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No. 11- 5:30 PM 6/17 MP
Bishops agree to remove sex offenders from ministry

No. 10- 8:00 PM 6/16 TF/TR
Bishops urged, in a most unusual morning, to press for reforms beyond sex abuse policy

No. 9- 11:00 AM 6/14 TR
Bishops urged, in a most unusual morning, to press for reforms beyond sex abuse policy

No. 8- 9:15 AM 6/14 MP
Bishops issue ‘profound apology,’ hear victims’ stories, strong calls for reform

No. 7- 9:00 PM 6/14 TF
NCR Editor Tom Roberts assesses Dallas meeting on “News Hour”

No. 6- 1:45 PM 6/13 TF
Bishops caught in the middle as meeting opens

No. 5- 10:00 AM 6/13 TR
Serious questions for wider church loom after Dallas meeting

No. 4- 9:45 AM 6/13 TR
For victim leader Clohessy, years of work lead to 15 minutes before the bishops

No. 3- 4:30 PM 6/12 TF
Arriving in Dallas, bishops greeted with more bad news

No. 2- 11:00 AM 6/12 TF
U.S. bishops, facing church division, lack authority to set U.S. course

Posted 4:35 P.M. CST Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Number 1

Cardinal lashes out against U.S. media as it prepares for Dallas

NCR Publisher

Just days before hundreds of U.S. reporters and scores of television production crews descend upon Dallas, an important church cardinal has lashed out against the U.S. media. Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga bitterly attacked the press for its coverage of the clergy abuse scandal.

Some church observers have seen this prelate as a potential papal candidate. My guess is that fewer insiders would share this opinion today.

Interviewed by the Catholic monthly magazine, 30 Giorni, or 30 Days, Maradiaga reportedly said he sees conspiracy and a campaign of Catholic bashing in recent U.S. media coverage. He sees editors and news producers stumbling over themselves to revenge the church for its support of a Palestinian homeland, and opposition to abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty. He sees the media acting with “a fury which reminds me of the times of Diocletian and Nero and more recently, Stalin and Hitler.”

Now hold on. The 59-year-old cardinal -- perhaps still a tad too young to be elected pope -- had until now been viewed as a moderate attuned to the world and its needs. Now I wonder. So will other Catholics. His intemperate remarks reveal a woefully inadequate ability to assess the U.S. scene today.

Either the cardinal believes what he said or does not. If he believes it, he lacks understanding and reasonably balanced perception. If he does not, he has naively allowed himself to be suckered into an unbecoming and misdirected campaign to scapegoat the media and remove attention from where it belongs, in the laps of the U.S. bishops.

Perhaps cultural barriers have kept this seemingly charming Latin American from understanding the role of a free press in a Western society. Or perhaps he is more sheltered and defensive than some might have thought. Does he simply lack the ability to feel and relate to the outrage of American Catholics, an outrage reflected in media coverage?

Maradiaga’s remarks might come back to haunt him. The church’s 126 cardinals under 80 years of age -- those who will elect the next pope -- will almost certainly look to the next pope to be a moderate leader, a unifier, a healer, a person not prone to extremist rhetoric. Based on Maradiaga’s recent remarks, he scores poorly in all these areas.