on this program on October 7, and gave it a glowing review. Then on October 24, NCR published scathing review of the program by Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, who pointed out that it involved both a gag order and a waiver of all future charges.

Now, on October 28, NCR just published an editorial: “The church has earned our healthy skepticism,” which reinforces Doyle’s critique and adds a historical note:

 “the initial reaction by the Catholic hierarchy when the scandal first broke in 1985, and carried through for 17 years until public opinion forced the bishops to openly deal with the matter, was protection of the institution and the clergy culture. That approach was taken often to the long and deep detriment of abuse survivors.”

Without going into details, NCR now admits that the Catholic hierarchy was intentionally mishandling its child abuse problems for decades. NCR concludes, “The church has earned our healthy skepticism.” Despite this, NCR showed no signs of skepticism in its initial coverage of Dolan’s program on October 7. It took a jeremiad by Anne Barrett Doyle to reawaken their skepticism. Furthermore, while they decry “the Catholic hierarchy,” they only charge American bishops, and say nothing about the Vatican. But  Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict, and now Pope Francis have committed both sins of omission and commission ‘to the long and deep detriment of abuse survivors’ – not to mention potential future victims.

This editorial from NCR is a welcome change. But they seem unable or unwilling to be skeptical when that conflicts with their faith - even while acknowledging that skepticism has been earned. But keep in mind that a good journalist should always be skeptical. This is true even when the subject has not previously been unreliable or dishonest. NCR, the religious press, and much of the mainstream press fail to be skeptical of religious leaders, and therefore fail to do their jobs. When it comes to religion, the public is usually poorly served.

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