The New York Times is not known for delicate restraint in its treatment of the Catholic Church. Executive editor Bill Keller (despite somehow marrying his second wife in the Church) trashed Pope John Paul the Great in 2002: "One paradox of the Polish pope is that while he is rightly revered for helping bring down the godless Communists, he has replicated something very like the old Communist Party in his church."
The memory of that fusillade was rekindled in a New York Times story on Thursday about the sex scandals of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and how they're outraging women in Italy. Times reporters Elisabetta Povoledo and Rachel Donadio include this loaded sentence: "By some lights, Italian women have come far in a country whose most entrenched power structures — the Roman Catholic Church and organized crime — remain male and secretive."
This is a little like saying the NAACP and the Ku Klux Klan are both fraternal organizations based on race. But that wasn't the only example on this day. Kathryn Lopez of National Review found the Catholic Church was also compared to the terrorism-endorsing Muslim Brotherhood by reporter Scott Shane:
The Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, is the oldest and largest Islamist movement in the world, with affiliates in nearly every Muslim country and adherents in Europe and the United States. Its size and diversity, and the decades-old legal ban that has kept it from genuine political power in Egypt, make it difficult to sum up simply. As the Roman Catholic Church encompasses leftist liberation theology and conservative anti-abortion advocacy, so the Brotherhood includes both practical reformers and firebrand ideologues.
This is not only offensive, but inaccurate in its crude metaphors that prefer politics over theology. Pope Benedict XIV in particular is a longtime critic of so-called "liberation theology," as obviously was anti-communist Pope John Paul. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict wrote that it "constitutes a fundamental threat to the faith of the church."