A Bone in the Throat

Continuing yesterday’s attack on Benedict XVI, the New York Times today alleges that then Joseph Ratzinger, while serving as Archbishop of Munich and Freising did know, contrary to earlier assertions, about the transfer of a priest who had been credibly accused of molesting adolescent boys to a new post for pastoral ministry. The story refers without citing a source to two documents (a memo and the minutes of a meeting) which theoretically establish the point the Times is trying to prove: that Joseph Ratzinger once did as a diocesan bishop the very thing he now condemns other diocesan bishops for doing in Ireland, the United States, and other places.

It will take some time to untangle the facts of this case from the sensationalist charges aimed at the pope by the Times and other newspaper of the cultural Left, but when the sifting is done, I am confident that one thing will be demonstrated beyond all cavil: Joseph Ratzinger is not and never has been a liar or a man who fails to call sin by its name. But even if that be proved beyond any reasonable doubt, the Times and the high salons of the Left will not be satisfied because of the point I made yesterday: They hate the Catholic Church with a perfect hatred and will do anything to discredit the pastors of the Church so that the Gospel they preach will itself seem to be discredited.

The Catholic Church is like a sharp bone caught in the throat of the secular West, and until it is coughed up and spit out, there can be no peace for those who have come to believe that the Bible, the God of the Bible, and the Church which preaches that God and His Scriptures are the chief obstacles to human freedom and flourishing left in the world.

Tragic mistakes were made by Catholic bishops, both the good and the bad ones, during the last four decades in deciding how to respond to priests who violated their promise of celibacy, the norms of human nature, and the eternal law of God by having sex with children and adolescents, but these mistakes were usually made despite and not because of what the Catholic Church teaches about human sexuality and priestly discipline. The Times, however, is trying to convince the world that the Church is little more than an international criminal conspiracy to protect child molesters.

Finally, it is worth noting that the stories of the past two days (and the ones which are no doubt waiting to be published in the coming days) have arrived at the threshold of Holy Week. Much like the annual appearance of the apostate priest John Dominic Crossan who flickers on our TV screens each year sometime around Easter to “expose” yet another myth about the rabbi from Nazareth, the arrival of these stories seems perfectly timed to throw the Church off balance as we prepare to celebrate the Passover of the Lord. 

Every office in Rome is soon to be closed for the observances of Holy Week, and so the response of the Holy See to the charges being made by the Times will seem tepid and slow and therefore unconvincing. This, in turn, will only feed the frenzy of those who want us to believe that Benedict XVI is personally complicit in the evil of clerical sexual crimes he has spent four decades fighting. Accordingly, everyone who believes that the Catholic Church is the universal sacrament of salvation for all mankind needs to calm down and remain focused on the one thing necessary: the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and risen. The New York Times and CNN may operate on 24 hour news cycles, but our 2,000 year old Church does not. Let’s take the time to get this right, while always remembering that only the truth will make us free.

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