Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church are now competing with Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi as Jack Cafferty's favorite subject of ire, as the CNN personality devoted yet another commentary to attacking the Pontiff and the institution on Tuesday's Situation Room. It was fifth commentary in 20 days where Cafferty devoted a segment to bashing the two.
The commentator first derided Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, during his Cafferty File segment 13 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour: "The Pope's number two, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, insists the abuse is linked to homosexuality, not celibacy. Gay rights groups are outraged, saying it's a perverse strategy by the Vatican to shirk its own ethical and legal responsibility. Bingo- that's spot-on." He continued that "this official made the ludicrous claim in Chile, where one pedophile priest had sex with young girls, impregnating at least one teenager."
Despite Cafferty's example from Chile, the hypothesis that homosexuality among priests contributed largely to the Church sex abuse scandal is supported by research. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice's 2004 report on "The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sex Abuse of Minors by Priests and Deacons" found that 81 percent of the victims of such abuse in the U.S. were male and 75 percent were post-pubescent.
The CNN personality then trumpeted a recent report from the AP about Pope Benedict XVI's alleged mishandling of sex abuse cases:
CAFFERTY: The Associated Press may have discovered a smoking gun that proves Pope Benedict refused to do anything about this back when he had the chance. AP reports on a letter written in the 1980s by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, in which he resisted pleas to defrock a Catholic priest in California who had sexually abused children. After sitting on the request for a period of several years, Ratzinger eventually did nothing, instead asking the Oakland bishop to consider the- quote, 'good of the universal church,' unquote. It eventually became the 11th commandant of Catholicism: protect the Church at all costs- to hell with the children.
Actually, both the AP got it wrong concerning this letter. Father Joseph Fessio, founder and editor of Catholic publisher Ignatius Press, bluntly pointed out in an April 9 blog post that the case of the California priest "had nothing to do with pedophilia and everything to do with strengthening marriage and the priesthood." The Oakland bishop at the time, Bishop Cummins, wrote the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith in 1981, asking that the priest in question be dispensed from his promise of celibacy. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger didn't take over the leadership of the Congregation until the following year.
After he took over, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote back to Bishop Cummins, stating that the accusations of abuse against the priest were "very serious," while at the same time, he would not grant the dispensation to the priest, following the policy of then-Pope John Paul II. Father Fessio noted that "this entire affair had nothing to do with preventing further abuse by this priest. That had already been done, or should have been done, by the local bishop." He also stated that the intent behind Pope John Paul's policy was "to restore the integrity of the priesthood and of marriage," after his predecessor Pope Paul VI had granted hundreds of dispensations per year, giving the appearance that the Catholic Church didn't take its teaching on the indissolubility of priestly ordination seriously.
At the end of the segment, Cafferty asked his Question of the Hour: "Is the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church linked to homosexuality?" Anchor Wolf Blitzer then came in and played up a certain anti-Catholic columnist for the New York Times: "I know you've been reading those Maureen Dowd columns on this issue, Jack. It's- she's writing some pretty powerful stuff herself." The commentator replied, "Yes. She's Irish Catholic and is rightfully outraged, as any decent human being ought to be. This is disgusting. It's been going on for decades, hundreds of years maybe, who knows, and the Vatican continues to look for things like- oh, it's homosexuality. Homosexuality has nothing to do with this stuff."
As you might expect, all but one of the viewer e-mails which the commentator read near the end of the hour reacted negatively against the Church. The lone e-mail that didn't actually raised the homosexual component to sex abuse scandal, as noted above:
CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf, is the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church linked to homosexuality? That suggestion has been made by the Pope's number two at the Vatican.
Judy in California: 'It sounds very much like the nonsense spewed by some of the priests and nuns when I attended Catholic schools many years ago. Children were necessary evils to some of them. I guess the tangled web of deceit is going to catch up to them now. I just wonder how many innocent people went to their graves thinking that what happened to them was their fault.'
Sean in St. Louis: 'I don't think it's linked to homosexuality. I think it's linked to a lot of sick people who think their position ensures that they're not going to get caught.'
Janet in Iowa: 'No. At least 30 percent of victims, including myself, were female. To say priests abused boys because they were homosexual is like saying some men abuse little girls or rape women because they're straight.'
Louis writes, 'A disproportionate amount of the sexual abuse by priests is male on male and generally post-pubescent male. If the molesters were pedophiles, they'd stick to pre-pubescents, and if they were heterosexual, they wouldn't focus on males. It looks like a slam dunk for the Vatican case, despite exceptions, and I'm not and never have been religious.'
Michael in New York writes, 'I'm a homosexual male and not a pedophile. I think the Catholic Church just needs someone to blame, or it needs another story to make up to continue the hate that it spreads. Homosexuality is not a choice. I would never choose to be homosexual if it was.'
And Brian in Washington writes, 'Sex abuse against children within the Catholic Church is connected to homosexuality as much as the Vatican is connected to legitimate Christian values such as love, compassion and empathy. In short, there is no connection whatsoever.'