Spotlight Reading List: Who is Reporting on Clergy Abuse Today?

During Awake Milwaukee’s recent Courageous Conversation about the Boston Globe Spotlight series, panelist Anne Barrett Doyle named multiple journalists currently shining a light on sexual abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church. Barrett Doyle is co-director of Bishop Accountability, an extensive archive of information about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, including survivor accounts, tens of thousands of Church documents related to abuse, and more than 100,000 news stories about the crisis. 

Following news about clergy abuse and how church leaders are grappling with the issue keeps readers educated. And we at Awake see this as an important ingredient of faithful co-responsibility for the Church.

At the end of the Courageous Conversation earlier this month, Awake Milwaukee encouraged audience members to stay informed, pointing out that Bishop Accountability is a particularly respected source of current and historical information. Awake also suggested that when news stories on these issues appear, audience members send reporters a quick note expressing thanks for covering the issue and asking them to continue reporting on the topic. It may also help to share well-reported stories with friends and loved ones, offering your thoughts on why an article is important or resonates for you.  

Here are some of the reporters and coverage that Barrett Doyle highlighted earlier this month. 

• Robert Herguth of the Chicago Sun-Times has written about sexual abuse and cover-up by religious orders based in Chicago.

• Deena Yellin and Abbott Koloff of The Bergen Record/ have written about events in the beach houses belonging to former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

• WKBW-TV and the Buffalo News reported stories that led to the ouster of Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Buffalo, who hid information about dozens of abusive priests. Whistleblower Siobhan O’Connor, a former executive assistant of Malone, leaked relevant documents to journalist Charlie Specht of WKBW-TV.

• Larry Parnass and others at The Berkshire Eagle in Massachusetts revealed that Bishop Christopher Weldon, who led the Diocese of Springfield from 1950 to 1977, was a pedophile. “They are just a tiny paper that is doing groundbreaking stuff,” Barrett Doyle said.

• Nicole Winfield, who covers the Vatican for the Associated Press (AP), broke the story about Pope Francis’s knowledge about clergy abuse and cover-up in Chile, which “forced him to do an about-face on his excoriation of victims in Chile,” Barrett Doyle said. She added that the AP has grown especially important for its reporting on dioceses as local papers have closed.

• Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola of the Gallup Independent in New Mexico has exposed cover-up of sexual abuse by the Diocese of Gallup. During the Courageous Conversation, Barrett Doyle and investigative journalist Jason Berry both praised Hardin-Burrola for her work.     

—Erin O’Donnell, Editor, Awake Blog


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