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Maureen Dowd Has Opinions About John Paul II

Listen up, everyone, because Maureen Dowd has some serious thoughts about this weekend's big double canonization. You'll find them in her April 23 column: "A Saint, He Ain't" (which, fortuitously, was published just after Alex Pareene's latest blog post detailing "Why Friedman, Brooks, and Dowd Must Go"). It's got all of that trademark Dowd style, which is what makes it so darn awful.

The trouble with Dowd's column is not that she is (as you have probably guessed) critical of the decision to canonize John Paul II. The trouble is that she's writing about it the way she writes about everything else: analysis via insult. Shallow thinking applied to serious subjects is her metier. It's bad enough when her topic is politics -- Pareene's latest post reminds readers of the time she turned a misquotation of John Kerry into a meme, and it is depressing to contemplate just how prominently her smart-alecky-potshot approach figured in the 2004 presidential campaign.

But Dowd's cute turns of phrase and offhand way with facts are particularly painful when she turns to writing about the church, as she does now and then, from her not-that-I-care-but-you-should-care-what-I-think perspective -- and I find her shallow arguments especially irritating when I more or less agree with her basic conclusions.

In this case: Dowd thinks John Paul's failure to act more decisively to address the sex-abuse scandal during his papacy should be counted against his legacy. So do I. She thinks canonizing him now reads as a sign that making things right after the scandal still doesn't rank as the priority it should in Rome. So do I. But I'm not prepared to go so far as to say "he ain't no saint," as she does, and not just because I don't think in rhyming punch lines. "Saint" is a term that has a number of different, overlapping connotations. Being a saint -- that is, being in heaven -- is one thing. Being officially declared a saint by the church is another. You can believe with all your heart that John Paul has gone to the Father's house and still question the wisdom of a ceremony celebrating that fact not ten years after his death. And then there is the question, a fraught one, of how the policy successes and failures of a papacy should figure into a man's case for sainthood.

So, the trouble I have with Dowd's taking this topic on is not that she's completely wrong, but that she's not thinking or writing seriously about something that I think deserves serious comment. It's not that she's scornful or dismissive of the whole charade -- she wants to take on what she knows is a grave subject, but without any proportionate gravity in her approach.

John Paul was a charmer, and a great man in many ways. But given that he presided over the Catholic Church during nearly three decades of a gruesome pedophilia scandal and grotesque cover-up, he ain't no saint.

The first sentence alone demonstrates how this column's subject and style are at war: it starts out snide, and then it's as if Dowd suddenly remembered to try to sound like she wants to be taken seriously. And the second sentence has the form but not the content of an argument: is it given that the sex-abuse crisis having happened during John Paul II's papacy means he is not a saint? Things would be a lot simpler if it were. But listing the things that went on while John Paul was pope, and then vaguely asserting his direct responsibility for them, doesn't do the trick. It's hard not to conclude that the rhyming conclusion here is leading the analysis instead of the other way around.

Dowd's breezy summary of the issues -- John Paul's appeal to conservatives and neoconservatives, Benedict XVI's role in promoting his cause, the Marcial Maciel Degollado affair, as well as John XXIII's contrasting legacy, John Paul II's not-so-neoconservative moments, and even the recent United Nations report (but of course) -- covers a lot of ground and brings up a lot of relevant points, but never convinces me that she's really reflected much on what it all means. And there are bum notes throughout: "The Vatican had a hard time drumming up the requisite two miracles" for John Paul, she says, making you wonder what she expected -- if they had brought forward five immediate claims of miraculous healings, would she have said, "Well then, that seems convincing"? And nine years is pretty quick; how long did she think this should have taken? And most significantly, does she know that the Vatican actually did not drum up the requisite two miracles for John XXIII? Yes, she does, because she writes about that later in the column: "the newly christened Pope Francis" -- Hey "christened" is a religious word, right, so it'd probably be clever to use it here -- "tried to placate progressives by cutting the miracle requirement from two to one to rush John XXIII's canonization." Dowd doesn't seem to mind that decision. But she didn't go back and change her suggestive line about "drumming up" the miracles for JPII, either.

In the same sentence about JPII, she refers to "Pope Benedict XVI, known as John Paul's Rasputin." Was he? By whom? Do you think she meant "rottweiler"? Is she aware of what it usually means when you compare someone to Rasputin? I am honestly not sure. She also, later, refers to Maciel as "the dastardly Mexican priest," which is an awfully cutesy way to characterize his crimes.

The personal holiness of John Paul II, and his theological teachings, never come up, though they are usually cited as the basis for his reputation for sanctity among the faithful. I am very sympathetic to an argument that such factors shouldn't outweigh the practical legacy of his papacy when it comes to canonization. But Dowd doesn't even touch on them. Her concept of what it means to call someone a "saint" is completely secular.

The church is giving its biggest prize to the person who could have fixed the spreading stain and did nothing. The buck, or in this case, the Communion wafer, doesn't stop here.

"Its biggest prize" is a pretty shallow way to think about what sainthood is, but this is a Maureen Dowd column, so that's to be expected. But that second sentence is the one I'll quote back at you if you write to me to convince me that Dowd -- who, let's not forget, has received journalism's biggest prize for commentary -- is a great or even a pretty good opinion columnist. This is what happens when you take a topic like religion and sexual abuse and try to run it through the Maureen-Dowd-column-generator. The Dowdian template calls for a jokey line, optimally a turn of phrase related to some cliche. And so we get "The buck, or in this case, the Communion wafer..." The trouble is, first, right when you're laying blame for the sex-abuse crisis at the feet of the former pope and present candidate for sainthood is actually not a good place for a joke, at all. And second, this is not actually a joke. It is at best a reference designed to make it sound like you know what you're talking about that ends up doing the opposite -- kind of like the "newly christened Pope Francis" line, or the bit at the beginning establishing that Maureen Dowd went to Mass on Easter Sunday, and they sang "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "Danny Boy." (How...would that even work?)

There is a sentence in the column that suggested, for me, the worthwhile analysis we might have had, in a better world that expected more from its newspaper columnists. Noting that "spectacular" mistakes can overshadow even the greatest accomplishments when we evaluate a leader, Dowd writes, "Lyndon Johnson deserves to be secularly canonized for his work on civil rights, but he never will be because of the war in Vietnam." That got me thinking: what would it mean to "secularly canonize" someone? Is it even possible for presidents, or have we shut the door on that after Lincoln (with a cut-down-in-his prime exception for Kennedy)? Reflecting on that could be a way in to examining the political side of non-secular canonization, which is the only side Dowd seems to be interested in anyway. She doesn't seem to notice, though, that when she quotes Kenneth Briggs saying that John XXIII came out of his five-year papacy "free and clear" while John Paul is under a cloud, she is naming one big reason the sainthood call is less fraught for Good Pope John: his papacy was short. Had he presided over the aftermath of the council he began, or had he been in the papal chair for another twenty years of upheaval in the church and in the world, he too might have a cloudier legacy.

