Surprisingly Inept Reporting from NY Times

Reporters Sharon Otterman and Elisabetta Povoledo covered the Vatican’s response to the Pennsylvania grand jury report (here). Both are religious reporters. Povoledo has worked for the Times in Italy for 25 years. Not only did they cover the Vatican apology, but they covered related scandals concerning Cardinals Pell and McCarrick. This was not a puff piece. They discussed “what appeared to be a coordinated response intended to stem a spiraling crisis within the Roman Catholic Church in America.”

But the reporters basically regard the problem as one of the Catholic Church in America, rather than a universal problem of the universal Catholic Church. While they mention the recent scandal in Chile, they ignore a series of international atrocities which parallel those in America. The recent report from the Australian government and the series of reports from Ireland are especially noteworthy.

Furthermore, the reporters know little about the history of the problem in America. They say, “When the clergy sex scandal broke 16 years ago, some staunch Catholics defended the church.” That is, they believe that the problem originated in Boston, the subject of the Spotlight reports. But as the Spotlight reports made clear, the problem of priestly pederasty in the United States arose in Louisiana in the 1980s. Furthermore, there were other major scandals between those in Louisiana and Boston.

This is not a minor point. The Catholic Church’s sex abuse problem is systemic. There is a world-wide problem of abuse and its cover-up. The same pattern of criminal misconduct shows up world-wide, and has been documented for three decades. Furthermore, the problem goes beyond child abuse and involves the general abuse of power. Whenever possible, the Church leverages its influence with politicians, the judicial system, and the police to cover-up the scandal, indirectly furthering priestly pederasty.

As is well known, Lord Acton said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But few realize that he said this about the Catholic Church. Furthermore, Lord Acton was a devout Catholic who suffered for his faith in Protestant England. In Ireland, where the Catholic Church was embedded within many State functions, its abuses were far more extreme than elsewhere.

The Church has long been caught up in its claims of infallibility and divine guidance. It goes to incredible lengths to avoid admitting mistakes. While far from its halcyon days, the Catholic Church still has immense power. It not only uses its power to gather riches, market share, and more power, but also to defend an incredibly deviant set of personnel. It is so divorced from reality that it believes that covering-up pederasty is a lesser evil than admitting error. And once a policy is established, the ‘eternal’ Catholic Church maintains it, leading to vicious cycles. The problem goes far beyond the local chapters of the Church, as the NY Times suggests.


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