National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

L'Osservatore Romano editor defends church, pope

 | 

Rome -- On the same day the Vatican published a "layman's guide" to procedures when a priest is accused of sexual abuse -- which, for the first time in a Vatican document, explicitly includes a directive to comply with civil laws requiring bishops to report abuse to the police -- the editor of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, dropped by Rome's Foreign Press Club to talk about the crisis that has engulfed Pope Benedict XVI in recent weeks.

Gian Maria Vian, a lay professor of history tapped to take over L'Osservatore Romano in October 2007, offered a robust defense of both the church and the pope. Vian generally kept his cool, though at one point he became testy in complaining that the media reads the crisis into everything said or done at the Vatican these days – a reflection, perhaps, of the intense pressure of the last few weeks.

Vian conceded that there were "great failures in governance" that made the crisis possible, but also insisted that the church now has an "exemplary" approach to the problem of sexual abuse of children, and blamed what he called a "media campaign" for tarnishing the pope's image.

A moment in the dark

 | 

My wife and I spent a weekend recently in a little house way back in the woods in the country. We were miles from town, hundreds from the nearest big city. Evening fell. There was no moon that night. In the country, a moonless night means a kind of enveloping darkness we city dwellers seldom experience any longer.

My wife went to play cards with the neighbors for the evening and took our flashlight to light the way down the woodland path. I told her I’d be along later. When it was time for me to make my way through the woods I realized she had taken the only flashlight. Searching for some other light source, I found an old kerosene lamp. With the soot-blackened chimney sheltering a flickering flame, I made my way slowly along the twisting, turning path, flanked on both sides by fragrant pines.

About halfway down the path, a night breeze came up suddenly and blew out my lamp. I stopped and stood there, thinking at that moment how much I would give for a single wooden match with which to relight my flame. But technology had I none.

I stood with the useless lamp in my hand, stumped and more than a little afraid of the darkness – and gradually began to come alive.

Re-Christianize Europe? Really?

 | 

I read with some interest and head-scratching the story on NCRonline.org that the sex abuse scandal exploding in Europe will likely imperil Pope Benedict’s project to “re-Christianize” Europe, and help it reclaim its Christian heritage.

I don’t disagree with the premise; a scandal of this magnitude will not send people flocking to the church. But I’m not sure what Pope Benedict was been doing before this scandal erupted to “re-Christianize” Europe.

MSW on Kiesle Case

 | 

I do not normally cross-reference my blog posts at America magazine here, or vice-versa. But the coverage in the MSM of the "smoking gun" regarding then-Cardinal Ratzinger's handling of the case of Father Kiesle was so bad, the failure to ask simple questions so obvious, that I wish to share my concerns with as many as possible. Here is the link.
I shall be posting later today here on the subject of the anniversary of the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Replacing Justice John Paul Stevens

 | 

It is strange to think that Justice John Paul Stevens, who was put on the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, will likely be replaced by someone less liberal than himself. Stevens became not only the senior vote on the Court, but its most stalwart liberal. It is doubtful anyone with his current ideological credentials could win Senate confirmation.

The most likely choice is Elena Kagan, currently the Solicitor General of the United States. Kagan was confirmed for that post last year by the Senate on a vote of 61-31, with conservative Republicans such as Senators Kyl and Lugar joining moderate Republicans like Senators Snowe and Collins voting in favor of the nomination. South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham did not vote on the confirmation, but he can be expected to follow the position he took in support of last year’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Sen. Grahah has stated that elections should have consequences and while he would not have nominated Sotomayor, a president’s selection should be respected provided the nominee is qualified for the post.

Ratzigner and the Calif. priest (part II)

 | 

Here is more from The Associated Press story that I blogged on earlier

LOS ANGELES -- The future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including "the good of the universal church," according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature.

The [Oakland, Calif.] diocese recommended removing [Stephen] Kiesle (KEEZ'-lee) from the priesthood in 1981, the year Ratzinger was appointed to head the Vatican office which shared responsibility for disciplining abusive priests.

The case then languished for four years at the Vatican before Ratzinger finally wrote to Oakland Bishop John Cummins. It was two more years before Kiesle was removed.

In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle are of "grave significance" but added that such actions required very careful review and more time. He also urged the bishop to provide Kiesle with "as much paternal care as possible" while awaiting the decision …

When does this end?

 | 

How long does this go on? When will this end? The "this," of course, being the, oh, so dispiriting saga, now generically called "the clergy sex abuse" story. We've been on this story since 1985 when we first published reports by freelance writer Jason Berry as he covered a trial in his native Louisiana of a priest, Fr. Gilbert Gauthe, accused of having molested several young boys. We began editorializing about it that year as we began to see the story's ubiquitous twin patterns of priest abuse and episcopal cover-up.

Pages

Subscribe to NCR Today

Friends of NCR 300x80 web ad.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

December 5-18, 2014

12-5-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.