Thursday, August 04, 2005

Stafford: Good, Media: Bad

In yesterday's Denver Catholic Register, Archbishop Chaput responded to the allegations detailed in an article in last Friday's Denver Post. The archdiocese of Denver -- then-headed by James Francis Stafford, now a cardinal and major penitentiary of the Holy Roman Church -- was reported to have kept a predator priest in ministry after he had been accused on "at least" three separate occasions.

The piece didn't put Stafford in the best light, and his successor engages in a forceful defense:
In his decade of service in Denver, Cardinal Stafford consistently worked to create a Church environment free of sexual misconduct, especially any abuse of minors.

In 2003, in light of the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, our archdiocesan sexual misconduct policy was adjusted and further strengthened. We should remember that most of the Dallas Charter’s provisions had already been put into force years earlier by Cardinal Stafford.

This might be a good place to note that the two Denver prelates have enjoyed a solid friendship going back two decades. Stafford served as a principal co-consecrator when Chaput was ordained bishop of Rapid City in 1988.

But the more curious element is a repeated emphasis on "media attention," and the implied connotation seems a negative one.
We do not, and will not, interfere with anyone’s choice to seek media attention for any allegation....

We never resolve these issues in the media.
We know that an abuse case can never be resolved by media, but does that mean it should all be handled behind closed doors where no one will ever know? Media is how the public knows about these things, it's how people learn. And if the church has nothing to hide and can advance a sincere, substantive message that holds water, then what's the skittishness?

Look at Ratzi -- he loves the press, loves doing his long interviews and journos don't get him panicked in the least, because the man has nothing to hide and he knows what he wants to say.

If it weren't for the press, we wouldn't have known a damn thing about any of this to begin with, thanks to confidentiality agreements and diocesan officials charged with keeping the "scandal factor" on the down-low. What's more, "media attention" does give a local curia the ability to present its remedies for the abuse and the measures it has taken to combat the problem. And the balance lies in the reader's judgment. Both church and press are all about truth, after all, right?

Fortunately for Denver and Catholics of good will everywhere, Chaput has loads of press cred thanks to a very proactive, fair and constructive relationship with media both at home and beyond. The man is great, provacative, inspiring copy. But turning the guns toward newsrooms that simply report news -- even if it's a modern connecting of dots laid down decades ago -- won't get anyone anywhere.

Nobody said the purification would be easy. Well, it won't be easy if it's done right.



Post a Comment

<< Home