Time's 10-page cover story last week critiqued the way in which the Church, and particularity Pope Benedict XVI, have handled the sex-abuse scandal among the clergy.
In a National Review Online article on Friday, Catholic scholar and commentator George Weigel responded to the Times cover story by pointing out the errors he believed to be in it. These errors included misrepresentations of the Church's hierarchical structure and ignoring Benedict's efforts to root out abusive priests.
On June 9, blogger and writer Terry Mattingly defended Weigel's article and offered further support for his claim that the Time story provides incomplete and inaccurate information.
Mattingly, who attends an Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland, writes the nationally syndicated “On Religion” column for the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C., which is sent to about 350 newspapers in North America. He has also worked as a reporter and religion columnist for the Rocky Mountain News, Charlotte Observer and Charlotte News.
In a blog post on GetReligion.org, Mattingly referenced Weigel's critique of Time's heavy use of anonymous sourcing. He agreed with Weigel's analysis, which he warned critics not to merely dismiss “as the whining of a pro-Vatican conservative.” He pointed out that “as even the Time cover notes, conservative Catholics have been some of the fiercest critics” of the bishops who have failed to respond adequately to the sex-abuse crisis.
In addition, Mattingly challenged Time's treatment of the Pope, saying that he was depicted in an inaccurate and unfair light.
“The Time article also gives a small amount of space to the voices that argue that Pope Benedict XVI has been a trailblazer in reform on this issue,” he observed.
He went on to question the title of the Time article, “Why Being Pope Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry,” and pointed out all the ways that the Pope has responded with sorrow to the crisis.
“Obviously, the pope has said that the sexual abuse crisis — including the episcopal cover ups — has been rooted in sin and immorality and that many leaders in the church have been guilty. He has expressed regrets. He has urged reforms. He has talked about the 'filth' that haunts the life of the church. He has sought forgiveness from victims and has urged bishops to do the same,” Mattingly underscored.
Referring again to the title of the Times story as well as the general media coverage of the topic, Mattingly concluded by asking whether the real goal should be “actual reform in parishes and dioceses around the world” or “some form of media-friendly act of personal penance.”
.- A recent spread in Time Magazine is continuing to draw criticism for its treatment of the Catholic Church, both from members of the Church and from those outside of it.