Posts Tagged ‘Pope Benedict XVI’

Insights from John Allen Jr.

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Although this appeared in National Catholic Reporter several weeks ago, I thought you might want to read one of the most insightful pieces that I have come across in a while. John Allen Jr. gives an excellent overview of the press coverage of the 2010 sexual abuse crisis.

Here is an excerpt:

Under the best of circumstances, the Vatican and the secular media struggle to understand each other, and the first half of 2010 was hardly the best of times. As a new wave of the sexual abuse crisis swept across Europe and raised critical questions about Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican officials accused the press of bias, while news reports and editorial pages blasted the Vatican for dishonesty and denial.

Now that the dust has begun to settle, thoughtful figures on both sides realize the need to take a dispassionate look back. Many in the news business want to know if they got the story right, and at least some in Rome — not to mention frustrated Catholics elsewhere — wonder if the Vatican’s crisis management strategy, such as it was, backfired.

You can read the whole post here.

Response from William A. Donohue, Ph.D

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I came across this fine article written by William A. Donohue, Ph.D. of the Catholic League. Mr. Donohue responds to a CNN documentary on the Pope recently aired.

Here’s an excerpt:

“We learn from CNN host Gary Tuchman that “For decades, before he became pope, Joseph Ratzinger was a high-ranking Vatican official who, more than anyone else beside Pope John Paul, could have taken decisive action to stem the sexual abuse crisis.” Similarly, author David Gibson says the pope “always took the stalling tactic.”

It is simply not true that Ratzinger was in charge of this issue “for decades.” In fact, he wasn’t given the authority to police the sexual abuse problem until 2001. What is truly astonishing is that Tuchman concedes as much later in the program. After he notes that “By 2001, the sexual abuse crisis was beginning to engulf the Catholic Church,” he says, “The pope gave Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) the power to cut through the bureaucracy and handle all sexual abuse cases directly.”

In other words, Tuchman was incorrect the first time when he said that “for decades” Ratzinger “could have taken decisive action.” He couldn’t have been in charge “for decades” if he wasn’t given police powers until 2001 (he became pope in 2005).

Nowhere in the program is there any evidence that the pope was guilty of obstruction of justice. This is a serious charge—the most serious made in the course of the documentary. Yet to throw this out, without ever producing evidence to substantiate it, is malicious. It won’t cut it to say that he was “perhaps” guilty of obstruction. CNN intentionally planted this seed and never explicitly addressed the subject of obstruction of justice again.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

To Whom Shall We Go?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Because of all the inaccuracies in the recent coverage of the Catholic Church in the New York Times and other publications, appearing in news articles, editorials, and op-eds, I was tempted to try my best to offer corrections to the multitude of errors. However, I soon realized that this would probably be a full time job.

It is a source of consternation as to why, instead of complimenting the Vatican and a reformer like Pope Benedict XVI, for codifying procedures long advocated by critics, such outfits would instead choose to intrude on a matter of internal doctrine, namely the ordination of women.

But, correcting the paper is not what really matters. What is important is the well-being of God’s people, especially of His little ones.

The bottom line is that the Holy Father, the Vatican, and the Church universal regards with the utmost seriousness the heinous and sinful crime of child abuse and is committed to doing everything it can to ensure that justice is served and that such abuse never happens again.

If critics want to say, “It’s about time,” fair enough. But for critics to continue their obsessive criticism of Benedict XVI, claiming that he just “doesn’t get it,” is simply out of bounds.

The norms released last week by the Holy See take what have been standard practice for several years, especially here in the United States, and made them formally part of Church law.  You can read the norms here, and an explanation by the Vatican’s press officer, Father Frederico Lombardi, here.

This is very important. It’s not merely administrative housekeeping as some have said, or procedural updates. The offenses listed — child abuse, use of child pornography, and abuse of a mentally disabled adult — now carry the weight of the most serious of crimes against the very heart of the Church.

These norms speed up the processing of cases, allow qualified individuals who are not priests to serve on tribunals, require that the sexual abuse of a mentally handicapped person be treated as gravely as that of a minor,  extends the time in which penalties are applicable, and confirm that child pornography is not only a grievous sin but a church crime.

These are serious advances and clearly lay out Pope Benedict’s ongoing firm commitment to providing justice and healing for the victims of abuse in an effective, timely, just and compassionate manner.

The Church is, contrary to media reports, ahead of her time. As Dr. Paul McHugh, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and internationally recognized expert in child abuse has said, “Nobody is doing more to address the tragedy of sexual abuse of minors than the Catholic Church.”

That the Church is indeed doing this is the real story here.

