Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Fallout from the Holy Communion Affair


Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper
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The Telegraph-Journal of St. John, New Brunswick, in its July 8 report mentioned that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had pocketed the holy communion he was given when he attended the funeral Mass in honour of late Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc in Memramcook. The report triggered a lot of hullabaloo in the Canadian media, blogs and a certain quarter of the Canadian Catholic Church.

Mr. Stephen Harper later denounced the original report as a "low-point" in Canadian journalism giving the impression to the public that he had dishonoured the Catholic faith and committed a sacrilege against the holy communion, considered the holiest of the holies in the belief system of the Catholic Church, reports The Toronto Star.

On July 28, the Telegraph-Journal made a front-page apology by saying: "...the Telegraph-Journal published a story about the funeral mass celebrating the life of former Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc that was inaccurate and should not have been published. We pride ourselves in maintaining the high standards of journalism and ethical reporting, and regret this was not followed in this case."

This daily also said: "The Telegraph-Journal sincerely apologizes to the Prime Minister for the harm that this inaccurate story has caused. We also apologize to reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras and to our readers for our failure to meet our own standards of responsible journalism and accuracy in reporting."

The paper apologized to the two reporters because their original report did not contain the controversial item of pocketing the holy communion. Some editor later inserted this piece into the news before publication.

The paper's apology was followed by an unexpected fallout. Shawna Richer, editor, and James Irving, publisher, were removed from their positions.

It is reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper accepted the newspaper's public apology. Bookmark and Share