Speaking Truth to Power: Esteemed Journalist Calls Out PA Grand Jury Report As a Fraud

Peter Steinfels : Fordham University

Bravo! Peter Steinfels shatters the lazy narrative and speaks the truth

Upon the release of last August's Pennsylvania grand jury report and the media hysteria that followed, TheMediaReport.com felt like a lone voice trumpeting the fact that the report was utterly corrupt and dishonest to its core.

Yet finally, five months after the report's release, we are not alone in that judgment. In fact, we feel vindicated. In an absolute must-read article for Commonweal magazine, veteran writer Peter Steinfels concludes after an exhaustive assessment that the report's narrative of the Church scandals is "grossly misleading, irresponsible, inaccurate, and unjust."

"Flying in the face of almost impossible headwinds"

Josh Shapiro : Pennsylvania AG

Pennsylvania's anti-Catholic AG
Josh Shapiro

Steinfels' impressive work clocks in at over 11,000 words. He covers many important issues, and that it is why you should read it. But here are Steinfels' main points:

● The incendiary charge from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro that the Church "brushed aside" "all" victims while leaders "did nothing" is "in fact grossly misleading, irresponsible, inaccurate, and unjust.

"This ugly, indiscriminate, and inflammatory charge, unsubstantiated by the report's own evidence, to say nothing of the evidence the report ignores, is truly unworthy of a judicial body responsible for impartial justice." Steinfels adds.

● Shapiro's report completely lacks historical context, especially in not providing any background for the reasons why Church leaders acted the way they did decades ago in their handling of accused priests. Steinfels writes:

"What is missing from the report, above all, is any sense of history. The report treats the more than seven decades from 1945 until yesterday as a block. … Could you inquire into family breakdown since 1945 or patterns of sexual activity over that timespan without giving considerable attention to demography, single parenthood, feminism, contraceptives, the 'Sixties,' gay rights, and changing norms regarding autonomy, privacy, and personal fulfillment?"

Steinfels also notes that Shapiro's report ignored the fact that almost all of the accusations it detailed date back many decades and that many accusers did not even come forward until after 2002, very long after the allegations took place and when "[m]any of the newly accused were in fact already retired, inactive, or deceased."

● The utilization of therapeutic treatment centers for abusive priests was not some malevolent effort to deflect blame and to bury a problem but a genuine effort to address the issue as a whole.

Indeed, even back in the 1990s, these treatment professionals wholeheartedly argued that "it was better for endangered youth and the church to treat priests over whom the church retained considerable leverage than to 'cut them loose' on society by laicizing them."

● It is not 1985 anymore! As Steinfels explains:

"In the case of Pennsylvania, whether one looks at the handling of old allegations or the prevention of new ones, the conclusion that a careful, unbiased reading of the Pennsylvania report compels is this: the Dallas Charter has worked. Not worked perfectly, not without need for regular improvements and constant watchfulness. But worked."

As Greensburg's Bishop Edward C. Malesic has articulated, the response to Shapiro's report can best be summed up in five words: "This is not today's Church."

Just have one quibble, however

We did take issue with one sentence of Steinfels' outstanding piece:

"[V]irtually no one has raised questions about a grand jury, an attorney general, or a diocese authoritatively pronouncing so many priests and bishops guilty of awful crimes, many without any hearing or opportunity for defending themselves."

We. beg. to. differ. We have reported on these issues extensively.

We urge to anyone in Catholic or secular media to read Steinfels' report if they ever write about the Catholic sex abuse story again. Yes, it is that essential.

Kudos to Mr. Steinfels.

See our Special PA Jury Report analysis:
FIVE FAST FACTS You Need to Know About the Overhyped PA Grand Jury Report
PART I: Pushing Aside Media Hysteria: We Uncover
Pennsylvania's Dishonest Grand Jury Report

PART II: Mouths Washed Out With Holy Water? Rapes at Airports?
Pennsylvania's Dishonest Grand Jury Report EXPOSED

This Abuse Accusation Against a Priest Is So Completely Ridiculous, See For Yourself


  1. mark says:

    "This is not today's Church." And it is a deliberately distorted picture of yestrday's. Steinfels' critique of the PA Grand Jury Report is devastating in its accuracy. Kudos indeed to Mr. Steinfels; and to The Media Report for its unstinting pursuit of the truth. 

