Blog Post

Media Drags Catholic Church into Penn State Sex Scandal

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

While totally missing the real common denominator between the Penn State scandal and priest sex abuse - homosexual predation - the secular media is instead using the Penn State story as the vehicle for a new round of Church-bashing.

Newsbusters is reporting that shortly after the Penn State scandal broke last week, NBC's Nightly News anchor Brian Williams followed his report on the case by drawing this comparison with the Church: "A lot of people watching this scandal unfold at Penn State, watching the human damage pile up, watching an institution get badly soiled, can't help but think of the scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in America. There are a lot of parallels." 

Correspondent Anne Thompson then proceeded to report: "Almost ten years ago, the Boston Globe broke the story of priests abusing minors and the cover-up by Church officials, shattering the Archdiocese and the faith of many American Catholics. One of its reporters sees parallels in the Penn State case....Critics say these are institutions of power, secrecy, mythology, dominated by men who circled the wagons in a crisis."

Several news stories, including NBC's, interviewed David Clohessy, the national director of SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Clohessy made it a point to stress that people have a "moral imperative" to call police when child abuse is suspected - which is true. The only problem is that Clohessy has no room to talk. In the early 1990's, even after he began his work with SNAP, Clohessy knew of allegations against his brother, Father Kevin Clohessy, but did nothing about it for years.

In 2002,The Associated Press reported: "David said he had known for years about the allegations and agonized over whether to report his brother to authorities. He even contemplated distributing leaflets outside his brother's church. But in the end, he did not go to the police."

But these kinds of rather salient facts are always ignored by reporters intent on trashing the Church.

For instance, when drawing the same parallels between Penn State and the Church,  The New York Times's Jonathan Mahler reported:

"A better comparison would be the sexual molestation scandals that rocked another insular, all-male institution, the Roman Catholic Church. The parallels are too striking to ignore. A suspected predator who exploits his position to take advantage of his young charges. The trusting colleagues who don’t want to believe it – and so don't. Even confronted with convincing proof, they choose to protect their institution's reputation....This was the dynamic that pervaded the Catholic clerical culture during its sexual abuse scandals, and it seems to have been no less pervasive at Penn State."

R. Cort Kirkwood, writing for New American, says they're getting it wrong on the Penn State case just like they did on the Catholic Church's cases.

"Problem is, the media again got the story wrong, fixating on powerful institutions trying to protect themselves instead of the obvious: predatory homosexual behavior."

He correctly points out that eighty-one percent of the cases of the abuse within the Catholic Church involved homosexual priests who preyed upon boys aged 11 to 17. Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky's victims were younger and ranged in age from 7 to 12.

Rather than draw the parallels made by newscasters, Kirkwood says they ought to focus on the obvious.

"The stories have one thing in common: homosexual predation. Somehow, the media missed that one."


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