by Teresa Polk, OCDS

During our social time at Sunday’s OCDS meeting, Anna mentioned to me that she has been very impacted by the recent Time Magazine article on Pope Benedict XVI and the sex abuse crisis.  I don’t have her e-mail address, so I wanted to send you links to some things in response to that article.  Time Magazine used to be a very serious and reputable news magazine.  Some people may not be aware of how much even our best newspapers and news magazines nowadays seek to be provocative rather than objective.

I put together a collection of links that may be of interest to others impacted by the articles in the New York Times and Time Magazine.  It is possibly more than anyone wanted, but I think it is important for all of us nowadays to have enough information to see such articles in the context of what the Church is actually doing about past sex abuse, and to realize how slanted and often inaccurate these articles are, although they come from publication that were formerly respected for their objectivity.

Also, if you think it would be appropriate, perhaps someone could discuss with Marie and Fr. Colm adding a prayer for priests to our OCDS meetings or setting aside some time during our upcoming retreat for Eucharistic Adoration in a spirit of reparation and purification over the Church’s history of sex abuse, as was requested by the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy in 2008 (see below).

There is a Catholic Exchange article in response to the Time Magazine article here:

The Catholic World Report has an article on the Vatican’s response to the Irish sex abuse scandal:

The Catholic Sentinel has an article that provides the accurate numbers of sex abuse allegations for 2009, showing that as many as one-third were for instances 40 to 60 years ago, and most from the tragic years of 1970-1990, with only 6 cases worldwide actually reported to have occurred in 2009 itself.  Thus, while the past sex abuse was tragic, the Church has made great progress in fighting sex abuse over the past 20 years.  That progress is not being recognized by these provocative news articles of today:

Part of the Time article apparently took information from an earlier, discredited New York TImes article.  Kenneth Woodward, who was for years the religion editor of Newsweek, attacked the New York Times’ current lack of objectivity in a May 7 article in Commonweal:

Cardinal William Levada wrote a response to the New York Times’ accusations of the Holy Father concerning his decision not to defrock Fr. Murphy, the priest at the deaf school whose case is at the center of these articles.  He points out that this decision was only made when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith learned that Fr. Murphy was dying.  The judicial vicar who was handling the trial did not learn of this decision until after Fr. Murphy died, so the decision to show leniency to a dying man did not actually affect the proceedings.  Here is a link to Cardinal Levada’s response:

Anna suggested that the Church should have a day of prayer and penance over its history of sex abuse.  The Time Magazine article apparently implied, at least, that Pope Benedict and the Vatican have done little about it.  I mentioned to her that the Vatican previously called for Eucharistic Adoration worldwide to seek reparation for the sex abuse scandal, and that it received little response.  That call came from Cardinal Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, in January 2008.  He wanted to create groups of Catholics dedicated to Eucharistic adoration in prayer for priests in a spirit of reparation and purification.   I don’t think it was ever even fully translated into English, as far as I know.  He wanted to foster prayer for priests 24 hours per day, "so that from every corner of the earth, prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, intercession and reparation is always rising to God: a ‘prayer without ceasing’ to bring about a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priesthood and, in addition, to  spiritually support, with a sort of spiritual motherhood, the many already called to the priesthood."  Here is a link to a Catholic News Service article about it:

This year, we have had a Year of Priests, which was to include a particular focus on the holiness and the role of Catholic priests.  Our parish has a relic of St. John Vianney, which perhaps I could bring to an OCDS meeting some time if there is an interest in this and if my priest will agree to allow it.  During much of this past year, a different family has taken it home each week and brought it back the following Sunday in order to focus the attention of individual families on the role of priests.  In his Letter inaugurating the Year of Priests, Pope Benedict spoke about the example of St. John Vianney of prayer, the sacrament of reconciliation, celibacy, and living his faith:

In his homily inaugurating the Year of Priests, Pope Benedict specifically spoke of the need for "constantly striving for holiness, as did Saint John Mary Vianney":