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Cardinal blasts US media for sex coverage

By ERIC J. LYMAN   |   June 8, 2002 at 4:51 PM   |   Comments

VATICAN CITY, June 8 (UPI) -- A Catholic cardinal who some believe may become the next pope has accused the U.S. media of using tactics reminiscent more of Stalin, Hitler and two brutal Roman emperors than of objective journalists covering the church's recent pedophilia scandals, according to an interview in an upcoming issue of an Italian Catholic magazine.

Indeed, most coverage in the United States had been "obviously and openly anti-Catholic" toward this year's child sex scandals, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga told the magazine Trente Giorni, or "Thirty Days," for its June 12 issue.

In the advance copy obtained by United Press International, Rodriguez Maradiaga specifically mentioned Ted Turner, the media tycoon who founded CNN, and the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe as being unfairly aggressive in their coverage of the scandals.

"Those (publications) were protagonists of what I define as a prosecution of the Church," Trente Giorni quoted Rodriguez Maradiaga as saying.

The cardinal's comments will be only mildly surprising in Italy, where most mainstream newspapers have run editorials in recent weeks that criticize aspects of the media coverage across the Atlantic. Other church officials have mentioned it as a problem area as well.

However, harsh comments from a cardinal -- just one step below the pope in the Catholic Church's hierarchy -- carry more weight. And the impact is doubled for Rodriguez Maradiaga because he is considered to be among the top half dozen candidates to eventually replace frail Pope John Paul II, whose poor health has attracted worldwide attention and concern.

"The U.S. media appears ... to act with a fury that reminds me at times of Diocletian and Nero and more recently of Stalin and Hitler," Rodriguez Maradiaga said. "The church should be free of this kind of treatment."

The respected church leader also defended Cardinal Bernard Law, who Rodriguez Maradiaga said had been the victim of a "witch hunt" by the Boston Globe and other publications. Law's diocese was an early hot spot of the U.S. sex scandals after it was revealed that Law moved pedophile priests instead of disciplining them. Despite popular calls for his resignation, the Boston-based cardinal has remained at his post.

Law has apologized to victims of clergy sexual abuse, and urged them to inform others. In a Good Friday letter to Boston area Catholics, he wrote "to those who bear this memory as a private secret, I urge you to come forward for your own healing and for the protection of others. The archdiocese stands ready to help in this."

Rodriguez Maradiaga called the investigations into Law unfair and said that he had been questioned in "a way that recalls the darkest days of the famous Stalinist trials of church leaders in Eastern Europe ... it (is) a scandal."

The media's motivation, according to the Rodriguez Maradiaga interview, is to strike back at the church for its opposition to abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia -- all of which are legal in the United States -- and for its support for the creation of a Palestinian homeland.

In Rome, a few dozen protestors have showed up at the Vatican during weekly masses. In general, however, Italian reaction to the scandals -- at first disgust about the scandals themselves -- has evolved more toward disgust about the way they have been perceived by non-Catholics.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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