In last month’s Catalyst, we ran a story on how Time magazine gave the impression to readers that the Church had apologized for “collaborating” with the Nazis during World War II. It has now admitted that this was an error, though it refuses to run William Donohue’s letter and refuses to publish a retraction.

Here is what Time said on January 26: “In 1997 the Roman Catholic Church finally said it was sorry for collaborating with the Nazis during World War II.” Donohue called the magazine asking for the evidence and was quickly told that Time would publish a retraction. When a letter from Amy Musher of the Editorial Offices arrived, it said the following:

“A review of the record shows that while French bishops recently apologized for silence and inaction during the Holocaust, and the Pope expressed remorse for certain teachings that contributed to Jewish persecution, we indeed erred in referring to a Roman Catholic Church apology for ‘collaborating’ with the Nazis. We regret the error and, although your letter was not published, we have circulated it among the appropriate editors so that they may correct their files.”

Musher’s letter of February 19 is not satisfactory. For Time to admit that it erred in making such an invidious comparison, and then not to print a retraction, is scurrilous. This was not a small error: millions of people read this magazine and will now falsely conclude that the Catholic Church worked hand in hand with Hitler. The timing is also bad, coming as it did just before the Vatican published its long-awaited document on the Holocaust.

It just goes to show how seriously some in the business take the whole concept of journalistic ethics. It also goes to show how rumors get started and how injustice gets triggered.

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