There is no media outlet more obsessed with old stories about sexual abuse in the Church than the New York Times. In a recent front-page story, complete with a color photo, there was a story on William Cardinal Levada, former archbishop of San Francisco and current head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. One might expect a front-page story to contain something dramatic, but there was nothing there: just a rehash of old stories.
The headline said more about the Times than Levada. It read, “Cardinal Has a Mixed Record on Abuse Cases.” Front-page stories, of course, typically deal with current events, exceptions being new revelations about important historical events. But neither was the case with Levada. To learn that a leader has a “mixed record” extending back a quarter century is not exactly news. That’s why it reads like an agenda.
Here’s the story. When Levada was an archbishop, he learned that some homosexual priests molested post-pubescent males. Of course, the Times refused to use the term homosexual, but it is obvious from reading the story that the victims were not children. Then Levada did what nearly all leaders did at the time—and many still do—he sent the abuser to therapy. As usual, it didn’t work.
We are still waiting for the Times to do similar stories on the clergy from other religions, as well as school superintendents. But we won’t hold our breath.