This morning, before the Pope’s pastoral letter on Irish child abuse was published, and apparently before reporters from The Times had read a single word of it, the paper ran a story by Richard Owen and David Sharrock which began as follows:
The Pope’s letter to the Irish faithful will be released today and read at Sunday Mass in an attempt to defuse the spiralling scandal over clerical sex abuse.
However, the pastoral letter has already been judged a failure (italics added) by many after a week in which the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, apologised for his role in covering up the activities of a notorious paedophile priest.
The report makes clear that the Times journalists did not know at the time of writing whether the letter would include an apology (which of course it did). Therefore it’s fair to assume that they knew nothing important about its contents. Yet they were already reporting the “failure” of its reception. Did they jump into a Tardis?
I’m sorry if this seems like a sideshow compared to the very grave crisis facing the Pope, and I will blog about the letter in detail later. But I think it tells us something very important about the standards of reporting applied by parts of the secular media to the Catholic Church. Quite what is going on at The Times I don’t know (though I’ve written about its ignorant bias before). But I dread to think how this is going to play out during the papal visit.
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