on the National Catholic Fishwrap’s “baseless and sordid swipe at the Catholic Church”


National Catholic Reporter Smears Arch. of Los Angeles in Bogus Abuse Story

The left-wing National Catholic Reporter newspaper [aka The Fishwrap] is suggesting that a newly discovered 27-year-old letter somehow may be evidence that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles knew that a priest it had welcomed from England had been accused of child abuse there.

In fact, even a cursory look at the 1985 letter reveals that such a claim is blatantly untrue!

The author of the feckless piece is Joshua J. McElwee, a “staff writer” at the discordant publication.


Indeed, the media has doled out enough fair criticism of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for its past mishandlings of abuse cases. But the Reporter is now scraping the bottom of the barrel and finessing facts in a desperate attempt to wring a story out of some new marginal information.

The Reporter is building a reputation for biased reporting on the abuse narrative, and McElwee’s piece comes across as a baseless and sordid swipe at the Catholic Church.

The whole article is worth your time.  They have NcR firmly in their cross-hairs.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Random Friar says:

    No one can say the LA Archdiocese had a great record in dealing with its problem clergy, but this is downright silly. Nothing that England had said in the first letter gave any inkling to a problem with children.

    Journalism is becoming less and less about facts, and more and more about smearing (NY Times, I’m looking in your direction).

  2. Scott W. says:

    This is another great example of how when progressives are on a tear about one thing (bashing the Church leadership) they inadvertently violate another one of their dogmas in a fit of absent-mindedness. In this case the LA diocese received note from England that strongly implied the priest in question was in a homosexual relationship with a consenting adult that went sour, but that is all over now said England, so he can safely resume his duties in a new country. Well, after he was placed in LA new details emerge that there was suspected child abuse, and of course progressives cried foul that the diocese didn’t use the 8-ball and magically learn the real story. Get it? Progressives will trip over themselves saying that there is no connection between homosexuals and the abuse crisis. Yet, had the diocese decided to dig a little deeper or even (gasp!) refused to place the priest upon hearing about the adult homosex, progressives would have cried bloody murder.

  3. Jackie L says:

    Perhaps it’s time to stop linking to NcR columns, there is almost never a single entry over there that is anything short of anti-Catholic. And I’ve found myself in the unfortunate position of checking it daily for some reason. Rush Limbaugh recently made the decision to stop referencing shows or using audio bites from MSNBC, maybe its time for us to ignore the NcR.

  4. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Hard to ignore it when it is for sale in my diocese’s cathedral and displayed in many parishes.

  5. Dr. K says:

    I didn’t hear a peep from NcR when Mahony was in charge.

  6. frjim4321 says:

    I don’t agree with Jackie L that we should ignore news that we don’t like. For example, I view a cross section of T.V. cable news, CCN, FoxNews, MSNBC. It’s good to know what various segments of the MSM are pushing and not very hard at all to backfilter their biases. Same with NCR, Wanderer, U.S. Catholic, America, Commonweal; they are all useful sources of information. Calling to mind a few wise sayings, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” and, “it’s good to know what the enemy is up to.” Same thing goes for blogs; it’s good to view a cross section from one extreme to the other.

    Speaking of biases, I hadn’t hear of “” and I figured with such an important sounding name it would be a well-known, highly-respected organization. Basically it’s seems like it is a pretty small shop founded by a guy who has written gushing reviews on Amazon of books by ultra-conservatives like Wiegel and Bp. Chaput. Any of us can start up a website and give it an impressive name.

    The heard of the site seems to be around debunking five “myths” about the sexual abuse crisis, and there is some fact to each of those arguments. However the problem with such approaches is they always seem to come off as minimizing the effects of the sexual abuse crisis.

    “Myth” #1: It’s not about Catholic priests. – School teachers, boy scout leaders, coaches, uncles, stepfathers, etc. aren’t people who effectively stand in the place of God for children. Sexual abuse by priests coupled sexual abuse with ritual/spiritual abuse and some would argue is much more heinous. We’ve all heard stories about how instances of abuse by priests was couples with ritual and spiritual abuse.

    “Myth” #2: The Grand Conspiracy that Wasn’t: – Without the Boston Globe breaking the story of sexual abuse by priests, perhaps the extent of this cancer would never have come to light. While indeed most reported case that came to light existed within a small window of time, we really don’t have evidence from earlier in the century, and nobody really knows what did or did not happen then.

    “Myth” #3: Current Allegations are Rare: – Probably the most valid point. However this obscures the fact that the betrayal of trust was so devastating that it could take several generations to regain this trust. So there were fewer reports after 1982. That’s really not a long time at all when we’re talking about child rape that we know was sometimes facilitated by moving abusers from place to place.

    “Myth” #4: Incidents in public school could be 100X greater. – Possibly true, but again as mentioned in #1 these incidents were not coupled with ritual/spiritual abuse.

    “Myth” #5: Catholic Church currently the safest environment for children. – Like #3 probably a fairly accurate statement. The dirty little secret though is that the safe environment programs are coming out of the insurance industry and they seem ordered to liability mitigation more than anything else.

