17 February 2012

A wise man speaks only of what he knows...

  ...and then there are newspapers, reporters, and the people who comment on their "stories".

Rosie Dimanno, a reporter for the Toronto Star, is currently employed to write about anything she decides to write about.  She is, more or less, a well paid and well read blogger.  Seeing as she writes on virtually any subject, she has a following which believes she is well versed on virtually any subject.  She appears to believe it herself, otherwise she would not regularly present ignorance as knowledge. 

Take this piece, for instance.  For no reason whatsoever she writes about Pope Benedict, opining that he cannot resign and claims, repeatedly, that Benedict's hands are dirty in the abuse scandal.  Why this piece?  Why today?  What has happened, that this would be 'news'?  In short, nothing.  Yet it sits prominently on page two, and is the lead piece in the on-line edition.  At best, it reports doings from 1982, and a meeting that happened last week.  It is printed the day before the weekend that Thomas Collins, Toronto's archbishop, is to be elevated to the rank of cardinal, and a few days after some damning reports on the handling of sex abuse in the Boy Scouts.  Let us treat that as a mere coincidence.  Let's take a closer look at this piece, or parts of it.  It starts with a big photo of the Pope, and the headline "Scandal, Silence, Killing the Church."

Dictators, who tend not to die peacefully in their beds, are among the few on this planet who can claim a job for life.
Great opening line.  You get to call the Pope a Dictator in the opening line.  Get your thesis down, show your colours.  Yes, the Pope is an absolute monarch.  But why say that, when Dictator is just as good.  The same logic would make all the kings and queeens of England, for example, dictators.  Semantics?  Perhaps, perhaps not. 

But wait!  The Pope is no mere dictator.

And then there’s the pope

No challenge to his authority, no Catholic Spring, no curia putsch allowed there; can’t be dislodged for reasons of poor health, psychological trauma or colossally bad judgment in ministering to the world’s nearly 2 billion faithful.
There's the difference:  At least you can shoot a dictator, or least he will eventually face a revolution resulting in his violent death.  What a pity that won't happen here. so the Pope would not "die peacefully  in (his) bed."

Also notice no evidence or specifics given for the claim of "poor health, psychological trauma or colossally bad judgment in ministering to the world’s nearly 2 billion faithful."  Just a suggestion made for the moment.  Calls up the image of the last years of JP II's reign.

Moving on, she gives a brief history of the last time a pope resigned, and then drops this pearl:

While popes are not technically “infallible’’ — a misconception of nuance; they’re only “error-free’’ when performing in their official capacity to promulgate dogma on faith and morals — they can’t be given the sack for getting it spectacularly wrong because, in those matters that most directly affect us, they’re unimpeachably right. Got it?
Er, no.  Apparently, "fact checker" at the Star is very definition of low stress job.  Five minutes of search on the web would have given her a better definition and a more thorough understanding of Papal infallibility.

Understanding arcane intricacies of canon law is as challenging as that whole Father-Son-Holy Ghost trinity thing,-
mmmm-kay.  Moving on.

 which is why most Catholics simply take it on faith. Faith, however, has never in modern memory been so fragile, so at risk, as under Benedict XVI, with alarming numbers abandoning the Church, at least in the West.
Benedict may be indubitably pious and unmatched as a scholar-pope but, on his watch, the Catholic Church has sunk into a morass of unprecedented scandal. The latest crisis — explosive documents obtained by an Italian investigative TV show in what’s been dubbed “Vatileaks’’ — arises from a three-way private correspondence, which included the pope, with an archbishop who blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the Vatican, an alert that got the poor man transferred, from deputy governor of Vatican City to Vatican ambassador in Washington. The rippling accusations encompass everything from awarding of tenders for work to inside-connected contractors at ridiculously inflated prices to yet more questions being asked about the Vatican bank, 30 years after its predecessor (Banco Ambrosiano) collapsed amidst lurid allegations about money-laundering, freemasons, the Mafia and the mysterious death of its chairman — “God’s banker,” Roberto Calvi.
Notice lack of detail. The Church is in scandal, mired in scandal, but she isn't writing about any,  She has simply brought this up for effect.  Benedict may be good in one place, she admits, but she then piles upon the implication of massive scandal, but gives no details.  this paragraph is structured to create the effect of an ineffective Pope, not up to the task.  This is just for effect, to set the ground for the real problem.

