Media attacks on Pope Benedict, and responses (Roundup)
March 29, 2010
With a media assault on Pope Benedict XVI reaching a frenzied level, reporters for dozens of major newspapers and wire services placed responsibility for sex-abuse cases at the Vatican, despite the clear evidence that diocesan bishops have been responsible for disciplinary failures.
An AP story claimed that only 20% of reported abuse cases result in full canonical trials. The truth is that in most cases, disciplinary measures are imposed without a full trial. As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), then-Cardinal Ratzinger pressed for vigorous action and authorized diocesan bishops to proceed with their own disciplinary action.
A Reuters story rehearsed the now-familiar charges against the Pope, and only after 18 paragraphs did the reporter mention a vigorous defense by Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. During his years at CDF, the Austrian cardinal said, Cardinal Ratzinger pushed Pope John Paul II to conduct a full inquiry into charges against another Austrian prelate, the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer.
A number of other leading prelates joined in defending the Pope. New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan said at a Palm Sunday Mass that Pope Benedict has been "the leader in purification reform," and is now sufferin through "the same unjust accusation and shouts of the mob as Jesus did." In England, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminister rejected the calls for the Pope's resignation. "Frankly there's no strong reason for him to do so," he told BBC. The Polish primate, Archbishop Henry Muszynski, decried the "direct assault on his dignity and an attempt to discredit the Catholic Church." The National Catholic Register provided a real service with short quotations for a number of prelates who have come to the Pope's defense.
The Wall Street Journal offered a brief but informative portrait of Jeffrey Anderson, the Minnesota-based trial lawyer "who's filed thousands of suits against the church in recent years, making tens of millions for his clients along the way." Anderson-- who has made ample fees for himself in the process-- is now a regular source of quotes for journalists joining in the criticism of the Pontiff.
The most preposterous news story came from AP, which quoted the would-be papal assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, as saying that Benedict XVI should resign.