Media Watch

Sex Abuse Among Protestant Clergy Not Well Studied

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb. 22 — It is unclear whether or not sexual abuse by clergymen in Protestant churches is a widespread or persistent problem, reported The Associated Press, which noted the release of reports by the National Review Board appointed by Catholic bishops to investigate such abuse among Catholic priests.

There “have been few such efforts by Protestants,” according to the Associated Press.

The wire service did locate one source of information,, which has compiled 838 allegations of abuse by Protestant clergy, some dating from 1933.

The Associated Press noted that the effort among Protestants to chronicle such abuse is only beginning. It cited Michael Smith, a Lutheran who single-handedly collects these reports for, who said he thought Protestant clergy probably showed a similar rate of misconduct as Catholics.

However, since their churches are so much less centralized, have fewer financial resources to attract lawsuits and receive less coverage by the media, such abuse is underreported.

Catholics Respond to Passion Release

THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, Feb. 19 — Despite warnings about the extremely graphic nature of the violence depicted and the fact that the movie is subtitled, Catholic moviegoers in New York City lined up to see Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the New York Daily News reported.

The daily noted that church and youth groups from across the city had arranged to attend the movie as groups — even as the American Bible Society distributed 4,000 free tickets to local churches.

One Catholic school principal, Father Philip Eichner of Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, N.Y., told the paper that more than 1,000 of his school's upperclassmen would be making a two-mile “pilgrimage” to see the movie.

“It's a meditation on our own inhumanity to each other and how this doesn't destroy God's love,” said Father Eichner, who'd seen a cut of the movie months before.

He called it a powerful statement of redemption, saying, “We want our students to see that redemption.”

Catholic-Rights Advocate Issues Open Letter to Jews

CATHOLIC LEAGUE, Feb. 4 — Defending the film The Passion of the Christ, William Donohue of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights took issue with what he called “the sheer demagoguery” of the film's opponents, citing numerous examples.

One was Boston University theology professor Paula Fredriksen, who said in The New Republic: “When violence breaks out, Mel Gibson will have a much higher authority than professors and bishops to answer to.”

Donohue pointed to suggestions by Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who said publicly that the film might “trigger pogroms against Jews” and who called Gibson's promotional strategy of previewing the film to church groups “dangerous.”

“To say the film is dangerous because the people who are previewing it are churchgoing Christians is an insult to practicing Christians,” Donohue responded. “The subtext of this remark is that churchgoing Christians are latent anti-Semitic bigots ready to lash out at Jews at any given moment.”