At its most suspect core, however, the Vatican has been unable to contain or adequately address the ever-expanding grotesquerie of predator priests and lay practitioners sexually abusing children
Now the heart of the matter.  But, I say again, why is she writing this?  Is there a new scandal brewing? Something to justify the use of the phrasse "ever-expanding grotesquerie"?

To be fair, most of the tawdry abuse that has come to light in recent years occurred during the papacy of Pope John Paul II. For all his charisma and political courage, John Paul never confronted the pedophilia rot among his clergy, the Church more concerned with protecting its reputation than protecting children.
Nothing new, just old stuff.  Her facts are a bit off.  The scandals that came to light during JP II's long tenure were often decades old by the time they came to light.  Did he take sufficient action?  I would argue not, but "never confronted" is a falsehood.  But hey, why tell one lie, when you can tell more?

But, in his quarter-century as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — disciplinarian-in-chief — Benedict, or Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as he then was — was directly responsible for dealing with priests who violated their oaths. Instead, known perpetrators were quietly moved around parishes and, on too many occasions, continued to commit sordid crimes.
I wish I could do a better defense of then Cardinal Ratzinger, but all I can say is that Ratzinger's involvement was debatable.  One of the few cases of his involvement that came to light merely showed a letter he wrote instructing the diocese that was beginning the process of laicizing a priest to cross all their t's and dot their i's in their investigation.   

She then outlines some scandals and their costs.

The most notorious sexual abuse scandals erupted in the U.S. — Kansas City (lawsuits with 47 plaintiffs settled to the tune of $10 million), Philadelphia (a grand jury in 2005 found credible accusations of abuse by 63 priests whose activities had been covered up by the church), Boston (Cardinal Bernard Law forced to resign after a judge-ordered release of diocesan documents revealed a priest accused of molesting more than 130 boys over 30 years had been transferred among half a dozen parishes) – Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands and, most damaging to the current pontiff, his native Germany.
 Nothing new.  She then goes to Ratzinger's time as an archbishop.

As Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Ratzinger approved the transfer of a priest, Rev. Peter Hullerman, who’d sexually abused boys. Hullerman received psychiatric treatment, returned quickly to pastoral work with children and continued ministering to youth even after being convicted of molesting boys in 1982. Not until 2010, after new accusations of sexual abuse emerged, was Hullerman suspended from his priestly duties.
After stating that many bishops did nothing, she quickly goes over the fact that Ratzinger did in fact do something- he sent the priest for treatment.  The date of this is important- 1982, around the time the scandals first began to appear.  As hollow as it may be for the victims, Ratzinger did what was thought to be right at the time:  He sent the predator to counselling, and gave him another parish after told the predator no longer posed a threat.  No one knew, yet, that there was no cure.  But none of that matters to Rosie.

Pope Benedict’s hands are dirty. And it doesn’t count for much that, belatedly, he issued an apology to all victims of abuse by priests, or that, in 2010, the Vatican posted guidelines on its website directing officials to follow civil laws compelling the reporting of crimes to authorities if required by local laws.
The italics are interesting.  Apparently these lines draw incredulity, or outrage, that the Church is an international institution that is bound to follow the laws of the nations where it is practiced. 

Grand juries, district attorneys and government commissions (as in Ireland) have done all the heavy lifting for the Church, with some national associations of bishops (the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Australia and others) unilaterally adopting strong anti-abuse policies. Left to its own devices, the Vatican would probably have dithered for, oh, another couple of centuries.

"oh, another couple of centuries."  She then goes on to say something the Church has done, "left to its own devices".

The Vatican has formulated “guidelines’’ for the reporting of abuse by clerics, noting that the phenomenon is not only an offence punishable by church law but also “a crime prosecuted by civil law.” Procedures described as “clear and coordinated,” entailing coordination with law enforcement authorities, are to be released later this year.
So they are coming out with guidelines, again, for their bishops.  Anything else?

