Grant Gallicho’s compare and contrast at dotCommonweal draws a good bit of commentary. The 2002 CDF position, channeled by Cardinal Ratzinger, is up for a dollop of criticism. Here it is:
But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower. In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than one percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information or to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the church.
I’m disinclined to suggest the cardinal had more information 11 years ago and was just obfuscating. I’m more inclined to suggest Cardinal Ratzinger wanted these items to be true. He may well have had suggestions, evidence, or even a survey that contraindicated. But even a smart man can be toppled by his own wishes and hopes.
What he sniffs on that last conspiracy theory is the reality in modern media, even Catholic media, and even among high-placed believers.
Rather than blame ourselves, we will indulge the plank and suggest it is our opponent who is blinded.
The media doesn’t hone in on Catholicism alone. It is geared to sell product. In order to sell, it must, like advertising, draw attention to itself. It draws attention by trumpeting news of impact. When high-placed people do lowdown things (Bill Clinton’s affairs, Martha Stewart’s investment improprieties) it attracts attention. Sometimes, as in the case of Bill Clinton, the figure is brought to the brink of consequences. Martha Stewart went over, if you remember your celebrity history. But the financial geniuses who engineered the crisis of September 2008 were never dragged to the cliff. Draw what lessons, conspiratorial or otherwise, from that as you will. Maybe if money talks outside the Church, it speaks loudly from within its walls too.
Now, Cardinal Ratzinger went on to become pope. One can trust his present-day facts are a little straighter than they were before election. Father Oliver is two levels removed from the papacy. At least. So kudos to the press may not get a Ratzinger glare.
If only we can get an admission on the percentage of active bishops who have shielded predators. That number, I suspect, is in the double digits. And that, my friends, remains the crux of the Catholic problem of blindness to sin, institutional mismanagement, and the efforts of the antigospel. Good luck, I say, getting to the bottom of that cesspool.