Saturday, June 14, 2003

Bias in the Deseret News Newsroom

The past month has given us a fascinating lesson in journalistic ethics and a newspaper's editorial policies and guidelines. The two most notable examples are: Sandy man charged with child sex abuse and Priest charged with enticing minor. The policies with regard to a suspect's identity and vocational information are inconsistent, incoherent, and discernibly nonexistent.

At the outset, I want to make it abundantly clear that the purpose of this letter is not to condone, rationalise, or justify what is scandalous behaviour and, if true, may prove to be illegal. The faithful of the Church have a right to expect that their priests will evangelise, catechise, and exemplify the established norm of the Church's moral teaching especially regarding sexual ethics. At the same time, it must be noted that men ordained to priestly ministry are not granted magical or super powers to withstand the effects of our disordered human nature. (The office and function of the priest is mystical and supernatural in character -- not magical.) Priests, like any other penitent, receive through the sacraments the graces needed to avoid the occasion or near occasion of sin -- whatever the sin. Of course, those graces are predicated upon the penitent availing themselves of the celebration of those sacraments.

However, what does reporting of this variety offer the reader except to fuel the exaggerated, salacious, irresponsible, reckless, inaccurate, and wholly inappropriate view that has characterised the "mainstream" media's coverage of the sexuality abuse scandal in the Catholic Church during the last 18 months? Contrary to conventional wisdom, the laity and those who nurture an increasing disobedience to the Church's teaching are as much to blame as the Church's hierarchy for the sexuality abuse scandal that now wounds the Body of Christ and his bride. Interestingly enough, the many hours of media coverage have very "conveniently" failed to inform their audience of certain facts: That faithful and holy priests are nurtured at the well of faithful and holy homes; and that the abuse crisis is very much attributable to the injection of secular values into the Church along with the general loosening of society's sexual mores during the last century.

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