Friday, July 15, 2016

A Letter to WHNT regarding the July 14th article by Sarah Macaluso concerning St. Johns Church

To the editors and news director at WHNT,

I am very disappointed in the article written and posted on July 14th, by SARAH MACALUSO.  In this article she implies quite clearly that Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church pastor Phil O’Kennedy is not taking the child pornography accusations against John Martin seriously, and the Diocese is trying to hide something.    This is dead wrong.

First, the quote used to inflame the wrath of the reader is truncated to include most the first 2 sentences, for maximum effect.  In truth, the statement is as follows:

July 12, 2016
Since John Martin came to work for us at St. John’s in our Adult Education Department we have seen nothing that would lead us to believe the charges being made against him. We are stunned by the accusations. Of course we will continue to work with the authorities. We encourage any parishioner who may have any information about the accusation to come forward. And we will continue to pray for Mr. Martin and his family.
Fr. Phil O’Kennedy, 
Pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church

Second, St. Johns Church and Father Phil are taking this very seriously.  Mr. Martin worked with adults, a fact conveniently omitted from Ms. Macaluso’s article, and as such may have come into contact with older teens.  The pastor has contacted these families to inform them of the accusations and encourage them to come forward if they know anything.  In addition. he is speaking about it at every church service, so all the parishioners know what is going on, and what he and the diocese are doing about it.  

Apparently, SNAP would like him to get on the rooftops, aka social media, and shout to the world every action he makes regarding Mr. Martin.  He isn’t.  He is openly and actively communicating with his parishioners, as is his responsibility.  If SNAP or Ms. Macaluso had done ANY significant research into Father Phil’s  actions following Mr. Martin’s arrest, neither of them would say that he or the church is being “quiet” or “trying to hide” anything.  And he is certainly not “rally(ing) to the defense of an accused criminal,” as the article says.  He is however, not publicly condemning a man who has been accused, but not CONVICTED, of a crime.  

This article is designed to be inflammatory.  It leaves out any information that could lead the reader to make their own decision based on facts.  It’s emotional and factually incomplete.  It lights the torches on a witch hunt of this particular Madison church community by capitalizing on the ghosts of horrific past crimes committed by other Catholics.  Neither of your peer news stations has sunk to this low regarding this issue.  Why you?

St. John’s Parishioner, and former WHNT follower.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your well written statement. It is an unfortunate fact of life that the media feels the need to "sensationalize" every story. Since it is the Year of Mercy and forgiveness is given not earned, I will give the benefit of the doubt to WHNT and hope that they will do the right thing and run a correction to a very poorly handled story.