.- Dr. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights issued a statement decrying a recent CNN documentary on Pope Benedict which, he argued, attempted to make the Holy Father “out to be a co-conspirator” in the clerical sex abuse scandals.
Donohue asserted that the main objective of CNN program – which aired on Sept. 25 and 26 – was to “tarnish the image” of the Pope. He then proceeded in his column on Tuesday to address each point of contention raised by the network.
“We learn from CNN host Gary Tuchman that 'For decades, before he became pope, Joseph Ratzinger was a high-ranking Vatican official who, more than anyone else beside Pope John Paul, could have taken decisive action to stem the sexual abuse crisis,'” began Dohonue. “Similarly, author David Gibson says the pope 'always took the stalling tactic.'”
However, Donohue countered, it “is simply not true that Ratzinger was in charge of this issue 'for decades.' In fact, he wasn't given the authority to police the sexual abuse problem until 2001.”
“What is truly astonishing is that Tuchman concedes as much later in the program,” the Catholic League president added. “After he notes that 'By 2001, the sexual abuse crisis was beginning to engulf the Catholic Church,' he says, 'The pope gave Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) the power to cut through the bureaucracy and handle all sexual abuse cases directly.'”
“In other words, Tuchman was incorrect the first time when he said that 'for decades' Ratzinger 'could have taken decisive action.' He couldn't have been in charge 'for decades' if he wasn't given police powers until 2001.”
“Nowhere in the program is there any evidence that the pope was guilty of obstruction of justice,” Donohue continued. “This is a serious charge – the most serious made in the course of the documentary. Yet to throw this out, without ever producing evidence to substantiate it, is malicious. It won't cut it to say that he was 'perhaps' guilty of obstruction.”
“CNN intentionally planted this seed and never explicitly addressed the subject of obstruction of justice again,” he noted.
Regarding the Pope's alleged silence and obstruction of justice in the scandals, Donohue argued that if “it wasn't passion that provoked the pope to speak of the 'filth' within the Church – he did so right before being elected – what was it? A cerebral exercise?”
“And what was it that triggered him to reopen the case of Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, and then seek to reform the Legionaries? Was it boredom?”
“From top to bottom, what CNN did was the televised version of what the New York Times did in print form earlier in the year,” Donohue underscored in his concluding remarks. “The goal was to tarnish the image of Pope Benedict XVI, making him out to be a co-conspirator in the scandal.”