'USA Today' Corrects Inaccurate Synod Report on Archbishop Chaput

The newspaper acknowledges that it misrepresented the Philadelphia archbishop’s comments about ‘confusion’ generated by inaccurate media reports.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The newspaper USA Today has corrected an erroneous report that claimed Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia criticized the recent Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, rather than misleading media coverage of the event.

A correction to a USA Today story said that the Nov. 2 article erroneously reported that Philadelphia’s Archbishop Chaput said October’s synod caused “confusion.”

“The story did not include that Chaput said he believed confusion stemmed from news reports on the conference, not the conference itself,” the correction read.

The Nov. 2 newspaper story, titled “Pope Francis Agitates Conservative U.S. Catholics,” suggested that the archbishop was among those Catholics for whom Francis’ papacy “seems to be infuriating, worrying or just plain puzzling.”

Archbishop Chaput’s original comments came after he delivered an Oct. 20 lecture in New York City hosted by the interreligious journal First Things.

The lecture itself did not discuss the synod, but the role of religious believers in modern America.

Archbishop Chaput’s comments about media coverage of the synod came in response to an attendee’s question about the synod.

“To get your information from the press is a mistake, because they don’t know well enough how to understand it so they can tell people what happened,” the archbishop said. “I don’t think the press deliberately distorts; they just don’t have any background to be able to evaluate things. In some cases, they’re certainly the enemy, and they want to distort the Church.”

“Now, having said all that, I was very disturbed by what happened. I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was of confusion. Now, I don’t think that was the real thing there.”

The archbishop said the Church has a “clear position” on matters of marriage and holy Communion, a topic of discussion at the synod.

Archbishop Chaput said, “I’m not fundamentally worried because I believe the Holy Spirit guides the Church.”

Other reports that have been called “misleading” appeared in Religion News Service and in the National Catholic Reporter-hosted blog “Distinctly Catholic,” authored by Michael Sean Winters.

Religion News Service’s Oct. 21 story was originally titled “Archbishop Chaput Blasts Vatican Debate on Family, says ‘Confusion Is of the Devil.’” The title was later changed to “Archbishop Chaput ‘Disturbed’ by Synod Debate, Says ‘Confusion Is of the Devil.’”

Kenneth Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said the Religion News Service headlines for its report inaccurately presented the archbishop as critical of the Vatican, when he was in fact criticizing “those who used the draft report from the synod out of context to reinforce their own opinions and agendas.”