There are a lot of good reasons to criticize, doubt, or argue about the decisions to canonize these two popes. Or any popes, for that matter. Maureen Dowd even mentioned some of the big ones in her column. But it's still an awful column. Opinion writers have to be more than basically right about the big stuff; they have to think things through carefully and then bring the rest of us along in doing likewise. They have to know when to be cute and when to be careful. Because when they're reductive and glib, and especially when they're prominent and (for some reason) taken seriously as Thought Leaders, they contribute to a general dumbing-down of discourse about things that are important. Dowd ends this column by characterizing the canonization of John Paul II as the church "winking at the hell it caused for so many children and young people in its care." But it's hard to take that indictment seriously coming from someone who doesn't ever seem to have a problem with winking.

About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.



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Mollie: If you were a great, award-winning columnist you obviously woud have written one more sentence: "Winking ain't thinking."

Great analysis, Mollie.  Anger and snideness grow wearisome after a while - at least I'm tired of it today.  I wish Maureen Down could clothe her passionate convictions in a fuller range of expression.

A few other random thoughts on the canonizations:

First of all, it has had me scratching my head for some time that the canonization of John Paul II seems to be "crowding out", in public consciousness, the canonization of John XXIII.  Has Roncalli faded from our collective memories already as the years have passed?

Second: neither man needs the church authorities to affirm his sainthood.  In both cases, large segments of the faithful already are firmly convinced he's in heaven, and those folks presumably already are praying to him and honoring his legacy in many ways.  That should be enough for now.  I do think it's a bit unseemly to do this big organization-foisted hoopla thing so soon.  I don't need the church authorities to tell me that Mother Teresa or Dorothy Day are saints, and I don't need the church to tell me that John XXIII is a saint.

Third: most of us may not have known much, or anything, about John XXIII before he became pope, but it's become clear to us that the man's holiness is not only to be found within the five years he sat on the chair of Peter.  His whole life is a sort of lucid exposition of Christian witness.  I expect the same can be said about Karol Wojtyla.  

Fourth: I don't think the fact that John Paul may have not risen to the occasion, and perhaps even committed sins of omission in regard to sexual abuse, should be an all-purpose conversation-stopper or canonization-stopper.  (And I would say the same about Pius XII and the Shoah.)  That JPII  wasn't perfect in every way does not diminish the great things he did and the effect he had on people.  He changed a lot of people's lives for the better.  Could he have changed even more lives for the better had he better understood the sex-abuse scandal and more energetically pursued reforms?  Undoubtedly.  But if ignoring that aspect of his legacy is a whitewash, then reducing his legacy only to that is a "blackwash".   That his legacy has some stains and even some ugly dents, may lead us to some more serious reflection on what it means to be a saint.  Maybe?


Auuugh, Tom, now I will forever regret not thinking of that. The Pulitzer recedes ever farther from my grasp...

The dogs bark and the caravan moves! 

Surprise, Maureen's channeling her inner brat again.  Agree with Jim P., "That his legacy has some stains and even some ugly dents, may lead us to some more serious reflectionon what it means to be a saint." Didn't there used to be some sort of 50 year rule for canonizations; that the person had to have been dead at least 50 years?  I actually think that was a good idea; some time gone by leads to greater objectivity about someone's life and legacy. I agree with Mollie that, "You can believe with all your heart that John Paul II has gone to the Father's house and still question the wisdom of a ceremony celebrating that fact not ten years after his death."


Dowd is more a satirist than a opinion writer. In the satire there are opinions. But the satire is the main event. We may agree with a satirist as you do with Maureen on several points. But when they hit our hot buttons our admiration softens. Does Pareene have to slam the pope before you sour on him. As you note Dowd makes some good points while you may not like the phrases she couches them in. You seem to admire Pareene. But he  just throws epithet after epithet on the wall. Never coming close to the depth that Dowd has. And the Kerry quote???  Ok she should have used quotes. But her parapharase was as close to a quote as you can get. 

And she is an equal opportunity critic. She has gone after Obama many times. Since you make it a point I will address it since I consider Dowd a great columnist. Maybe, like Francis, I could accuse you of clericalism.  Or more precisely,  "waferism."  Perhaps Dowd should write about that because it is waferism or clericalism which has falsely exalted priests as if they are the ones who make Jesus present. Ergo we must bow and give them all kinds of titles. 

Your objection to the language "he aint no saint"  invites further reflection. After all isn't the opinion of John Paul IIs personal holiness more offensive. Why? Because he prayed with his eyes closed. His eyes were certainly closed to the suffering of thousands of victims in the midst of conclusive evidence. Why because that would stain his papacy? Which it did anyway.  

So Maybe Maureen is more accurate and more necessary. With all this back and forth about John Paul II because he took a zillion plane trips. Perhaps it can be argued that he became a narcissist on the world's greatest stage. What else can explain this blindness to the pain of children and censuring of so many good people. 

Maybe we don't need all the heming and hawing. "He aint not saint." might say it best, after all. 


@ MWR:  I can't believe I going to defend Maureen Dowd.  Mainly because I have multiple problems with her gadfly approach to opinion journalism.  

I was waiting as I read "A Saint, He Ain't" for her to make one of those insipid sexual allusions like Dowd frequently does whenever she writes about Bill or Hillary Clinton.  Or, when she tries to suggest that President Obama is never quite black enough calling him by his childhood nickname 'Barry.'

Yet, isn't the issue you have with her is that Dowd has a much larger media platform from which to spew her not-too-well-considered opinions?  Perhaps I detect more than a slight professional "size" envy here?  

It's OK, MWR, you're not the first woman to resent what seems to come too easily for one of the "cheerleader girls."

Besides, you and Dowd write for very different audiences.  She speaks to the world from the newspaper of record.  You speak to the very tiny, and frankly peculiar, world of dotCommonweal.

I skimmed through the blog comments that were written as addendum to her column.  I think the broad auidence of the general public gets that this sainthood for JP2 is problematic at best.  

Face it, the legacy of JP2 evokes both ambivalence and controversy from almost every quarter of the public - excluding the hords of his rabid sycophants.  Now that for internal political reasons the Vatican - and most definitely Papa Francesco - has decided to move prematurely with this canonization, we Catholics will have to live with this dubious decision for a long time.

The wisdom of this canonization at this time escapes me.  We may well learn something else, something new, about JP2 that has yet to come to public attention that would further tarnish our Polish prince.

