Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, responded to Maureen Dowd's latest column attacking the Church, calling the the New York Times writer's piece more sarcastic than substantial and offering her own opinions on the state of the Church amidst the sex abuse scandal.
On Tuesday in the New York Times, Dowd, who calls herself “a Catholic woman who makes a living being adversarial,” hurled numerous complaints against the Catholic Church, criticizing how she feels women are treated. Dowd first targeted celibacy, calling it “outdated,” she then denounced what she believes to be corruption among Church leaders, and asserted that “the church is dying from a thousand cuts.”
Lopez, who is also Catholic, responded on April 7 in the National Review Online, saying that although “there are many things to say both about her column and what's going on in the media and in the Church,” what “sticks out from Ms. Dowd’s column today is this closing line: 'How can we maintain that faith when our leaders are unworthy of it?'”
“If the pope himself were possessed, if every priest and religious were evildoers, there would still be Christ and there would still be the fact – which, if you’re Catholic, you believe to be true, or so claiming to be Catholic suggests – that He died for your sins,” wrote Lopez. “If the pope were corrupt, I’d like to think I’d still have faith. It’s not the human leaders with free will who are at the heart of the faith – and the Church – but the Eucharist, literally.”
“Mercifully,” she added, “evil has not overtaken the pope or the Church. And the Catholic Church is not dying. There have been crimes. There are sins. But much of what is being reported on does not always live up to its billing. And the solutions pundits present are not all that they think they are.”
Responding to Dowd's castigation of priestly celibacy, Lopez countered, “For one thing, celibacy is not the problem. It’s easy to see why people who live in a culture that has made a religion of sex – believing it is the road to love and fulfillment rather than the expression of it – would insist that a man surrendering it, as well as his whole will, to Divine service, is simply impossible.”
“In truth, the problems that have led to all kinds of 'filth' – to use the former Cardinal Ratzinger’s term of disgust for crimes and sins that he was made aware of while a cardinal at the Vatican and did not tolerate – and breakdown in so many American and other seminaries and dioceses stem from issues of integrity and fidelity, not the existence of celibacy.”
On Dowd's complaint that women are mistreated in the Church, Lopez said, “I don’t blame Maureen Dowd for her misunderstanding of the Catholic Church’s love for her in all her femininity – if by 'the Catholic Church' one means what she teaches in her doctrines and papal encyclicals and in the very architecture of St. Peter’s in Rome.”
“Maureen Dowd attended the same Catholic university that I did,” the editor noted, “which, at the time she attended, was mixed up in a fog of dissent that took away from its ability to teach its students what exactly is at the heart of the Church and what we truly believe as Catholics.”
Ultimately, “All of these crimes, sins, and confusions are fruits of Catholics not being Catholic,” Lopez stressed.
Lopez also maintained that “Fidelity is the key to renewal, integrity, faith, hope, and love.”
“And while being the father of fraternal correction, crackdown, and cleanup, Pope Benedict XVI, in word and deed, is teaching and modeling what exactly being Catholic means to a few generations who haven’t been clear on it,” Lopez concluded. “He is an example of a leader who is living up to his office, while calling others to account. If there were easy, across-the-board solutions that would do away with sin, I’m sure he’d be all for it. The truth is that there aren’t. The answer to preventing moral breakdown – whether we’re talking about the Catholic Church or a marriage – is fidelity.”