It is fair to say that decades ago the Catholic Church was an example of what not to do when dealing with sexual abuse of minors. However, now it is fair to say that the Catholic Church is an example of what to do about a crime found in every religion, every profession, every culture, and many families.

Make no mistake, Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church are at the forefront of addressing the problem of clerical abuse but, even more, of addressing abuse wherever it occurs in society.

And that won’t change no matter how much some in the media try to slant the truth.

Statement on the Appointment of Archbishop Jose Gomez

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Today, my good friend Archbishop José Gomez was appointed by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to be the Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles. This means that when Cardinal Roger Mahony retires Archbishop Gomez will immediately succeed him.  Cardinal Mahony has been an outstanding shepherd for the Los Angeles Archdiocese for 25 years.

Here is the statement that I released to the press earlier today.


Statement of Archbishop Timothy Dolan on the Appointment of Archbishop José Gomez as Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, released the following statement today on the appointment of Archbishop José Gomez as Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles.

“I was overjoyed to learn of the appointment of Archbishop José Gomez of San Antonio as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles.  He will be a great blessing to the Catholic faithful of our nation’s largest archdiocese, and to the entire Los Angeles community, as well as to my good friend, Cardinal Roger Mahony, who has served the Los Angeles Archdiocese so faithfully for 25 years.

“I have known Archbishop Gomez for more than a decade.  I cherish his friendship and admire his zeal.  I look forward to working together even more closely in the years to come, and assure him of my prayers as he prepares to undertake this new phase of service to Christ and his church.”

You can also read the statements from Archbishop Jose Gomez and Cardinal Roger M. Mahony.

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

One of my favorite characters of American literature is Scarlett O’Hara of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Do you remember her response to any problem or difficulty that came her way?  It was always “I’ll think about that tomorrow.  I’ll worry about that tomorrow.  Tomorrow is another day.”

We are all like Scarlett O’Hara when it comes to our spiritual life, aren’t we?  Don’t we all say:  Do I need to pray more?  Yes, but I’ll think about that tomorrow.  Do I need to get closer to God?  Sure, but there’s plenty of time to worry about that later.  Do I need to turn away from sin and follow the Gospel more faithfully?  Absolutely – and maybe I’ll start sometime soon.

Today is the beginning of the magnificent season of Lent, and we are all called to prayer, self sacrifice, and works of charity as we meditate on and look forward to celebrating the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord.  In today’s Mass, we hear Saint Paul proclaim in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Let us all make today the day we begin to convert our lives and follow the Gospel more closely.  As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI said during his audience today,

Conversion means changing the direction of the path of
our lives….It is going against the current when the “current” is a
superficial, incoherent, and illusory way of life that often drag us down,
making us slaves of evil or prisoners of moral mediocrity. Nevertheless,
through conversion we tend to the highest measure of Christian life, we
trust in the living and personal Gospel who is Jesus Christ. He is the final
goal and the profound path of conversion, the path that we are all called to
travel in our lives, allowing ourselves to be illuminated with his light and
sustained by his strength, which moves our steps.

A happy and blessed Lent to you all.

My Visit with Patriarch Bartholomew

Monday, November 16th, 2009

It’s time for a pop quiz:  Who is the “first-called” of the twelve apostles?

St. Peter?  Sorry.  You’re wrong!

St. Andrew?  Congratulations!  You’re right!

The Successor of St. Andrew was just in our country, even spending a week in New York.

You may not have been aware of his visit, since – – no surprise – – the story of his uplifting, affirming, and blessed presence here in the United States did not unfortunately seem to attract the attention of a press that often seems tone-deaf to the “good news” of religion.

Just as His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, the Bishop of Rome, is the Successor of St. Peter as pastor of the Church Universal, so is His All Holiness, Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Successor of St. Andrew.

Another pop-quiz: did St. Peter and St. Andrew know each other prior to their call from Jesus to follow him as an apostle?

Yes!  They were brothers!

Tragically, in a somber chapter of Church history, Successors of St. Peter and Successors of St. Andrew have gone through a lengthy “family feud” that has resulted in the saddest and most enduring fracture in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, with Catholics looking to the Bishop of Rome, and Orthodox allied with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, Turkey).

Thank God, this family rift is being patiently, tenderly, slowly, yet effectively healed.  One fondly recalls the epochal visit of Pope Paul VI to Patriarch Athenagoras in Constantinople forty-five years ago.  Since then, the successors of Peter and Andrew have indeed again become brothers, and there is genuine hope for unity.  It was moving to hear Patriarch Bartholomew speak so lovingly and respectfully of his friendships with both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

I had the honor of being in the company of His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew, a number of times during his recent, historic visit.  He is extraordinarily warm, engaging, perceptive human being; he is a holy, humble, loving man, with a prophetic voice on pressing issues such as world peace, the danger of religious extremism, protection of the environment, and efforts for ecumenical and inter-religious concord.  The difficult situation in his own local church in Istanbul, where religious liberty is less than ideal, only increases my admiration for him.

