Ben Shapiro, in an op-ed column at Newsweek, says what many Catholics are already thinking:
So, did the press leap to investigate Vigano’s claims? Did they demand answers from Pope Francis? Did we see the same type of courageous, comprehensive coverage of Francis’ activities that we saw from the Globe team circa 2003? Of course not.
Instead, mainstream media outlets went out of their way to portray Vigano as a disgruntled conservative angry at Pope Francis’ progressive interpretation of Catholic doctrine. The New York Times headlined, “Vatican Power Struggle Bursts Into Open as Conservatives Pounce.” Their print headline was even worse: “Francis Takes High Road As Conservatives Pounce, Taking Criticisms Public.”
Yes, according to the Times, the story wasn’t the sitting Pope being credibly accused of a sexual abuse cover-up—it was conservatives attacking him for it. The problem of child molestation and sexual abuse of clergy took a back seat to Francis’ leftist politics, as the Times piece made clear in its first paragraph: “Since the start of his papacy, Francis has infuriated Catholic traditionalists as he tries to nurture a more welcoming church and shift it away from culture war issues, whether abortion or homosexuality. ‘Who am I to judge?’ the pope famously said, when asked about gay priests. Just how angry his political and doctrinal enemies are became clear this weekend…”
It wasn’t just the Times. On Wednesday, Reuters headlined, “Defenders rally around pope, fear conservatives escalating war.” On Thursday, Reuters doubled down with this headline: “Conservative media move to front line of battle to undermine Pope Francis.” The Telegraph(U.K.) reported, “Vatican analysts say the attack appears to be part of a concerted effort by conservatives to oust Pope Francis, who they dislike for his relatively liberal views…”
But why in the name of God is calling on the Vatican not to defend sexual abusers a political issue for the press? Why isn’t this something we can all agree upon? Why aren’t the press asking the pope tough questions, instead of focusing on the supposed motivations of the whistleblowers?
The media’s disgraceful attempts to cover for Francis because of their love for his politics merely exposes the actual malign motivations of many in the media: they were happy to expose misconduct and evil inside the Catholic Church when the pope was a conservative; they’re happy to facilitate a cover-up when the pope is a liberal.
That’s vile. And most Catholics understand that if the members of the media—an overwhelmingly secular group of people—are steadfastly defending a papacy accused of sexual abuse cover-ups, it’s not out of goodwill for the Church generally. It’s out of a belief that traditionalist doctrine must be rooted out at any cost, even including the abuse of minors and the violation of basic canon law.
I don’t know how long they can keep this narrative. Sexual abuse is sexual abuse, and 2018 is a dangerous time to take the side of a predator, no matter their ideology. Just ask Harvey Weinstein.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.