When the Chicago Tribune's Manya Brachear reported the story of 31 Chicago-area grown men suing the Congregation of Christian Brothers religious order alleging abuse from decades past, it seemed to be no different from the thousands of other stories in the last few years that have been reported about alleged abuse long ago in the Catholic Church.
However, the Brachear's article included a passage that was a pleasant surprise:
"The Tribune is not publishing the names of brothers listed in the lawsuit because they have not been convicted of abuse at any of the three schools, and it is not known whether the order has substantiated the allegations against them."
For decades, Catholic priests have been singled out by the media as presumed guilty by any accusation, no matter how long ago, without so much as an arrest, indictment, criminal conviction, or even a Church finding that the claim might be "credible."
Even long-deceased priests whose accusations have been unsubstantiated – and are no longer around to defend themselves – have had their names broadcast and plastered across the media landscape as if they were convicted child molesters.
By contrast, the mainstream media has allowed any abuse claimant to make an accusation under the cloak of anonymity, compromising an accused priest's right to a fair and public trial.
Kudos to Brachear and the Tribune for considering basic fairness and breaking from this unjust practice.
We hope that more newspapers take the high road and follow suit.