The New York Times’ interest in the awful details of the emerging sexual abuse and pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church took a dumbfounding, ideologically-motivated turn, after a conservative cleric released a bombshell letter alleging a coverup of sexual assault aided by liberal Pope Francis.
Jason Horowitz, Rome bureau chief, amazingly turned to attacking that whistleblower, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, as "an ideologically motivated opposition" member who has "weaponized" the church’s sex abuse crisis. Biased Horowitz smeared him as a conservative crank in two consecutive front-page stories, with a tone suggesting a “right-wing conspiracy” is afoot to unfairly dethrone the blameless, inclusive pope.
Appallingly, the sexual abuse of children over decades was almost entirely skipped in favor of bashing conservative Catholics. Here's Wednesday’s version: “Pope’s Accuser: Keeper of Faith Or of Grudges? -- How the Cleric Wrote His Explosive Letter”:
Archbishop Viganò, the former chief Vatican diplomat in the United States, spent the morning working shoulder to shoulder with the reporter at his dining room table on a 7,000-word letter that called for the resignation of Pope Francis, accusing him of covering up sexual abuse and giving comfort to a “homosexual current” in the Vatican.
The journalist, Marco Tosatti, said he had smoothed out the narrative. The enraged archbishop brought no evidence, he said, but he did supply the flair, condemning the homosexual networks inside the church that act “with the power of octopus tentacles” to “strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations.”
The letter exposed deep ideological clashes, with conservatives taking up arms against Francis’ inclusive vision of a church that is less focused on divisive issues like abortion and homosexuality. But Archbishop Viganò -- who himself has been accused of hindering a sexual misconduct investigation in Minnesota -- also seems to be settling old scores.
Known for his short temper and ambition, Archbishop Viganò has clashed with superiors who stunted his ascent in the church and has played a key role in some of the most stunning Vatican scandals of recent times.
While Archbishop Viganò, who was once criticized by church traditionalists as overly pragmatic, has aligned himself with a small but influential group of church traditionalists who have spent years seeking to stop Francis, many of his critics think his personal grudges are central to his motivations.
Horowitz filled up several paragraphs to some unflattering personal details, seemingly unrelated to the charges Vigano is making.
The New York edition headline to Tuesday’s story was utterly ridiculous: “Francis Takes High Road As Conservatives Pounce, Taking Criticisms Public”:
(Conservatives “pounce” once again!)
Since the start of his papacy, Francis has infuriated Catholic traditionalists as he tries to nurture a more welcoming church and shift it away from culture war issues, whether abortion or homosexuality. “Who am I to judge?” the pope famously said, when asked about gay priests.
Just how angry his political and doctrinal enemies are became clear this weekend, when a caustic letter published by the Vatican’s former top diplomat in the United States blamed a “homosexual current” in the Vatican hierarchy for sexual abuse. It called for Francis’ resignation, accusing him of covering up for a disgraced cardinal, Theodore E. McCarrick.
With the letter -- released in the middle of the pope’s visit to Ireland -- an ideologically motivated opposition has weaponized the church’s sex abuse crisis to threaten not only Francis’ agenda but his entire papacy....
Horowitz actually excused Francis' lack of resposne to the accusations:
Francis’ non-answer is in keeping with his reluctance to give oxygen to a small -- if influential and noisy -- group of conservative prelates and writers aligned with the author of the letter, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former top Vatican diplomat in the United States.
Francis has removed from office or sidelined ideological opponents in the bureaucracy of the church, but he has also been more willing than his predecessors to allow open debate and even dissent. Many have challenged him, in sometimes coarse language, for his openness to making some church practices less rigid, among them the exclusion of divorced and remarried parishioners from receiving Communion.
On Monday, Francis’ supporters shrugged off the letter as another desperate attack from frustrated conservatives still unaccustomed to not getting their way. They expressed confidence that its accusations would be disproved.
Some abuse survivors, who have been pressing Pope Francis to take concrete action about the crisis instead of just offering apologies, however heartfelt, argued that Archbishop Viganò’s letter exploited the abuse for political gain. The letter did not, they said, show particular concern about the plight of the church’s children.
Most experts reject the conflation of homosexuality and pedophilia as a dangerous route to bigotry against gays. Outside the church, the belief has been widely discredited as retrograde.
But it still has traction in the Vatican....
Matthew Balan previously noticed the “ultraconservative” labeling in the paper’s recent reporting smearing the critics of Pope Francis.