To Whom Shall We Go?

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.

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16 Responses to “To Whom Shall We Go?”

  1. Andrea Piacente says:

    These are not innacuracies they are attacks! The NY Times has declared war on the Church. They don’t even try to hide it anymore. I haven’t read the Times in years and any Catholic who buys this so called newspaper is supporting these blatant attacks on Holy Mother Church.

    They would never have tried this when Archbshop Fulton Sheen led this archdiocese. Help rebuild this Archdiocese Bishop Dolan. We need a shepherd now more than ever. A shepherd protects his sheep from wolves.

    Every Catholic should belong to the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Defend our Church. APiacente aka Doria2

  2. Ben Anderson says:

    God bless you, Archbishop Dolan, for standing up the secular pillars of society. We sure could that same boldness in speaking out against evils in the Church – especially here in Rochester.

  3. Larry O'Brien says:

    Archbishop, while it is church teaching that women not be ordained, one wonders if the preferred solution is to simply wait until there are not enough men to staff the many churches of the archdiocese. Currently if you follow the demography that seems likely to happen. There is also a huge cultural issue with foreign-born priests and their treatment of laywomen (as slightly better than irrelevant) due to the values of their home land. Solving these issues, as well as using both common sense and law to keep children safe, are just as important issues for the long-term viability of a church that could shrink considerably in the United States in this century.

  4. Archbishop Dolan,

    Thank you for your Blog. I keep up with you on that frequently.
    I also wanted to thank you for traveling to Lafayette, IN recently for the
    ordination of Bishop Timothy Doherty. I was sorry to not have
    had the chance to greet you. I met you a few summers ago at
    the ordination of Father Vince Druding. That was a blessing for me.

    Anyway, I emailed our new Bishop Doherty today to encourage him
    to start his own Bishop’s Blog. Please pray that if it is in God’s plan
    that he would do this to keep in touch with the people of the
    Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana.

    Again, thank you for all that you are doing. My sister Kelly is in your archdiocese
    in a little parish, Saint Charles Borromeo in Gardiner, NY. She and her family
    are blessed to have you. I also like your radio program on the Catholic Channel.

    God bless you Archbishop and take care.

    In His Priesthood,

    Father Joshua Janko
    Associate Pastor – Saint Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church – Zionsville, IN
    Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana

  5. Steven Pearson says:

    I really wonder if these attacks are turning people off their faith, or will they result in people rallying together. I think these kind of articles give people who are not practising extra ammunition, but they weren’t practising anyway. A true catholic pays no heed. The cross only strengthens us……….we’re being purified. God bless you all.

  6. Thomas M. says:

    Your Excellency,
    Thank you for this article. I wish that all the bishops of the USA would join in your efforts to faithfully teach the truths of the faith. If I may state my opinions in a respectful manner. It seems to me that for much to long disobedience and down right heresy, and sinfullness have been tolerated in the Church. Whether it be bishops, priests or the nuns. This inaction has brought the Church to this point. If a bishop, priest or nun is not living their vocation as the Church expects, and they refuse to accept ALL that the Church teaches, then they should leave. Ordinary working people have to follow rules and regulations at work, if they refuse then there are consequences. There are no more consequences with unfaithful clergy or the nuns. This is why we had priests committing these crimes for decades and this is why we have entire congregations of priests and nuns who aren’t even Catholic anymore. As a faithful Catholic I do not think it is too much to require that preists and nuns listen and OBEY the teachings of the Church. Thank you for taking the first step in reforming the awful situation that exists in the Church today. But more needs to be done. Hopefully following our Holy Father’s example more bishops will teach the fullness of the faith as you are doing.

  7. There is an inherent resistance to the Church and while the Church is not perfect, that inherent dislike comes in many instances from the evil one.
    In Christ,
    Spirit Daily

  8. Mary Ann Wenske says:

    God bless you for this excellent response to the Times article. To respond with bombasticism to a bombastic piece does no good.

    Citing the facts calmly does. The Times is not able to do that, much to their detriment.

    Larry, I hear you on the foreign born priests. I think that is a lack of faith of the so called “Greatest Generation.” Where were the vocations from their children that God fostered? They might have won WWII, but they lost the spiritual war when it came to passing on their faith. Sure, some did, but the vast majority turned to the culture for their values.

    I do believe that the New Evangelization of Pope John Paul II will give us a new generation of priests. Vocations are up in the US. Let us pray that these young men hear God’s call, answer it, and we as parents encourage priestly vocations.

  9. Joel Fago says:

    “The bottom line is that the Holy Father” has not required that every credible claim of sexual abuse be reported to the authorities.

  10. Robert Fox says:

    It is good to set the record straight, I have never considered the Times as a bastion of objectivity on these things. Thank you dear Archbishop.

    What I have to say here are hard words though, and I pray that you post them in the spirit of truth, transparency and intellectual honesty. These are things which are discussed by dads and moms in my circle of friends all the time. I mean this with love for your Holy office which is Christ… not with any disrespect.

    The Church’s many self inflicted wounds today are directly related to a loss of the sense of personal sin wherein many of our ecclesiastical leaders accept the folly of the “fundamental option” and even indirectly teach it. In other words, many in authority do not seem to believe in the Four Last Things (death, judgment, Heaven, Hell).

