NY Archbishop defends pope

According to a USA Today article (quoted below), Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who has locked horns with the press in the past about a percieved anti-Catholic bias in New York Times reporting, defended Pope Benedict XVI's handling of the clergy abuse scandal at the end of Palm Sunday's mass:

"Anytime this horror, this vicious sin, this nauseating crime is reported, as it needs to be, victims and their families are wounded again, the vast majority of faithful priests bow their heads in shame anew and sincere Catholics like you experience another dose of shock, sorrow and even anger," Dolan said.

He added, "What deepens the sadness now is the unrelenting insinuations against the Holy Father himself, as certain sources seem almost frenzied to implicate the man."
Earlier, several protesters had gathered outside the Gothic-style cathedral, which sits on Fifth Avenue opposite Rockefeller Center. "Honk if Pope should resign," said one sign, which attracted only an occasional toot from drivers.

It did seem to me, reading headlines and listening to sound-bites over the last 2 weeks or so, that there was quite a bit of innuendo going on in how reporters were framing their discussion of new allegations of sex abuse by Catholic priests over the past few decades. Because some of the abuse cases emerged in Germany, where the pope was an archbishop 30 years ago, some of the headlines pointed an accusatory finger at the pope. So much so that after reading an early and sensational headline, I actually expected the article to report that Ratzinger himself had been the abusing priest. Not so.
In fact, in recent years Pope Benedict has indeed been addressing this issue head-on in a way that the hierarchy has not done before, which make calls for his resignation seem counter-productive if such calls are borne from a desire to strengthen and reform the Church (and I suspect some of them really are not).

Certainly the leadership of the Catholic Church deserves some criticism. It has at times been overly defensive and secretive in the face of scandal-reporting, especially in the desire to handle these problems "in house." And I personally believe that the Roman Church's requirement of celibacy for nearly all clergy has contributed to this sex-related problem (albiet, in an indirect way). Nevertheless, the press has an obligation to treat the Catholic Church and the pope with as much fairness as they would treat Buddhism and the Dalai Lama. This may be difficult for many reporters who themselves may have grown up Catholic and may have (or think they have) some familiarity with the Church - as well as some emotional associations with it. So bravo to the USA Today for publishing this "other side" of the story.

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Anonymous Stephen said...

There is a great article at WSJ by Peggy Noonan about this as well:


Reporters are very similar to the Catholic Church. There are a lot of good ones and some with other agendas. Without the courage of the Boston Globe there would be no story. It was broke by "Catholic" reporters.

And while some reporters may be out to bash the Catholic church, I would say that the vast majority of them just want the church to be honest, open, and transparent...something I think we all should strive for no matter what church we are in.

11:28 AM, April 06, 2010  

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