I made a correction to the top of this entry about what the Times wrote concerning Archbishop Nichols. A couple readers pointed out an error I made in respect the Times story. Thanks!
In the current number of the UK’s best Catholic weekly The Catholic Herald you will find two pieces of interest about the recent accusations leveled against the Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev. Vincent Nichols. The Times alleged that Nichols, while he was Archbishop of Birmingham,
“… presided over a child protection system that allowed a paedophile priest to continue abusing schoolboys despite repeated complaints from victims…."
The Archdiocese of Westminster states that the claim is false. Apparently Archbishop Nichols is considering legal remedy against those who made the false claim.
For the Times.
It is pretty clear that The Times has joined its nearly homonymous counterpart in New York (aka Hell’s Bible) in the MSM campaign to undermine the Church’s moral authority. The climate of discourse in England is markedly more brutal than many Americans are accustomed to engage in. Also, the British society in general is already in a state of more advanced decomposition than in United States in terms of the rotting fruits of secularization and relativism. The US is rapidly catching up.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the UK’s MSM will ratchet up with particularly harsh attacks on the Church, particularly in advance of the Holy Father’s upcoming pastoral visit to England.
My I recommend to all my English readers that you obtain and read Aidan Nichols’s books The Realm and Criticising the Critics? I suspect that they may be a little hard to get: they won’t have been popular with the powers that be.
Here is the newsy piece from The Catholic Herald about what the MSM is doing to Archbishop Nichols with my E & C.:
Archbishop Nichols takes legal advice over newspaper’s allegation
By Mark Greaves
16 April 2010
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster is considering legal action against the Times newspaper over its allegation that he tried to protect a paedophile.
The story, published on the front page on Saturday, marked a new low in relations between the Church and the British media.
The paper alleged that the Archbishop "protected" a priest who abused children at a Benedictine school in west London – even though, as then Archbishop of Birmingham, he had no involvement in the case.
A Church spokesman said: "The attempt to saddle the Archbishop with responsibility for this tragic case is completely unfounded and is an unwarranted slur. His office is taking legal advice." [OORAH!]
Sources close to Westminster have confirmed that one of the options being considered is a possible court action for defamation.
The story came amid what has been described as a "feeding frenzy" in the press over the Church’s handling of clerical sex abuse.
Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton said the Times report showed "all sorts of misapprehensions" about the Church.
He said: "If the Archbishop of Westminster is perceived to be the head of the Catholic Church in this country, which is a fallacy, [But probably a common assumption in England,] then everything that happens, happens on his watch. The Ealing case is an example of that. [The media] assume the Archbishop runs everything, including the Benedictines." [Similarly, editors of the secularized liberal MSM in USA foster the bizarre fantasy that the Pope pulls strings in parishes.]
In 2006 and 2007 Fr David Pearce abused a boy at St Benedict’s Abbey in Ealing even though, as a result of previous allegations, he was forbidden from contact with children. The Times pointed out that Archbishop Nichols was chairman of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (Copca) at the time. However, he was not involved in the case and responsibility for the priest lay with the Benedictines who ran the school.
Bishop Conry, a frank critic of the Church’s handling of sex abuse cases, also condemned attempts to implicate Pope Benedict XVI in abuse cover-ups.
"[The media] is clutching at straws," he said. "They are trying to generate stories that aren’t necessarily there."
The latest attempt to implicate the Pope came in a report by the Associated Press which claimed that he delayed laicising a paedophile priest because of concerns over "the good of the universal Church". [That phrase "the good of the universal Church" is constantly repeated in the MSM, but with little understanding of the force of the phrase, as a part of the curial boiler-plate common to petitions made by priests to the Holy See to be dispensed from the obligations of the clerical state. My experience is that few of the religion writers for MSM outlets have even half of a notion of what they are writing about. This present MSM coverage is a demonstration of how little they know but how determined they are to make "facts" they don’t in the least understand support their pre-determined goals. Ah, that unbeatable combination of ignorance and arrogance.]
Reports failed to note that it was the priest himself, Fr Stephen Kiesle, who asked to be laicised, therefore it was not a punishment for abuse. He had, in fact, already been suspended from active ministry, and had been given a three-year suspended sentence for sexually assaulting two boys.
Bishop Conry is one of many commentators – both Catholic and secular – to strongly criticise media coverage of the abuse scandal.