Our Orthodox brothers and sisters look to him as their “older brother,” the “first among equals,” with a primacy of honor whose voice is given particularly reverent attention as the Eastern Orthodox Christians continue to live as faithful disciples of Jesus.

Here in New York, we are blessed with the gracious presence of the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrius, who hosted Patriarch Bartholomew.  In my only seven-and-a-half months as archbishop, I have come to appreciate him very much, and have developed a deep affection for him, and for my other brother bishops from the Orthodox community, and very much look forward to working with them.

The Greeks have a word for it: Axios! “Worthy!”  That’s what I chant to our beloved Ecumenical Patriarch.  I hope he comes back soon.


Thursday, October 29th, 2009

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

  • On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

  • On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.
  • Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.
  • Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription — along with every other German teenage boy — into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm — the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives — is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

U.N. Prayer Service

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Many people have written to me to ask for the text of my remarks at the Prayer Service at Holy Family Church last September 14 that marked the beginning of the United Nations General Assembly.  I thought you might be interested in them as well.

Archbishop Migliori, Bishop Sullivan, Father Robbins, brother priests, colleagues in the clergy, Secretary General and Mrs. Ban Ki-Moon

Esteemed ambassadors, United Nations delegates and staff
Distinguished guests one and all:

I can only hope you realize what a joy and an honor it is for me as the still-new Archbishop of New York to be with you in prayer as we anticipate the opening of the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

It is a privilege for us to devote one of our parishes, this Church of the Holy Family, to the pastoral care of so many collaborating in the noble mission of the United Nations.

Thank you for the inspiration you give as you bow your heads in prayer to commence a new season of labor on behalf of world peace, promotion of human rights, care for those in peril and distress, and the furthering of justice. You are, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “a moral center where all the nations of the world feel at home, and develop a shared awareness of being a ‘family of nations.’”

It seems an indelible part of the human spirit to dream of a better world, to yearn for it and work for it; but it seems part of our nature as well to realize that such dreams, yearning, and efforts will be futile and frustrating without the help of the creator and sustainer of all the nations, who put those dreams, aspirations, and plans in us to begin with. Pope Benedict XVI said it well a year and a half ago when he observed, “The founding principles of this organization — the desire for peace, the quest for justice, respect for the dignity of the person, humanitarian cooperation and assistance — express the first aspiration of the human spirit.”

We’ve heard a reading from the Scriptures considered sacred by Jews and Christians, the first book of the Bible, Genesis. It’s the familiar episode of the Tower of Babel.

Please believe me that I make this comment more out of admiration than criticism, but would there be an institution on earth better able to appreciate the curse of the Tower of Babel than the United Nations?

Literally, you daily hear the babbling of dozens, hundreds of languages.

And daily do you sense the confusion, conflict, and cacophony, not only of words, but of agenda and interests that so often seem to clash and crush.

One of my prayers this evening is simply that you will never let this Babel discourage you; one of my prayers is that of thanksgiving that you persevere in your crucial work through all of this.

Yet, we also realize that, while humanity is indeed fractured by the Babel of different languages and interests, there is also a voice, a tongue common to us all.

Often, this can be detected through a smile, a song, an embrace, an extended hand.

Often, it can be heard in the common nature that speaks a language that does not require a dictionary or a grammar, what our American philosopher Thoreau called the “oversoul.”

This voice is often not so much heard but sensed, groaned at times, prayed at its best.

This tongue speaks of help and hope, of mercy and tenderness, of fatigue over war, of longing for simple decency, dignity, and duty; this voice speaks in the eyes of a mother nursing a child or holding the body of her dead soldier-son.

This language wonders at times if anyone else can hear it, but is confident that God can, and trusts that many others hear it, too.

This language expresses itself in tears and in smiles, in sighs and groans, in poetry and liturgy. It’s as old as the Tower of Babel yet as new as Pentecost, when all understood God’s word of salvation and mercy.

This is the official language of the United Nations, that needs no translation at all. It tells us, as did Jesus, that “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the earth;” as did St. Francis of Assisi, to “start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible; and suddenly, we are doing the impossible”; it tells us, as did the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that “the human person is at the heart of all institutions, laws, and workings of society.”

Tomorrow, you begin to speak that language once again, not, we pray this eve, a Babel but a benediction.

May the Lord who has begun this good work in you now bring it to completion!