On the front page of the Metro Section in a recent edition of the Boston Globe, there was a story about the movie “Spotlight” that smacks of bias and gullibility; the former is driving the latter.
Lisa Wangsness relied on Terence McKiernan of Bishop Accountability for her data. She wrote that he told her that “the bishops could have agreed to make lists of abusive priests available nationwide.” Referring to him again, she wrote that “More than 2,400 abusive priests nationwide have never been named.”
First, McKiernan is known for making up figures on the fly. A few years ago, after he told a sympathetic audience he was going to “stick it” to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, he accused him of “keeping the lid on 55 priests.” That is a lie. Several times Bill Donohue has personally challenged him to name the names and every time he runs.
Second, the term “abusive priests” is meaningless. Were they simply accused or was there a credible accusation made against them? Were the accusations substantiated or unsubstantiated? Was there a finding of guilt? Wangsness never told us because it obviously doesn’t matter to her.
Third, what institution, including the Boston Globe, publishes the names of employees who have had an accusation made against them?
Fourth, how does McKiernan know there are 2,400 priests who have never been named? Did she ask him for verification?
Fifth, the figures for the Boston Archdiocese undercut the point that she and McKiernan are making. Indeed, there are more unsubstantiated accusations than there are findings of guilt.