New York City, N.Y., Apr 7, 2010 / 04:31 am
Claims that Pope Benedict declined to defrock a Milwaukee priest who molested deaf students rely upon documents supplied by a leading lawyer in lawsuits against the Catholic Church, Bill McGurn reports. He charges that the New York Times did not sufficiently disclose this connection and advises more “journalistic skepticism” about the narrative of an attorney who stands to make millions.
The attorney in question has charged that Pope Benedict is the head of an “international conspiracy” to cover up crimes and evade the law.
In a Tuesday essay in the Wall Street Journal, writer and news executive William McGurn responded to two Times articles by Laurie Goodstein, “Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Deaf Boys" published in print March 25 and “Events in the Case of an Accused Priest” printed on April 1.
He notes the internal church documents cited by Goodstein and posted on the Times website were reportedly provided by Jeff Anderson and Mike Finnegan. The two are described by the Times as “lawyers for five men who have brought four lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.”
But, McGurn wrote, Goodstein did not tell readers that Anderson is not “just any old lawyer.”
“When it comes to suing the Church, he is America's leading plaintiff’s attorney. Back in 2002, he told the Associated Press that he'd won more than $60 million in settlements from the Church, and he once boasted to a Twin Cities weekly that he's ‘suing the s--t out of them everywhere.’”
McGurn also charged that the Times did not report the “salient fact” that Anderson is now trying to sue the Vatican in U.S. federal court.
“None of this makes Mr. Anderson wrong or unworthy of quoting,” he said in his Wall Street Journal piece. “It does make him a much bigger player than the story disclosed. In fact, it's hard to think of anyone with a greater financial interest in promoting the public narrative of a church that takes zero action against abuser priests, with Pope Benedict XVI personally culpable.”