More Anti-Catholic Falsehoods From NY Times’ Dowd

Can the New York Times' Maureen Dowd address the topic of the Catholic Church without promulgating falsehoods? It doesn't seem like it.

Dowd's recent rant, released on Easter Sunday (Sun. 4/24/11), contains a number of false statements.

1. In addressing the papacy of Pope John Paul II (JPII), Dowd claims that the former pontiff "forfeited his right to beatification when he failed to establish a legal standard to remove pedophiles from the priesthood, and simply turned away for many years."

First of all, long before JPII, there was already a "legal standard" to remove those who abuse children. It is called the Code of Canon Law. As someone who claims to have attended Catholic schools for many years, Dowd already should have known this.

And in 2001, the Pope issued a very important document (“Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela”) outlining the handling of these serious abuse cases. (Reminder: This was before the scandals erupted in the media in 2002. (Read:, 1/7/02.)) 

In addition, in 2002, JPII helped to oversee the measures the United States bishops took to address abuse crimes.

While massive abuse and cover-ups have flared in school districts like Los Angeles, no one would ever think to point the finger at President Obama or even Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The finger would rightfully be pointed at the local school authorities. But those with an animus against the Church have no problem pointing the finger at a guy all the way across the ocean for the sins and crimes of local prelates thousands of miles away. That is simply unfair.

It is the duty of local bishops to supervise priests. JPII did not "turn away" or "fail to establish" anything. Dowd is simply wrong. It was John Paul II who exclaimed, "People need to know that there is no room in the priesthood for those who abuse children."

2. Dowd also repeated the oft-heard anti-Catholic lie that Pope Pius XII, the World War II-era pontiff, "remained silent about the Holocaust as it happened."

This grossly false tale has been roundly debunked repeatedly:

  • In a December 25, 1941, editorial, the New York Times wrote, "The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas… he is about the only ruler left on the Continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all… the Pope put himself squarely against Hitlerism … he left no doubt that the Nazi aims are also irreconcilable with his own conception of a Christian peace."
  • An August 6, 1942, headline in the New York Times read, "Pope is Said to Plead for Jews Listed for Removal from France."
  • In his book, Three Popes and the Jews, Israeli diplomat and scholar Pinchas Lapide has asserted, "The Catholic Church under the pontificate of Pius XII was instrumental in saving lives of as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands." Lapide adds that this "figure far exceeds those saved by all other Churches and rescue organizations combined."
  • Michael Tagliacozzo, "the foremost survivor on the October 1943 Nazi roundup of Rome's Jews" and "a survivor of the raid himself," said Pius' actions helped rescue 80 percent of Rome's Jews. Said Tagliacozzo, "Pope Pacelli was the only one who intervened to impede the deportation of Jews on October 16, 1943, and he did very much to hide and save thousands of us." (Rabbi David G. Dalin, p. 83)
  • In the June 21, 2009, edition of the Boston Globe, Mordechay Lewy, Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, is quoted, "It is wrong to look for any affinity between [Pius] and the Nazis. It is also wrong to say that he didn’t save Jews. Everybody who knows the history of those who were saved among Roman Jewry knows that they hid in the church."

So much for Dowd's claim of Pope Pius XII "remaining silent." There have been scores of books, research papers, and articles (list 1, 2) that outline what Pope Pius XII really did during World War II.

3. Dowd also uncritically cites writer Jason Berry, whom I've shown can have a dubious grasp of honest journalism.

Dowd needs to straighten out.