Today the New York Times has an interesting story on Jeffrey Anderson, the lawyer who is trying to sue the pope.
Mr. Anderson, 62, has been filing suits against priests and bishops since 1983 and, at least once before, against the Vatican itself. But a new wave of accusations reaching ever closer to Rome has emerged in recent weeks, helped along, in part, by Mr. Anderson’s discovery of previously undisclosed documents. Now he is receiving new calls and pressing new cases, with more court filings and news conferences, at an almost frenzied pace.
In other words, for Mr. Anderson, business is good. It is good because of a “wave” of accusations set off by his own efforts. The fact that goes without mention here is that the Times was the paper that published those accusations. Later in the article, the Times describes this reality a little more clearly:
The New York Times was working on a different article last month when a reporter contacted Mr. Anderson. He provided documents about the Murphy case describing how efforts by Wisconsin church officials to subject Father Murphy to a canonical trial and remove him from the priesthood were halted after he wrote a letter to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, asking for a cessation of the trial.
“It shows,” Mr. Lena [a lawyer representing the Holy See] said, “how you can both create a media frenzy, and then capitalize on it. Jeff is very, very good at creating intense media interest, and then shaping a narrative for the press to write their stories around.” He added later: “He serves these media events up like nice little meals for reporters to chow down on, and they do.”
This is the best reporting the Times has done so far in its coverage of the pope’s “scandal.” They are revealing the fact that they uncritically passed along a report straight from the most interested party imaginable, Anderson. In doing so, they created the perfect political atmosphere for him to proceed with his case against the Vatican and his various other lawsuits against the Church.
In case there’s any doubt about how much Anderson stands to gain from discrediting the Church, the article provides some detail about how much he’s personally benefited from suing the Church in the past:
He will not say how much he has made from his pursuit of the church (he says he does not know). But he insists that the cases, which number more than a thousand (he says he has not counted), have never been about the money.
Yet in 2002, he estimated that he had at that point won more than $60 million in settlements from Catholic dioceses, and he acknowledges that in the most complicated cases, he may receive as much as 40 percent of a settlement or judgment.
Mr. Anderson drives a Lexus, leads his small firm from a former bank building replete with chandeliers, dark leather and marble, and co-owns with his wife a Victorian inn that promises “the ultimate experience in luxury, privacy and romance.”