Pope’s stance misrepresented by photo caption

THE prominent caption under a picture of Pope Benedict XVI, published with the article headlined ‘Crunch time for the Church’ (January 21), gave a seriously contradictory impression of the concern and importance which Pope Benedict attaches to the safeguarding of children in the Church.

The caption read “Pope Benedict XVI: Has not referred to ‘sinful’ nature of abuse.” However the quote in full from the article reads: “Crucially, the German Pontiff has underlined his ability to call a spade a spade by repeatedly referring to the ‘criminal’ and not just the sinful nature of child abuse.” What a huge difference the context can make to the impression given by the caption.

Over the past five years of his pontificate, and in his previous role in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Benedict has been forthright in his approach to dealing with the issue of child abuse and in getting his message across.

As recently as December 11 last, after the meeting between Pope Benedict, Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Vatican Press Office stated that “the Holy Father shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the Church. His Holiness asks Catholics in Ireland and throughout the world to join him in praying for the victims, their families and all those affected by these heinous crimes”.

When he met the bishops of Ireland in 2006, Pope Benedict referred to the abuse of children by clergy and asked that “in your continuing efforts to deal effectively with this problem, it is important to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected and, above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes.”

In its attempt to summarise the issues raised by Michael Kelly in the article, clearly the photo caption should have reflected what the article itself described as Pope Benedict’s drive “to clean up what he described as ‘filth’ in the Church.”

Martin Long

Director

Catholic Communications Office

St Patrick’s College

Maynooth

Co Kildare

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