  2. People's clown says:

    Yes, thank heaven someone's done something for the defense of those convicted in the court of public opinion! I've personally been using bill Donahue's "debunked" paper for the AG. And yes, it's been very lonely , as a defenseman. It shows you how gullible media watchers can be, by swallowing hook, line, and sinker, from someone who was banging a pot, with a spoon, and just kept beating it harder. This latest assault, has again caused much damage, by its training the public, and Catholics as well, to reenforce anti-Catholicism.

  3. Dan says:

    Before all you Catholics jump on these claims of how bad, biased, unfair and anti-catholic the Penn. Grand Jury report was or how "grossly misleading, irresponsible, inaccurate and unjust" it's findings, please consider this. The author of the rebuttal, Peter Steinfels, is a lifelong Catholic, professor at Notre Dame (1994-95), visiting professor at Georgetown Catholic and Jesuit University (1997-2001), also professor at Fordham Catholic University and finally co-director of Fordham Center on religion and culture. He has also argued in favor of women as priests and deacons, and suggested this could lead to the creation of female cardinals. Do you think this is an author who would give an unbiased, fair and truthful rebuttal?

    I have no plans on re-visiting all the horrible accounts and bishop responses to their priests crimes of abuse. I read accusations of victims I felt were "brushed aside" and I wouldn't say leaders "did nothing", but I would say they "did nothing" terribly good or well. They didn't follow Biblical principles, which you would expect from any Bible following Church. You only have to go to page 6 of the report to read that a "priest raped a girl, got her pregnant and arranged an abortion", and the bishops response, "This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief." That message was to the priest and not the victim. Sounds to me like she was "brushed aside" and the bishop "did nothing". And what percentage of child molesting priests were ever sent to prison? The Vatican is still handling cases in house. Even DA's were pressured to look away and were persuaded and convinced the Church was handling matters. HUH!

    Also Catholics, you can't have it both ways of constantly attacking the media, sometimes including your own Catholic media, but when someone comes along with a pro-Catholic, biased and untrue assessment that fits your agenda, shout "Kudos" to you. 

  4. malcolm harris says:

    'Dan' on the 21st, says that the Bishops, accused in the Penn. Grand Jury Report, "did not follow biblical principles."  Well perhaps they were mindful  of the eighth commandment?. The one that says "thou shalt not bear false witness…"  Also the constitutional right, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Surely any unbiased person can see the risk of presuming the guilt of any priest…. when the goal of the accuser is big money….. like winning a lottery. 

    • Dan says:

      Lying for the priests and keeping secret their horrible sins against innocent children, rather than exposing their crimes would be considered "bear[ing] false witness". I have no problem with the constitutional right of innocent until proven guilty, but I wish I would have been afforded the same rights when I was falsely accused by your priests, nuns and a corrupt catholic cop. Like the saying goes, maybe what goes around comes around (God's karma). Only fact is that your bishops and priests are finally getting exactly what they deserve for the sins they committed and had secretly hidden from society*. Now we're waiting for them to be sent to the civil authorities so they can receive also the punishment they deserve. Only then can our families and children feel safe to have your Churches in our communities.

      "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:19-20

      How about priests and bishops being honest and admitting to your sins. That would be the Christian thing to do, but the wicked would rather hide in the darkness, as if they think they have even fooled the All-Seeing, All-Knowing and All-Powerful Living God.

  5. peoples clown says:

    I think now, with what happened with the Covington high school students being unjustly accused, maybe there can be better investigations of "abuse" cases!!!

