Trading Places

The Post moves staffers outside their comfort zones.

If gossip specialist Bill Husted suddenly starts hanging out at crime scenes instead of nightclubs, you'll know why.

Confessional: The Post's Eric Gorski has gotten plenty of attaboys for breaking stories about individuals who claim past molestation by Catholic priests. Yet one prominent local -- Archdiocese of Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput -- seems to be less than impressed by his efforts. Last month, Gorski wanted to speak with Chaput regarding Senate Bill 143, a measure that would suspend the civil statute of limitations in sex-abuse cases for two years, thereby allowing potential victims to sue without regard to how long ago alleged attacks took place. Chaput has been vocal in his opposition to the legislation, and he has shared these views in a slew of settings, including the Rocky Mountain News. Yet he refused to chat with Gorski, prompting the Post to request a meeting with the Archbishop to clear the air.

"I've worked hard to do a fair, comprehensive job covering church issues," Gorski says. Even so, there's little wonder why Chaput prefers the Rocky to the Post. The Rocky has editorialized against SB-143 in pieces such as February 15's "Church Bill Needs Major Overhaul," and editorial-page editor Vincent Carroll is an Archbishop favorite thanks to a book he co-wrote, 2004's Christianity on Trial: Arguments Against Anti-Religious Bigotry. Carroll was a guest speaker in an Archdiocese lecture series around the time of its publication, and in a Denver Catholic Register column teasing the appearance, Chaput urged those who hadn't read the tome to do so. "I highly recommend it," he wrote.

Mark Andresen

Jeanette DeMelo, Archdiocese director of communications, declines to characterize Chaput's opinion of the Post, and she won't discuss specifics of the February sit-down. "It was a productive meeting because it was a private conversation," she says. Fortunately, Post editor Moore, whose previous paper, the Boston Globe, generated uncounted scoops about widespread abuse by priests, offers more details. "We have a very good understanding of the Archbishop now, and they understand where we're coming from," he allows. "I reiterated to the Archbishop that we're going to be as aggressive, and as fair, as we can, and if you have some factual problems, bring them to our attention.

"Would the Archbishop prefer that some stories we run on page one not run on page one? Absolutely," Moore continues. "But he understands that he can no further dictate to us how we cover stories than I can dictate to him what he says in a mass."

Oh, yeah: Following the get-together, Chaput spoke to a Post writer -- but it wasn't Gorski. Instead, he jawed with columnist David Harsanyi for a March 6 column that called SB-143 an "abuse of justice." Betcha the Archbishop gave that conclusion a big "Amen."

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