This double canonization of both JP2 and J23 is born of Papa Francesco's political gambit to move the church's agenda in a different direction.  We'll have to see how well he wears and wields that papal infallibility  cloak. 

I believe it used to take about 100 years to become a saint, and the devil's advocate job has been done away with, which makes it easier now.  Even guys like the founder of Opus Dei can make the grade, sigh  :(  I think that in many cases, the people who have been chosen as saints were chosen not because they were morally outstanding but because they and their examples were useful in some way to the church.  I don't think either of the popes to be made saints are really saint material.

Maureen Dowd went to Mass on Easter Sunday, and they sang "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "Danny Boy." (How...would that even work?)

Great question. I've been working on that for three hours. I missed it in her column because I was musing about her half-empty church contrasting with my own SRO. But since you brought it up, I don't think it can work. I can't make it anyway. Now I wonder if Dowd confused some other familiar tune with "Danny Boy," which would be like lauding Clark Gable for his work in Casablanca. Or did the lyrics come from a hymn other than "Amazing Grace"? I don't think we are going to solve this problem but I do know it will bother me all night.

Tom --

Why don't you go over to Pray Tell, the liturgy blog, and ask the expert musicians there?  Then they can stay up all nigh with you :-)  (No, the words and melody just don't match!!)


I agree with Bill Mazella.  Dowd has a style and yet she makes points that should be raised about the canonization of JP II.  You come off as having an animus against Dodd that clouds your ability to have critical distace from what she wrote.  Dowd should be given credit for asking the hard questions about wherther he is really the saint the Church will proclaim him to be.  Would that more journalists, including those at Commonweal, would ask the same questions.


I could find nothing objectively false in Ms Dowd's piece and the critique here deals more with style than substance. John Paul II should not be canonized for many reasons: Nicaragua, gays, women, appointment of bad bishops and extreme centralization of appointment process, abortion of the Vatican II process, stonewalling on celibacy, contraception and other such issues, Stalinist suspicion and repression in regard to theologians that has greatly depleted Catholic theology, governance of the Church through a combination of cult of personality and curial skulduggery, mishandling of child abuse scandals. All of these things get whitewashed by the "Saint" title, the highest the Church can bestow (unless they add "Doctor of the Church" in view of his neognostic Theology of the Body).

This is not a trick question - is a Catholic obligated to believe that anybody is a Saint and in heaven because they have been declared a Saint by the Church?

I was once told (perhaps incorrectly), that Catholics only recognize two human beings (excluding Jesus) as being in heaven for sure - one is the Virgin Mary and the other is the thief who Jesus told that he would be with him in paradise that day.  I understood that people were free to believe in the Saints but this was not an obligation.

Re: Maureen Dowd - IMHO her biggest weakness as a journalist is that she is so predictable - she rehashes headlines.  I never really see any original thinking. IMHO. 

Re: charmer. She's just reversing the tide by indulging a sexist remark. It comes off as irritating to the people she wants to bug, plus a few more.

Re: sainthood. JP2 wasn't perfect. Saints aren't perfect. None of them. I don't have a problem with Sunday's big party if they don't mind me dropping a local saint or two in the litany last Saturday.

I have a bigger problem wth a lack of normal people among the canonized saints. Not enough lay people. Too many clergy and religious. One or two more priests isn't going to make that much difference to me.  

About JP II and Maciel --  It seems quite credible to me that JP II was conned by Maciel who was very obviously aworld-class con man.  Many others were, including others in high places,  why not JP II?  Also, it seems beyond doubt that JP loved young people, and I can conceive his loving them so much that it was just inconceivable to him that such a "nice man" as Maciel would ever even think of abusing a young person. Further, we know from JP's behavior in other matters that JP's strength of character included a large amount of plain stubbornness, a stubbornness that served the Church and the West well when he was dealing with Moscow.  Once he made up his mind abou Maciel I'm sure he would naturally have mightily resisted changing his mind.  This wasn't admirable in him, but it would help explain his bad judgment about Maciel which had such catastrophic consequences.  In other words, JP probably didn't realize that his judgment was wrong, and so he shouldn't be held morally responsible for it..

Tom Blackburn, Ann Olivier et al.: I have learned from a reliable source that there does in fact exist a setting of "Amazing Grace" sung to the tune of "Danny Boy." (That source is my husband, who recalls hearing a church choir sing it years ago.)

So let's give Maureen Dowd credit where it is due: she has good enough taste to be put off by that. Meanwhile, we may have solved that other puzzle: my parish was SRO on Easter Sunday too, but if that's a typical music choice, I can understand why hers wasn't!

No, you can't sing the text "Amazing Grace" to "O Danny Boy"'s tune*.  They don't fit - they have different syllable counts.  It's like trying to write a 10- or 11-letter word in a crossword puzzle space for eight letters.

Btw, church musicians know that you can mix and match different texts and tunes when the syllables and stresses do line up.  You can sing "Amazing Grace" a lot of other hymn tunes, like the one used for "O God Our Help In Ages Past".   You can sing it to "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle". You can kinda, sorta sing it to "House of the Rising Sun".  And you can fit all those lyrics into the tune of "Amazing Grace".  This is what passes for diversion and humor in church choirs.

* Because apparently the universe would not be complete without it, there exists a web page entitled "Nine Hymns of the Church with Lyrics Set to the tune of "Danny Boy"".  One of them is by Timothy Dudley-Smith, whose texts usually reward attentiveness.  And there is another whose first two words are, "Amazing grace ...", but the rest of it is pretty different than the text we've all sung a gazillion times, and in fact it mentions Calvary rather than Easter.  Even so, maybe that's what Maureen Dowd heard.


I was bemused to hear a hymn sung to the tune of "O Waley, Waley" this Easter.

Amazing Grace to The House of the Rising Sun sounds marvelous! 

"To Thee, O Heart of Jesus" and "The Church's One Foundation" use exactly the same melody, but the words make them sound like two different melodies.


Another example



It's like trying to write a 10- or 11-letter word in a crossword puzzle space for eight letters.

It's modern times. Nothing could be easier: accentu8, str8ened, 2bercul8




I've heard you can sing all of Emily Dickinson's poems to the music of The Yellow Rose of Texas  :)

Sure, some songs can absorb lyrics besides their own. Some hymnals will note, at the top of a hymn, something like 6,6,7,6, which means any poem with lines of six, six, seven and six syllables can be sung to them. However:

Amazing Grace, how sweet, how sweet the so-ow-ow-ownd..


Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, the sound, the sound...

It has to be one or the other (I've lost sleep over this), and bioth do violence to the lyric even before you get to the second line, which is where it becomes a case of a round peg in a square hole.

