Sunday, August 07, 2005

Former IRA bomber now a seminarian

The Boston Globe Magazine's cover story profiles a former Irish Republican Army terrorist (parenthetical comment -- interesting to see the Globe using the term "terrorist") now studying for the priesthood.

The cover itself blaringly headlines what evidently the Globe considers news:

"The Catholic Church believes no man is beyond salvation."


The sentiment is repeated in the article's kicker:

He was a teenage terrorist. He tried to kill a bishop. After 14 years in prison, he got married. Now the Catholic Church wants him to become a priest. Is no man beyond salvation?

Judge for yourself the merits of the article, and the motivation, if any, behind it. But do so with all the facts. Here's what you won't find in the online version of the Globe Magazine, but will if you've got the hard copy:

When Globe reporter Kevin Cullen tracked down former terrorist Shane Paul O'Doherty at Ireland's last Catholic seminary, he wasn't sure the school would let him in. But when the silver-haired Cullen (below, at left, with O'Doherty), in his customary black pants and windbreaker, approached a guard, the man nodded and called him "Father." The mistake was a stroke of luck, because this week's cover story is one the church is not anxious to talk about and declined to cooperate with.

Okay, the reporter gets in under false pretenses. Some might call that dishonest from the get-go. Still, the seminarian evidently was okay with being profiled.

But what's with the "declined to cooperate with" slur? (Which is what it is.) And how is the Globe defining "church?"

The answer, if you want to call it that, is almost at the end of the multi-paged feature. (Please keep in mind that the seminarian once tried to murder a bishop, which is more than just a "no-no" when it comes to becoming a priest, and evidently requires a papal dispensation.)

The Rev. Kevin Doran, who recruits candidates for the priesthood for the Dublin Archdiocese, says O'Doherty was accepted last year with the understanding that neither he nor anyone in the Church would publicly discuss his story during his study for the priesthood. Doran, in an e-mail, says: "There is, undoubtedly a `story' in Shane's journey to seminary. The diocese has taken the view, however, that this is not the time to focus on that story."

The Boston Globe overruled the Dublin Archdiocese.

My question is this: did O'Doherty, whether intentionally or not, screw up his own candidacy? The wording in the beginning of the quoted paragraph is confusing. Does the "he" refer to Father Doran or to O'Doherty himself?