Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pedophile Priests, Those 'Confused' Catholics, and the 'Tolerant' Press

If you see nothing odd about this post's title, you might consider studying the news, instead of just reading it.

From this week's news:
"Vatican lashes out against sex abuse coverage"
The Associated Press (April 1, 2010)

"Cardinals rushed to Pope Benedict XVI's defense on Holy Thursday amid accusations he played a role in covering up sex abuse scandals, as an increasingly angry Vatican made a stinging attack on the U.S. media for its coverage.

"The mood between the church and the media has become increasingly bitter as the scandal buffeting the 1 billion-member church has touched the pontiff himself. On Wednesday, the church singled out the New York Times for criticism in an unusually harsh attack.

"Western news organizations, including The Associated Press, have reported extensively on the burgeoning scandal, and new revelations have emerged on an almost daily basis...."
Credit where credit is due: AP described The New York Times spin on those Catholics in the Vatican as an "attack."
"Vatican Slams N.Y. Times for 'Attack' on Pope"
FOXNews (April 1, 2010)
"A senior cleric mounts a sharp counterattack to the abuse allegations now swirling around the papacy."

"Pope Benedict XVI sees the priestly sex scandal as a "test for him and the church," his spokesman said Wednesday, as bishops around Europe used Holy Week's solemn call for penitence to pledge transparency in dealing with the abuse of children.

"But amid such signs of humility, a senior cleric also mounted a sharp counterattack to the allegations now swirling around the papacy. In an article, the official accused the New York Times of faulting the pope unfairly for his treatment of past abuse allegations.

"Cardinal William J. Levada, the former Archbishop of San Francisco and a close aide to the pope, attacked the newspaper's main story on the abuse scandal last week and an editorial as "deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness" and defended the way the Church and the Vatican had handled the Murphy case...."
That's FOXNews, of course: and in some circles 'everybody knows' that they lie, and are a tool of the Republicans and are pretty much icky. I'll grant that this upstart news network is not on the same page as old-school traditionalists like The New York Times. (Tradition isn't necessarily a bad thing: I'm a devout Catholic, after all. It depends on whether the tradition you're following makes sense.)
"Sex Abuse: The Vatican's Struggle for Damage Control"
Time (March 31, 2010)

"For centuries, the papacy has operated with the conviction that it answers to no earthly power. Many in Rome still believe that to be the case, but nowadays the church's faithful also believe in the sanctity of a free and vigorous press, with its unrelenting questions and nose for controversy. This all makes running modern media relations for the Vatican, in polite terms, a job from hell.

"The current pedophile-priest scandal — what the Catholic writer and papal critic Andrew Sullivan pointedly refers to as "child rape" by clergy — has transfixed Catholics around the world, particularly with the allegations out of Germany that Benedict XVI, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger of Munich, may have allowed a transferred priest accused of sexual abuse to work again with children. The scandal has had a telling effect on the tradition-bound Holy See. High-ranking clerics have complained of media bias and a conspiracy against the Pope. One well-placed Vatican official who worked closely with the Pope when he was a Cardinal says 'a sense of confusion' is spreading throughout the church hierarchy. 'And the Pope himself is confused,' the official says. "You can see it in his face. He is pained and saddened."..."
That's Time, by the way, not The New York Times. Time's online masthead includes the phrase "in partnership with CNN". I'll get back to that.

Let's look at those lead paragraphs again, this time with some words highlighted.
"For centuries, the papacy has operated with the conviction that it answers to no earthly power. Many in Rome still believe that to be the case, but nowadays the church's faithful also believe in the sanctity of a free and vigorous press, with its unrelenting questions and nose for controversy. This all makes running modern media relations for the Vatican, in polite terms, a job from hell.

"The current pedophile-priest scandal — what the Catholic writer and papal critic Andrew Sullivan pointedly refers to as 'child rape' by clergy — has transfixed Catholics around the world, particularly with the allegations out of Germany that Benedict XVI, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger of Munich, may have allowed a transferred priest accused of sexual abuse to work again with children. The scandal has had a telling effect on the tradition-bound Holy See. High-ranking clerics have complained of media bias and a conspiracy against the Pope. One well-placed Vatican official who worked closely with the Pope when he was a Cardinal says 'a sense of confusion' is spreading throughout the church hierarchy. 'And the Pope himself is confused,' the official says. 'You can see it in his face. He is pained and saddened.'..."
I'll say this for Time: They don't seem to have low self-esteem. Maybe enough of "the church's faithful also believe in the sanctity of a free and vigorous press" to justify the Time's implication that all of us believe in the "sanctity" of the press. At least at the coffee shop the reporter prefers.

I think a free press is a good idea: but "sanctity"?? That word means "the quality of being holy". (Princeton's WordNet) Me? I don't believe that a free and vigorous press is holy: except in the sense that any person or institution performing a legitimate function with efficiency and good will is "holy."

