Boston Globe Ready for Victory Lap In Anniversary of Clergy Abuse Coverage

Let the gloating begin.

It will soon be ten years to the day that the Boston Globe initiated its widely heralded, full-throttle coverage of the Boston-area clergy scandals, and the paper wants everyone to know about it.

Starting on January 6, 2002, the paper launched its astonishing string of 947 items on the Catholic Church abuse scandal for the 2002 calendar year. (Yes, that’s an average of over two-and-a-half items per day. Don’t believe it? Count for yourself.)

Today (Tue., 1/3/12), the Globe has trumpeted a front-page, 1,200-word feature interview with the Boston archbishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Indeed, the article/interview does not contain any new or revelatory information. The archbishop continues to meet with alleged victims of clergy abuse, and he acknowledges the irreparable harm that the atrocious abuse by Catholic priests wreaked on innocent minors.

Considering the fact that there have been no major developments in Boston in months, the article appears to serve no other purpose but to provide an opportunity for the Globe to pat itself on the back.

Indeed, the article begins,

“A decade after revelations of clergy sex abuse rocked the Archdiocese of Boston …”

Then, the fourth paragraph,

“In a lengthy interview marking the 10-year anniversary of revelations about the archdiocese’s role in protecting abusive priests …”

And later in the piece:

The series of events that led to [O’Malley’s installation] began on Jan. 6, 2002, when the Globe published an article disclosing through court records how Cardinal Bernard F. Law had repeatedly transferred the Rev. John J. Geoghan from parish to parish as reports of sexual abuse arose. The article, followed by others, revealed the full extent of the sexual abuse problem within the archdiocese …

A couple quick thoughts:

1. The Boston Globe has received the endless accolades and recognition for its 2002 reporting. But what a lot of people may not know is that it was the Boston Phoenix – the city’s “alternative” arts and entertainment weekly (think: The Village Voice) – that was all over the story nearly a year earlier.

Beginning on March 23, 2001, the Phoenix’s Kristen Lombardi initiated a series of blistering stories about the Church’s handlings of abuse cases in Boston. (Her first piece – about the notorious John Geoghan – ran nearly 6,700 words.)

2. As we reported just a couple weeks ago, the Globe has been less-than-eager to follow up on the shocking revelation that a Boston public school knowingly shuffled a suspected molester to another school, where he is alleged to have abused again.

Indeed, this is exactly what the Globe has excoriated the Church for doing decades ago. Yet these practices appear to be happening today in Boston Public Schools.

Is this a case of “It’s not the Catholic Church, so let’s not worry about it”? It sure seems like it.

Indeed, the Globe’s tsunami of coverage was actually an important benefit to the Church. The relentless exposure shined a light on an awful darkness and enabled the Church to rid itself of the “filth” of child abuse. (And “filth” is the word with which Pope Benedict has described child abuse.)

We must continue to demand justice and compassion for victims of clergy abuse. We must continue to pray for those who were so immeasurably harmed by criminal priests. This is not optional.

However, it is perfectly justifiable for Catholics to demand perspective, honesty, and balance in the reporting of the Church abuse narrative.

And the Boston Globe is not providing this with its never-ending assault on the Catholic Church.