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Bishops' spokesman calls abuse media coverage 'severely distorted'

Media coverage of clergy sex abuse produced "a severely distorted view of the bishops and their efforts," according to the communications director for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Speaking in New York last week, Monsignor Francis Maniscalco said the reports of clergy abuse deserved coverage, and sunlight was "the best detergent for this kind of stain".

But he added many reporters treated the story as an "ecclesiastical Enron", referring to the country's largest ever corporate scandal that unfolded last year.

Maniscalo said the media ignored the possibility that the apparent inaction of the bishops represented a conflict of duty rather than a dereliction of duty.

He argued that the Boston Globe, which won a Pulitzer Prize for "courageous comprehensive coverage of sexual abuse by priests," could have begun in January of last year by reporting that, while documents raised serious questions about the bishops' handling of sex abuse cases, "the number of complaints involving abuse in recent years has been dropping dramatically" as the bishops' policies for dealing with them "seem to be taking hold".

Catholic News Service

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Msgr. scolds media for priest-sex reports
Poynter Online | Clergy Abuse Tracker

21 May 2003