Sunday, May 20, 2007

Signs of the Times

In yet another sign of the prominence of new media, the daily paper of the Italian bishops L'Avvenire has accused local bloggers of spreading "infamous slander" after one Italian website translated "Sex crimes and the Vatican" -- last year's controversial episode of the BBC's Panorama on sex abuse -- and made the result viral.

The Italian version of the documentary "now ranks as Google Video Italia's most popular item," Reuters reports.
Newspaper Avvenire, which is owned by the Italian Conference of Roman Catholic bishops, slammed the web version in a front-page editorial headlined "Infamous Slander Via Internet."

The BBC documentary examined what it described as a secret document written in 1962 that set out a procedure for dealing with child sexual abuse within the Church.

It imposed an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest and any witness, a policy the BBC documentary said was meant to protect the priest's reputation during the investigation but "can offer a blueprint for cover-up."

Avvenire called the documentary "a pot-pourri of affirmations and pseudo-testimony that were at the time publicly repudiated" for being false and misleading.

The Roman Catholic Church has been hit in several countries, including the United States and Ireland, by lawsuits and allegations of sex abuse by priests.

British bishops last year criticized the BBC, saying it should be "ashamed of the standard of the journalism used to create this unwarranted attack on Pope Benedict."