Sunday, 17 March 2013

Cardinal Napier Sacrificed

Cardinal Napier

Cardinal Napier’s recent interview with Stephen Nolan, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday, 15 March 2013, has caused a great deal of controversy.  Why?  Well, exactly what other kind of reaction would one honestly expect to this: “Cardinal Napier Says Paedophilia Is Not Criminal”.  

This headline was intended to do exactly that.  Cause controversy. 

This is what has become of the media today.  Phrases like ‘journalistic integrity’ refer to ideals that died a slow miserable death years ago.  Today journalists and their editor’s have only one objective and sadly it is not to tell the truth.

Journalists and their editor’s sole objective today is to generate revenue.  If they are able to combine truth with that objective, then that is a happy coincidence.  This leads to fallacious headlines, such as the one above, and to inaccurate reporting. 

In order to attract more readers and listeners, Cardinal Napier’s good name and reputation was offered as a sacrifice by the media.  He paid the price for their need to have a successful weekend of broadcasting and print, and they don’t give a damn about him or anyone else they hurt while doing so.  

The full interview with Cardinal Napier, not the deceptive little snippets that have been made available by most of the media, plus a full transcript of the interview can be found here - Transcript: ‘Controversial’ Cardinal Napier Interview

Cardinal Napier makes it quite clear during the interview that he is not saying that an offence against a child is not criminal.  Cardinal Napier actually says very specifically to Stephen Nolan: “you’re trying to say that I am minimising the seriousness of the cases … that I am saying that somebody who has offended – who has committed an offence against a child is not criminally liable. I am not saying anything of the kind.[1]

Stephen Nolan is however quite clearly deliberately simpleminded during the entire interview.  Despite Cardinal Napier repeatedly making the point that paedophilia is a medical or psychiatric disorder, Stephen Nolan pertinaciously ignores this. 

A quick search of the Internet will reveal that paedophilia is indeed considered by medical professionals to be a disorder.  Cardinal Napier is therefore not wrong in approaching the subject with this understanding and indeed, in my opinion, he is being accurate and entirely correct by doing so.

Wikipedia opens the subject of paedophilia with this statement: “As a medical diagnosis, pedophilia, or paedophilia, is a psychiatric disorder in persons 16 years of age or older typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest toward prepubescent children.[2]

Even though Cardinal Napier is clear that he is referring to only someone who suffers from the paedophilia disorder and not to all child abusers, Nolan exasperatingly continues with this highly erroneous perspective that a child abuser is always a paedophile and that a paedophile is always a child abuser.

What happened in this interview is evident. Stephen Nolan spun Cardinal Napier’s use of ‘paedophile’ to mean all ‘child abusers’. This even though clearly it was not what Cardinal Napier was saying. 

Stephen Nolan cannot claim that he does not know that professionals have for a long time strongly recommended: “that these imprecise uses be avoided because although people who commit child sexual abuse commonly exhibit the disorder, some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia”.[3] 

It is evident from listening to the entire interview that Cardinal Napier means paedophile in the strict sense of it being a person who suffers from the ‘paedophilia disorder’. Cardinal Napier's message is clear.  If a person is found by professionals to be incapable of being held criminally liable for their actions due to them suffering from paedophilia and the court agrees, who is he to decide that they must be punished and held criminally liable.

Stephen Nolan knows exactly what Cardinal Napier means and understands exactly what Cardinal Napier is saying.  Yet, as Cardinal Napier himself rightly points out, Stephen Nolan came into this interview with a hidden and sinister agenda. 

Stephen Nolan confirmed during the interview that he had invited Cardinal Napier onto his show to discuss the election of Pope Francis.[4]  Yet Nolan spent literally only 1 minute 45 seconds of the 17-minute interview on that subject.  Clearly Nolan lied about the purpose of the interview.

Stephen Nolan
Stephen Nolan is not in the least bit interested in listening to and hearing his guest.  Nolan’s only interest is in getting a controversial statement that will draw attention to himself and his show.  

Cardinal Napier quite rightly says to Stephen Nolan during the interview: “you’re trying to get me to say things that are going to go according to the way you would like them to go[5].

Stephen Nolan personifies what is wrong with journalism and the media today.  No person, having heard the entire interview, could possibly have any doubt that Cardinal Napier did not say that child abuse is not criminal.  Nolan, the BBC and every other media outlet that sold to their audience that fallacious by-line about Cardinal Napier demonstrated to us that the media will do anything to drive revenue - manipulate, hack phones, lie . . .


  1. Thanks for making the transcript available.

    Did you see this article on media hypocrisy by NT Wright?

    The whole issue of the relationship between illness and culpability (and if one can really draw the lines between "sick" and "normal") could provoke an interesting discussion. But it's clearly one that the media is incapable of having in any serious way.

    It also reminds me of a comment that Sarah Coakley made some years ago: that there is a curious cultural contradiction involved in, on the one hand, saying that sexual restraint is impossible, and, on the other hand, an absolute intolerance to certain sexual desires. Here:

  2. Mark, have you made it clear that the Cardinal did not say anything wrong during the interview? It would be interesting to have Stephen Nolan react/comment to your articles. Why? Because it seems to me that he would like to dispute some of the Cardinal's comments. If you have cleared this up in support of the Cardinal I'd be curious to know whether Mr. Nolan would still wish his listeners to jump to conclusions in mis-interpreting the Cardinal's explanation. People are still getting the idea that the Cardinal should resign because of what he said. People are really out to condemn the CC. Is there any way that the Cardinal or your message get people to believe him and not the BBC? Or is it too late - are we Catholics going to receive even more grief and have people turn away from the CC? Whatever next is going to hit the headlines?

  3. Thanks for reply Jason. I have been in touch with a person from the Nolan Show and I believe he will call me today to discuss this. Please help by getting everyone you know to read this and to refer others to it. Thank you. Also pray. God bless.

  4. It's very clear that the Cardinal has been misrepresented in the "other" media which has carried forward this interview e.g. The Sunday Times (South Africa).

    Thank you Mark for exposing these media wolves who spontaneously go to print and falsify the facts in order to derive sensation.

    Admittedly, I did not like Stephen Nolan's approach to the interview. Obviously, the interview was a "set-up" which backfired.

    The Cardinal anticipated Nolan's ploy to trap him; spotted how he was down-playing the facts based upon the Cardinal's explanation, trying also to misrepresent that the Church was mismanaging the problem.

    Congratulations to Cardinal Napier for trampling this BBC poisonous viper.

    May I suggest, that Bishops in the future boycott such interviews unless they get serious undertakings from the BBC, etc not to warp facts and not to make false allegations nor make false sensational suggestions. to discredit our noble and eminent Bishops and clergy.