The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Dershowitz: in defense of the Pope

Some praise for the pontiff, from a surprising source, famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz:

2667727476_b2b5681123.jpgNor is the Catholic Church the only institution that has faced problems of sexual abuse. Every hierarchical body, especially but not exclusively religious ones, has faced similar problems, though perhaps on not so large a scale.


The problem of hierarchical sex abuse has only recently emerged from the shadows. Singling out the Catholic Church, and for stereotyping all priests is simply wrong.
Pope Benedict, both before he became Pope and since, has done a great deal to confront the issue. He changed the policy that kept allegations of abuse within the authority of local bishops, and he acknowledged that the local option had encouraged shifting abusive priests from parish to parish, thereby hiding their sins from potential new victims. He also met with abuse victims and recognized their victimization. Nor has he tried, as other members of the Vatican hierarchy have, to publicly blame the problem on “the Jews”, “the media,” and others.


It is obvious that despite Pope Benedict’s good efforts, more must be done, and not only by the Catholic Church but by all institutions that have experienced hierarchical sexual exploitation. They must create structures that assure prompt reporting, a zero tolerance policy and quick action, so long as these processes are consistent with due process and fairness, not only to alleged victims but to the accused as well. It’s easy to forget, in the face of real victims with real complaints, that there have also been false accusations as well. Processes must be put in place that distinguish true complaints from false ones.

Most important, this tragedy should not be used as an excuse to attack a large and revered institution that does much good throughout the world. Blame must be placed with precision and praise should be given with precision as well. The eleventh Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Stereotype, must never be forgotten.

Check out the rest. And if you haven’t seen it, check out former New York Mayor Ed Koch’s defense of the pope, too.

Comments read comments(15)
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posted April 13, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Maybe the eleventh amendment should mention protecting people who rape children.

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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted April 13, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Maybe the media should have asked more lawyers who are not looking to plunder the Church to analyze the information that has become available. All the stories I’ve seen that mention lawyers mention ones who have a financial stake in the scandal.
But isn’t this also a major scandal–that the lawyers of abuse victims raked in 3 dollars for every single dollar victims got for therapy. However, I doubt if the media will give much play to this scandal.

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posted April 13, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Yeah, Dave, but in April, 2010, the people who attack the pope are the ones who are protecting people who rape children.
Legionaries of Christ. The report went to the pope on March 15th. The Legion buddy Carlos Slim called in his marker with the New York Times, and here we are. With nice people like Dave helping the Legionaries keep on keeping on with their evil perversions.

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posted April 13, 2010 at 6:21 pm

“Legionaries of Christ. The report went to the pope on March 15th. The Legion buddy Carlos Slim called in his marker with the New York Times, and here we are. With nice people like Dave helping the Legionaries keep on keeping on with their evil perversions.”
Gee…you think that this might sink the Sainthood chances for Pope John Paul II? Given he was a big supporter of the Legion, I have to wonder if some of his lieutenants aren’t also behind this.

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posted April 13, 2010 at 6:26 pm

You know, it’s a shame Johnny Cochrane is dead. I bet the Pope could get the other half of OJ’s defense team on his side.

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M Colins

posted April 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm

The timing of this is unfortunate as it comes 6 years after the American Catholic Bishops took steps to grab this bull by the horns and rectify the problem while showing humility and contrition for the mishandling of this to the thousands of victims of priestly abuse. This wipes out of memory the good work that has been done since then and makes this fresh to the public eye. Whats becoming clear now is that the problem was not restricted to the Catholic Church in America and that there exists an endemic problem left to fester over generations that now must at any cost be rooted out and halted.
The most recent headline takes Vatican second in command Tarcisio Bertone to task because he is correctly pointing to homosexuality as central to the abuse scandal. The media routinely misidentifies the abuse as pedophilia which it is not. Pedophiles target prepubescent children of either sex. The greatest majority of victims are adolsecent males and young men. This is not pedophilia but homosexual pederasty. Insofar as there is such a thing as good homosexuals (from a Catholic view) these guys are it. They are predatory gay men who dont lvoe God and who found sanctuary in an institution where homsexuality is already existent at all levels that they go go about their predations with little fear of being exposed by one who had their own shame to hide.

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M Colins

posted April 13, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Previous post should read:
Insofar as there is such a thing as good homosexuals (from a Catholic view) these guys areN’T it.

