Since when have secularists and dissenting Catholics been experts on the protection of children? These
self-appointed reformers of the Catholic Church preside over a debased culture that abuses, aborts and corrupts children. That a reckless and depraved liberal elite would set itself up as moral tutor to Pope Benedict XVI is beyond satire.
Here we had on display during Holy Week the spectacle of the Vicar of Christ receiving moral instruction from Barabbas. Who turns orphans over to homosexual couples at adoption agencies? Who sends Planned Parenthood propagandists into schools? Who clears the streets of major cities for “gay-pride” parades with the North American Man/Boy Love Association in tow? It is the liberal elite who champion these child-corrupting practices. And wasn’t it just last year that these enlightened protectors of children assembled at the golden coffin of Michael Jackson to pay their last respects? Where was the outrage about child corruption then?
The National Catholic Reporter, the flagship publication of dissenting Catholicism, which has joined the secularist posse hunting down Benedict, calls for a stern and unsparing investigation of him. This is the same publication that publishes the homilies of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, one of which stated in 2002, at the height of the abuse scandal in America, that the “zero-tolerance” policy shouldn’t apply to priests attracted to children above the age of puberty. “I do not support the ‘zero tolerance’ approach in every instance,” he sniffed.
Another NCR article from 2002 stated: “Zero tolerance is a blunt object of punishment. All abuse is an offense against human dignity, but just as the severity of sins differs in traditional Catholic teaching, and the severity of punishment in civil law varies according to many factors, not all abuses are the same. In our overheated atmosphere, this is difficult for many to admit. A priest who briefly exposed himself to a teenager has not committed the same act as a priest who raped a minor.”
Let’s cut through the nonsense: The assault on Benedict last week had nothing to do with the protection of children and everything to do with the liberal elite’s hatred for his orthodoxy. The three stooges - Maureen Dowd, Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan - are casting lots for his robe, not because they toss and turn at night worrying about a permissive priesthood, but because they hate the conservative teachings of the Catholic Church that Benedict embodies. They are still upset that the church elected a Catholic to the papacy rather than a modern liberal. Miss Dowd is using the abuse scandal to push her feminism, Mr. Hitchens his atheism and Mr. Sullivan his homosexual activism.
The truth is that Pope Benedict has done more to address the abuse scandal in the church than his predecessor, whose tenure never excited anywhere near this level of calls for resignation. The Associated Press even acknowledged as much: “Benedict took a much harder stance on sex abuse than John Paul II when he assumed the papacy five years ago, disciplining a senior cleric [the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ] championed by the Polish pontiff and defrocking others under a new policy of zero tolerance.”
According to Reuters news agency on March 28, “Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, in defense of the pope, told ORF Austrian television on Sunday that Benedict wanted a full probe when former Vienna Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer was removed in 1995 for claimed sexual abuse of a boy. But other Curia officials persuaded then Pope John Paul that the media had exaggerated the case and an inquiry would only create more bad publicity. ‘He told me, “the other side won,” ‘ Schoenborn said.”
So why is Benedict held to a higher standard than John Paul II? Is it because he’s seen as more conservative by the liberal elite? Perhaps. Their unstated and perversely ironic objection to Benedict in the wake of the abuse scandal is not that he has pursued too few reforms but too many. Recall that the New York Times and other liberal newspapers roundly denounced him for one of his first major reforms as pope: a directive issued to bishops that banned the ordination of homosexuals. That is not the liberal elite’s idea of reform, even though most of the abuse cases involve homosexual pederasty. Hence, they blame Benedict for a lax and dysfunctional priesthood while at the same time hectoring him for not letting homosexuals into it. They blame “celibacy” for the scandal (which rests on, among other inane assumptions, the idea the abusers were celibate in the first place) rather than acknowledge the role in it of the very low and aberrant seminary admission standards that they clamored for the church to embrace in the relativistic 1960s.
For all the opportunistic laments about “leniency” in recent days, their real hope for the church is not that it returns to her morally rigorous traditions but that it abolishes them. And it is precisely because Benedict stands in the way of this goal that they now go in for the kill.
George Neumayr is editor of Catholic World Report.