Reacting to the slew of articles from media outlets attempting to incriminate Pope Benedict in past clerical sex abuse cases, the New York Daily News published an editorial today calling for a fair analysis of the facts about the Pope’s involvement with such cases.
Using extremely direct diction, the Daily News’ editorial states that “with certainty,” the belief that Pope Benedict enabled a pedophile priest to inflict great harm is “false.”
The editorial then refers to a recent column by the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, stating that she “took the accusations against the Pope, whose given name is Joseph Ratzinger, to their most extreme.”
Dowd’s commentary called the events surrounding the case of Milwaukee’s Fr. Lawrence Murphy “sickening news” and claimed that the then-Cardinal Ratzinger “ignored repeated warnings and looked away.”
“Again, and with certainty,” the Daily News writes, “This is false.”
The Daily News does concede that “there is much to criticize in the Catholic Church's abysmal failure for decades to take action against priests who engaged in sexual abuse. That history tends to lend credence to reports that the hierarchy has either turned a blind eye or engaged in coverups.” However, the editorial is quick to assert that, “While the Murphy case does exemplify the church at its worst, the grievous sins in this matter cannot be laid to Pope Benedict.”
As the Daily News’ editorial details the circumstances regarding Fr. Murphy’s habits of offending, it notes that his first crimes occurred in the 1950’s and continued until the church forced him into “temporary sick leave.”
“Those crimes, dating back half a century, took place decades before Ratzinger rose to high church positions in Europe. He could not have ignored repeated warnings, nor could he have looked away. He not on the scene at all,” the editorial asserts.
After analyzing the subsequent events in the Murphy case, the Daily News poses the question, “What exactly did then-Cardinal Ratzinger do wrong?”
“His office approved the trial and waived the statue of limitations. Those are not the makings of a coverup. At the same time, it's fair game to debate whether his office should have considered for a moment a plea deal, even on the verge of Murphy's death. But that's a far cry from vilifying Benedict as a man who took no action in the face of Murphy's evil or many years later tried to paper it over,” the editorial concludes.