Austen Ivereigh, co-ordinator of Catholic Voices, a project training well-known Catholics to speak to the media during the Pope’s visit, said the Church was being used as a scapegoat for widespread child sex abuse. [I don’t often agree with Mr. Ivereigh, but he sure got that right.]
In an article for America magazine, he said: "The coverage has now moved into a new, irrational phase. The media have merged with the mob. They are not standing outside the crowd, coolly examining the facts. They are standing in locus vulgi [the place of the crowd]." [I will drill into Mr. Ivereigh’s piece elsewhere. It is worth your time.]
The Times, he claimed, had "led the way in promoting hysteria and distortion". He cited coverage in the Sunday Times of a plan by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to arrest the Pope.
"Rather than report this as a publicity gimmick, or at least point out how dubious are the legal arguments, the Times reports this as if it is a perfectly sensible response to established facts, ["facts"] and even enlists a semi-Catholic columnist [Libby Purves] to agree with the idea," he wrote.
George Weigel, an American Catholic author, claimed that the "scandal-mongering had now metastasised [good image] into a full-scale assault on Catholicism itself".
He said the papal trip to Britain was "in trouble" and urged English and Welsh bishops to devote "the next four months to the most vigorous defence of the truth of Catholic faith". [And who in the UK is going to step up and do that?]
Both Mr Weigel and Mr Ivereigh pointed out that many of the recent child abuse stories had been supplied to journalists by lawyers bringing class actions against the Church. [Not to mention "retired" Archbp. Rembert Weakland.] "The interpretations which the lawyers are keen to put on them are precisely those which the media uncritically adopt," Dr Ivereigh said.
Jeffrey Steel, [Anglican convert and] a blogger and theologian who set up the Facebook group "Catholics who condemn the media’s treatment of the Pope", which now has over 2,400 members, said he had "completely lost respect" for the Times as a newspaper.
Mr Steel said: "The person who has been most responsible for trying to sort out [clergy sex abuse] is our present Holy Father. Why aren’t they trying to support him rather than look for a smoking gun that isn’t there?"
Brendan O’Neill, the humanist editor of Spiked Online, described the campaign against the Pope as "a secular Inquisition". He said it had acquired "a powerfully pathological, obsessive" character in which "scaremongering supersedes facts".
Fr Timothy Radcliffe, a Dominican theologian, said the reporting of the abuse scandal had been "unjust". [Radcliffe … My list of those with whom I am surprised to find myself in agreement is growing.]
He said: "Of course we need the scrutiny of the media. They have been necessary to make us face this terrible failure. [Agreed… in the first big wave in the early 2000’s.] But often facts are misreported, innuendo is used to undermine innocent people’s reputation, as with the case of Archbishop Nichols and the Pope, in ways that are simply unjust. The media rightly demand that the Church be accountable for its failures, but the media, too, must by accountable for the way that they can undermine the very people who are doing everything possible to confront this scandal."
James Bogle, chairman of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, said the attempt to draw Pope Benedict into the abuse scandal was "irresponsible journalism".
He described recent attacks on the Pope in the Times, notably by columnist India Knight, as "sick-making".
"There is simply no evidence [of the Pope’s complicity], but that cuts no ice in a media frenzy where merely to believe in religion is sufficient basis for presumed guilt of the most awful crimes," he said. [A frenzy on the surface. It is cold and calculating underneath.] "This is not freedom, justice or liberalism. This is dark, sinister intolerance, bigotry and religious vilification of the sort that used to flourish in this country 200 years ago when Catholics were persecuted simply for being Catholic. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?] Civilised and liberal-minded people had hoped that sort of intolerance was long gone. Tragically, it seems to be making a comeback." [Which tells us something about what is going on in a society under the near complete domination of the dictatorship of relativism. The powers behind the dominant message stream in the MSM hate this Pope because he has clearly described what they are up to and the consequences of their dehumanizing of cultures and societies.]
This week the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published online its guidelines to bishops on how to deal with abuse.
According to the Vatican commentator John Allen, the document makes explicit for the first time the need for bishops to report abuse to the police. It states: "Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed."
Meanwhile, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi defended Pope Benedict as a credible leader on the issue of priestly sex abuse, saying his respect for truth and transparency stood out against recent "unfounded insinuations".
A spokesman for the Times said it stood by its story. [Of course it does.]
How you can subscribe to The Catholic Herald. They also have an exemplary online version of the entire weekly, if you are, for example, not in England and are worry about lack of postal alacrity.