Every now and then, a journalist gets pulled into a serious error when covering a speech or some other form of public presentation of complicated material.
It happens. It’s especially disturbing when the speaker — perhaps a person of great authority — makes an error and the reporter is in the position of having to quote the bad information or to challenge the information in print. Awkward.
However, it appears that The Baltimore Sun needs to run an immediate correction after this morning’s coverage of Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s final address as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here is the context of what almost certainly is a horrible and painful error.
“Painful”? Yes, especially if there are any Orthodox Armenians, Russians, Egyptians, Syrians or Romanians (I could make this list longer with ease) who still read this particular newspaper. Frankly, I know very few who are still subscribers.
Here is the top of the story, including the quote I am questioning:
At a time when the nation’s top Roman Catholic leaders have been making headlines with their stands on religious liberty and immigration reform, Cardinal Timothy Dolan opened this year’s convention of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by focusing his attention beyond American borders.
Actually, this lede is misleading. It’s clear that Dolan’s emphasis was on religious liberty AROUND THE WORLD, including the United States. Let’s move on:
Catholics and other Christians are facing so much violent persecution around the world today that the 21st century could accurately be termed “a new age of martyrs,” Dolan said Monday as he addressed church leaders gathered at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore.
More than a million people have been killed solely due to their faith in Jesus Christ since the year 2000, he said — more than suffered such a fate during the entire 20th century.
What was that again? There were a million Christian martyrs — or fewer than that — in the 20th century?
What about the Armenian genocide alone? That’s a controversial issue, but you will frequently see claims that 1.2 million or more believers died in that wave of persecution.
And what about the persecution of the church in Russia in the decades before and after the establishment of the Communist regime?
Once again, statistics vary widely for the number of Russian Orthodox bishops, priests and believers who died as martyrs. However, most academic studies put the number somewhere between 10 and 20 million killed. And what about Romania and the rest of Eastern Europe? What about previous rounds of persecution in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, etc.? And I in no way mean to imply that the Orthodox in these lands were the only Christians to die for their faith in the troubled 20th century! No way. I am simply noting some obvious cases.
I have searched to see if other media outlets have quoted Cardinal Dolan making this error.