  6. malcolm harris says:

    'Dan',  on the 24th, asserts that …..we are finally getting what we deserve, for the sins we  committed and had "secretly hidden from society". Personally have neve been able to figure out how it could have been "hidden from society"?. For instance, take my nieces and nephews, and  suppose somebody had molested them. Their parents were only lukewarm Catholics, (which incidentally describes half of all Catholics) and they would have reported such a crime to the police.  Even had the perp been a member of a religious order.  Then they would have been more shocked, and determined, to see justice done. Sadly "Dan" and others, rely on bigotry, those bigots who delude themselves into thinking that our Church is a closed society, like a cult. The purpose is to explain away why there have been so few accusations at the time the offences supposedly took place. Frankly folks…. we are being played for fools.

    • Dan says:

      Malcolm, Please get this straight. When the leaders of a so-called christian organization, molest innocent children and keep those crimes secret from the civil authorities and the population at large, settling out of court so no one knows the extent of their crimes, this would be a cult. You can close your eyes and plug your ears, and act like you don't know anything in regards to what has transpired, but that changes absolutely nothing. Are you at all aware that there were many cases, including several in the Penn. Grand Jury Report, where children or parents reported the crimes against their children within the statute of limitations, but the Church claimed the priests had changed, or he won't do that again or claimed they fired him, just to send him off to rape children in another diocese. Are all you catholics going to continue to live in denial? Well if you're fine with the staus quo, then don't ever think your Church is ever going to clean up its act.This is one long sad chapter in your Church and I don't believe they're going to pull themselves out of this one. They've gotten away with their disgusting lives of child abuse for way too long. Read your Bible and free yourselves from all the lies.

      P.S. If I'm telling the truth, then I wouldn't qualify as a "bigot". Please stop the slurs.

    • Dan says:

      I would like all catholics to know, those who throw the word "bigot" around to falsely describe others and the Media. I found the origin of this definition in vocabulary.com -

      "In English and French, a bigot was originally a hypocrite, a person who claims to have certain moral beliefs but whose behavior doesn't match those beliefs. A bigot was specifically a hypocritical professor of religion, but the connection with the current sense of bigot is not clear."

      So by this original definition, the word "bigot" would be better used to desribe your Church and the priests and bishops who claim to be the moral authority, but by their behavior prove themselves to be nothing of the sort. Please stop pointing fingers at others until your Church learns to practice what it preaches.

  7. peoples clown says:

    Wow! Sounds like there are a lot of cults out there,Dan! Which one of these cases is like that. Is it the one right after WWII? Did you know that the lawsuit against the Penn AG has resulted in some  priests not identifying themselves? After all, its not a trial, is it? Please stop the slurps!

  8. peoples clown says:

    Dan/jim- I suppose with your witch hunt mentality, you are in full agreement with the Hawaii politician who is saying that the Knights of Columbus are a  terrorist group! Stay warm this week!

    • Dan says:

      I only have the time to respond to one of your silly comments. First off, I'm not Dan/jim, so I would appreciate you not coupling me with an opposite. I'm in no agreement "with the Hawaii politician who is saying that the Knights of Columbus are a  terrorist group!" I look at the "Knights" as a group of grown men who like to dress in Halloween costumes, not unlike the Popes court jesters who dress like clowns or Roman soldiers. By the way, you wouldn't be one of those clowns by any chance? Please stop with the witch-hunt "slurps", whatever that's supposed to mean. Please try to respond with comments that might show some intelligence.

    • peoples clown says:

      Chances are yes! Again, if I would've been in your jurisdiction, I would've arrested you too!

    • Dan says:

      So you're telling me that you would have lied to falsely accuse me, just like your fellow Catholic hierarchy, thugs and corrupt cops. Why does that not surprise me, clown?

  9. Julie says:

    Dan, Your last comment is 140 words, and I am giving the church one dollar per word this weekend in the collection plate, so $140. Ouch that is a real hit to my wallet. It is not Christian to spread viciousness and hate, and so I am turning it around for good. We must always strive for good and to help the poor and needy, and to love Our Lord with all of our hearts. 

