31 March 2010

The New York Times persists in it's lie

In today's issue of the New York Times Maureen Dowd has an editorial in which she asks, "Should There Be an Inquisition for the Pope?" Apparently the NYT is persisting in its lie, despite the documentary evidence to the contrary on it's own web site.

Her text follows, with my emphases and comments:

It doesn’t seem right that the Catholic Church is spending Holy Week practicing the unholy art of spin [nor is it right that she persists in an unjust, unfounded, biased attack during Holy Week].

Complete with crown-of-thorns imagery, the church has started an Easter public relations blitz defending a pope who went along with the perverse culture of protecting molesters and the church’s reputation rather than abused — and sometimes disabled and disadvantaged — children [Facts? What facts? Dowd and company are so caught up in their attack against the Church that they refuse to accept the documented fact that their version of the story - with their oft-used template - simply is false and made up. If the facts don't fit the template they are simply ignored altogether and false "facts" touted across the globe].

The church gave up its credibility for Lent. Holy Thursday and Good Friday are now becoming Cover-Up Thursday and Blame-Others Friday [What utter rubbish! Nothing could be further from the truth! Perhaps Dowd hasn't yet read the Holy Father's letter to the Irish. Or Archbishop Listecki's homily. Or the recent annual audit. And we're supposed to accept Dowd and the New York Times as respected journalists?].

This week of special confessions and penance services is unfolding as the pope resists pressure from Catholics around the globe for his own confession and penance about the cascade of child sexual abuse cases that were ignored, even by a German diocese and Vatican office he ran [He has nothing to confess, as is clearly documented. If Dowd would simply do her journalistic homework without her biased and bigotted template she would see this].

If church fund-raising and contributions dry up, Benedict’s P.R. handlers may yet have to stage a photo-op where he steps out of the priest’s side of the confessional and enters the side where the rest of his fallible flock goes [Perhaps Dowd should do the same for the sins against the eighth commandment. I'm not sure if she's Catholic; it's just a suggestion].

Or maybe 30-second spots defending the pope with Benedict’s voice intoning at the end: “I am infallible, and I approve this message.” [Now she's simply being rather infantile and demonstrates she has no real understanding of papal infallibility.]

Canon 1404 states that “The First See is judged by no one.” But Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as my dad used to say. Somebody has to tell the First See when it’s blind — and mute — to deaf children in America and Italy. [And someone should tell Dowd the same. Oh, wait: we have been, but she refuses to listen. Besides, as Lawrence G. Wrenn notes in the New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, "While not a statement about impeccability or inerrancy, canon 1404 is a statement about the judicial immunity of the First See. It says that the Holy Father cannot be tried by a secular or religious court and, perhaps particularly, given the history of the question, a general council" (p. 1618). Even international law recogizes this fact because the Pope is a Head of State. Again, Dowd needs to do her journalistic homework.]

The Vatican is surprised to find itself in this sort of trouble [No, I don't think it is. Even if there are, since Dowd clearly isn't listening to them, how would she know?]. Officials there could have easily known what was going on all along; archbishops visiting Rome gossip like a sewing circle. The cynical Vatican just didn’t want to deal with it [Whose the cynical one here? A sewing circle? I think Dowd is the cynical one].

And now the church continues to hide behind its mystique. Putting down the catechism, it picked up the Washington P.R. handbook for political sins.

First: Declare any new revelation old and unimportant [Umm...that has not been done. The NYT and company continues to insist the Church is hiding something because what they are looking for hasn't been revealed. It hasn't been revealed because there is nothing true to the allegations of the NYT. It is simply a lie. What simply isn't, cannot be produced. It is time to stop living in their own imaginary world and for the NYT to accept reality].

At Palm Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York bemoaned that the “recent tidal wave of headlines about abuse of minors by some few priests, this time in Ireland, Germany, and a re-run of an old story from Wisconsin, has knocked us to our knees once again.”

