On the day of Palm Sunday, the celebration of Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem leading up to the day when he would take responsibility for the sins of the world and sacrifice himself in order to absolve them, the world leader of the Catholic Church took to the pulpit to subtly indicate defiance against taking responsibility for years of hiding the terrible crimes of priests he oversaw. This comes at the end of a month when Pope Benedict XVI has been called to task for, during a previous post as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, allowing a priest known to have molested 200 deaf boys to continue to minister to children — and for relocating and not de-frocking, while archbishop of Munich, another known child molester in the priesthood. While Benedict didn’t mention the abuse cases specifically, during his Palm Sunday mass he did note that God helps lead one “towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion.”
Here in New York, at the end of his own Palm Sunday mass, Archbishop Timothy Dolan read a statement vigorously defending the Pope. From the Associated Press account of the event:
“Anytime this horror, this vicious sin, this nauseating crime is reported, as it needs to be, victims and their families are wounded again, the vast majority of faithful priests bow their heads in shame anew and sincere Catholics like you experience another dose of shock, sorrow and even anger,” Dolan said. He added: “What deepens the sadness now is the unrelenting insinuations against the Holy Father himself, as certain sources seem almost frenzied to implicate the man.” …
Dolan credited the pope for making possible the progress the Catholic Church has made in the United States against “this sickening sin and crime,” saying changes “could never have happened without the insistence and support of the very man now being daily crowned with thorns by groundless innuendo.” He asked whether the church and the pope “need intense scrutiny and just criticism for tragic horrors long past?”
While the Catholic Church is certainly not alone in having to confront the horrors of pedophilia, it is most certainly a stretch to say that concealing and perpetuating serial and multitudinous crimes of a horrific nature against children all over the world is something that every “culture, religion, organization, institution, school, agency, and family” is guilty of. Just as it would be out of scale to compare the Church to despotic regimes that violate the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child by coercing children into child warfare, doesn’t it also seem out of scale to compare the Church’s track record on child abuse to states and institutions that are wholly innocent of such offenses? But, um, happy Holy Week everyone! And Good Pesach!