Call me Thomas, I won't believe it until I hear it sung.

In most hymnals (not the disposable music editions in the pews) there are at least  four indexes.  As Tom B. mentioned, one of them is a metric index, which facilitates swapping out words.  Another is the tune index, which lists all the songs having the same tune.  I think the one with the most is Hyfrydol; which is "Alleluia, Sing to Jesus", among many others.  O Waly Waly, is "As the Deer Longs", as well as a couple of other responsorial psalms. In fine print at the top or bottom of the hymn is information about who wrote the lyrics, and who composed the tune (if known) also the dates for both. Lots of fun information if you are a music nerd.


It still being National Poetry Month, perhaps now's the time to point out that most of Emily Dickinson's poetry, as well as Amazing Grace, The Yellow Rose of Texas, and House of the Rising Sun, are written in Common Meter - alternating lines of imabic tetrameter and trimeter, or 8-6-8-6 - used in ballads (Common Meter with the rhyme scheme ABCB) and many hyms (usually ABAB). No wonder you can fit so many lyrics into such tunes. 

Here endeth the lesson.



One can endlessly discuss the merits of sainthood of John Paul II, but Dowd puts it in the proper perspective when she writes. "There is something wounding and ugly about the church signaling that those thousands of betrayed, damaged victims are now taken for granted as a slowly fading asterisk" The Church continues to abuse victims when it praises its leader while at the same time keeps all of its dirty secrets. The vast majority of victims remain anonymous. Making John Paul II a saint does nothing to help victims, but releasing all of its information about the cover-up will aid in their healing.


Maureen Dowd in limited space gives due praise and criticism of the life of John Paul II.  But her issue is not with John Paul.  It is with an institution that dismisses the lives of millions of children who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests.  A ten year old child who was abused fifty years ago is now sixty years old and every day suffers (often quietly and anonymously) from the abuse. It sends the wrong message to survivors and the faithful when it rushes to canonize its leader while it is dreadfully slow in revealing its knowledge of sexually abusive priests and those who covered it up? 


Maureen Dowd in limited space gives due praise and criticism of the life of John Paul II.  But her issue is not with John Paul.  It is with an institution that dismisses the lives of millions of children who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests.  A ten year old child who was abused fifty years ago is now sixty years old and every day suffers (often quietly and anonymously) from the abuse. It sends the wrong message to survivors and the faithful when it rushes to canonize its leader while it is dreadfully slow in revealing its knowledge of sexually abusive priests and those who covered it up? 


  First I read Mo, then I read Mollie, then I read the comments, and all of you missed it.

  Obviously they’re cannonizing JPII because he saved the Church from your turning it Protestant.  Of course he had help from his friend Rotzputin, and the Holy Spirit directed both, but he da man (and Ratz’s next).

Thank you, Joseph O'Leary, for summarizing so well the many reasons why John Paul II is not a saint and should not be canonized.

Neither should John XXIII. Their joint decisions to avoid protecting children over predatory priests outweighs whatever good they did.







So many of us feel disapointed and disillusioned by the manner of John Paul's inactions and actions with the clerical sex abuse issue, his supression of thchallenging theologians, and his episcopal appointments that it is sometiomes hard to remembver his breakthroughs and other initiatives. The current issue of America has an insightful article written by John Thavis in 2003 ( just as the sex abuse controversy in the US had begun to emerge in its most public forms) and by Rabbi Noam  about the effect that he and John XXIII had on changing relations with the Jewish community. These and other accomplishments cannot be minimized even in our anger about what he did do, did not do, and- inexcusably- ignored. 

I stopped reading Dowd a couple years ago.  She can obviously craft an interesting sentence and build an argument, but the substance is just so vacuous -- as O'Reilly demonstrated so well.


That's the best line I've heard in a long time.  Thanks, Crystal, for a true laughing out loud moment in my day.

Brilliant, funny comment. Thank you!

I just went to my hard drive to look for a column of Dowd’s that I saved.  She wrote it shortly before the invasion of Iraq.    Excerpts:

March 16, 2003


Maureen Dowd

WASHINGTON — Everyone thinks the Bush diplomacy on Iraq is a wreck.

It isn't. It's a success because it was never meant to succeed. ...The Bush hawks never intended to give peace a chance. They intended to give pre-emption a chance.

They never wanted to merely disarm the slimy Saddam. They wanted to dislodge and dispose of him.

The president's slapped-together Azores summit is not meant to "go the last mile" on diplomacy, as Ari Fleischer put it.

If Mr. Bush really wanted to do that, he'd try to persuade some leaders who disagree with him; he'd confront the antiwar throngs in London, Paris or Berlin and not leave poor, exhausted Tony Blair to always make the case.

The hidden huddle in the Azores is trompe l'oeil diplomacy, giving Mr. Blair a little cover, making Poppy Bush a little happy. Just three pals feigning sitting around the campfire singing "Kumbaya," as the final U.S. troops and matériel move into place in the Persian Gulf and the president's "Interim Iraqi Authority" postwar occupation plan is collated.

The hawks despise the U.N. and if they'd gotten its support, they never would have been able to establish the principle that the U.S. can act wherever and whenever it wants to — a Lone Ranger, no Tontos.

Cheney, Rummy, Wolfy, etc. never wanted Colin Powell to find a diplomatic solution. They hate diplomatic solutions. That's why they gleefully junked so many international treaties, multilateral exercises and trans-Atlantic engagements. ….We'll soon know if the hawks' ambitious foreign policy experiment has a miraculous result, or an anarchic one.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that a classified State Department report debunks the hawks' domino theory and expresses doubt that installing a new regime in Iraq will foster democracy. . . .


"It's OK, MWR, you're not the first woman to resent what seems to come too easily for one of the 'cheerleader girls.'"

This sexist ad hominem comment adds nothing to your credibility.


I kind of diagree with Molly's take on this, even though I loath sticking up for Dowd.*

But Jim Jenkins' remark is pure misogyny.




*I even recommended a Katie Roiphe article to someone a few weeks ago, so maybe I'm losing my edge.

Speaking of music, did you know that Ricky Nelson's hit "Hello Mary Lou" was written by a Catholic priest? That song has been covered by an amazing array of musicians over the decades. The songwriter is a Dominican, and they take a vow of poverty, so all the profits have gone to the order, not to him.

If Maureen Dowd wants to crank out cute columns whose major purpose is to show off her own cleverness, that's the kind of topic she should write about. Mollie O'Reilly makes an excellent point when she says that the style and subject matter of a column should fit. Dowd's snarky satire was perfectly suited to the absurditties of the Clinton impeachment, during which she mocked not only the president but his pursuers. Particularly hilarious and on-point were her eviscerations of Kenneth Starr and the House Republican sex investigators, whom she aptly referred to as "Torquemadas of the birds and bees." She won and deserved the Pulitizer for her work that year.

