Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In Defense of Pope Benedict XVI and the Church

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Letter to the Pioneer Press

Pope Benedict XVI has been maligned and slandered in a rash of recent articles based on false reports and deliberate misrepresentations. One in the Pioneer Press (“What did the pope know and when?”), went as far as to suggest that his papacy will be ruined or that he will have to resign. This is nonsense and reflects the animus against the Church in the mainstream press.

At the Vatican, Benedict was not in a position of authority concerning offending priests until 2001, when Pope John Paul II assigned him that responsibility. Several authors point out the strong and relentless way in which Benedict went after priests who molested children after 2001. Keep in mind that from that point on, Benedict reviewed and acted on offenses from all over the world, not just the United States.

We must ask ourselves “what is causing this flurry of hatred?” Why are all these admitted events that took place from 30 to 50 years ago being regurgitated with the seeming attempt only to embarrass the Church?

Yes, there have been bad priests. Yes, there were bishops who moved abusing priests around, partly to avoid bad publicity, but also because they were assured that the offenders had undergone successful therapy and rehabilitation. We have learned a lot since about the futility of such therapy.

We have also learned that similar abuse has been at the hands of doctors, teachers, ministers, therapists, and lawyers, not to mention the horrors which have gone on within families, with relatively no outrage from special interest groups or the media.

And we know that there have been many false allegations against priests, most notably in Minneapolis and St. Paul against the late Bishop Paul Dudley.

Benedict has been recently defended, however. For example, John Allen has had two articles explaining the background and context of Pope Benedict’s actions, one in the National Catholic Reporter (a publication regularly critical of the Church despite its name), an op-ed piece in the New York Times, an now one in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. His points include:

· In truth, Ratzinger did not have any direct responsibility for managing the overall Vatican response to the crisis until 2001, four years before he became pope.

· That aside, here's the key point about Ratzinger's 2001 open letter: Far from being seen as part of the problem, at the time it was widely hailed as a watershed moment towards a solution. It marked recognition in Rome, really for the first time, of how serious the problem of sex abuse really is, and it committed the Vatican to getting directly involved. Prior to that 2001 motu proprio and Ratzinger's letter, it wasn't clear that anyone in Rome acknowledged responsibility for managing the crisis; from that moment forward, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would play the lead role.

· Elsewhere Allen has made the point that “the Church’s efforts to come to grips with this problem within the household of faith — more far reaching than in any other institution or sector of society — have led others to look to the Catholic Church for guidance on how to address what is, in fact, a global plague.” And again: As another doctor, Paul McHugh, an international scholar on this subject at Johns Hopkins University, remarked, “Nobody is doing more to address the tragedy of sexual abuse of minors than the Catholic Church.”

Here is the assessment by Archbishop Dolan of New York:

Pope Benedict XVI himself has expressed hurt, anger, sorrow, and contrition. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now as Pope, he is seen as one “who gets it” when it comes to the horror of clergy sexual abuse, and who has placed the full force of the Apostolic See, the Vatican, behind efforts to reform. Who can forget his forthright references to this scourge at least half-a-dozen times in his visit to our country nearly two-years ago, and his moving meeting with victim-survivors? And now we have his blunt, realistic Pastoral Letter to Ireland on the crises there. He must be asking, as we all do, “When will it all end.”

Lastly, consider Pope Benedict’s recent statement:

Jesus Christ “leads us towards courage which does not allow us to be intimidated by the chatter of dominant opinions, towards patience which supports and sustains others”.

Richard Houck, President

On Behalf of the Board of Directors

Catholic Defense League


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