Blog Fight: Roman Catholic Church vs. New York Times

A Times reporter rebuts charges from New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan that her paper is anti-Catholic.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

Unlike his predecessor, recently installed New York archbishop Timothy Dolan was expected to use his proximity to the nation's most powerful media outlets to raise the Roman Catholic Church's public profile. He hasn't yet; can you name the last time you saw him on TV?

But Dolan is making some waves by attacking one of the nation's top news organizations, the New York Times. And the Times is hitting back.

In a blog post last week, Dolan accused the Times of harboring an anti-Catholic bais. Here's a sampling:

On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest's responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation-genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.

Yesterday, Times religion scribe Laurie Goodstein struck back with a rebuttal posted on Dolan's blog. Here's an excerpt:

In mentioning my piece about a priest who had an affair with an adult woman, you imply that there was no reason to run a story now that is 20 years old. You neglected to acknowledge that this piece was written now because the priest's son is dying of brain cancer, he believes the church and the priest have failed him, and because the priest was still serving in a parish where neither his parishioners nor his bishop had knowledge of his philandering until I began reporting. One of the women he was involved with was allegedly a minor, and at one point the priest suggested that a pregnancy he was responsible for be terminated by an abortion. I wrote the story because church officials have said privately to me over the years that priests who violate their vows with adult women are far more common than priests who sexually abuse minors.

What do you think—who's in the right?