As for the papacy's "conviction that it answers to no earthly power", I think that's part of the trouble Thomas Nast had with Catholicism. Not only were Catholics foreigners: they didn't 'believe in' democracy. In some circles, that's still 'un-American.' (September 26, 2008)

A key word in "tradition-bound Holy See", I think, is "bound". In American culture, with our emphasis on the now and the wow, being bound to tradition is not a positive attribute.

That "'a sense of confusion'" is a classic. I think you'll find that, in the writing of the more 'sophisticated' and 'intelligent' in American culture, confusion is ascribed to a disproportionate number of Christian - particularly Catholic - people. A refined review of an old painting of one of the apostle's execution described him as 'a confused old man.' I'd give you a citation for that, but I ran across it decades back, while serving time in college.

I don't think that the person who wrote the Time article was consciously distorting the truth. At least, I hope that wasn't the case, for the writer's sake. In some American subcultures, it's 'well known' that the Catholic Church is a herd of gullible people who are deluded by their autocratic and degenerate leaders: but that the spirit of Truth, Liberation, and a Free Press are opening the minds of those miserable Catholic dupes.

Is that overstating the case? A little: maybe.

But take a hard look at that Time article: I think there may be a teensy bit of bias there.

I said I'd get back to CNN: but that will be in another post. ("Cultural Chaos, Divisiveness, and CNN" (April 1, 2010))

Related posts:
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5 comments:

timethief said...

"The Popes testimony is important because before he was pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregation_for_the_Doctrine_of_the_Faith and oversaw reports of sexual abuse by priests. That office, along with its predecessor, the Congregation of the Holy Office, were directly involved with the investigation of sexual abuse by clerics.

In May 2001 then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) sent a letter to Bishops confirming that the 1962 code of secrecy remained in effect.

Without doubt the church knew about Canada's most infamous pedophile priest. He had a 40 year history of sexually abusing children under the umbrella of the church. You can watch the documentary online here www.cbc.ca/fifth/goodfather/index.html

It's time for Ratzinger to take the stand in a court of law and tell the truth about his involvement in the cover-up. He is not above the law. Rather than issuing an edict to turn these sick men into the police so they were subject to the law, he silenced the Bishops and they transferred these perverts to other parishes where they attacked hundreds of additional children.

Tolerance for that kind of behavior - no way - no how.

Anonymous said...

I came across your webpage, and wonder if you'll ever comment about the actual EVIL perpetrated by representatives of the Catholic Church, or admit and hold accountable the MANY bishops and cardinals who PURPOSELY transferred the trash who violated all of these young CHILDREN?

Notice the CAPITALIZED words; I followed your style of highlighting text that you thought readers might miss.

Are you apologizing or rationalizing the investigations by the NYT? Yes, the press is one of the most important aspects of our culture and society, and without it challenging every part of our protected icons- political or religious, we are without a voice.

Don't like it? Leave- and move to the Vatican City. Have a nice bunk mate while you're at it.

I hope that il papa gets dethroned and defrocked for his misdoing and I hope that every single priest that is part of these coverups burns in hell AND EARTH.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

timethief,

You may be right.

What mainstream news coverage is missing - for whatever reason - is that the Holy See is, in fact, dealing with the matter of a comparatively small number of priests who have behaved very badly, and their superiors who engineered ill-conceived coverups.

As for not turning the perpetrators of these crimes over to civil authorities: What they did is, in many parts of the world, illegal. I don't think covering up their actions was right, and I don't think continuing an attempt to shield them from the consequences of their actions is right, either.

As for their being "sick" - and therefore not responsible. That's possible: and a matter for regional and national authorities to address.

The Catholic Church does not have the power to change the laws of nations.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Anonymous,

Bravely said.

Here's a short list of posts in which I have discussed the evil done by some priests:

"Pedophile Priests, 'Evil Pope' and The New York Times"
(March 31, 2010)

"Priests Behaving Badly, Ephebophilia, and Statistics"
(March 25, 2010)

"Saints, the Catholic Church, and Pedophile Priests"
(March 25, 2010)

"'Death Cookie' Comic: Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time?"
(March 5, 2010) (Mentioned in passing)

"Irish Catholic Church Meltdown: I'm Disappointed, But Not Disheartened"
(December 23, 2010)

"Pedophile Priests: In Ireland This Time"
(December 11, 2009)

I agree that evil has been done: but I believe that it would be extremely unwise for me to wish that anyone "burns in hell", and cannot recommend that anyone exercise that sort of judgment.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

If I seem to be uncaring about the victims of these priests: I'm not.

Evil has been done, and reparations must be made. And are being made. It's off the journalistic radar for the most part, but parishes and dioceses in the United States have been selling property in order to make settlements with victims of these individuals. The way things are going, the same will probably be happening in Ireland and elsewhere soon.

Of course, money doesn't solve everything - but it is a means by which people and organizations in Western culture show remorse - forced or otherwise.

And all the money in the world won't undo what has been done.

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