Holy Week at PBS: ‘Frontline’ To Profile Catholic Church Abuse – Again

As Christians observe Holy Week and the anticipation of Easter, PBS' Frontline program will air another investigation into abuse by clergy of the Catholic Church. In an episode entitled, "The Silence," the program (Tue. 4/19/11) is scheduled to profile the awful abuse from decades ago of under-aged Native Americans and Eskimos in Alaska.

The network claims that it is covering "a little-known chapter of the Catholic Church sex abuse story." Yet the narrative is hardly "little known." The New York Times, for example, has run a number of articles in the past few years about this topic, while the Los Angeles Times ran a humungous front-page piece about these cases a while back. (We even commented on it at the time.)

One cannot help but conclude that PBS is piling on this narrative as a means to hammer the Catholic Church. To wit, Frontline already aired a lengthy episode on the Catholic abuse narrative not that long ago ("Hand of God," Jan. 2007). If this upcoming episode is anything like the last one, viewers can expect to hear stomach-turning stories of abuse while being shown visuals of Church items and other holy images. (This is a not-so-subtle attempt to connect the thoughts of criminal child abuse with the Catholic Church.)

It is also possible that notorious attorney John Manly, who represented many of the alleged victims, will make an appearance on the upcoming show. Viewers should be warned (if he does indeed appear) that Manly’s relationships with truth and facts are not always reliable, to say the least. 

Indeed, Catholic priests terribly abused minors, and leaders failed to stop the awful harm. That is an undeniable truth. Nothing justifies such a wretched evil.

We must continue to demand justice and compassion for victims of clergy abuse. There is no doubt that the stories that will be heard on the program will be heart-wrenching and angering to hear.

However, media outlets like PBS have surpassed the point where they are merely reporting a story. They are using the scandals as a tool to single out and further tarnish the Church.

When will PBS’ Frontline investigate the massive child abuse and cover-ups happening today – not decades ago – in our nation's public schools? How about the recent cover-ups of abuse by Orthodox rabbis in New York City?

Or is only the Catholic Church a target?