The New York Times's Maureen Dowd spent some time in Catholic school as a youth, but judging from her latest rant/column, she didn't learn too much about actual Catholicism.
Dowd's anti-Catholic screed reveals that of someone who knows almost nothing about the Catholic faith. She also deceives her readers about a number of topics, including a 2004 letter issued by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI.
1. Dowd writes:
"In 2004, the cardinal who would become Pope Benedict XVI wrote a Vatican document urging women to be submissive partners, resisting any adversarial roles with men and cultivating 'feminine values' like 'listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting.'"
Ratzinger "urged women to be submissive partners"? Uh-uh. In fact, Ratzinger opines almost the direct opposite of what Dowd implies. Among Ratzinger's passages:
"[T]he Church, enlightened by faith in Jesus Christ, speaks instead of active collaboration between the sexes precisely in the recognition of the difference between man and woman."
"[W]omen should be present in the world of work and in the organization of society, and that women should have access to positions of responsibility which allow them to inspire the policies of nations and to promote innovative solutions to economic and social problems."
And look at what Ratzinger wrote about the so-called "feminine values" of "listening, welcoming …(etc.)":
"It is appropriate however to recall that the feminine values mentioned here are above all human values: the human condition of man and woman created in the image of God is one and indivisible."
In other words, Dowd flat-out lies about Ratzinger's letter. (By the way, the letter is called, "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World." Interested readers should check it out.)
2. Dowd also tries to dupe her readers with this doozy:
"The Vatican is now conducting two inquisitions into the 'quality of life' of American nuns, a dwindling group with an average age of about 70, hoping to herd them back into their old-fashioned habits and convents and curb any speck of modernity or independence."
Needless to say, the apostolic visitations to which Dowd refers have little to do with "old-fashioned habits and convents." They're about dissident nuns who openly oppose fundamental Church teaching. They're about an order that allows its nuns to volunteer at abortion clinics and have no clue that Church teaching on abortion dates to the first century.
3. Dowd also misrepresents the actions of the Franciscan order after one of its priests fathered a child. Dowd falsely claims that the order "was stingy with money for college and for doctors, once the son got terminal cancer." As the her paper's own story revealed, the order was pretty generous to the boy's mother, ponying up tens of thousands of dollars in child support. In addition, "[T]he Franciscans agreed to pay half of Nathan’s college expenses, plus $586 a month, until he turned 21." And as far as helping with the boy's cancer treatment? "The Franciscans agreed to pay 50 percent of any 'extraordinary' medical costs, until he turned 23. Ms. Bond said she was greatly relieved. She was involved in a messy divorce with her third husband …"
When the Franciscans balked at covering a lengthy hotel stay in New York after already giving her $1000 for the trip, the woman went public with her story, even though she had signed a confidentiality agreement.
In other words, Dowd deceives her readers again.
4. Dowd also appears to exhibit no clue as to why women simply cannot be priests. As I've written a number of times before, "Holy Orders" is a sacrament, and sacraments were instituted by Jesus himself. The Church simply does not have any authority to change the nature of a sacrament. I don't suppose Ms. Dowd has ever heard of John Paul II's 1994 letter, "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis," which covers this exact topic.
5. Dowd also writes that Pope Benedict was "once a conscripted member of the Hitler Youth." She conveniently omits, however, that conscription was compulsory in Hitler's Germany and that he deserted the group.
6. Dowd also dishonestly tries to portray Pope Benedict as a Nazi sympathizer. Writes Dowd, "Benedict pardoned a schismatic bishop who claimed that there was no Nazi gas chamber."
Dowd doesn't tell her readers that it is "absolutely baseless to say or even insinuate that the Pope had been informed earlier of the positions" of the bishop before he lifted his excommunication. Needless to say, if the Holy Father had been aware of the bishop's awful remarks, he never would have lifted his excommunication. (The excommunication, by he way, had to do with another issue entirely.)
Honesty? Facts? Truth? Not from Maureen Dowd.
(NOTE: As I was writing this post, I saw that the Catholic League released a statement that included Dowd's column among a series of anti-Catholic pieces that have appeared in the media in the past week.)