We owe the Catholic Church, its parishioners and the members of St. Mary's Cathedral in Fargo an apology.
Last Saturday, we published a front-page story about a local man who was the target of a poster campaign to make him feel unwelcome in the community because of his views on race.
The man said he was "Pro-white." The activists who targeted him in their publicity campaign call him a "white supremacist" or even "Nazi."
For the story, this man asked that we interview him and take his photo inside St. Mary's Cathedral.
We did so despite not seeking permission from the church or diocese. To make matters worse, we included the interview location in the story and photo.
It's possible the subject of the interview is a parishioner of the Church-we don't know for sure and the diocese won't tell us. All we have is this man's word.
But by providing the location and setting of the interview in such a story may have made it seem this man's views were in concert with the Church or St. Mary's specifically. Church leadership has made it abundantly clear that is not the case.
We should not have conducted the interview on private church property without prior consent of the church or diocese. We should not have included the interview setting in the story or photo, given the highly controversial subject matter. And, finally, we should not have done these things without fully considering how our handling of the story might harm the perception of our Catholic friends and neighbors. I can assure you there was no intent to do harm.
We apologize to those we let down.