Rabbi Bemporad: media coverage of Church abuse scandal one-dimensional

From CNA:

Rabbi calls media coverage of Church abuse scandal one-dimensional

Carlstadt, N.J., Apr 7, 2010 / 03:05 am (CNA).- In an interview with CNA on Tuesday, Rabbi Jack Bemporad commented on the recent media onslaught concerning the Holy Father, calling the coverage “one dimensional” and saying that the depiction of the Church in the media has not been given “proper context.”

Rabbi Bemporad, director of the New Jersey-based Center for Interreligious Understanding, was recently quoted [wait for it] as a lone voice in an Associated Press article in which other Jewish leaders denounced the papal preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, for his comments likening the media depiction of the Church to anti-Semitism.

In the AP article released on April 2, and in a follow up interview with CNA, Rabbi Bemporad defended the papal preacher. Although the rabbi believes Fr. Cantalamessa used a “poor example,” ultimately, the preacher’s “point is correct.

What the preacher intended to indicate through his homily, Rabbi Bemporad said, was that “you can’t collectively condemn the church for what some priests and some individuals in the Church may have done.”

Addressing those who have criticized Pope Benedict in recent days, Rabbi Bemporad stated that “you’ve got to have a sense of compassion, charity, and saying ‘how can we help you do this properly?’ Instead of condemning him and saying, ‘See, you’re not doing enough.’”

We’re so quick to judge, we’re so quick to condemn,” he stressed. “There’s no charity, there’s no compassion, no sympathy, and no, by the way, self-criticism.”

A lot of sex abuse involving children is going on, the rabbi noted. “It’s not simply a Catholic problem.” [And, I think we must add, there is not a lot going in the Church now!]

“I do think that the pope is trying to do the best he can,” he added.

The rabbi also took a jab at the media coverage of the Pope, calling it “very one dimensional” and charging that many of the reports have not placed Vatican actions “in the proper context.”

“The tragedy of the media,” Rabbi Bemporad stated, “is that it has a capacity to educate, instead what it does is cater to the worst element in human beings. The most voyeuristic element.”

We shouldn’t be so quick to grab at headlines which are virulent, and in my opinion, hysterical,” he asserted.

The New Jersey rabbi also praised Pope Benedict for his efforts in helping advance the relationship between the two faiths, saying the pontiff has “tried to be a friend” and has done whatever he can “to show the close relationship between Catholics and Jews.”

“All I am asking for is charity,” and “that we should think about how we can help one another not condemn one another,” said the rabbi.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in The Drill. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Henry Edwards says:

    [And, I think we must add, there is not a lot going in the Church now!]

    Indeed, with only 6 “credible accusations” in the U.S. (over 60 million Catholics) in the last reporting year, the Catholic Church may now be the safest place in the world for “children”. Though I have not seen this point made in any of the recent articles on sexual abuse of “children”.

  2. EXCHIEF says:

    I too agree that Fr Z’s comment is important. The vast majority of the abuse cases at least in this country took place 20 or more years ago. While unfortunately many of the claims are legitimate some are false and designed only to obtain settlement money.

    To place all of the blame on the Church is improper. Certainly some/most of the responsibility belongs with the Church but not all of it. As a Police Lieutenant in charge of detectives back in the 1980’s I became involved in a case in which a Priest was investigated for sexually abusing a young boy. We handled the case “by the book”. After giving the Priest his Miranda rights I interviewed him and he admitted to the act. He was arrested and a thorough report was prepared and presented to the local prosecutor. The prosecutor declined to pursue (felony) prosecution. What was the rationale? #1. Going to trial would be traumatic for the child victim. #2 The parents insisted they did not want the Priest prosecuted. The prosecutor made a deal with the Bishop. Transfer the Priest out of the diocese and the matter would be dismissed.

    Was this approach correct? Of course not. But was the Church solely responsible for the mishandling of the case? No. The “blame” properly belongs to the parents, the prosecutor and the Church. But in the eyes of the media who is held solely responsible? The Church, and now the Pope who was not even the Pope back then.

    From personal and professional knowledge I can tell you that many cases in the 70’s through the 90’s were handled in the same fashion. The “blame” therefore needs to be spread around to other entities in addition to the Church.

  3. chloesmom says:

    The good rabbi is a mensch. God bless him.

  4. Agnes says:

    There, my friends, is what we call true ecumenism. The Pope of Christian Unity can certainly use all the prayers and support from wherever he can get it!

  5. Timbot2000 says:

    Axios! Axios! Axios!

Comments are closed.