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Blaming the messenger?

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From the Summer 2002 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 18.

From the Summer 2002 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 18.

As the media gave more and more attention to the sexual abuse lawsuits, the bullseye on their back grew as well. Only this time, the Catholic church has been taking the shots.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who is often mentioned as a potential candidate to succeed the Pope, said the media’s frenzy reminded him of the “fury” of Stalin, Hitler, Nero and Diocletian.

Friar Benedict Groeschel called the media “a monster” in “From Scandal to Hope,” his new book about the church’s crisis. “They seemed to be our friends only a short while ago,” Groeschel wrote. “Now they have good reasons to attack us.”

In Dallas, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops prohibited The Boston Globe from covering its live sessions after a dispute over a leaked copy of the bishops’ remedial policy. Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, director of communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called The Dallas Morning News‘ special report on clergy abuse “a smear campaign.”

Some in the media responded.

“Too bad they’re clueless,” wrote Andrew Greeley in the Chicago Sun-Times. “One hopes, but does not expect, that the leadership of the church will learn how to respond intelligently to the media, especially because counterattacking them is always counterproductive.” — MFS