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AP Reporter Found Religion Covering LA Catholic Abuse Scandal

Sarah Pulliam Bailey at GetReligion.org just posted an interview with AP reporter Tom Breen that caught my eye. Bailey calls Breen the anti-William Lobdell, because unlike Lobdell, who left the Catholic Church after reporting on the sexual abuse scandals in the LA Archdiocese for the LA Times, Breen was a lapsed Catholic who became devoted while covering the exact same topic.

Breen, from the interview:

Ironically, it was my work covering elements of the sex abuse scandal that led me to become an “official” Catholic; I learned all I could about the faith to make sure my stories were accurate, and my learning convinced me this was the truth.

Having covered elements of the scandal myself, this seemed too improbable for words. How could anyone come to believe in the divine sanctity of the Catholic Church while reporting about how, for years, it covered up the sexual abuse of minors and protected the priests who were guilty of these crimes? We emailed Breen to ask him for some clarification.

“The coverage of the scandal was the motivation to learn more about Catholicism, and I really can’t overstate the extent of my ignorance at the time; I mean, I couldn’t even name all the sacraments, let alone explain them. So my desire to get up to speed wasn’t just a desire to learn about the context of the scandals, it was an effort to learn, basically, everything I could, from church history to theology to the formal name for that hat bishops wear. It was through that effort – which lasted for years, and took in everything from lots of reading to hanging around pilgrimage sites and talking to people – that I eventually decided Catholicism was for me.”

To each his own. The Catholic Church undoubtedly has a rich cultural tradition that draws many to the fold. And the Church is certainly bigger than Cardinal Mahony and crew. But it’s still tough for us to understand choosing to believe in the sanctity of any entity that has people like that under/holding its umbrella.

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