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Inside NCR

I have been asked a number of times recently by both print and radio reporters for my thoughts on the media coverage of the sex abuse scandal.

I’ve responded that, for the most part, the coverage has been thorough and fair, given the fact that the church is a difficult institution to cover. Access is difficult, no sunshine laws exist for church government and the hierarchy, especially, has generally considered themselves beyond the reach of media. Too often, they perceive themselves as owing no one any explanation. So Cardinal Edward Egan, for instance, can issue a statement containing the line: “If in hindsight we also discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”

Better that he would have remained silent. Such statements make me shudder for fear of how the church appears to the larger world.

Given that church is often spoken about as family, I find myself thinking about the crisis and what is being said through the perspective of a father or husband. For instance, if a child or a spouse begins an apology with “If,” you can pretty much write it off as being neither authentic nor heartfelt. One can’t sincerely apologize, really, for something about which one is uncertain. Either you know what you’re sorry about or you’re not sorry. Placing “if” in front of it all usually means, “I’m trying to get back in favor with as little pain as possible.”

I am happy to announce that Patricia Lynn Morrison, native Chicagoan and long-time journalist and editor, has been named NCR managing editor, in charge of the day-to-day operations of the newsroom.

Morrison, who has more than 25 years experience in book, magazine and newspaper publishing, most recently was executive editor of CNEWA World, magazine of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

She previously served as editor and general manager of the Catholic Chronicle in the Toledo, Ohio, diocese; managing editor of The Dialog, newspaper of the Wilmington, Del., diocese; and for 10 years she was editor and general manager of the New Catholic Explorer in the Joliet, Ill., diocese. She also was English language editor and graphics editor for Ut Unum Sint center for international biblical studies in Rome.

She has won more than 35 awards from the Catholic Press Association and Delaware Press Women for best editorial, best column, best international reporting and best investigative reporting. She also won the Eileen Egan Award for Third World Reporting.

Morrison completed her studies through The Catholic University of America in Washington and Loyola University in Chicago. She studied illustration and publications design at the University of Urbino, Italy.

She has a special interest in contemplative spirituality and is a member of the Association of Contemplative Sisters.

-- Tom Roberts

My e-mail address is troberts@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, May 17, 2002