    Therefore, Catholics who wish to be faithful to the magisterium in all things big and small owe a debt of gratitude to the secular media for bringing the crime of sodomy (regardless of the age of the victim) into the light of day. For there is a connection between contraception, sexual perversion, lying, materialism, abortion, and a loss of the sense of the sacred.

    I know more than a few solidly Catholic families who have fled from the diocesan systems in order to avoid a modernism which is part of the “hermeneutic of rupture” that our dear pontiff has periodically mentioned. We laymen are to blame too… I’m not looking to duck my own failings in life.

    It is a false ecumenism, tacit toleration of moral evils in our own ranks, doubt in the veracity of the gospels, a feminization & protestantization of the way Mass is offered (to the detriment of the sacerdotal, I’m sorry to say), a loss of the sense of the Kingship of Jesus & Queenship of Mary which have only invited distortion & persecution. We become neutral in our own cause.

    As far as I am concerned… the chaos today is all about Fatima. I will never sever my canonical ties with the True Church that you help lead… but I often doubt if many of the true bishops have the True faith.

    May God bless & protect you in leading New Yorkers toward the salvation of their souls. Nothing else that you do (except for the saving of our souls and your own) is terribly important. May Saint Peter protect and assit our dear Holy Father Benedict. The “Wolves” he worried about are not from the New York Times. Many wolves are among us, many “hired hands” are guarding the sheep fold. Many enemies are “advising the bishops”. Please be a true shepard and lay down your life, no matter what the cost. Do it for my children and grandchildren. Do it for Our Lady!

    Ave Maria
    Robert Fox
    Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY

  11. carmen says:

    i believe that until the Lord himself comes we are going to be attacked, the devil wants to take many people with him and he knows his time is short, thats is why he went after the priesthood, you go for the generals not the soldiers, than that will bring down all.the good thing is i read the last chapter and we win!!

  12. john laperuta says:

    The NY Times,Newsday,etc…I’ve come to realize that most papers and media outlets are vehmontly anti-Catholic.It’s getting to the point that it’s becoming rather boring.The press in America today is more resembling of the old Soviet news agencies.They’re biased,godless and unashamedly ignorant of anything religious in their reporting.I too no longer buy any paper,and hardly take any news to heart anymore.We’re living in times where the Church is beginning to be openly harrassed and persecuted. It’s only going to get worse.Unfortunately too many Catholics don’t care or don’t really know or practice their faith as they should.When harsher times come,they will fall away from the Church. Perhaps there is no priest shortage.Perhaps God has the right amount of priests to shephard those who will remain in the one true church.

  13. All I have to say on this article is one word… AMEN!

  14. Todd says:

    Excellency, I’m a convert – three years now – and I love the Church. In as much as you and all of the bishops need our prayers and support, our priests, our faithful priests, need the same loving support and prayers of their flocks in this difficult time. Petitions to the Good Lord for courage, wisdom, and humility for our priests are needed now more than they have been for a long time. Slanderous and libelous statements have been spoken and written thouhgout the history of Christianty, and still the Church stood with its’ faithful to be the light of the world. It will still stand after all is said and done. After a city on a hill cannot be hidden.

  15. David Fulwiler says:

    Thank You Archbishop Dolan,

    Well it looks as if things are chugging along just fine in NYC. I saw some of the angry comments and some of the pleadings for preaching of the absolute truth. The very center most nut of the core of The Roman Catholic Church’s truths, tradition and gospel that must be preached. I do not know if their is a human alive that can meet these expectations. I think the the thing that is to bad is all the anger. Father Mike Hammer of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (where you know me from) used to do little reality checks for us as we sat in the comfy chairs at the Cathedral of St.John the Evangelist.

    “My dear friends may I only remind you that we surely are not in hell — thank God! and this is certainly not Heaven that we are living in here on Jackson Street in Milwaukee. This is the earth. This is where we live on earth with the rain and snow and the mistakes and temptations that come with the earth. Things will not be perfect here and that’s OK by me. ” (paraphrased)

    Some times the Church is like the U.S. Navy. Generally there is always a pamphlet a book or Manual that can guide you in the direction that you can go if you want to follow her teachings. The Nihil Obstat and imprimatur assure us that there is no doctrinal error. It’s OK, just relax, read the books and learn more. Here in Milwaukee we have the St Clare Center for Lay formation where anyone may attend and be formed according to the USCCB’s “Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord” the approved method for Pastoral, Human, intellectual and Spiritual formation of Lay-Ecclesial Ministry. ISBN 978-1-57455-724-4. Some fantastic people can really help you here.

    My experience is that God is in charge and he will not let me down. I am OK when I study these good books and works of Vatican II and keep my life consistent with them. I still enjoy it that you paint with a broad brush and everyone gets to participate and be part of the good news. Thank You

    Peace be With You!

    David Fulwiler
    Archdiocese of Milwaukee

  16. Jim Connolly says:

    Well said, Arbishop Dolan. The New York Times is one of the worst newspapers in this country and is out to blaspheme, slander and persecute the Catholic Church any way it can because it and many other publications despise Her. The NYT does not let the facts get in the way of its reporting. Thank you for speaking the truth. No one of average intelligence could remotely believe its deceptive garbage that masquerades as the truth.