A few priests? [Yes, Ms. Dowd. Look at the evidence. Look at the numbers. Do a bit of basic math.] At this point, it feels like an international battalion.

A re-run of an old story? So sorry to remind you, Archbishop, that one priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, who showed no remorse and suffered no punishment from “Rottweiler” Ratzinger, abused as many as 200 deaf children in Wisconsin [As true as this is, it is - in point of fact - an old story, more than ten years old. And it was covered in the press at the time].

Archbishop Dolan compared the pope to Jesus, saying he was “now suffering some of the same unjust accusations, shouts of the mob, and scourging at the pillar,” and “being daily crowned with thorns by groundless innuendo.” [That seems a fair comparison to me, given the mockery and the lies being hurled at him by Dowd and others.]

Second: Blame somebody else — even if it’s this pope’s popular predecessor, on the fast track to sainthood [The evidence is available for all to see who was responsible in the Murphy case].

Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn defended Pope Benedict this week, saying that then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s attempt in 1995 to investigate the former archbishop of Vienna for allegedly molesting youths in a monastery was barred by advisers close to Pope John Paul II [And if that is true, how is Pope Benedict responsible for that? Now she's simply stretching for filler space].

Third: Say black is white.

In his blog, Archbishop Dolan blasted church critics while stating: “The Church needs criticism; we want it; we welcome it; we do a good bit of it ourselves,” adding: “We do not expect any special treatment. ...so bring it on.” Right [We want sincere and honest criticism, which Dowd refuses to give. Instead she resorts to mockery and cynicism.]

Fourth: Demonize gays, as Karl Rove did in 2004.

In an ad in The Times on Tuesday, Bill Donohue, the Catholic League president, offered this illumination: “The Times continues to editorialize about the ‘pedophilia crisis,’ when all along it’s been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.” [Two things here: First, Bill Donohue is not the official spokesman for the Church. Second, he hasn't demonized gays, but has pointed out a simple fact. If Dowd would read his quotation which she offers us she would see this. But, wait. What Donohue said doesn't fit her template so she has to either ignore his words and force them into her template; neither of which work very well for her.]

Donohue is still talking about the problem as an indiscretion rather than a crime [I'm not sure how she can draw that conclusion; Donohue says no such thing]. If it mostly involves men and boys, that’s partly because priests for many years had unquestioned access to boys [and what of the same problem in the rest of society?].

Fifth: Blame the victims.

“Fr. Lawrence Murphy apparently began his predatory behavior in Wisconsin in the 1950s,” Donohue protested, “yet the victims’ families never contacted the police until the mid-1970s.” [Again, he's simply stating the facts; he is not blaming the victims.]

Sixth: Throw gorilla dust.

Donohue asserts that “the common response of all organizations, secular as well as religious,” to abuse cases “was to access therapy and reinstate the patient.” Really? Where in heaven’s name does that information come from? It’s absurd. [It's not absurd; it is the reality. In many cases in other institutions it is still the reality. Consult the facts, Ms. Dowd.]

And finally, seventh: Use the Cheney omnipotence defense, most famously employed in the Valerie Plame case. Vice President Cheney claimed that his lofty position meant that the very act of spilling a secret, even with dastardly intent, declassified it [No such claim has been made].

Vatican lawyers will argue in negligence cases brought by abuse victims that the pope has immunity as a head of state [which he does by international law] and that bishops who allowed an abuse culture, endlessly recirculating like dirty fountain water, were not Vatican employees [they aren't].

Maybe they worked for Enron.

Perhaps in the next few days Ms. Dowd could make these of Pontius Pilate her own: "What is truth" (John 18:38). We know the truth in these matters; Ms. Dowd, on the other hand, is quite content to ignore it.


  1. Father,

    In reference to Pope Benedict (and in response to Dowd's accusation), you stated "[He has nothing to confess, as is clearly documented. If Dowd would simply do her journalistic homework without her biased and bigotted template she would see this]."