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Your Name

posted April 13, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I’ve really been impressed how many of the Jewish faith have defended Pope Benedict and the CC. Michael Medved for years has always defended the Catholic prists, rightly making the case to his callers that the least of the abusers were/are Catholic priests.
I even heard a bit of Michael Savage the other day defending the CC in this scandal/witch hunt. I have to admit, Dershowitz plesently surprised me, as did Michael Savage. All 3 of these high profile men are VERY smart, and also smart enough to understand, unlike the Protestants who excpet for Hugh Hewitt have mostly stayed silent, after they silence us they will also silence them, and “all things God.”
Imagine if every election Fox News ran 24/7 the Monika Lewinsky/Clinton Scandal, making “the case” that democratic presidents are not to be trusted.
Dcn John excellent points. It would be nice if some more lawyers would speak out.

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posted April 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Alan Dershowitz has done a far better defense of the Pope than Bill Donohue from the Catholic League could ever do…. Unfortunately for the Church in America, Bill Donahue’s angry, bigoted, rants attacking the Media, the Victims, The ACLU, the Teachers Union, those who support Abortion or Gay Rights and Liberalism do nothing for the image of the Pope or the Catholic Church.
The use of the Catholic Church by a an angry self-appointed Bully for personal and political gain will do far more damage to the Catholic Church than any Scandal can ever do.

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posted April 13, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Guido Sarducci would be a better spokesperson than Bill Donohue.

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posted April 14, 2010 at 12:04 am

Don’t know where best to post this, but it looks like some good news:
It’s an article by Jimmy Akin commenting on a RomeReports story that the universal Church will soon be adopting policies similar to those initiated by the bishops in the US which have been credited, rightly, I think, for decreasing substantially the cases of children being abused.

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Grace M Alvarez

posted April 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Indeed, a most grateful, from the heart, thank you Mr. Dershowitz. As a Catholic (cradle), the attacks against the Church and Pope Benedict XVI have hurt me personally. I believe all Catholics who never had a negative experience with the Church, either with priests, nuns or the laity feel the attacks as personal. Mr. Dershowitz makes sound, intelligent statements. I do deplore the incomprehensible acts of those who abuse children, but don’t, please don’t, use one brush to paint an entire group.

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posted April 14, 2010 at 6:57 pm

M Collins,
Father Marcial Maciel Degollado founded the Legionaries of Christ. He trafficked young boys from Mexico to use as his sexual slaves in is “seminary.” He was also a bigamist who anally raped his own sons from the time they were 7 until they were 14 and old enough to throw the old bastard off. Yet he was defended by Mary Anne Glendon, John Paul “the Great,” Father Richard Neuhaus, and he was shielded from justice by Benedict XVI as Cardinal Ratzinger. Other noted priestly rapists of minors who raped boys and young men and later got married include Father James Porter and Father Kiesle.
Frequently, when conservatives attack the proposition that homosexuality occurs in nature, they claim that the sexual contact between animals of the same sex is about dominance behavior by animals that are otherwise innately heterosexual. Why is it that authoritarians, which most conservatives are, refuse to see dominance behavior in human beings?

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posted April 14, 2010 at 9:18 pm

I applaud Mr Dershowitz for defending the Church against the media attacks that are largely biased and not in line with the facts. Indeed though Mr Dershowitz does not quite have his facts in line, a bit of a surprise from a legal expert. The statistics show that the Catholic Church when compared with the denominations or even secular institutions has far FEWER cases/offenders by really large numbers. In fact this is why the media is heavily criticized by those who know the facts as they really present. It is the Church however that comes under the greatest fire..very telling!!

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posted April 15, 2010 at 10:15 am

I agree that the Church has done as well or better than other secukar institutions (boy scouts, schools etc) in addressing the sexual abuse scandal and I also understand that priests and bishops are like other humans, sinners and not like the Lord impeccable. But the Church claims it is the mystical body of Christ and as the body of Christ, the Church (or Jesus) has not live up to the standards it set for itself and has utterly failed the children, Why if Christ deemed it important to make His Church infallible on doctrinal matters involving faith and morals,did He not conclude it was equally important for His representatives to be impeccable when dealing with young children. He could have and should have done so. Why did He not provide better guidance to Hos bishops when they [rayed for guidance? Either the Church because of its claimed special relationship to God has let the children down or it is not any different from other secular institutions when it comes to doctrinal issue. Which is it?

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