    • Dan says:

      Mother Theresa, I don't know how you equate the truth and someone telling that truth, to one "spread[ing] viciousness and hate". The Church can use all the funds you can give them, now that they've come out with 286 more credibly accused, multiple offending, child molesting priests from Texas alone. Your $140 amounts to what, 48 cents apiece, to help them lie and deny the charges?

      And by the way, the Bible states, "But when you give to the needy [or "poor'], do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:3-4 So we'll just have to chalk that up to just another Biblical principle that Catholics and their Church don't think they need to follow. I guess you can impress your fellow cohorts with your generosity, but you haven't impressed God whatsoever. Try reading and obeying God's Word, rather than boasting about your goodness. 

    • LLC says:


      your Christian attitude is a real breath of fresh air in this toxic environment. Please continue praying for us all; we all need it.


      “ don't know how you equate the truth and someone telling that truth, to one "spread[ing] viciousness and hate" = in your case, it’s pretty easy.

      “…with 286 more credibly accused, multiple offending, child molesting priests from Texas alone” = correct; it is painful, but somehow the Church seems to be the only institution ready and able to address this issue (albeit sometimes late). I don’t recall seeing anything comparable reported about all other human institutions were these awful acts happen regularly (including your church).

      Furthermore, if you read the list of the accusations, you’ll see how these are old instances. In the only newly created parish listed, no cases have been reported since the year 2000.

      “But when you give to the needy [or "poor'], do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” = correct; and yet, hypocritical and incorrect. Do you ever let the IRS know of your charitable donations? Just asking…

      Furthermore, in Jesus’ message, the important phrase is “to be seen by them.” This is not a prohibition against others becoming aware of our giving, especially if it can be a lesson for them (such is in your case). Rather, it’s a command not to do these things in order to receive the recognition of men (which, again, in your case is not even an issue).

      “Try reading and obeying God's Word” = exactly what Julie has done (Romans 12:21).

    • Dan says:

      LLC -

      "For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue." Psalm 5:9

      "You give your mouth free reign for evil, and your tongue frames deceit." Psalm 50:19

      The only reason why your "Church seems to be the only institution ready and able to address this issue (albeit sometimes [very] late)", is because they are finally being exposed by Attorney Generals or courts fed-up with the way your Church has previously handled and kept secret the perversions of their cult. To claim otherwise is only deceitful.

      Considering the flattery of your own kind, your cute little sarcastic shots towards me, and your persistent deceptions, I really prefer not wasting my time with the rest of your ignorance.

      P.S. Thanks for the quote, Romans 12:21, for I will not let your Church's evil defeat me.

    • LLC says:


      thank you for these amazing quotes! Indeed, a double-edge sword is the word of God. Any time you point a finger at someone, you point three fingers back at yourself.

      You realize, I hope, that this is a written blog, therefore no words are spoken, right? Or perhaps you have to read your posts out loud before writing them? If this is the case, please keep practicing.

      “To claim otherwise is only deceitful” = incorrect and nonfactual, as usual. Please see the recent report from the Parkersburg, W. Va., High School.

      “Considering the flattery of your own kind, your cute little sarcastic shots towards me, and your persistent deceptions, I really prefer not wasting my time with the rest of your ignorance” = and yet you waste anyone else’s with your non-answers. As for my cute little sarcastic shots, the readers will decide if your crass and offensive language is any better.

  10. Jim Robertson says:

    Ah how the horse shit continues.

    People's Bozo is pretending the Covington high schoolers aren't scum. Would that their parents and or grand parents had had abortions, what a better world this would be. (If my parents would have aborted me I wouldn't have been molested. Perhaps the church is anti choice because it needs to keep their sacred pedophilles in children?)

    • peoples clown says:

      Dan/Jim..patty/Cathy,whatever! There you go again! Trying to rename me again! Leave my name alone! Well,Jim, you are raising issues that no real catholic could agree to. Nazis and communists, yes! As you see by now, how the whole video showed a different story that leftist media tries desperately to ignore. Hey, the lawsuits are going to come from Covington! Maybe there'll be lawsuits to the Penn AG for defamation of character!

