Francis links abortion with abuse, yet press doesn’t follow

The Italian press has placed an interesting interpretation on Pope Francis’ Friday comments on the clergy abuse. It reports that in the pope’s mind clergy abuse of children is tied to the “abomination” of abortion. Look for this theme in the Anglo-American press and tell me if you can find it? I can’t.

Francis’ comments to the International Catholic Child Bureau meeting at the Vatican on April 11 received wide spread coverage. CNN reported:

Pope Francis made his strongest condemnation yet of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Friday, asking for forgiveness and pledging to impose penalties on “men of the church” who harm children.

“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests — quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests — to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children,” the Pope said in remarks quoted by Vatican Radio.

As an aside, I chose CNN’s story over the others because of its aesthetic and journalist quality. It is really quite good. To my mind Daniel Burke is one of the most highly skilled writers covering religion and this article shows why he deserves that accolade. The language is tight, conveying the story in a minimum of words.  The story is told well with very little fluff or filler. The article is balanced — offering comments from abuse activists while also allowing Francis to speak. The author’s views on the issue can be discerned by the layout of the story — paragraph placement is one of the key elements in constructing an article — yet there is no preaching or bombast in a topic (clergy abuse of children) that is often spoilt by opinion masking as news. A great job all round.

Yet, Burke is back in America and must rely on material provided by others when reporting on Rome. Has he been given the full story by his stringers in Rome?

For on the same day as the pope spoke to the International Catholic Child Bureau, he addressed a pro-life group. For the Italian press, the messages Francis offered on the clergy abuse scandal and abortion were intertwined. The lede to the story “Pedofilia, il Papa chiede perdono per gli abusi commessi dai sacerdoti” in the Milan-based Corriere della Sera makes this clear. (N.b. with a circulation of over 350,000 Corriere della Sera is one of Italy’s largest and most influential newspapers. It’s main competitors are the Rome’s la Repubblica and Turin’s La Stampa.) It states:

Pope Francis has asked “forgiveness” for the child abuse perpetrated by men of the Church. In unambiguous tones, Francis said: “I am called to this burden” to “ask for forgiveness”, and to assure you that we will not take any “step back” in addressing this problem and seeing that “penalties will be imposed.” Children should be protected and have a family, the pontiff said. “They have a right to grow up with a father and mother.” And before that children must be protected in the womb, he added, because “the unborn child is the innocent par excellence.” Drawing upon the words of the Second Vatican Council Francis added “abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”

The Corriere della Sera article gives a fuller picture of Francis’ views on the clergy abuse scandal than the CNN piece by stressing Francis’ argument that both are crimes against children and against God.

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LATimes skips obvious ‘ghost’ in pet cemetery story

Losing a pet is often — if not always — a sad and traumatic experience. Over the past 20 years, my wife and I have shared out home with a total of five cats, three of whom have passed away, the most recent in March 2013. It’s never easy to lose a companion animal.

That’s what makes the Los Angeles Times‘ “Column One” story on the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park, which is actually located about 45 minutes north of downtown, in suburban Calabasas, immediately attractive — the paper itself noted on Facebook that this was one of the week’s most popular news items. Those who’ve lost a pet can identify:

Sheets of blue film cover the windows of the viewing room at the Calabasas graveyard, casting an eerie glow over the Poland funeral party. A jug of water and a glass bowl of brown cookies — for man or animal, it’s unclear — sit untouched.

Sitting on a bench beneath a holographic dog portrait, Shelly Poland writes a letter to Jazz.

Jazz was really his wife’s dog, Greg says. He never wanted a pet and when Jazz died, Greg floated the idea of burying him in the backyard, a suggestion quickly withdrawn.

The story alternates between obituary-style remembrances of the departed pet and a few words about the pet cemetery and the people who are its customers and supporters. The park has a fascinating history, going back to 1928. But apart from one throwaway line, “The small staff connects grievers to florists, priests and rabbis,” there’s no mention at all of a religious or faith-based aspect. Much talk of the human bond between pet owners and pets, but spirituality is only hinted at the margins:

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