The Catholic Church is "not a modern republic" pointed out Giuliano Ferrara, director of the political Italian daily Il Foglio, in an editorial on Friday. He argued that the conflict in the media today between offering information and promoting a secular ideology—with ideology winning out—is behind the coverage of the sex abuse sandals.
Commenting on the "steady drip" of accusations against the Pope that continue to question his disciplinary response to sexual abuse of minors by priests, the director of Italy's Il Foglio newspaper wrote Friday that it must be noted that the Catholic Church is not a "modern republic, founded on statute law, on penal action, (or) on the control or repression of criminal offenses."
"The Church occupies itself with sin, that is a more complex thing than the crime, that doesn't lend itself to being classified in the same way, that has an aspect of individual judgment, case by case, different from equal, homologous, standard procedures of law," he explained.
"Its inhabitants are souls, not citizens," Ferrara wrote, suggesting that the Church also couldn't be considered an "open society."
Delving into the difference between civil and Church law, the Il Foglio director explained that the Church exercises canonical rules, providing "mechanisms of surveillance" which operate in (the area of ) the profound, dig into the conscience, (and) refer to a human and divine area," he wrote.
But, he added, and especially in regard to priests, canon law "manages a sacramental ministry that necessarily transcends the ordinary rules with which cases of crimes are dealt with in civil courts, whose authority the Church recognizes. If this datum is not understood and recognized, with a tolerant and secular spirit, the accusations against the Church become ideological intolerance," he warned.
The Pope has no problem, declared Ferrara, in "serenely" recognizing his responsibility, and that of Church governing authorities in the last half-century, for providing "cautious and merciful treatment ... of the complex psychopathologies linked to homophilic and pedophilic sexuality" of some members of the clergy.
At the same time, though, "Benedict XVI needs to be acknowledged as having instructed a new sensibility around this difficult, critical theme, and of having done as much as was possible to exercise ... a very rigorous pastoral, but also canonical and moral, responsibility."
Concluding his piece, Ferrara cited a Thursday op-ed published in the Jerusalem Post by the former New York mayor, Ed Koch, a practicing Jew.
Koch, wrote Ferrara, had written that it can be seen by the manner in which the international media has gone about addressing the matter of pedophilic priests that they are more interested in punishing the Church for its positions on matters that secular society considers "a threat to its own ideological identity" than in informing the people of the facts.
Il Foglio's director agreed, stating, "I couldn't have said it better."