In terms of global, national, regional and local importance, the massive police raid of Catholic headquarters in Houston is clearly the big religion-news story of the day.
The question for me: How important is this story in terms of TEXAS news?
Hold that thought. First, here is the headline in The New York Times: “Investigators Raid Offices of President of U.S. Catholic Bishops.”
This is a solid and disturbing report, with some factual language in places where journalists often offer vague details. Here is the Times overture by veteran religion-beat scribe Laurie Goldstein:
Dozens of local and federal law enforcement officers conducted a surprise search of the offices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on Wednesday, looking for evidence in a clergy sexual abuse case that has ensnared the local archbishop, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, who also serves as president of the United States Catholic bishops’ conference.
The raid in Houston is the latest sign of crisis in the church, with prosecutors growing more aggressive in their search for cover-ups of abuse, and the bishops — led by Cardinal DiNardo — hamstrung by the Vatican in their efforts to carry out reforms.
The church is under a barrage of investigations around the country. Attorneys general in at least a dozen states have opened inquiries, and the Justice Department has told bishops not to destroy any documents that could relate to sex abuse cases. Last month, the attorney general in Michigan executed search warrants on all seven Catholic dioceses in that state.
The scene outside the archdiocesan offices in Houston on Wednesday morning was extraordinary, with police cars lined up on the street and about 50 uniformed officers headed inside, some carrying boxes to hold evidence.
So what is the issue here? Let’s talk about Texas.
To be blunt: When I started writing this post, I did a simple search of The Houston Chronicle website for this word “DiNardo.” The results were a bit surprising, since I couldn’t find anything about this raid at the top of the initial search list.
My bad: Apparently something in the algorithms at this website placed this story way down the list when ranking news in terms of importance. When I clicked to search by date, there was a substantial report on the raid.
Let me confess that, for an old religion-beat guy like myself, The Houston Chronicle isn’t just another newspaper.