Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Septembger 21, 2009
N.B. paper apologizes for Communion story . . . again
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
SAINT JOHN, N.B. - The Telegraph Journal has issued its second apology for a July 8 story that accused the prime minister of pocketing a Communion host at a Catholic funeral.
"In its troubled report on the Communion service at former governor general Roméo LeBlanc's funeral Mass in July, The Telegraph-Journal (TJ) said prominently, on the front page, that Monsignor Brian Henneberry, a senior Saint John priest, had 'demanded' that Prime Minister Stephen Harper explain what he had done with the communion wafer that he had been given," the newspaper said Sept. 12.
"The newspaper has determined that Monsignor Henneberry said no such thing and believes that the false assertion was wholly the product of improper editorial manipulation."
The newspaper described its presentation of the Henneberry interview as "sensational" and admitted it resulted in a "serious distortion of his actual remarks."
"Monsignor Henneberry's intent was simply to explain Roman Catholic belief and practice in a factual way after The Telegraph-Journal contacted him," said the statement available on the TJ website.
"It was not to accuse Prime Minister Harper of wrong-doing or to insinuate wrongdoing."
The original July 8 story launched the so-called "wafergate" scandal that was the focus of mainstream media attention for days and upstaged coverage of Harper's participation in the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, July 8-10.
On July 28, the newspaper apologized to the prime minister and the two journalists whose byline was on the story for saying Harper had pocketed the host and the senior priest was demanding an explanation.
"In the editing process, these statements were added without the knowledge of the reporters and without any credible support for them," the statement said.
After the first apology in late July, the newspaper also fired its editor and suspended its publisher.
While the so-called scandal dominated front pages, columns and editorials for days, the apology story got scant one-day mention.