I'm not sure what to make of the most recent Associated Press story about what the Pope may do. When I first looked at it, it was all of four sentences long and had some troublesome language. The gist of the four-sentence story was that Pope Benedict XVI might "issue a mea culpa" for clerical sex abuse at a June meeting. That's the first sentence. Then we get this:
The June 9-11 summit, initially called to mark the end of the Vatican's year of the priest, had already morphed into a pep rally for the pope as he came under fire amid a new wave of reports on sex abuse by clerics.
That's some pretty loaded language ("morphed into a pep rally"?) that really needs some substantiation. And then it ends with this whimper:
Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told U.S. public broadcaster PBS on Tuesday that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the pontiff issues a mea culpa at the meeting.
I don't know who was responsible for putting that story out but it just came off as stretching -- and ignorant and a bit petty. It was improved by the time I saw it again with a Nicole Winfield byline in the Washington Post. It still stretches but it softened, slightly, the pep rally language:
Italian news reports this week suggested Benedict would use the June 9-11 meeting of the world's priests at the Vatican to issue some form of apology.
The meeting was initially called to simply mark the end of the Vatican's Year of the Priest. A few weeks ago, as Benedict came under fire in the abuse scandal, the meeting's focus shifted and its organizers signaled it would instead be a giant pep rally to show solidarity with the besieged pontiff.
Now, it appears it will be also be a forum for Benedict to make a strong statement apologizing for abuse. Asked about the reports that a papal mea culpa would be issued, Levada said: "Whether he is going to do that or not we'll have to wait and see, but I wouldn't be surprised."
I guess it's good that "morphed" was dropped. But it would still be nice to show readers what is meant by "giant pep rally" rather than tell us that it will be. The language just seems too flippant for the seriousness of the meeting.
The rest of the story has some nice context but the lack of substance makes it seem like the media is hoping for a mea culpa, rather than reporting on the actual Vatican response.