Eye on the Media: GLAAD Urges Media to Scrutinize Defamatory Statements by Vatican Officials

April 15, 2010
Richard Ferraro Director of Communications (646) 871-8011 ferraro@glaad.org

GLAAD joined with DignityUSA in expressing concern about how media are covering recent comments about the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal by two Vatican officials: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Rev. Federico Lombardi.
While traveling in Chile this week, the Vatican’s second highest-ranking authority told reporters:
"Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true," said Bertone. "That is the problem."
Yesterday,  Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi elaborated on Bertone’s comments, telling reporters: “Church authorities do not have the competency to make general statements about medical or psychological issues, which we, of course, refer to specialists. [Cardinal Bertone] was evidently speaking about abuse on the part of priests and not in the general population.”
DignityUSA a national Catholic organization serving LGBT Catholics, observed that these comments were simply the latest, and most defamatory, in the Vatican’s recent attempts to distract from the unfolding revelations about the Catholic Church’s failure to deal with abusive priests.
"These are just the latest, desperate attempts from the Vatican to change the subject, said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of Dignity USA. “It's time for our church leaders to stop looking for someone else to blame, and to confront the abuse of power and the cover-ups that are the real root of this scandal."
GLAAD urges any outlets that are considering whether to elevate this anti-gay rhetoric to carefully examine the timing and apparent motives behind the comments.
“There’s a clear pattern here,” said Rashad Robinson, Senior Director of Media Programs at GLAAD. “Every day we seem to be seeing a new attempt by some church leaders to distract people from the real issues at the heart of the abuse crisis. And as the desperation increases, the ugliness of the attacks seems to be worsening.”
“If the last two weeks have shown us anything, it’s that if one distraction strategy doesn’t stick, Vatican officials will try another,” Robinson continued. “Media need to see and understand this latest round of attacks for what they are: ugly, defamatory anti-gay scapegoating that contributes to the hostile climate that gay people face in the U.S. and worldwide. It’s wrong, it’s unacceptable, and no credible media outlet should be providing a platform for these spurious anti-gay attacks.”
GLAAD is encouraging journalists to talk with groups like the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful, and other organizations that are giving voice to the victims of clergy abuse and calling for accountability by the church.
For additional media resources:

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
David Clohessy, National Director
(314) 566-9790

Call to Action
Jim FitzGerald
Media Spokesperson and Executive Director
(773) 404-0004 x262

Nicole Sotelo
Media Coordinator
(773) 404-0004 x285 (office)
(857) 928-4112 (cell)

Jeff Stone
Director of Media Relations
(212) 662-9088 (office)
(646) 418-7039 (cell)

Voice of the Faithful
Jessica Lillie, Press contact
(781) 559-3360 (office)
(314) 749-5188 (cell)

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
Cindi Creager, Director of National News
(646) 871-8019