Star Tribune Rejoins the Associated Press


The Associated Press is running an article today, posted on the Star Tribune website, about how the sex abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church comes to Italy. The writer must have been catching up of her news more than 7 months old. On January 22, 2009, the weekly news magazine L’Espresso published details of the exploitation and suffering in the city of Verona. Sixty-seven ex-pupils chronicled sexual abuse over a period of at least 30 years up to 1984 allegedly perpetrated by priests and brothers belonging to the Compagnia di Maria per l’Educazione dei Sordomuti. John Hooper first wrote about this in the Guaridan in February 2009. He wrote:

“For more than a century the Antonio Provolo Institute was regarded as a model of Catholic charity in action. It cared for the deaf mute children of families in a region, which, for most of that time, was among Italy’s poorest.” Giuseppe Zenti, the bishop of Verona, promised an exhaustive investigation, and said if the allegations proved to be true, they would represent a “lacerating wound” for all Christians.” At about this time the Minneapolis Star Tribune had objected to the fees imposed by the Associated Press, announcing their withdrawl which might be the explanation why this is now being presented as a news story.

The AP writer, Nicole Winfield, must have no clue about the meaning of numbers. She cites the 50,850 priests in Italy with its population of 60 million, comparing the abundant number to the 44,700 priests in the United States, referring to a nation of 300 million. She never cites the actual Catholic population in her story. She does not seem to make the important connection of priest count to the actual American Catholic population estimated at 60 million. The relationship of the Catholic population to the priest count issue also is never effectively drawn, though an astute writer might make that connection. I wonder how much of what she writes about that she does understand.

Religion was a lot like law enforcement. There was corruption in a police force on occasion. How did you maintain the law, in a world filled with evil? How did you maintain some semblance of order?

The news story focuses on goings on in a school over 30 years. Seventy-three cases over 30 years becomes “a culture of silence” which has surrounded priest abuse in Italy, according to the yearlong Associated Press tally. Seventy-three is now the AP standard for what constitutes “a culture.” It took more than 7 months to determine that 73 is what constitutes “a culture?” Among 50, 850 priests in Italy.

Most Christians who had heard the story of Judas were not real surprised any more by revelations that came out of Verona, Italy in January. But it was good to have a local newspaper back in the press community. Willing to throw its donation again in the collection basket. In the Associated Press.

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