By the way, I am persuaded by Father R.J. de Souza’s argument that The New York Times was desperately stretching to connect Benedict with the Father Murphy disaster in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I always believed this was a problem that Abp Weakland and his predecessors preferred to kick down the road, as so many other bishops did. It really is a stretch to blame Cardinal Ratzinger in any meaningful way. That’s not to say that there are no serious questions left unresolved about the way he’s handling the overall crisis, especially with regard to the bishops (this, even though as I’ve said before, he is vastly better than his predecessor on the abuse matter). But the Times story really was going off half-cocked. Additionally, here’s a statement from the canonical judge in the Murphy case, taking strong issue with the Times story.
Elsewhere, Times columnist Ross Douthat has responded to my question asking him what he thought the Pope should do next. Ross says that Benedict should come absolutely clean about any role he had as Archbishop of Munich-Freising in the reassignment of abuser priests. And then:

The second thing he could do, as John Allen has repeatedly suggested, is to establish clear mechanisms of accountability for bishops, running parallel to the mechanisms that the church has already put in place to enforce “zero tolerance” for abusive priests. Maybe it’s too late to impose penalties on the American bishops who presided over the most egregious disasters of the 1970s and ’80s. But where revelations are ongoing, as in Ireland and Germany, there’s surely room to encourage further resignations, along the lines of the three Irish ecclesiastics who’ve already stepped down. And for the future, clear guidelines should be laid down for how and when bishops should be called to account.

I also very much liked Ross’s point here, countering New York Catholic archbishop Timothy Dolan:

Call out bad reporting, by all means; defend yourself against unjustified allegations, definitely. But don’t spend too much time complaining about a double standard, or griping about being unfairly targeted. Because, after all, the church is the church — not the public school bureaucracy, not the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, not the American juvenile detention system or the Scientologists or any other organization that you might not be surprised to discover has a problem with sexual abuse. Catholic scandals are worse even when they’re the same as everybody else’s, because it’s Catholicism’s business to be better. And the church is a target because it asks to be a target — because it aspires to set a higher standard, and answer to a higher master, than princes, governments and civic institutions.

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