What strange times we live in, in terms of mainstream journalism about religion.
It feels strange to praise a New York Times news story because it contains perfectly normal, clearly attributed response material from an organization like the Vatican and other officials -- at various levels -- in the Church of Rome.
In a way, my praise for this particular story -- "Amid Pornography Case, Vatican Recalls Priest From Washington Embassy" -- is a commentary on tensions that still exist in many Catholic offices about investigations of the sexual abuse of children and teens by clergy. At the same time, there are tensions between the Times and many Catholic leaders.
Nevertheless, this story doesn't contain the gaping holes we saw the other day in news coverage of another clergy sexual-abuse case. Click here for that post, which noted some mainstream news stories that lacked quotes -- any quotes, at all -- from:
* The Vatican.
* Legal representatives of the church, at any level.
* The local archdiocese in which this newsroom is located.
* Conservative Catholics who are highly critical of how many church officials have handled clergy-abuse cases.
I noted -- this was really bizarre -- that the stories didn't even include references that told readers reporters tried to reach church officials, as in: "Leaders of so-and-so group declined repeated requests for interviews."
So what did Times professionals -- and church leaders -- get right in this basic news story on what remains a hot-button, controversial subject?