Catholic League president Bill Donohue responds to today’s New York Times editorial, “More Shame”:
The editorial says, “The Roman Catholic Church in this country has promised accountability and justice for children sexually abused by priests. We fear it has a long way to go.” Wrong: no religious or secular institution in the U.S. today has a better record than the Catholic Church. To wit: from 2005 to 2009 (the last year data are available), the average number of credible accusations made against a priest for the sexual abuse of a minor is 8.6; in 2009, the number was six (out of more than 40,000).
The Times cites the latest grand jury report against the Philadelphia Archdiocese as evidence of wrongdoing, noting that three priests and a teacher are accused of abuse extending back to the 1990s, and that there are many more abusers in active ministry.
The first grand jury report was issued in 2005 and not a single priest was indicted. The Philadelphia prosecutors blamed an “inadequate” state law for coming up empty. The “inadequate” law was an elementary civil liberty called the statute of limitations. So they redoubled their efforts, got the law changed and reinstituted another grand jury. The grand jury has now smeared the previous Philadelphia Archbishop, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, with baseless charges, being forced to admit that “we cannot conclude a successful prosecution can be brought against the cardinal.” Moreover, when the law was changed, it gave special protection to public employees, something which is music to the ear of the Times: it has never once editorialized how outrageous it is to discriminate against Catholic and Orthodox Jewish teachers by having one set of penalties for them, and another for public school teachers.
Finally, the Times needs to put up or shut up: if it has evidence that today’s Philadelphia Archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali, is wrong to say that “there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them,” then it should say so. (My italic.)
Contact NYT public editor, Arthur S. Brisbane: firstname.lastname@example.org