The Los Angeles Times has joyfully discovered a way to keep the clergy misdeeds of the Catholic Church forever in the minds of its readers and the public: the obituary page.
Take a look at the obituary of former bishop G. Patrick Ziemann. At over 900 words, it's not so much an obituary as it is a gleeful relishing by Duke Helfand and the Times over the sins of a Catholic authority.
Did Ziemann violate his vows, wreck the trust bestowed upon him, and cause immense hurt? Absolutely. But is the appropriate place an obituary for a paper to pile on about the most demeritorious moments of someone's life? About 80% of Ziemann's lengthy obituary does just that.
Michael Jackson publicly admitted to sharing his bed with young boys, and he had two high-profile molestation cases filed against him. Yet when the Times reported Jackson's death, the paper buried and glossed over these episodes. Instead, it trumpeted the loss of the "King of Pop" across the entire front page. (See the image of the Times' front page that day.)
By the way, this is not the first time the Times has done this to a Catholic clergyman. When Bishop Juan Arzube died on Christmas Day in 2007, the Times published an obituary with the title, "Juan Arzube, 89; bishop was lauded as an activist but tainted by accusation." After decades of service and commitment to serving poor Latino immigrants, Arzube was hit in 2003 with a single charge of molesting a minor 28 years earlier. Arzube vehemently denied the charge and sought to meet the man who had accused him. The Times' obituary of Arzube actually quoted the alleged victim's attorney to make his case against the bishop.
And to add to the issue, the Times plastered the word "ACCUSED" under Arzube's photo that accompanied the obituary. "ACCUSED." Think about it for a minute. We can never know for sure if any molestation took place at all. Arzube was never tried in a court of law. (Before people raise the issue: Arzube's case was part of the bulk $660-million civil settlement in 2007. But, contrary to what many may claim, by no means did the settlement itself prove any individual accuser's claim of abuse.)
I'm just sayin' …