It’s a bit overdue, but good for Steve Jalsevac and the editors of LifeSiteNews for defending their publication as well as Hilary White, their Rome correspondent. (If you don’t know the backstory, you can read it here and here.)
Jalsevac writes about being on the receiving end of a “Mugging by Catholic Bloggers“:
Criticism naturally comes with the territory of journalism and should always be expected. However, when this kind of crude assault is hurled so recklessly from fellow Catholics or other Christians, it does leave us unsettled. Moreover, when such vile language and character assassination comes from Catholics who are published at influential Catholic publications, it is also a concern for the writers’ own Catholic reputation and that of their employers.
LifeSiteNews does not claim to be a Catholic organization. We have many good and faithful Catholics on staff, but we do not claim to be a Catholic organization and our reporting is intended for people of all faiths and even no faith.
Nothing written by LifeSiteNews ever remotely approaches the level of calumny in the condemnations and criticisms seen in the Facebook posts mentioned. We explicitly forbid our writers from making such comments and are constantly removing similar comments from readers commenting under our reports. That is not free speech. We consider it to be an abuse of freedom. We also have a policy of never responding in kind to such comments.
However, a natural response is: “Where is the Christianity in any of these comments?” It boggles the mind that anyone would publicly exhibit such a total lack of charity for all the world to see and think that they are thus exhibiting love of God or properly defending the Church or Pope Francis.
We often encourage our readers to be very respectful in any communications they make in response to our reports. We recognize that condemnatory, hostile, and disrespectful communications will always cause harm and hardly ever help advance the cause of life and family.
Why the scandal of such ad-hominem attacks are permitted by well-known Catholic websites is a puzzle. LifeSiteNews is only one of many victims who have been targeted and at times harmed by these all-too-frequent, very uncharitable, and careless blog postings over the years.
Productive dialogue is impossible without mutual respect. Still, we never close the door to future communications if circumstances change. Many of us on the LifeSiteNews team have gone through major life conversions, so we understand the importance of forgiveness and charity.
One of our team did attempt to reach out and dialogue. Unfortunately, all attempts to respond to the criticism charitably, humbly, and privately, resulted in further, public attacks against the professionalism and integrity of LifeSiteNews, and on the personal character of LifeSiteNews personnel.
The editors also penned this, “In Defense of Hilary White“:
In recent weeks LifeSiteNews has been the object of defamatory posts on popular social media sites by various well-known and influential writers. The attack on the veracity and integrity of our organization and our writers was severe and merits response.
Every person who writes for LifeSiteNews undertakes this very difficult work with limited pay, often very long hours, and much stress. They do this precisely because of their love for God and for truth. We take it very personally when anyone attempts to demean one of our team. Our writers are an exceptional group of people. They are family.
Our Rome Correspondent Hilary White was singled out in the recent attack. Hilary is one of the favorites of many LifeSiteNews readers and one of our longest-serving journalists. She is an exceptionally skilled writer with unique perspectives and creative talent. We absolutely stand by her honesty, integrity, and professionalism as a journalist. As our only full-time, dedicated pro-life journalist in Rome, Hilary will continue to cover pro-life news from the Vatican, Italy, and Europe.
Do the editors agree with every opinion or belief that Hilary, or any of our writers, personally holds? Of course not. They have the freedom to be who they are and, within reason, express the range of their views in other forums. But what finally gets published on LifeSiteNews is decided upon by the editors, through whom every story must pass.
It’s nice to see LifeSite doing the right thing. It’d be nicer to see those who attacked them and Hilary White doing so, but I’m afraid I won’t hold my breath.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.