Action Alert!

thank God for bad translations

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 11, 2007

During his visit to Nashville this past week, to address the Knights of Columbus convention, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was asked at a press conference to comment on the American sex-abuse scandal. Probably the best thing that could be said about the Vatican Secretary of State's remarks is that they were hard to understand. For example:

It seems like the Catholic Church is the only organization that has been affected by this problem and that is a totally false assumption-– that idea.

"That idea." What idea? Maybe the next sentence will clarify. Let's soldier on:

The juridical expression is that it’s a false public act that merits a juridical remedy.

OK, I give up. Haven't a clue what he's saying.

Since Cardinal Bertone does not speak English, we could blame the translator for the confusion. But actually I'm inclined to thank the translation, because if the Italian cardinal's remarks had been clear and quotable, they would have appeared in dozens of headline stories, accompanied by editorial brow-slapping and head-shaking, causing thousands of beleaguered Catholic Americans to sigh, yet again, "They still don't get it."

"I accompanied the American Church through the period of trial," Cardinal Bertone said, "and I repeat they faced this trial with dignity and courage." Notice how the pronoun "they" slips into the second clause, when the first clause referred to the Church. You might be inclined to blame the translator again, but read on and it becomes clear that Cardinal Bertone is speaking about the American bishops. And if the #2 man at the Vatican still thinks that the American bishops have handled this crisis with dignity and courage, well,…

Well, just scan today's headlines, and notice the lead from today's story in the San Diego Union Tribune:

In a rare and blistering decree, a federal judge yesterday ordered Bishop Robert Brom and his attorneys to show why she shouldn't dismiss the Diocese of San Diego's bankruptcy case for failing to exercise “the financial controls and transparency” required by law.

Citing the findings of a court-appointed financial expert, Judge Louise DeCarl Adler said church officials have not reported true property values, failed to keep parishes from deliberately hiding assets and misrepresented the diocese's wealth.

Are you surprised? No, of course not. One more judge is admonishing one more bishop for withholding evidence, and for filing testimony that is grossly self-serving if not outright dishonest. The pattern is all too familiar. We've been reading stories like this for five years. Don't these headlines ever reach Rome?

A bishop who handled this scandal with "dignity and courage" would face the facts squarely and offer evidence freely, confident that full exposure of the truth would show him blameless-- or perhaps recognizing that he deserved some just punishment for his administrative negligence and misconduct. But there is nothing dignified, nothing courageous, about shirking responsibility and dodging the truth.

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