Bishop Wilton Gregory says media coverage of the Scandal has been beneficial to the Church for the most part, but said the “obsessive coverage” has resulted in damage to “the bishops and the entire Catholic community.” That’s an interesting way of putting it.
Gregory complains that most stories were not about recent failures by bishops, but about cases more than a decade old. Okay, but the fact is that if the media hadn’t kept at the story then most of what we know about the shuffling of pedophiles and abusers from place to place would never have come out. And it was often the same bishops still in office who did the shuffling more than a decade ago. As shown by Cardinal Law’s responses to the unfolding Scandal in early 2002, I don’t think you can make the case that most bishops had learned anything until last year and the “obsessive” coverage. In fact, as late as a few months before the Scandal broke, abusers were still being shuffled around and coddled and innocents placed at risk by bishops.
I know that every time this comes up there’s a huge discussion about the media’s anti-Catholic bias, so let me say this first. I know that there is an inherent bias among many liberal journalists against the Church because of her stand for traditional morality and counter-cultural teachings. And, yes, that animus surely motivated a lot of the news coverage of the Scandal, allowing them to ignore similar cases of abuse and institutional corruption in the schools, police departments, and so on.
But that doesn’t invalidate the truths unearthed by the coverage. Just as the Lord used the Moabites and Assyrians and Babylonians to humble Israel and bring about repentance and reform, so too the Lord can use the antipathy of some journalists for the Church to bring about a reform and repentance. Just because our faults are pointed out by those who bear no love for us does not mean the criticism is unwarranted or overblown. Sometimes it is our enemies who have the clearest view of our faults and failings and the least reason to refrain from informing us about them.