TORONTO, March 20, 2010 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on the misleading coverage that some Canadian media are providing on the emerging reports of sex abuse in Church institutions in Europe. A March 18 report by Christopher Hitchens in the National Post, while more vitriolic and one-sided than most, is not out of keeping with what can be found in other Canadian newspapers.  The Star, for example, headlined a March 15 report “Priest close to Pope suspended in sexual assault case,” even though the accompanying wire story gave no indication the two had ever met.  

Hitchens’ remarks about the Vatican’s “steady complicity” in an “endless scandal” are not warranted by the record, in that most analysts credit Pope Benedict with breaking the silence that too often surrounded allegations in the past, extending public apologies and insisting on a zero-tolerance policy toward the offenders. The most reliable estimates of credible allegations in the U.S. range between one per cent and four per cent of all priests who served in the past 60 years.

Only the public acknowledgement of any problem can lead to steps being taken to reduce and help eliminate it. No one expects that allegations of such a serious crime would go unreported, but we should be able to expect that the reports will be done fairly.

The most important thing is to stand with the victims in their pain, and do whatever can be done to get them the help they need. Unfortunately, much of the media appears to be focused on the assignment of blame, and trying to draw the Pope into the web. While determining responsibility is obviously important in individual cases, providing help to victims should be the higher priority.

Statement from Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
League letter in The National Post, March 20
Response to Christopher Hitchens, by League Director Sean Murphy, Catholic Educators Resource Centre.
Sin must have real consequences, Post letters, March 24, 2010

About CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244;