Wednesday, March 31, 2010


From E. J. Dionne at

How in the name of God can the Roman Catholic Church put the pedophilia scandal behind it?

I do not invoke God’s name lightly. The church’s problem is, above all, theological and religious. Its core difficulty is that rather than drawing on its Christian resources, the church has acted almost entirely on the basis of this world’s imperatives and standards.

It has worried about lawsuits. It has worried about its image. It has worried about itself as an institution and about protecting its leaders from public scandal. In so doing, it has made millions of Catholics righteously furious and aggravated every one of its problems.

The church needs to show it understands the flaws of its own internal culture by examining its own conscience, its own practices, its own reflexes when faced with challenge. As the church rightly teaches, acknowledging the true nature of our sin is the one and only path to redemption and forgiveness.

But defensiveness and institutional self-protection are not Gospel values. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

The church needs to cast aside the lawyers, the PR specialists and its own worst instincts, which are human instincts. Benedict could go down as one of the greatest popes in history if he were willing to risk all in the name of institutional self-examination, painful but liberating public honesty, and true contrition.

And then comes something even harder: Especially during Lent, the church teaches that forgiveness requires us to have “a firm purpose of amendment.” The church will have to show not only that it has learned from this scandal, but also that it’s truly willing to transform itself.

I don't know about history giving Benedict the title of the greatest pope ever, but if Benedict followed Dionne's directives, he could move the church well forward to recovery. It seems to me that criticism and suggestions for a change of direction from within the fold of the Roman Catholic Church carry greater weight than those from outsiders, which the hierarchy can defend with charges of persecution as it is reported that Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, of the Diocese of Brooklyn, did at the Chrism Mass last night.

I do want to take a moment to speak about The New York Times mischaracterization of the role of the Holy Father when he was Archbishop of Munich and then Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The fact is that the paper omitted significant facts with respect to the case of a certain priest in Wisconsin. The reality is that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not have competency over Canonical Trials in 1996 when the case is believed to have first been referred to Cardinal Ratzinger. Moreover, the priest in question, a Father Murphy, was in the midst of a Canonical Trial. He died before a verdict was rendered. The case of the priest in the Munich Archdiocese also is presented as a definite error of judgment when all the facts are not known.

This evening, I am asking you to join me in making your displeasure known to the editors. I might even suggest cancelling our subscriptions to the New York Times, but we need to know what the enemy is saying. Enough is enough! Two weeks of articles about a story from many decades ago, in the midst of the Most Holy Season of the Church year is both callous and smack of calumny. I ask you to stand up with me and send a message loud and clear that the Pope, our Church, and our bishops and priests will no longer be the personal punching bag of the New York Times.

Don't deal with the problems; attack the messenger. The New York Times is the enemy. When you have the poorest of defenses, go offensive and attack the critics. Dionne chooses the better path in confronting the problems head on and suggesting Gospel solutions that just might work to begin the long climb upward to restore the reputation and moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

Thanks to IT for the link to Dionne's column and to Whiteycat for the link to the article on Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio's sermon.


  1. Right on Mimi. Attack the messenger is a poor defense, but it works on those who need a scapegoat.

  2. Will I ever be able to stop writing on the subject? Folks may not believe me when I say it, but if I didn't care, I would stop writing.

  3. And then there's this:
    The bishop of the city of Tursi has declared homosexuals should not receive communion or be given funerals.

    .... Bishop Francesco Nolè declared that ‘irregulars’ such as criminals and homosexuals should not be given communions or funerals. This, he said, is not to be seen as discrimination, but rather as ‘healthy medicine’ for those close to the person: “Our behaviour, which could be perceived as mean or cruel, in the long-run often heals and evangelises.”

    He added: “We must have the courage and tact, perhaps first informing the individual, or the families if he has passed, that it’s not possible to administer a communion or funeral. We would perhaps pray for his soul, which must be done.”

    His statements were made just days after two members of the Vatican were exposed as being part of a male prostitution ring.

    H/T JoeMyGod.

  4. ".... or be given funerals." Not even at the crossroads, with a stake through their hearts?

  5. IT, how appalling! Criminals and homosexuals and their loved ones get "healthy medicine" in their time of grief. And the priests "perhaps" can pray for their souls! I can't help but think, "What would Jesus say? What would Jesus do?"

    Maureen Dowd falls into the category of writers whom I once liked to read but don't read much any more, but with her latest, she gets it very right.

    Whiteycat and Lapin, thanks for the link.

  6. So Rome is resorting to the Nixon defense.

    It didn't work very well for Nixon, as I recall.

  7. Counterlight, the pope is not a crook, either.

  8. The RC Bishop of San Diego did that a couple of years ago: refused a funeral to a man who ran a gay club.

    There was an outcry. The Episcopal Cathedral held a funeral for the dead man, then the Bishop apologise.

    THEN he apologized for his apology. Really.

    Oh, did you hear about the 1963 letter, where it was recommended to the then-pope that abusers be laicized? ,

  9. IT, that's quite a story about the Bishop of San Diego.

    Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip.

  10. Catherine in JapanApril 1, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    I just read Fr. James Martin's defense of the media. Ah, the Jesuits at 'America' magazine- they help keep me this side of Catholic :)
    Here is the link

  11. Catherine, Fr Martin's article is very good. Thanks for the link. Have a blessed and Happy Easter.

  12. In 1992, Cardinal Bernard Law, archbishop of Boston, said, "By all means we call down the power of God on the media, particularly the Globe."

    Can't make it up.

  13. Sounds like one of the fundie ministers. Well, Cardinal Law is now safely ensconced in his very own basilica, St. Mary Major, in Rome.

    From the Boston Globe in 2004:

    Pope John Paul II yesterday appointed Cardinal Bernard F. Law to a ceremonial job overseeing one of the four major basilicas of Rome, granting the former archbishop of Boston a prestigious appointment just two days after the Archdiocese of Boston announced that it was closing 65 parishes.

  14. Wonder if that anathema sealed Law's not particularly onerous (thus far) fate, Mimi.


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