  7. Scott W. says:

    frjim4321, this is a bunch of distraction from the issue at hand. Namely, that the NCR is dumping on the Archdiocese of LA as being caught with a smoking gun. The case hinges on this: “The immediate reason for his being in the United States just now is that a few months ago he met a man with whom he had an unwholesome relationship about thirteen years ago.” Now, if in your scouring of a “cross section from one extreme to the other” you’ve come across something that contradicts that, let’s hear it. Otherwise, this is just another one of your trips down Rabbit Hole Lane.

  8. oldcanon2257 says:

    frjim4321 says:

    I don’t agree with Jackie L that we should ignore news that we don’t like. For example, I view a cross section of T.V. cable news, CCN, FoxNews, MSNBC. It’s good to know what various segments of the MSM are pushing and not very hard at all to backfilter their biases. Same with NCR, Wanderer, U.S. Catholic, America, Commonweal; they are all useful sources of information. Calling to mind a few wise sayings, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” and, “it’s good to know what the enemy is up to.” Same thing goes for blogs; it’s good to view a cross section from one extreme to the other.

    There are also a few sayings from certain historical personalities (some were sworn enemies of the Church) worth keeping in mind as it relates to how easily humans could be influenced and manipulated:

    If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

    A lie told often enough becomes truth.

    There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.

    Whether the excuse is the search for truth, fairness or balance, those who immerse themselves in or surround themselves with (or even dabble in) questionable materials created and distributed by organizations/entities (e.g. NcR) which are actively engaging in “impugning the known (Catholic) truth” will end up putting their immortal souls at risk.

    Engaging in such activities is no less risky spiritually than dabbling in the occult or divination, and many of those who do will end up corrupting themselves from within. From there to heresy or apostasy is only a few short steps.

    As for NcR, they had already been condemned by their ordinary Bp. Helmsing way back in 1968 and told to drop the “Catholic” from the name of their publication. Too bad those facts are not well-known to the average Catholic. I wish the Holy Spirit would descend on NcR staff and guided them to change their name to NACR, with “AC” being “Anti-Catholic”, now that would be a model for truth in advertising. I can’t remember ever seeing anything there that’s NOT anti-papal, anti-hierarchy, anti-Magisterium, anti-Tradition.

  9. Scarltherr says:


    Do you write in response to articles here because no sane person would read you otherwise? If you did a simple google search, you would find that the incidence of abuse by parents, step-parents, boy and girl-friends, and public school teachers s and always has been much higher than abuse by clergy. That doesn’t excuse clergy. No sane person would say that it does. This post is about a lie published by the NCR, aka fishwrap. Could we please stick to the point?

  10. robtbrown says:

    There must be some kind of convergence of constellations because I tend to agree with FrJim4321, with a few exceptions.

    1. Long before the Boston Globe stepped in, abuse stories were already public. A diocese in Mississippi had already been sued, and neighboring diocese had to help pay the judgments. There was also a story written about the failed efforts of an attorney to engage Cardinal Bernardin on behalf of a victim. If memory serves, Boston Globe exposed (NPI) the practice of certain bishops of moving offending priests to another pastoral assignment.

    On the other hand, I know of a bishop, later retired and now dead, who immediately took these priests out of any pastoral assignment, moving them to the rehab facility in New Mexico, later refusing their re-entrance in the diocese.

    2. IMHO, it’s a mistake to presume that the same problems occurred with the same frequency in years gone by. In better times seminaries actually prepared young men to be celibate by encouraging a certain psychological independence–problems of loneliness were dealt with in formation. And there was the practice of reducing a priest to the status of Sacerdos Simplex, whose only Sacramental practice was saying mass. In the post VatII Church pastoral activity was so closely identified with the priesthood that a Sacerdos Simplex was considered an oxymoron.

    3. I find it interesting that Weigel and Abp Chaput are referred to as ultra conservatives. Both have made it clear that they have no inclination toward Latin liturgy, seeing little or no link between it and the life of the Church.

    Whether or not the sexual abuse problem has been exaggerated by the press, it is nonetheless a serious problem that has undermined the trust of the laity in priests. And coming from a non Catholic family, I am aware that for many non Catholics it has reenforced what they have always suspected about the secret lives of priests.

    Liberals often use the sexual problem to argue against celibacy. For me the problem merely indicates that the post Vat II Church lacks the structures (incl Latin liturgy and ad orientem celebration) that form every seminarian and support every priest in living the celibate life.

  11. Scott W. says:

    Agree 100% that there needs to be structure to support celibate priests rather than forming lonely men and turning them loose on parishes and hoping for the best.

    But, to the topic at hand–I should point out the Archdiocese did screw up. The moment they heard about the adult homosexual relationship, they should of said, “Gee, no thanks.” But instead they did what good little progressives would want them to do: pretend that homosexual acts and/or that deep-seated homosexual attractions are not wrong and gave him a pass. In short, they supped with vipers–shouldn’t act surprised that now they are getting bitten.

  12. AnAmericanMother says:

    The popular culture wants to shut its eyes and ears and pretend that male molestation of male adolescents has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality. The John Jay report flatly refused to go there, guess they were afraid to stir up more controversy.
    My mom has been a professional dancer since 1948, so I grew up with a ringside seat at the homosexual community here – and this city has always had a large and very open one.
    The cult of youthfulness, the superficial relationships, and the ‘coming of age’ meme all encourage the seduction of adolescent boys. I couldn’t begin to count the number of pretty 16 or 17 year olds I’ve seen being squired around by some grey-haired lech.

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