Dowd is capable of writing straightforwardly and seriously about topics deserving of such treatment. She has produced some powerful non-satirical columns over the years, and their impact was increased by their atypical (for her) style. She seems to have dashed off her column on the Popes reflexively and carelessly rather than thoughtfully.


Jim Jenkins:

You wrote to Mollie,

. . . [I]sn't the issue you have with her . . . that Dowd has a much larger media platform from which to spew her not-too-well-considered opinions?  Perhaps I detect more than a slight professional "size" envy here?  

I find that disappointing.  There's nothing in Mollie’s post that would support it.  What if you posted something about your experience with the San Francisco review board, and it was greeted by a comment similar to yours here – “similar” in the sense that it was pure, ungrounded speculation -- and hostile. Would you feel that you’d been treated fairly?

"A man has been crushed to death after a giant crucifix dedicated to Pope John Paul II collapsed, just days before a historic Papal canonisation in Rome."  ITV

The canonization of any person springs, in part, from the spontaneous movement of a large portion of people. At the death of John Paul II, there were shouts of Santo Subito that erupted. This, of course, can be chalked up to the sentiment of the moment and a kind of group think. Granted, there needs to be a level of discernment before we assess the full impact of a person's natural strength and character and how they opted to use the grace available to them. Still, the outpouring cannot be denied and not every person will have this level of affection shown. Doubt we will see it with Ratzinger, for example. Did not see it with Paul VI or even John XXIII but will probably see it with Francis.

,There is no question that many people were drawn to him by the sheer force of his charism. And this is part of natural dispostion and part grace. Good looking, athletic, fully engaged, he certainly commanded attention. Not unlike Francis whose charism differs in some respects. We cannot just dismiss these traits because they are gifts and I have seen people (men and women) use their gifts in this area to seduce, manipulate and hurt people in relationships. But, there is no indication that he did this at all to anybody either privately or publicly. Maureen Dowd is a good looking, bright, articulate, and gifted writer but her sarcasm does not serve her well and is not endearing.

And as for his accomplishments, his rapproachement with the Jewish community, given the sordid history we have had with them troughout the millenia is nothing short of miraculous.

His apology for the sins of the Church in anticipation of the millenium was also a good step forward. Granted not specific enough but certainly important to acknowledge.

HIs outreach to the youth was also important and while many criticize it, it is important to offer youth an attractive vibrant church.

His outreach to non-Christians and prayers with them for peace at Assisi notwithstanding the reactionary criticism by some including Ratzinger.

His many encyclicals and writings which have some excellent points and are accessible and offer useful fruit for ongoing reflection.

His reconfiguring the Church as missionary and the role of the papacy as a moral voice and compass on behalf of the world and not just the institution (I think he handed the instituion to curia folks and the problems with abuse lays, in large measure, with these senior leaders). I agree with Ann in her assessment of what occurred with Maciel. JP II wanted to see the church alive and saw new movments as the means to achieve this. The old guard was and is dying.

Agree with an over-reaction to liberation theology but Boff still can publish books and we can read those. Ditto for many, many others. Good heavens this is not the middle ages where the Vatican can control the press. There are many secular and non-Catholic presses and there is, of course the internet. 

Post is too long but that is my thoughts. I like to think that the Pope would say much the same that the great Indian leader Ishi said.

When I am dead, cry for me a little. Think of me sometimes, but not too much. It is not good for you or your wife or your husband or your children to allow your thoughts to dwell too long on the dead. Think of me now and again as I was in life, at some moment which is pleasant to recall, but not for long. Leave me in peace as I shall leave you, too, in peace. While you live, let your thoughts be with the living.

I opt to think well of the dead (hard as that is for some!)


"A man has been crushed to death after a giant crucifix dedicated to Pope John Paul II collapsed, just days before a historic Papal canonisation in Rome."

Isn't that kind of the opposite of a miracle? Something like a sign from the heavens: "Church! Church! Do not do the least thing to this case!"


What is the word for the opposite of a miracle?

The victim lived on John XXIII Street. I'd call the whole thing off.


Personally, I agree with Mollie that this was a typical Maureen Dowd piece, but on the other hand, you don't expect much more really, do you?  As to the specific points, though, I think the case for holding John Paul II up for special recognition, as canonization does, is extremely weak.  Beyond weak, really.  In my mind, he should have been "disqualified" if that is the correct term, first and foremost not because he ignored the Maciel situation, but because he actively protected that criminal and indeed held him out a "model."  His handling of the whole sexual abuse crisis was inept, to be chariable.  But looking even further, by virtually every measure, the Church post John Paul II was worse of than when he arrived.  Mass attendance declined throughout his papacy.  It finally stablized during the Benedict papacy. Same with priests.  Certainly in the west the numbers declined dramatically during his papacy.  And while some people wll point to the increases in priests in Africa and Asia, their numbers are relatively small considering the base they begin from and they don't even dent the need.  The number of Catholics per preist is twice as high in Africa as in Western Europe or the US.     The divides within the church, liberal vs conservative, right left, Commonweal Catholics vs Fr Z Catholics, however you want to catagorize them, they were worse by the end of his papacy than at the beginning, and he didn't seem to care much about what he was doing to the Church, the damage he did with his my way or no way approach and his appointment of largely yes men to various bishop posts.  In my view, the rush to canonize John Paul was both unseemely and led to bad decisison-making all the way through.  None of that is to say that he isn't a small "s" saint, just that he should not be held up as a model to be emulated. 



Maureen Dowd is a complex person who certainly does not get justice in this thread. I understand Molly being annoyed at her "apparent"  irreverence in using "wafer" instead of buck. But the cavalier dismissing of Dowd as a writer is shallow at best and misogynist at worst. Remember this is a person who had people like Clinton, W Bush, Chaney, Kenneth Starr, American Bishops,  Rumsfeld, executives at the NY Times, Obama and many others running for cover from her powerful pen. She is in no way superficial. In my opinion a giant of our time. .Remember she did  all this while mixing in with leaders who held her in contempt for her modest social origin. .She may not be a saint. But she embodies many qualities that too many of us immersed in clericalism (not you, Mollie) can benefit from. 

Here is an article that is very comprehensive about Dowd. We may not agree with some of it. But it exposes us to more material than most of us apparently are aware of.

Here's more fuel to add to the fire.  Joaquin Navarro-Valls, JPII's press secretary, has spoken in an interview about what JPII knew about the sex abuse cases, when he knew it, and what he did about it.  This one is for the history books.  Much of what Navarro-Valls says is simply incredible.  


