Vatican officials normally assume a
diplomatic look of strained politeness when fielding questions from a hostile
press. This time is different. Cardinal Ratzinger’s American successor as head
of a leading Vatican department has peeled off his gloves and hit
back at the New York Times
.

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accuses it of being “deficient by
any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and
expectation to find in their major media reporting.”

In an extraordinary statement posted on the
Vatican website, Levada angrily observes that New York Times reporter Laurie
Goodstein overlooks the failure of local diocesan authorities and the police to
do anything about abuse by a priest, Lawrence C. Murphy, from 1950 to 1974. “The
point of Goodstein’s article, however, is to attribute the failure to
accomplish this dismissal to Pope Benedict, instead of to diocesan decisions at
the time.” Levada goes on to say:

It seems to me, on the other hand, that we
owe Pope Benedict a great debt of gratitude for introducing the procedures that
have helped the Church to take action in the face of the scandal of priestly
sexual abuse of minors. These efforts began when the Pope served as Cardinal
Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and continued after
he was elected Pope. That the Times has published a series of articles in which
the important contribution he has made – especially in the development and
implementation of Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, the Motu proprio issued by
Pope John Paul II in 2001 – is ignored, seems to me to warrant the charge of
lack of fairness which should be the hallmark of any reputable newspaper.

To get the full story, including Levada’s
dig at “Maureen Dowd’s silly parroting”, visit the website.