The editorial in today's New York Times, “Victims of Priests' Abuse Face a Choice,” must be challenged on several counts. Its principal focus is the new initiative by the Archdiocese of New York, the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. This program is designed to deal fairly with claims of clergy sexual abuse.
The editorial says “the program is confidential.” It is important to emphasize that if someone requests confidentiality, the archdiocese will respect it, but it is also true that under the provisions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, it has no authority to require it. Of course, the archdiocese is not going to publicize information on these matters on its website, but that is not the same as requiring claimants to sign a confidentiality agreement. That will not happen.
The editorial is unhappy with the provision that claimants are given only a few months to file. Naturally, the Times wants no deadline. Should they be given years? Decades? Is this its idea of justice?
The editorial falsely refers to “pedophile priests” as the problem: 8 in 10 cases involve homosexual priests and less than 5 percent involve pedophilia. The gay cover-up is a constant feature with the Times.
The editorial slights the sincerity of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, saying he is launching this program to avoid bigger problems if the Child Victims Act is passed in Albany; it faults him for working against the bill. It also argues that when he directed the Milwaukee Archdiocese "he tried to shield millions of dollars of church assets from abuse survivors," and is doing the same now in New York.
The Child Victims Act was not written to protect most minors from being molested. If it were, it would apply to the public schools. But it didn't—the fix was in. Would the New York Times support a bill to lift the statute of limitations on the sexual abuse of minors if it excluded Catholic schools?
It should be noted that when the public schools were included in a bill in 2009, the school superintendents and the teachers' union went bonkers, working successfully to kill the bill. Cardinal Dolan is to be commended for fighting this unjust piece of legislation, and the Catholic League is proud to stand with him.
The editorial reference to Milwaukee is another unfair swipe at Cardinal Dolan. Under his tutelage there, he moved the perpetual care fund into a trust to be used solely for the purpose of caring for the cemeteries. He did this at the beckon call of the Finance Committee (the same provision has long been a staple at the New York archdiocese). It must also be noted that when this transfer was contested in the courts, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee won.
The editorial wants to know how this program will “help to prevent future abuses.” It is designed to address past instances of abuse, so the question isn't relevant. What is relevant is the fact that between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 (the last year data are available), .01 percent of the priests and deacons in the United States had a credible accusation made against him. In short, this is not our problem anymore, and it hasn't been since the mid-1980s.
The New York Times does itself a disservice when it does not deal fairly with the Catholic Church. Yet it continues to do so, misrepresenting the record in the process.