"During the press conference, Navarro also talked about Wojtyla’s reaction to the first cases of clerical sex abuse against minors, which the Vatican started receiving in 2000. He recognised that Wojtylas did not realise just how serious the problem was, immediately, because “no one had grasped this at that time.”"


Surely the Vatican must have known what was emerging as early as the '80s.  The first big case to hit the media began in 1985 in Louisiana.  I myself knew the bishop involved and I know for a fact that he was a particularly highly regarded priest who had started to climb the hierarchical ladder quickly.  It is inconceivable that the Vatican didn't find out about him until years later.  And, of course, there were dozens of other serious cases being reported in the15 years between 1985 and 2000.  


Here's more nonsense:

"“This cancer began in a specific geographical place, the United States, in the form of isolated cases. The isolated cases which surfaced at the time referred to incidents which had taken place a long time ago - about 30 years ago. This did not make the problem any less serious but that was how things were. As the number of cases began to slowly rise, the Pope started to get very concerned. His thinking was so pure that it was impossible for him to accept that all this was real; Navarro explained."


"it was unbelievable, but he accepted it" -- does Navarro-Valls expect anyone in his right mind to accept his blatant self-contradiction???


He says nothing about Ratzinger's urging JPII to take action and JPII's refusing, but says, rather, 

" The Pope’s initial reaction, Navarro said, was to take decisions immediately."  In fact, when Ratzinger urged him to take action against Maciel, JPII refused.


What I find particularly reprehensible about Navarro=Valls is that the man is a psychiatrist, and he, if not the bishops, surely must have known *from the beginning* how devastating sexual abuse of children can be.  What kind of man must he be that he could keep his mouth shut about it???  


There's more nonsense at:  

John Paul II knew about the Vatican investigation into the Maciel case - Vatican Insider



Maureen Dowd writes for the common man, like me. She makes her points clearly and with a certain amount humor. I agree with her article 100%. She's not trying to write an erudite thesis on canonization. She's giving her point of view on some of the contradictons in this canonizaton. She'll be read and understood by thousands. As far as the" turn of a phrase". I think it's geat. Maybe we all have to loosen up a bit.

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly.
Perhaps it requires a certain subtlety of mind to appreciate the work of satirists in communicating their reflections on the human condition. Steve Colbert, Bill Maher and Jon Stewart don't provide tightly reasoned arguments when skewering the oligarchs, their media apologists, their bought politicians and their tea party pawns. Yet their wry, sometimes joyous, sometimes biting humor possibly conveys the reality of politics and economics to their listeners better than the more cautious researched columns of the New York Times which aren't widely read.

After shallowly criticizing Dowd for shallowness, you write, "I more or less agree with her basic conclusions." Why, then, didn't you write a column for Commonweal expressing your conclusions which are basically the same as Dowd's and provide the closely reasoned and aptly expressed arguments that support your conclusions. Far easier and safer to be a critic who eschews satire.

“This cancer began in a specific geographical place, the United States, in the form of isolated cases.":

Wow! If that is what he really said, Navarro-Valls is totally out of it. It would be correct to say, "This cancer began TO BE WIDELY KNOWN in a specific geographical place, the United States, in the form of isolated cases." The cancer itself already was worldwide and out of control before it began to be known. If he still, in this day and age, thinks of the problem as being as small at the start as the first public inklings of it were, then he is still thinking of the problem as a blot on the church and not crimes against children. And with the problem as big and as widespread as it turned out to be, the Vicar of Christ was SUPPOSED to know about it before the NCR and the Boston Globe. That's  in the job description

Navarro should not be allowed to speak for Christ's church. He is a nincompoop and a disaster.

At the risk of self promotion- and becoming a target for nearly all who've posted in this blog - I'll mention my letter in NYT today... just to add grist to the mill whether you agree or not...

Check out the reflections of Fr. Thomas Reese SJ on NCR site and the four articles on AMerica website... all worthwhile, I think., in varied opinions about the efficacy and "integrity" of this process.


Personally, while I don't have a better ide and actually know well teh person who was the "first miracle" of St, Marianne Cope, ofm and beleive she truly was a "saint," the whole "miracle process" seems so...arbitrary?

The naming of saints is so complex and political.. can we do better in recognizing holiness worth emulating?

I note that a number of commenters have used the words "satire" and "satiric" to describe Dowd's work.  I don't read her regularly (as I don't subscribe to the NY Times) but I have read quite a few of her columns over the years.  Whatever the genre of this particular column, it's not satire.  In essence it's quite earnest, although it attempts to be earnest in a breezy style that (in my opinion) doesn't consistently succeed. 

I don't know if there are any prominent columnists these days who are master satirists.  Humor is so hard to write, and we live in an age that is more prone to seethe than chuckle.  We could probably use more good humorists and satirists.


Jim P. No one can write satire anymore. I am having dinner tonight with a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist who retired because he cannot top this: Florida, whose governor says we can't afford to expand Medicaid, is about to spend $3.7 million (through the Ministry of Sunshine) to promote "medical tourism."

Jonathan Swift would break down his quill in two.

What is the word for the opposite of a miracle?


In the case of the collapsing 100-foot crucifix, I'm tempted to go with "engineering failure." But if we're limited to one word, it may have to be "coincidence." I'm hoping that "crime" and "devilry" can be ruled out.

It's possible, I suppose, that canonization and a too tall crucifix both arise from an entirely unsupernatural grandiosity as much as from reverence. Such is the spirit of the age.

Ann Olivier,

I don't doubt that John Paul II loved young people. The question is whether when this came up against other things, which did he choose? Did he choose protecting the property and reputation of the Church over ensuring the safety of children? Did he show more interest in investigating priests that were too friendly with gays, feminists, and communists than priests who raped children from their parish? Did he choose to ignore information suggesting that a powerful political ally was acting in a deeply immoral manner?

Calling him stubborn doesn't excuse his failings. A person who abets evil via stubborn ignorance is at fault for not correcting their ignornace.

I would venture that if a miracle is a blessing, then perhaps the opposite is the word "curse".  Could this be seen as that? Is there enough to point that even beyond the falling of a crucifix that much of this has fallen under the concept of curse?

It has just come to my attention that this is Dowd's second time (at least) writing on John Paul II's unworthiness for sainthood. The first time was when he was about to be beatified in 2011. It's a bit more sober but still scattershot, and just as unreflective on what precisely sainthood means, or how "worthy to be declared a saint of the Catholic Church" might differ from "worthy to be one of Maureen Dowd's heroes." Anyway, for what it's worth.

