Monday, April 5, 2010

Change of Tactics: Taking Offense at our Being Offended

I'm noticing a change of tactics on the internet. With the NYT essentially discredited, except among the mob, I am seeing an approach of "taking offense with our being offended."  Essentially, the fact that many Catholics did take offense with the attempts to smear the Pope is being twisted into meaning that Catholics didn't care when abuse happened, but only care because the Pope is the target.

This is a false charge.

The cases in which the Pope was attacked involved cases where the case had long since been resolved but the media had insinuated that the cases had taken a long time to resolve because of the actions of Pope Benedict XVI.

Yes, there have been abusers among the priests.  Yes I am sure that some of them have escaped the dragnet going through the Church.  Yes I believe that a hundred years from now, some abuser will have found his way through the safeguards the Church may have set in place.  It is the tragic consequence of sin that some men may seek to use the priesthood to carry out vile acts.

However, just because Catholics are ashamed of those abusers and the bishops who concealed the problem rather than coming forward with it does not mean we forfeit the right to demand a truthful reporting of the scandals when they come forward.

The attacks of the New York Times and London papers, as well as the smaller papers who carried these stories, did not report these stories truthfully.  American libel laws, concerning a "public figure" makes it unlikely that the NYT will ever suffer legal consequences for their actions of course [New York Times Co. vs. Sullivan established that the statement must have been published knowing it to be false or with reckless disregard to its truth ("actual malice") — which makes it almost impossible to prove].

Catholics have a right to be angry at the gross misconduct of the media in this case.  This does not mean we don't care about the fact that victims suffered.  It means we do not believe that the abuse cases which exist permits the Church to be treated unjustly.

I expect that ultimately we will see the myth of "the silence of Benedict XVI" arise despite the truth.  However, why not watch the comments in the various internet discussions.  How many times will the accusation come that we do not care about the victims, but only for protecting the Pope?

What scares me the most of this sort of attack is how closely it mirrors the statement of a European Ruler in the 1930s.  "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."

That ruler was Adolf Hitler

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