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Times and times again

Clark Hoyt (click to follow)

Here is an interesting ending to a vapid editorial by Times public editor Clark Hoyt, with Uncommon Sense fisk:

Some readers say The Times is anti-Catholic. They wonder why it isn’t giving equal effort to sex abuse in the public schools, or in other religions. And Levada and others argue that Benedict improved the Vatican’s response to such cases, streamlining the procedures for hearing them and apologizing to victims.

Notice that Mr. Hoyt mentions the public school and other religions (sic) phenomenon, yet immediately drops the subject, though an authoritative study by Penn State researcher Philip Jenkins showed that less than two percent of Catholic priests are abusers, whereas trans-denominationally, two to three percent of non-Catholic ministers abuse.  1991 Journal of Education Research study published that 13.5 percent of students admitted they’d had intercourse with a teacher.  Seventeen percent of boys and 82 percent of girls reported they’d been sexually harassed by school faculty or staff.  Don’t expect to see a concerted effort by The Times actually to pursue it, because denominations don’t have a figurehead to attack, and the public school abuse cases only get ink when a hot teacher is carrying a boy’s baby.  The welfare of the kids at First Bapticostal Chapel or at P.S. 100 doesn’t appear to be important to them.

But it would be irresponsible to ignore the continuing revelations. A day after the first article about Murphy, The Times published another front-page article that said Benedict, while archbishop in Munich, led a meeting approving the transfer of a pedophile priest and was kept informed about the case. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish. The paper’s critics have been mostly silent about this report.

“Led a meeting.”  Oooh, that sounds damning.  Why would Vatican officials be silent about the report?  Perhaps to untwist the accusations and investigate the truth?  They weren’t silent for long.  The truth is that the Richard Owen was unprofessional and as Phil Lawler of Catholic World News puts it, “ran ahead of the evidence.”  I won’t call Owen a journalist because I don’t want to malign the good names of those who actually practice that difficult and low paying career, and manage to do it with precision, professionalism and style.  Just as bad, the Times tacked an equally inaccurate headline above it.  Facts show that the abuser priest in question wasn’t even from the Munich diocese, but from Essen.  He was sent to Munich for counseling.  Ratzinger’s only involvement in the case was to allow the abuser priest to reside in the Munich diocese while undergoing counseling to address his penchant for teenage boys.  Ratzinger may or may not have known the full specifics of the case, but the priest had already been removed from his parish assignment in Essen.

Like it or not, there are circumstances that have justifiably driven this story for years, including a well-documented pattern of denial and cover-up in an institution with billions of followers. Painful though it may be, the paper has an obligation to follow the story where it leads, even to the pope’s door.

So, circumstances in the Catholic Church have driven the story for years, but not abuse in other denominations.  Not abuse and harassment in the public schools, either.   What trail of denials and cover-ups would be found waiting there, I wonder.  Alas, the public schools don’t have billions of followers.  That’s right, he said it, billions.  A presumably well educated man claimed that the Catholic Church has billions of followers.  How many billions, Mr. Hoyt?  Is it two billions?  Seven billions?  A parochial school third grader knows there are roughly 1.1 billions.  Take it with a grain of salt, dear readers.  The Times fact checker has a keyboard impression on his cheek again.

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