If there is still any doubt that the New York Times' obsession with sex abuse in the Catholic Church has nothing to do with abuse itself and everything to do with bludgeoning the Church, one does not need to look further than the bigoted screed this past Sunday from Frank Bruni, an Op-Ed columnist at the Times.
This time Bruni attacks the Catholic priesthood by using the topic of decades-old abuse by priests as a cover for his angry bigotry.
Garbage in, garbage out
In order to advance his spiteful attack on the Catholic priesthood, Bruni turns to a long-time Church basher, Garry Wills, a writer who has long been known as an "anti-Catholic Catholic." Wills proudly supports abortion on demand, artificial contraception, and women's ordination. He also rejects and/or denies papal infallibility, papal authority, and the Real Presence in the Eucharist. In other words, Wills is not really a follower of the Catholic Church. He's a follower of the Church of Garry Wills. And his trendy views align nicely with those of the New York Times editorial board.
In his heralded 2004 book, The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice, Philip Jenkins cited Wills as a prime example of a modern-day Church basher. Jenkins opined it was "baffling" that Wills actually "chooses to call himself Catholic."
In the end, Wills' views on Catholicism are less about serious scholarship and more about a dissident academic pining that the Church conform itself to his politically correct thinking.
Not really about sex abuse, again
Bruni's wild-eyed barrage against the Church dredges up decades-old stories of abuse by Catholic priests in Los Angeles. The basic facts have already been well worn and widely reported, but Bruni presents them as if they were somehow new and revelatory.
Meanwhile, as we have repeatedly reported, according to a little-seen blog item at the Times last year, there were "248 complaints of sexual misconduct involving school employees" just in the first three months of 2012 in New York City's own public schools.
248 … in three months … Where have you been, Frank?
And the callousness towards victims of child abuse in public schools in New York is nothing new. According to a 1994 study examining 225 cases of known sex abuse by public school teachers in the state of New York in the early 1990s, zero were reported to the police.
That 1994 study also reported that only 1 percent of those abusive educators lost their licenses to teach, while "25 percent received no consequence or were reprimanded informally and off-the-record. Nearly 39 percent chose to leave the district, most with positive recommendations or even retirement packages intact." Unbelievable.
Apparently, the awful abuse of children is only bothersome to Bruni if the word priest or bishop is in the job title of the person who has committed the abuse. A search of the archive of Bruni's work at the Times reveals that while the writer has repeatedly cited abuse from decades past in the Catholic Church, he has turned a blind eye to the more recent, stomach-turning abuse practically in his backyard in New York City public schools.
Anti-Catholicism again at the New York Times? What else is new?
"When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice there is no religion."
– St. John Vianney (d. 1859)