Beliefnet
The Deacon's Bench

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.

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