"Listen up, everyone"?  That's how she begins her column criticizing the writing style of an award-winning columnist?  Listen up, everyone.  Terrible opening.  It discounts whatever comes next.  Unless we're in a hoe-down or something.  

Pretty sure my deleted comment could be reinserted here.

Ryan --

I'm certainly not denying the objective evil of their lack of action.  But there are sometimes extenuating circumstances, both internal to a person and external to him/her, that makes the person not as responsible as would be he case without those circumstances.

Do you always act with totally good or totally evil motives?  I bet you don't either. 


For what its worth there are a number of canonized saints who do not deserve the title of "Saint."

JP II might well be in that category.

David Pasinski --

Good point in your letter about other leaders with feet of clay.  But my problem with JPII is that the sex scandal wasn't the only problem with his papacy.  The re-centralization of the Church structure seems to have been entirely his doing, and his bad, even unjust  treatment of some theologians was also a very large fault objectively.  In other words, it wasn't just his feet that were made of clay.  While he had some big virtues, I'm not sure that on balance he was exceptionally holy.  How do you balance these things anyway, when God is the only one who really knows the facts.

I am struck by the absolute absence of any discussion in this blog post and comments about the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy.  Dowd mentions victims in two paragraphs and vastly underestimates their number.  It is not thousands, it is millions of children.  In the United States alone there are an estimated half million victims in the second half of the twentieth century. The John Jay report enumerated (but did not name) 4392 priests for whom there was a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. The National Institute of Mental Health states that the typical male who sexually abuses children has 117 victims in his lifetime. Do the math!  513,864 in the USA..


The Diocese of Rockville Centre website once reported that less than 10% of childhood victims of sexual abuse ever make an allegation.  There are many legitimate reasons why a child would not come forward, but just because the victims are unknown to the Church and to us, it does not mean that we should ignore them.  Sexual abuse of minors is epidemic, but rarely discussed.  There are reports that one in three girls and one in seven boys have been sexually abused as a child.


When the discussion of the merits of John Paul’s sainthood fails to acknowledge the victims, whether deliberately or not, it causes pain to survivors.  Victims need to know that we understand their struggle, that they will be believed, and that they are loved.  The institutional Church fails to recognize this, but Maureen Dowd does.

Please, always remember the victims and let them know that you understand their struggle.

Thomas Myles- without wishing to dispute any of the facts and inferences you make in your most recent comment, and without wishing to scrub John Paul II's record in any way, my view is that the pope, who often is mischaracterized as an absolute monarch, cannot make the sexual abuse scandals disappear, nor right all the wrongs that have been done to children.

To be sure, popes can do more than John Paul II did.  Nevertheless, I think we need to resist the characterization of John Paul II, or any pope, as Bogeyman In Chief of the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church.  The best remedies available, such as they are (as there is no sure remedy for abuse that already has occurred), are more local in nature.  Those remedies belong to local bishops, to clergy, to staff members, to parents, to local law enforcement - those of us at the grass-roots.  The Holy See can play a role in insisting that best practices are consistently followed across dioceses across the world.  We may see some welcome and long-overdue movement in that regard, and more can be done, particularly in regard to holding bishops accountable.  But I think it would be wrong to hold John Paul II responsible for the abuse of those thousands or even millions of children.  Surely the preponderance of culpability lies much closer to the sins and crimes.


Jim Pauwels, to be clear, I did not characterize JPII as "bogeyman in chief".  My difficulty is with those who are rushing to judgment on his canonization, while at the same time too little and too slowly has anything been done for victims.

One remedy is to release all information about known predators and those who covered it up, whether it was last week or last century.  Surely a pontiff can exercise his power to right those wrongs.

A number of years ago, I brought my daughter to accepted students days at both NYU and Fordham.  My daughter fell in love with Fordham partly due to Father Joseph McShane's sales pitch (I don't mean that in a pejorative sense -- but that's what this whole process is).  During his sharing Father McShane said that NYC was the "capital of the world". He went on to say that it wasn't Ed Koch or some other Big Apple celebrity to claimed this, but Pope John Paul II.  So, Father McShane continued, if we had a problem with the this boast we'd have to take it up "with a saint in heaven".  

So that's the rub. Subito for JPII.  Form a committee for the survivors. To whom should subito apply first? 

Fr. Thomas knew what John Paul II knew about the sex abise crisis and when he knew it:


That should have been Fr. Thomas Doyle.

After reading the Fr. Doyle piece that Alan Mitchell linked to, I suggest "Enabler in Chief."


I disagee with Mollie's take on the Dowd column.  I think the column and its style represent an important point of view.


I also enjoyed the New Yorker article that Bill Mazzella linked to.


I find Jim Pauwels  statement that the Pope "cannot make the sexual abuse scandals disappear" a red herring.



Tom Myles above really gets to the core of my own critique of MWO's rather superficial treatment of Maureen Dowd's article:  Focusing on the Catholic Church leadership's cowardly response to the sexual abuse and exploitation of children by priests and bishops.

Dowd writes for a different, wider and bigger audience than just us Commonweal lifers.  And I think she scores a bullseye by looking at JP2's canonization in light of the legacy for survivors.

The timing of JP2's canonization would be greatly improved if the Vatican waited until after a significant passage of time so that its much heralded commission could actually initiate much needed reforms in response to the abuse scandal.

I would start by the release of all personnel files of credibly accused priests; genuine good-faith efforts to identify as many survivors as possible; and dismissal of any hierarch who acted in complicity with the assaults.

Let the healing begin.  Then let's think about canonization for JP2.

I would start with the revision of statute of limitations laws across the country. For those in the USA, write your legislator and urge them to support passage of bills which are outlined in the link below.



As noted, I encourage all to read Fr. Tom Doyle's article posted on NCR website. It is quite damning.

Also, the accompanying article noting that the postulator for JPII's sainthood noted his sleeping on a cold floor and self flaggellation as signs of sanctity is quite telling... and in my mind - although traditional signs of penance -in this age, plain weird.

And now we have this, The Politics of Saint Making  

One would think that one saint could recognizze another, so why did JPII block the canonization of the martyr Ocscar Romero?

There were reasons why canonization took so long in the past, the saint had to stand the test of time.  Benedict fast tracked JPII to preserve his legacy of roilling back Vatican II.  I am beginning to think that sanctity is a construct that cannot really be tested.  JPII knew well why it was important to do away with the Devil's Advocate.  Had the people in St. Peter's square known what we now know of JP II I wonder if they would have chanted Santo Subito.



Ann, if you haven't already you should read Fr. Thomas Doyle's column in NCR.  Pope John Paul II was informed of the sexual abuse of minors from at least the mid-80s on.  The kindest spin that can be put on it is that he was in denial - a very human defense mechanism, but one that doesn' let him off the hook for gross negligence.  He was an authoritarian and very attached to his own opinions and apparently unmoved by the evidence.  This hurry-up canonization does not serve the Church and though probably not intended, is a direct slap at survivors and their advocates.

