Setting the record straight

Cardinal Dolan

Yesterday the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights complained that we had downplayed last Friday evening’s letter from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to his fellow bishops. The cardinal’s strongly worded letter charged that the White House was ignoring the bishops’ religious freedom concerns in the rules that would mandate contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans.

Here’s what the Catholic League initially said about our coverage:

Catholic News Service never commented on, or posted, Cardinal Dolan’s letter in its “News Stories” section; instead, it relegated it to its blog postings, never highlighting the USCCB-America dispute.

As we advised the Catholic League shortly after the news release was issued yesterday, this seriously misrepresented our coverage of the cardinal’s letter.

Cardinal Dolan’s letter to his fellow U.S. bishops on Friday was an expanded version of his Thursday blog post. We reported on the cardinal’s blog item (More ‘confusion than clarity’ about HHS mandate, Cardinal Dolan says), but Friday’s expanded letter came too late for us to update that story.

Since we had already closed the wire for the week when the letter arrived late Friday afternoon, our solution — which we often do when news breaks at odd hours — was to write about the cardinal’s letter on our blog for Catholic readers over the weekend. We also posted a link to it on our Facebook page describing it as breaking news that evening.

Monday morning after we reopened the wire we wrote and posted for our clients a 650-word story on the cardinal’s letter. You can read that story here.

Our public website only includes a fraction of the stories, photos and other material we provide to our paying clients. This is why the Catholic League presumably assumed in issuing its release yesterday that we had not done a detailed story on the cardinal’s letter. (Our Monday story also prominently mentions the USCCB dispute with America magazine’s editorial, which the Catholic League says we never highlighted.)

The Catholic League’s initial misrepresentation of our coverage of the cardinal’s letter has spawned other errors. Spero News ran the Catholic League’s release under the ludicrously silly headline Catholic News Service spikes Cardinal Dolan.

Catholic League communication director Jeff Field did respond to CNS’s concerns today and amended the original post to note that “while there was no CNS story on this issue posted to its website, there was one that was sent to its client list.” We appreciate the Catholic League’s willingness to set the record straight. Unfortunately in a digital world, the original remains in places like Spero and other news aggregators.

Finally, no other news organization — Catholic or secular — has covered the U.S. bishops struggle on religious liberty issues, including the HHS mandate, more than Catholic News Service. Nor has CNS taken any editorial position, even benignly, against the work of the USCCB. As a wire service, CNS does not take editorial positions. It is too busy covering the daily news of a global church.

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6 Responses to Setting the record straight

  1. Meghan says:

    Why the reply to the Catholic League’s criticisms and not Commonweal’s? While CNS does do a good job with global Catholic news, it’s coverage of the HHS mandate has been abysmal, amounting essentially to PR for the bishops, rather than editorially objective news.

  2. Don Costa says:

    This is the problem when you attempt to comprimise with a totalitarian regime such as Comrad Obamas! They win by dividing us. He would never thought of stabbing the church in the back had so many US Catholics fell in line with his other unconstitutional edics. Prepare for even more bold and vicious attacks on the church if he ( God forbid) is reelected.

  3. Rev. Val Zdilla says:

    I agree that CNS has run continuous articles on this tragic mandate. keep up the good work.

  4. IMHO, there needs to be a process improvement between CNS and the USCCB, and at both organizations. Something is wrong with the internal flow of information when I can count on a lay blogger out there to give me near-instant access to full text addresses not found on the USCCB website or CNS. While I appreciate the ability to work Monday through Friday, from 9-5, much news is breaking after 5 on Friday. I can understand not updating the website on Sundays. However, there should be a better line of communication that goes from the USCCB President to the webmaster of the USCCB website and the USCCB reporting arm, CNS. A rating system should be used and when he classifies something as a priority 1, that should get that piece, front and center on both the USCCB and CNS websites – not just the blogs.

    Further, I find myself in agreement with Phil Lawler this morning in his commentary on how a consistent flow of statements from the USCCB, which includes a large amount of positions on areas where Catholics may disagree.

    The USCCB might want to ponder what is in this commentary, FWIW

  5. Slight clarification when I said: Something is wrong with the internal flow of information when I can count on a lay blogger out there to give me near-instant access to full text addresses not found on the USCCB website or CNS.

    What I meant here is that it is not uncommon to find full text addresses and statements at the sites of Catholic bloggers by our USCCB president, well before they appear on the USCCB website or CNS front page. This gives it the appearance of unimportance.

  6. Duane Lamers says:

    Cardinal Dolan’s efforts are not being helped much by the comment made by an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, Bp. Curry, who claimed that Obamacare is constitutional but that the HHS regulations regarding churches are not.

    I suggest that we have here a cleric like so many others in the Church: hidebound to virtually every socialist edict from a socialist president. I bet he has been entirely silent regarding the likes of all the “Catholic” Democrat leaders in DC as well.

    One question for Bp. Curry: If government is to take care of all needs, then there’s hardly a place for charity, no? Government cannot be “charitable,” only individuals can. I don’t think Jesus had the state in mind when he spoke of charity.

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