    • Dan says:

      I'm going to refrain from calling you a Catholic Bozo, but don't you think if you're to exclaim, "Leave my name alone!", you should at least be leaving my name alone (ie. "Dan/Jim..patty/Cathy"). Why must Catholics demand respect from others, while not giving the same respect to them? Have you ever heard of practicing what you preach or learned the meaning of hypocrisy? And for your own information, calling yourself the "peoples clown" would just be inviting sarcasm, seeing that it's not your real name. Glad to be of help.

  11. Jim Robertson says:

    Will TMR post about the 280 priests accused in Texas? Will it post about the NY state legislature's allowing victims to sue their perpetrators?

    • peoples clown says:

      Dan – yes, I can exclaim, as you gave me that name.

      Jim – you should be happy a fellow alum won the Superbowl!

      Always remember : Satan wants the church destroyed!

  12. Dan says:

    I read a Catholic commentary online titled "A Prayer For The Pope's Meeting With Bishops Feb. 21-24" by Fr. Regis Scanlon. He asks for prayer to a saint who "gallantly fought against the evil of homosexuality among the clergy and monks of the 11th century". He further asks to "Please beg St. Joseph, the protector of the Church to obtain for Pope Francis and the Bishops the honesty and courage to rule that, now and into the future, only men who are completely free of every trace of homosexual orientation should apply to seminary or religious life."

    There's one consistent problem that the Church continually insists upon, that this problem is one of homosexuality, when there is only some truth to that accusation. Yes, older priests sexually abusing seminarians, if they were no longer minors would qualify as homosexual acts. However, sex abuse with predominately young boys, many under 12 years old, is something much more disgusting and sick than simply to blame homosexuality. And how do you explain the rape of young girls, some under 1 year old as homosexual? Now we have news that there's been a coverup of the sexual abuse of nuns among priests and bishops.

    Taking all this into consideration, one would have to conclude that the Church is plagued with a hierarchy bent on the pure addiction to any type of sick sexual lusts. Try to blame homosexuality, but you will only be deceiving and fooling yourselves. There is no excuse for you or your leaders to make claims that everybody else is sexually deviant, as if that can excuse the horrific crimes perpetrated by a Church claiming to be the moral authority and true Church of God and Christ. Time for Catholics to come out of their dark closet and admit to the truth, although I believe it's too late and your organizations destruction is already on its way.

    P.S. Judging from Church history, I doubt any of your Popes or Bishops are capable of anything close to "honesty and courage", so why bother to pray for that now. 

    • LLC says:


      Only one comment to your spiteful and unnecessary long (really, what happened to “I really prefer not wasting my time”) tirade:

      “if they were no longer minors would qualify as homosexual acts” = interesting (and utterly absurd) comment. All sexual acts performed by individuals of the same sex are, by definition, homosexual. Perhaps, you are mistaking homosexual for consensual.

      As for the rest, some (very few, as usual) good points, unfortunately covered by nonfactual accusations, biased view of history and, in general, useless waste of perfectly good bandwidth.

      p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; }

    • Dan says:

      Why do Catholics think that my telling the truth in regards to their religious organization, is "viciousness and hate" and now "spiteful" or "nonfactual"? Are you trying to purposely misunderstand what I'm stating, thinking that way you can deceive and dispute what is the truth? Pedophilia, pederasty, child rape and sodomy of innocent children or any sexual abuse of minors, even if homosexual in nature, is sin that qualifies as far more disgusting and evil than homosexuality among consenting adults. This is Biblically confirmed in the beginning of Matthew 18.

      You can close your eyes and ears in regards to Catholic evil history, but that does not change the wickedness that transpired among your Anti-Christ Anti-Popes or your religion of darkness. I only stated that I prefer not wasting my time answering to your ignorant accusations or questions. When you display something logical or of common sense, then I will answer. 

    • LLC says:


      you made an absurd statement (“older priests sexually abusing seminarians, if they were no longer minors would qualify as homosexual acts”), and I pointed that out. No Catholic has any doubt that these acts are sinful, and even worse when children are involved.