In New York, the Child Victims bill has passed the Assembly 6 or 7 times.  It never has come up for a vote in the state senate, thanks to the paid lobbyists hired by the NY state bishops and orthodox Jewish groups.  I have not contributed to the Bishops Annual Fund in 5 years.  If only one of them would come out publicly and say he was for passage of the bill, I would send my contribution to his diocese.  But, no.  They live in fear.

Ann and Tom - there actually is a hymn that begins "Amazing Grace will alway be my song of praise" that is very much based on the original. It is sung to the tune of Danny Boy - it's in our parish hymnal. 

As an aside - a parish priest once showed me that Amazing Grace surprisingly enough can be sung to the tune from the theme song of "Gilligan's Island." Do with that what you will.

From Wikipedia:

"Londonderry Air" was also used as the tune for the Southern Gospel hit "He looked beyond my fault" written by Dottie Rambo of the group "The Rambos"

Amazing Grace shall always be my song of praise,
For it was grace that bought my liberty,
I do not know just why He came to love me so,
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.
I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary,
To view the Cross where Jesus died for me,
How marvelous His grace that caught my falling soul.
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.

If it doesn't have "a wretch like me," it can't be "Amazing Grace." One of our former pastors used to mutter, "I'm no wretch" every time the choir or congregation sang it. Sometimes his mic picked up his mutter. I told him about the author, but he still wasn't buying. But he never banned it.

It never has come up for a vote in the state senate, thanks to the paid lobbyists hired by the NY state bishops and orthodox Jewish groups.  

It has never come up for a vote because the elected leaders have chosen for it not to be brought up for a vote. Never forget who is responsible and accountable and that goes for the citiznes of New York, including Maureen Dowd, and many contributors and subscribers.

While I do not criticize the efforts of anyone attempting to change the statute of limitations in New York State (or elsewhere) I think it is important to know what is being proposed.  I am not an expert in these matters, but my understanding is that the Markey bill would eliminate any statute of limitations in criminal proceedings in sex cases, but it would not be retroactive.  In civil cases there would be a one year window to revive old cases.  If someone has better knowledge, please offer it.


As I wrote above, less than 10% of victims ever make an allegation.  Thus the proposed legislation may help some victims, but it is not a panacea. Perhaps the best result of successful legislation would be the discovery phase whereby Church records could be legally obtained.

Eliminating the timeframe to bring a criminal case would still be problematic. District attorneys may be reluctant to take an old case because of the difficulty of convincing a jury of the guilt of the defendant.   

I am still waiting to hear any priest say, “I knew Father Joe was accused of pedophilia and he was living in my rectory and I said nothing. I am sorry.”

If it doesn't have "a wretch like me," it can't be "Amazing Grace."

Tom - you probably know that some hymnals offered, probably still offer, optional substitutes like "That saved and set me free."  




You are correct on the statistics and not laying a charge or being found not guilty is different than being innocent. And not all victims avail themselves of that option. And no it is not a panacea but it is just.

In Canada, the statute of limitations has long been removed for criminal cases of sexual abuse. I know from being very close to people going through this that is is healing for the victim that there is a finding against the perpetrator. And, yes, standards of beyond a reasonable doubt are applied and this can indeed be challenging.

My experience is more with families and the dynamics associated with denial, shock, sadness, etc. Certainly, that is true for the Church family too and I see some of that, by analogy, occurring with the hierarchy often taking the place of mothers becoming aware that their husbands abused their children or step-children.  But, at the same time, it is a useful, albeit painful process that will at least bring to the fore some additional practices for the Church and a sober reflection on the damage that sexual abuse does have on many people's lives.

And, more importantly, for those who have undergone it, there is validation from a court that what happened to them was wrong and finally someone is holding them accountable. 


Plus it is a tangible, demonstrable action that we can do to faciliate justice. It is healthy, mature, and responsible and removes the wheat from the chaff. Legislation reflects our vlaues and commitments.

Jim P, What has the world come to when hymns need to be bowdlerized?

I'm with Tom Blackburn on the "wretch" front. If our egos are too tender to bear the term, we should sing a different song. And, for the record, I think that the Dottie Rambo song trades on a classic to croon a muddle of pop psychology mixed with sentimentality and old-fashioned evangelicalism. Amazing grace is just a MUCH better hymn. This, instead, is a sentimental comfort song. It's pretty indicative of the composer's shallowness that she had to steal BOTH "amazing grace" and the londonderry tune in order to ride their coattails to popularity.

Thomas Myles ==

There was one case of a priest who defied his archbishop and went to the press.

Back in 1990 Fr. James Tarantino lived in the same rectory as Fr.Dino Cinel, who taught history at Tulane at that time.  Fr. Tarantino noticed that Cinel would bring boys to stay with him and then found pornographic tapes in Fr. Cinel's room.  Fr. T. notified the Archbishop, who did nothing at that time.  Fr. Tarantino proceeded to tell a local newspaper, which broke the story.  After that the Archbishop did take action. 

When checking out the date of the case just now, I found a 2011 article which says that Cinel is now trying to sue the Church because he himself (he claims) was abused by a priest when he was a child!  Pots and kettles???  But, of course, the Vatican is ignoring him still.

Disgraced ex-priest Dino Cinel takes his case to Vatican |  

Madness, madness, madness.

P. S.  I should say in defense of the Archbishop that later he did seem to see the error of his ways, and apparenly he ended on good terms with Fr. Tarantino.  When the AB retired he chose to live in Fr. T,'s parish and said Mass there on Sundays.  Fr. Tarantino should be remembered as one of the heroes in this terrible, terrible mess, but his name seems about forgotten.  So I keep bringing up his story.  He was a great priest.  

John O'Leary did a great job summarizing why JPII should not be a saint. 

Mollie, any organization in this country that had a leader ignore the same kind of problem would have their CEO summarily fired and escorted out the door.  This mismanagement has cost $3 billion plus in this country alone.  Look at Penn State, for example.  There is a saying "the fish rots from the head down".  So, I think it is obscene that JPII was made a saint and Maureen Dowd calls it right.  Somebody has to.  Even today, the Vatican tells the United Nations they cannot control the rest of the Church.  What a bunch of baloney.



The one to ask about what JP2 really knew about clergy-bishop abuse of the vulnerable is Tom Doyle who once was a JP fan. And i stopped caring about officialdom's "saints" when they hoisted up Escriva. For shame, and only one more example of cries for truth and justice ignored in favor of the massive papal ego.

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