Saturday, July 3, 2010

Firedoglake on the Nightmares of Pope Benedict: Another Response to the New York Times Article

Coverage of the Vatican's summer of discontent continues, along with coverage of Laurie Goodstein and David Halbfinger's New York Times article about Benedict and the CDF's dilatory attitude towards addressing the abuse situation when Cardinal Ratzinger headed that Vatican office. And as with many of the articles now appearing about these topics, the one I am recommending now is from a secular website, Firedoglake.

Once again: it seems to me significant that the conversation about the Catholic church is going public and mainstream, and that the secular media are addressing Catholic issues freely and without the constraints they had in the recent past.  Those constraints were there because generations of bishops in powerful sees in major American cities cried holy hell when newspapers dared to print anything those bishops regarded as unflattering to the church.

This reaction is understandable, given that Catholicism was a minority religion for much of its history in some parts of the U.S. And Catholic immigrants did, indeed, contend with considerable anti-Catholic prejudice for a long time in parts of the U.S.

But the argument that the media are anti-Catholic and that American culture is prejudiced against Catholics no longer holds water, with a majority of Catholic justices sitting on the Supreme Court.  Catholics have long since been integrated into the social mainstream in the U.S. and wield great economic and social power and privilege in our society now.

The defensive response of those now blaming the Times for being anti-Catholic, born out of the huddled posture of the immigrant experience in the 19th century, is misplaced in the 21st century.  It is embarrassing in its patent refusal to accept unpleasant truths that not only non-Catholics, but Catholics ourselves, have been talking about freely for some years now.  Truths that have to be aired for the healing of the church . . . .

It is time for this dialogue to go public, and it is good for the church that it is going public.  Those trying to thwart the public dialogue and control its parameters with wild charges about the anti-Catholic mainstream media are not doing the church any favors.

And as Peterr points out at Firedoglake, and as some commentators on the Times story have noted in the Commonweal thread about it, one of the primary sources Goodstein and Halbfinger used in their story are bishops.  Irish and Australian bishops, in particular.

Some bishops in some places have had it with the Roman blame-shuffling song and dance, and are willing now to go on the record and tell the rest of us what they know of the mechanisms that have been used in recent years inside the church to eschew responsibility for the abuse crisis.

And this, too, is good for the church, if not for Benedict, the Curia, and the Vatican.