    This is sort of the point I was trying to get at in that friendly e-mail exchange you and I had last weekend. There are in this world (obviously enough) both sins of commission and sins of OMISSION. If then-Cardinal Ratzinger was not detail-oriented enough to know that one of his priests in Munich stood credibily accused of raping an eleven-year-old, wouldn't that potentially be a serious sin of OMISSION? Now, I realize that even the Pope goes to confession sacramentally, and there's always the possibility that he's confessed that sin (or something along those lines) to his confessor. But when there is the taint of scandal surrounding one's sin of commission OR omission, is there perhaps not some justification for people wanting the pope to own up to lax oversight (at least) during his time as archbishop?

    I remember that when Ted Kennedy died, many conservative bloggers lamented the fact that he had not publicly acknowledged his sinful support for abortion rights -- his actions amounted to (or contributed to) a "public scandal" among the faithful. There is such a thing as one's actions (or inaction) contributing to scandal and a loss of faith and trust among members of the church, as well as the culture at large, is there not? Hence the call from some (including me, frankly) for the Pope to say, "I should have paid better attention to my priests. There is such a thing as delegating too much. The buck has to stop somewhere [to parapharase Truman], and I do bear SOME degree of responsibility for Fr. H not being immediately pulled from parish ministry in the Munich archdiocese. May God forgive me and all who did not pay close enough attention to what types of priests were serving the people and what dangers some of those priests (certainly not most of them) posed."

    Is the very idea of such a statement ludicrous? Can any of us delegate-away some of the greatest responsibilities of our jobs without that choice having any moral implications? Even when the archbishop is a scholar and theologian, is there not a minimal level of attention to priestly life that is required--attention from the archbishop himself--within each and every archdiocese? Shouldn't EVERY archbishop tell his chief of staff, "Look, when a priest is in a major crisis or has caused major controversy, I need to be in on that case." Is that really such a crazy thing thing to expect? If it IS a reasonable expectation, why shouldn't lax oversight in the past be acknowledged by the pope?


  2. Ms Dowd needs to get her facts straight...and maybe seek a "deliverance" because the evil she is spewing is not of human origin (in my humble opinion!).
    Ex-Irish-Catholics can be the worst.
    And I say this as someone with the Irish in me.
    Good grief!

  3. Ms Dowd needs to get her facts straight...and maybe seek a "deliverance" because the evil she is spewing is not of human origin (in my humble opinion!).
    Ex-Irish-Catholics can be the worst.
    And I say this as someone with the Irish in me.
    Good grief!

  4. Steve,

    This is, I think, where the problem comes in: Dowd and others presume blame on Pope Benedict. But he cannot be expected to have known what no one told him. If no one brought it to his attention what is he to do about it? The man beneath the then-Cardinal in the Munich case has already accepted full responsibility for the matter and has said in no uncertain terms that it is his fault Ratzinger was not not informed.

    It’s one thing to say he say he should have known, but it’s quite another to look for information that you do not know needs to be sought. In that, there is no guilt, no sin of omission. One cannot go looking for a needle in a haystack when there is no needle to find.

    You’re absolutely right to say that every (Arch)Bishop should say to those to whom they delegate power that they should be immediately apprised of serious situations. Even so, that cannot guarantee that those under them will actually notify them, as happened in Munich.

    What is a Bishop to do? Call in those beneath him each week and ask, “Is there something you aren’t telling me that I need to know about before it’s too late?” That would mean an ever present presumption of guilt on the part of everyone.

    If what you suggest is true that Benedict bears some responsibility for what his underling did – a suggestion I understand but with which I disagree – and he could honestly say what you suggest ought to be said, I really don’t think that would help the situation or satisfy the media one bit.

    Obermeier has accepted full responsibility and has resigned; that ought to settle it.

    I know I haven’t fully satisfied your question; perhaps another reader can chime in.