GUESTVIEW: Tablet replies to Fessio op-ed on reporting Cardinal Schönborn

May 14, 2010

faithworldIn his GUESTVIEW op-ed article published on FaithWorld on Tuesday, Fr. Joseph Fessio S.J. accused the London Catholic weekly The Tablet of sensationalism for its reporting of recent comments by Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn about the sexual abuse crisis and possible Church reforms. The Tablet has issued the following response, which will appear in its May 15 issue:

Fessio accuses The Tablet of sensationalism

The founder and editor of Ignatius Press has condemned The Tablet’s reporting of a press conference late last month given by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. In a guest contribution to the Reuters news agency’s FaithWorld blog, Fr Joseph Fessio SJ accused The Tablet of sensationalism.

The Tablet’s Vienna correspondent, Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, reported Cardinal Schönborn as saying that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, had “deeply wronged” the victims of sexual abuse when on Easter Day he dismissed media reports of the scandal as “petty gossip”.

The Tablet report said that Cardinal Schönborn had “launched an attack” on Cardinal Sodano.

Fr Fessio said: “Cardinal Schönborn did not ‘launch an attack’, as The Tablet states; he made a criticism.” He added that The Tablet’s report was “typical of the treatment the pope, Cardinal Schönborn and the Church have been receiving at the hands of a sensationalist press”.

Asked to comment on the Fessio attack, Catherine Pepinster, editor of The Tablet, said: “It is gratifying to discover that a notable cleric – particularly one involved in publishing – is so particular about the use of words, as Fr Fessio has been in taking The Tablet to task for suggesting that Cardinal Schönborn attacked Cardinal Sodano when he said his fellow cardinal had ‘deeply wronged’ victims of clerical abuse by dismissing media reports of the scandal.

“Fr Fessio said that Cardinal Schönborn’s words were a criticism, not an attack. These were comments addressed to editors of Austrian newspapers and made public by those journals and the Church’s own agency, Kathpress, before being published by The Tablet. An attack is a fierce, public criticism – and the words the Archbishop of Vienna used seem pretty fierce, and public, by church standards.

“Fr Fessio also seems to imply that The Tablet has not paid enough attention to Cardinal Schönborn’s efforts to deal with clerical abuse. Yet a leader published in The Tablet on 10 April began: ‘Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna is emerging as one of the heroes of the crisis afflicting the Catholic Church over clerical child abuse.’”

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