May 7, 2008

Clergy Sex Scandal is No. 1 Topic During Pope Benedict's U.S. Visit

Sex Abuse Scandal Pope and U.S. Catholics Message from Pope Pope and U.S. Politics Profile of Pope Relation w/ Other Religious Leaders
37 17 9 3 3 1

37%-Portion of Papal coverage focused on the sex abuse scandal.

While Pope Benedict XVI prepared for his first trip to America, the U.S. news media was already speculating on what his historic visit would mean to the Catholic Church damaged by the clergy sex abuse scandal that really surfaced in 2002.

One day before the Pope was scheduled to arrive, an April 14 New York Times front-page headline read, “In U.S., a Pained and Uncertain Church Awaits the Pope.” On the plane flight to America, Benedict addressed the issue head on, telling reporters he was “deeply shamed” and wanted to “do everything possible to heal this wound.” On April 17, he went further, holding a surprise meeting with five victims of the sex abuse scandal that generated significant coverage.

According a joint study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Project for Excellence in Journalism, based on the News Coverage Index, 37% of the coverage about the Pope’s visit during the week of April 14-20 centered on the sex abuse controversy—making it the most heavily covered aspect of the trip. Other stories that attracted the media’s attention were his relationship with U.S Catholics (17%) the actual substance of his message (9%) and the relations with other religious leaders (1%.)