The New York Daily News hit a new low in journalism this week when it flashed a front-page headline accusing Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of trying to bribe a Queens politician. It’s part of the Daily News’ concerted effort in recent days to discredit the Church in order to push a political agenda in Albany.
At issue is the tired proposal of Assemblywoman Marge Markey, Democrat from Queens, to suspend the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases involving the Catholic Church. For years, Markey has re-introduced her bill that has been rejected time after time. Now that time is running out on the session in Albany, Markey and the Daily News are desperately trying to regain attention to the bill.
There are good reasons for having statutes of limitations. To start accusing priests, who have long been dead, of sexual abuse defies the dictates of justice. Markey’s bill also unfairly singles out the Catholic Church and would not apply to crimes of sexual abuse by others such as public school teachers, who have a higher degree of committing abuse. Markey knows that including public schools in her bill would be immediate doom because of the opposition of the teachers’ union.
Fair-minded people see Markey’s bill as the sham and witch hunt that it is. It also denies the fact that the Church has been the leader in society in addressing the vileness of sexual abuse while other institutions have failed to take it on.
But another problem here is the Daily News’ vicious crusade against the Catholic Church. For weeks it has been running front-page headlines and photos of bogus stories that are shallow and without substance.
This week’s unconscionable front-page accusing the bishop of bribery is outlandish. It’s remarkable that Mrs. Markey would have sat on such a charge for nine years from when the so-called bribe was supposed to have happened. It’s also a matter of duty for public officials to immediately report attempts at bribery. What was she waiting for?
Of course, the Bishop’s Office immediately issued a denial.
“The bishop did not, would not and has never attempted to bribe an elected official or anyone else,” said Carolyn Erstad, a diocesan spokeswoman. “This is a very serious allegation against a clergyman with an impeccable reputation. It is beyond comprehension that an elected official would not report an alleged crime of this kind to the proper authorities. She did not report it. It is not true.”
The actions of the Daily News have not escaped the notice of The Catholic League whose president Bill Donohue said, “The Daily News has crossed the line. This isn’t journalism – it’s a hit job.”
Donohue reports that the Daily News recently assigned reporters to interview the faithful as they exited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and other Catholic churches in New York City about proposed changes in the statute of limitations for offenses involving the sexual abuse of minors.
“There were no reporters assigned to a synagogue over the weekend, even though Orthodox Jews are united with Catholics in opposing the ‘look-back’ provision of some bills that would allow alleged victims to bring a lawsuit for offenses that occurred decades ago,” said Donohue.
“Why the discrimination? Why were only Catholics badgered as they left a service? This blatant expression of religious bias is of a piece with a lot of reporting by the Daily News lately – it has been on a tear against the Catholic Church.”
From this week’s Tablet: “Off the Markey: Queens Assemblywoman Slanders Bishop; Catholic League Calls for Her Resignation”