Last week, the Jesuit Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome hosted a landmark international symposium on clerical sex abuse, with attendance by representatives of 110 bishops’ conferences and 30 religious orders. Canada’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who heads the Vatican’s office for bishops, presided over a vigil service of repentance in which he and several other bishops pleaded for forgiveness for what Ouellet called the “evil” in the church.

That “evil” has reportedly cost the church $2 billion in lawsuit settlements.

At the conference, “Toward Healing and Renewal,” the Vatican’s top sex abuse investigator — Monsignor Charles Scicluna, promoter of justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — said in his formal address: “The Catholic Church knows well that whenever one of its ministers, whether bishop, priest or deacon, or lay pastoral agent, sexually abuses a minor, a tragic wound is inflicted on the community; subordinated as it is by the indescribably repugnant damage done to a child.”

Stunningly, Scicluna warned against the culture of “omerta” — the Italian word for the Mafia’s code of silence — in handling sexual abuse claims of minors by clergy.

“Other enemies of the truth are the deliberate denial of known facts and the misplaced concern that the good name of the institution should somehow enjoy absolute priority to the detriment of disclosure.”

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Scicluna added: “It is a crime in canon law to show malicious or fraudulent negligence in the exercise of one’s duty.”
So it is a problem they are working on.   They are using unusually forceful language and appear to mean business,  Not that it matters.  They are all still dirty.  Rosie says so.

But canon law has not been changed to reflect the scourge of abuse by clergy, and there’s no indication it will be.
After quoting a statement about how canon law demands action against pedophilia, she claims canon law to be insufficient.  She keeps returning to question of canon law, only to show her knowledge of canon law is exactly nothing.

And only one actual victim was invited to speak at the symposium. Little wonder victims’ groups dismissed the symposium as window dressing. They’ve demanded genuine accountability, want the Vatican to release the names and open up the files on all known molesters. One group last September even filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court, urging it to investigate and prosecute Pope Benedict, as well as three top Vatican officials, for crimes against humanity — abetting and covering up the sexual assault of children by priests. There’s zero chance of the Court taking up that cause.
I don't know why they had but one victim speak at the symposium.  If the purpose of the symposium was mere PR and appearances, then they blundered badly.  As for the group that filed against Benedict, she fails to mention someone else filed against Benedict, and the case was just thrown out yesterday

I’ll say it again: Benedict’s hands are dirty.

Can’t even slide him out of the picture gracefully as a pope emeritus, no matter how doddering he gets, no matter how complicit he might be proven to have been in the concealing of predator priests.
"he might be proven", but he hasn't, and the few attempts have failed.  This is like photos of UFOs.  A thousand photos of flying hubcaps do not prove the existence of flying saucers.  Claiming his hands are dirty, and saying he might be proven, proves nothing.  Too bad we can't just shoot him and be done with it, right?

Benedict turns 85 in April. He’ll die a pope. But, for many of us, he will have been predeceased by his church.
Nice parting shot.  What she says here is true, and more's the pity.  People are leaving the Church, which she calls "his" church, over the scandal.  Rosie herself has left the Church a long time ago, over what I do not know.  The Toronto Star could have covered news about Archbishop Collins being promoted into the college of Cardinals, the fourth time this has happened in Toronto and the 16th time in Canada, and what that means to local Catholics, but why do that when you can have a fallen away Catholic write a hit piece on the Church, rehashing old stories and lies? 

As it turns out, they did have a little bit about Collins, but it was, of all things and places, a photo in the Sports pages.

Now this, I like.


Anonymous said...

Pretty sure that the reporter was trying to report on what the WSJ is reporting on here, and then trying to spin it further: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204059804577229512230093638.html?google_editors_picks=true

Patience said...

What can you expect from a non practicing Catholic who has huge issues with the Church? Take it from where it comes from. Rosie did a great job on the honour killing event. Wish she'd write about the crisis/scandals in CAS/CCAS; now that she could sink her teeth into with conviction.

Vox Cantoris said...

Who's Rosie Dimanno?

What's a Toronto Star?