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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Dispelled: Email rumor claims Fr. Jenkins suspended by Bishop D'Arcy

    People following my AmP Twitter account who were watching it closely this evening would have witnessed a story unfold in real-time (read from the bottom up):

    Here's what happened, as far as I can tell at this point.

    An email began circulating earlier in the day (and was eventually forwarded to me) which featured a decree claiming to originate from Bishop John D'Arcy in which the bishop officially suspended Notre Dame President Fr. Jenkins a divinis (in other words, removed his abilities to act in public as a Catholic priest), effective May 1st.

    After careful scrutiny and consultation with a few trusted sources, I'm confident this decree is in fact a hoax, albeit a very clever and thorough one. As best as I can accertain, someone probably went through an old authentic decree of suspension a divinis and changed all the particular details to match the current situation.

    The original source of the hoax is lost in the background of internet chatter. But if they read this, let them be made aware of Canon #1391 in the universal law of the Church:

    "The following can be punished with a just penalty according to the gravity of the delict:
    1) a person who produces a false public ecclesiastical document, who changes, destroys, or conceals an authentic one, or who uses a false or altered one;
    2) a person who uses another false or altered document in an ecclesiastical matter;
    3) a person who asserts a falsehood in a public ecclesiastical document."

    Obviously, when I first saw the text of this "decree," I was hoping it wasn't a #1391. Well, it was.

    Update - for those who have provided constructive criticism, thank you. Three points in response:

    1) I'd agree that tweeting "exclusive rumor" was needlessly sensationalist. Sorry about that.

    2) Of course someone who reports on a forged document thinking it to be authentic does not fall under the condemnation which presumes the person had knowledge of its falsity and participated in the deception.

    3) It would have been far easier for me (and on my reputation) to simply delete my tweets once I had determined the decree was a hoax, but in fact it would not have equally served the public good because this hoax decree is still making its way around the internet. That's why I brought a twitter rumor into the blog proper - to dispell it.

    I posted on the rumor because now, when people search for a confirmation of it, they will find it dispelled here, with as much information provided as I've been able to confirm. I consider this quelling of rumors to also be a service of responsible journalism, especially in the age of emails, blogs and twitter.

    Also, not to overstate what AmP does, but I would bet that numerous blogs and email lists have not posted or discussed the hoax decree today because they saw it already falsified here this morning. If people are talking today about AmP passing along then dispelling a false rumor, instead of wasting time and energy all day trying to confirm if that rumor is true, so be it. I'll take that hit and save them the bother.

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