Saturday, March 20, 2010

The template

In my post below, I linked to some reactions to Pope Benedict's letter to Ireland; as I said, I plan to update the post with more as they come in.

However, I won't be linking to any of the typical mainstream media stories about the letter--not from antipathy toward the MSM (though I have that from time to time) but because all these stories fit a predictable media template.

In fact, to save you time, I'm putting up the template below. That way, you can just read this post instead of reading the New York Times, CNN's website, the AP, or any of the other news factories whose weekend reporters will be filing a report on the pope's letter.


All Purpose Template for the Media to Report on Clergy Sex Abuse Matters:

Rome--Pope Benedict XVI today [released a letter, issued a statement, discussed, etc.] the growing problem of clergy sex abuse, which has tainted bishops and begun to cast shadows on his papacy, leading for calls by victims groups for [the pope to resign, bishops to resign, women to be ordained priests, lay people to govern the Church, married men to be ordained priests, the Church to change its teachings on sex, especially homosexuality, and so forth].

Although the pope [apologized to victims, prescribed both spiritual and legal remedies, promised greater efforts, etc.] victims' groups expressed dismay. [Insert quotes from victims' groups accusing the Church of actually encouraging clerical sex crimes while actively covering them up, and demanding that the pope resign and civil authorities be given blanket permission to rifle through decades of files on priests and lay employees.]

Despite the pope's [words, letter, speech, etc.], critics say that the Church has yet to institute proper transparency and accountability [N.B.: Never attempt to define either of these terms]. Many find that the pope's latest efforts to address the matter fall woefully short of what is needed to move forward towards a solution [again, defined as women priests, married priests, a lay-run Church, and the immediate change of Church teachings on sexuality such that all sex is good and everybody should be engaging in condom-clad versions of it all the time with everybody else, so long as children are off limits until they're old enough for school sex-ed, at which point they're still off limits to adults, but not to each other].

Optional template ending one: create a final paragraph using words like "crisis of confidence," "hemorrhaging of members," and "institutional corruption."

Optional template ending two: add a quote from a liberal nun who thinks women should be running things. Extra points if she refers to God as "she" or talks about women popes.

Optional template ending three: insinuate that the clergy sex abuse problem is unique to Catholicism, deplore (while snickering in your journalistic sleeve) the loss of the Church's moral authority, and refer to the pope as "elderly." Extra points if you manage to tie in the split among America Catholics over abortion in health care to the whole article.


There! That should save you a whole bunch of time this weekend. :)


Siarlys Jenkins said...

In my home state, the courts have refused to review decisions made by church authorities in matters of personnel. Many victims (and/or their attorneys) have complained about this, and some have managed to sue in another state for events which occurred in my state. On the whole, I think the approach the courts have taken is sound. Individuals who commit crimes can of course be prosecuted, and a priest's collar provides no defense. If a bishop is in fact an accomplice after the fact, he can be prosecuted too. But for all kinds of good reasons, church personnel decisions, in positions affecting faith and doctrine, are not subject to government review. That principle is worth defending -- even if it closes one avenue of redress.

I'm also a little dubious about massive civil suits. The church's money, even the Roman Catholic church's money, is ultimately given by parishioners, who were not party to the crime, or civil tort, and it gets sucked out of programs that generally have some beneficial purpose. What is the monetary price of having been molested? I wouldn't mind the individuals responsible paying dearly for it -- but not an institution twenty years later just because it has deep pockets.

Erin Manning said...

Siarlys, I know we don't agree about everything, but I sincerely appreciate your words here. I do think the principles at stake are important for all faiths, and for the idea of religious freedom in general.

Amy said...

This post is just genius. (It's very sad, but it's true. This is exactly how it will be reported.)

Dawn said...

Spot on.

Kim said...


Lauretta said...

Interesting article here:

that discusses the sex abuse situation in the Boy Scouts. They made a decision as well to keep things quiet in the 1970's.

Interestingly, there were a number of men in the 1920's and 30's that were accused of sex abuse. This is an old problem that is just now receiving the attention that it deserves.

This might give us some info to show that this is a problem everywhere so they can look for causes other than celibacy, Popes, etc. We have been sick as a culture for a long time.