      Despite your complaining (clearly, you can dish it out, but you can’t take it), your posts are spiteful, unnecessary long (and wastefully repetitive), historically and Scripturally inaccurate, and the few (very few) good points simply drown in a sea of fumier. Ironically, everything you say applies perfectly to you and your church as well, and yet you always fail to see it (Matthew 5:22).

      The sad part, as said before, is that your taring everyone with the same brush plays right into the hand of the Media and ultimately of Satan. The many (innumerable) innocent priests and bishops are tarnished along the very few guilty ones. But, alas, Matthew 5:11 brings everything into perspective.

    • Dan says:

      Not much of your nonsense needs a response. I'll help you with your poor interpretations of Biblical quotes.

      Matthew 5:22 – First off, I'm not at all angry, so I would appreciate your not accusing me of something I'm not. You nor any Catholics are my Spiritual "brother", for stagnant water doesn't mix well with the Lord's Spiritually annointed oil. True Christians cannot be evenly yoked with the greedy, unbelievers, sexually immoral, deceiving liars or their deceived. Hence you wouldn't be my brother so the verse would not apply.

      Matthew 5:11 – Thank you for the verse that applies to how your evil lying Church has treated me. This in no way applies to your hierarchy, many who have committed some of the worst sins against innocent children. The rest worship Mary and statues(idolatry), have been known to be greedy thieves and deceiving liars, or are sexually immoral with adults and each other. 

    • peoples clown says:

      Dan – LLC has a point! I think he's right that you can dish it out, but can't take it! Now, don't get mad. I think all the homosexuality is post pubescent, so that's why its not pedo. 

      How can you believe anything the MSM says about the church, after Covington? Its plainly an agenda! There was something in the 19th century. I think it was called "maria monk" or something like that. It looks like the MSM is reading old newspapers and books to sell whatever media they use. Next you'll probably be seeing pictures of bishops swimming ashore with "alligator" hats, attacking america. But, we're already here. Maybe so cal shore attacking surfers! Pax!

  13. Jim Robertson says:

    What fellow Alum? I loathe football because of brain damage.

    Satan? HaHahaHahaha! Should I be afraid of the Easter Bunny or Santa? they are invented too.

    • Dan says:

      Jim, The difference is that Satan is Biblical and obviously alive and well among the false religions of the world and among the wicked. The Easter Bunny and Santa are only pagan inventions.

    • peoples clown says:

      Jim, come on now! Tom Brady! I didn't watch it either, but the fact is there. Don't worry, be happy! He adds prestige to the school!

    • peoples clown says:

      Dan, Santa = st. Nicholas. Made up? Read your "lives of the saints", princess.

  14. Jim Robertson says:

    Princess, I call you that because you live in a biblical tower of ignorance and superstition not unlike the Princesses of old, Satan was a pagan invention. He was created by the Zororastian religion and then he was a Christian re-creation, trying and succeeding in supplanting the Pagan gods Pan and Pluto by changing them from heroic gods into evil villains. All hornswaggle.

    • LLC says:

      Your historical and Biblical ignorance makes Dan look like an accomplished scholar…

    • Dan says:

      Sinners and unbelievers prefer not to believe in anything, thinking there won't be anyone to judge them come Judgment Day. You can't accept that there is a Great God responsible for this universe and every living thing on earth, so how can you accept His enemies. I don't care how evil is named, whether that be Satan, the devil, the serpent or leviathan, good exists and so does evil. God will be more than glad to explain this to you when you stand before Him, Princess. If it makes you feel better to walk with blinders on, then so be it.

    • peoples clown says:

      Gee, might as well say he's in more or, and gets his power from the ring.

  15. Jim Robertson says:

    Dan If your tin horn deity is all powerful and everywhere then he allows the devil to exist ( and very may well be the devil himself since he is supposed to be everywhere including in hell. ) God created everything including evil. How stupid would the devil have to be to fight your version of God. Even a child knows one can not win against an all powerful being. You think the devil , if he existed, wouldn't know that? LLC and Dan go fk yourselves.