His Holiness has got to know that the recent wave of horror stories is much more than idle chatter. New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, in yesterday's sermon, is upset about "the unrelenting insinuations against the Holy Father himself, as certain sources seem frenzied to implicate the man who, perhaps more than anyone else has been the leader in purification, reform, and renewal that the Church so needs."
Knee-jerk defenders of the institutional church, such as the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, are out-to-lunch, issuing "blame the messenger attacks" on the New York Times hoping something (anything?) will stick.
Donohue has complained that the Times story about the abusive Wisconsin priest, who allegedly molested up to 200 deaf boys, is a "half-century old case," as if there is a statue of limitations on sins of depravity. He seems to think the Times is Catholic-bashing and gunning for the resignation of Benedict.
Donohue today ridiculed the Times for its position that Benedict — then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — should have defrocked suspected cleric Father Lawrence Murphy. Donohue smirks that since Murphy was dead at the beginning of the inquiry into his actions he could not have been defrocked.
That begs the question: What took the Church so long to begin the probe?
The Catholic Church believes all can be absolved of sin, even heinous sexual abuse, if the sinner is truly contrite and asks for forgiveness. If Murphy confessed his sins, his soul is clean in the eyes of God.
That, however, is meaningless to those whose lives have been shattered by mentally sick priests who were protected by bishops who moved them from one parish to another. The victims and their families deserve justice. Bishops responsible for the shuffling of priests should be forced to resign.
Benedict may or may not survive the raging sex scandal. Is Benedict, the former head of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, up to convening a Vatican Council to assemble leaders worldwide to openly discuss the abuse problem and the Church’s woeful response to it?
The one-time enforcer of Church orthodoxy could emulate one of his predecessors, Pope John XXXIII, who opened Vatican II to unleash a fresh breeze of renewal.
There is one certainty: the Church will survive because it is much more than buildings, stained glass, schools, hospitals, priests, bishops, cardinals and popes.
As Brooklyn pastor Danny Murphy frequently tells us, the Church is the people of God following the teaching of Jesus Christ, not directives from Rome.