National Catholic Register


Media Watch

BY Jim Cosgrove

Septembar 29-October 5, 2002 Issue | Posted 9/29/02 at 2:00 PM


NY Times Writer: Clergy Crisis Twisted by Media

THE TABLET, Sept. 14 — Writing in the British Catholic magazine The Tablet, New York Times columnist Peter Steinfels expressed his frustration at media treatment of the recent sexual scandals among some Catholic clergy.

While acknowledging the serious errors that characterized a few of the recent cases, Steinfels pointed out grave problems in media coverage of these events, which involve “the behavior of some 1.5% of the roughly 150,000 priests who served under hundreds of bishops in the course of half a century.”

He singled out The Boston Globe for publishing 250 stories about clerical sex scandals in 100 days — most of them dating from 10 or more years before, some from 30 or 40 years — acting as if they were breaking news of current events.

Steinfels pointed out that “the faltering attempts at reform that the bishops began to make in 1985 have been reported not very accurately and usually as evidence of the hierarchy's negligence. The fact that in the early 1990s many dioceses actually instituted real changes in the way that allegations were handled went largely unexamined by the media for months and then was treated grudgingly.”

He noted that media-induced outrage did lead to necessary changes in how abusive clergy are treated, but that “the outrage is of a peculiarly free-floating nature. Untethered to precise knowledge, it is expending itself in general alienation from the Church or being harnessed to agendas for Church reform.”

Steinfels warned that these proposed reforms “may now be driven by seriously distorted media-generated assumptions about priests, bishops and sexual abuse.”

Catholic Pundit Launches New Magazine

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Sept. 9 — Citing his desire to “recapture the conservative movement,” conservative pundit Patrick Buchanan has launched a new biweekly magazine, The American Conservative (

The periodical is co-edited by columnist Taki Theodoracopulos, with former New York Post Editorial Page Editor Scott McConnell. The American Conservative will challenge conservatives who favor U.S. intervention abroad, free trade, unrestricted immigration and other policies Buchanan calls “globalist.”

Long a vocally Catholic columnist, Buchanan has recently followed Pope John Paul II in calling for an end to sanctions against Cuba and in condemning the proposed U.S. attack on Iraq.

Based in Arlington, Va., The American Conservative published its first issue in late September. More information can be obtained by calling (800) 579-6148.

Pentecostal TV Targets Hispanics

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Sept. 13 — Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is America's largest and fastest-growing religious broadcaster.

Based in Orange County, Calif., TBN features Pentecostal ministers who speak in tongues and promise deliverance from financial as well as spiritual crises. Now Associated Press reports that TBN has launched a Spanish-language network aimed at winning Hispanic converts.

After debuting in Miami on Sept. 1, the network “Enlace” will probably reach 10 of the largest Hispanic markets in the United States within a year. Competing with it is EWTN Espanol, which was launched in 1999 and features Catholic programming, liturgy and entertainment.