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NYT's Laurie Goodstein responds to NYC's Archbishop Dolan

New York Times religion writer Laurie Goodstein was one of the targets of Archbishop Dolan's recent blog post alleging anti-Catholicism on the part of The Times (as discussed in Father Imbelli's post below). I found the Archbishop's piece indiscriminate in its effort to tar his opponent, and think he missed an opportunity to be more effective by being more selective, and to be more just as well as more charitable. That was disappointing as his post was also one of those that gave license to many far harsher criticisms and helped to lower the quality of conversation.(Bill Donohue's omnibus attack on us "hypocrites" who thought the Archbishop less-than-convincing is worth the read if only for his jab at Commonweal: "a Catholic magazine on life support, faults Dolan for responding in a way that is 'not fruitful.' Nice to know that these writers object to the archbishop for writing. Maybe they prefer throwing bricks." I'm not sure what that means, but at least he considers Commonweal Catholic!)Dolan's piece was also surprising, in that he is known as media-savvy and someone with a reputation for engaging even those he considers critics on a personal level before resorting to the brickbats. That he hasn't done so, especially as the city's new archbishop, is strange to me. (My biases: Laurie Goodstein is a friend and a colleague on the beat, so my instinct is to defend her and journalists in general. As for Dolan, he wouldn't know me but I had interviewed the Archbishop in years past a couple of times and always found him, as others do, very open and engaging, and I was very happy to see him come to New York, where he seemed happy to be greeted with open arms--and glowing coverage in the Times. Hence my surprise at the tone and content of his roundhouse.)In any case, Laurie Goodstein has written a response to the Archbishop on Wednesday, posting it in the combox of his blog. (I guess the Archdiocese refused to print it in the newspaper?) The Archbishop has not responded, which again is unfortunate, as she took the time to engage him directly and personally, and I think a good deal more thoughtfully and charitably than he did. So I would certainly give her this round on points, if not a KO.Unfortunately her response is buried in the thread, so I cut-and-paste it here after the jump...

A Response to Archbishop DolanI am the national religion correspondent at The New York Times, and sent this letter to Archbishop Dolan yesterday. I would like to share it with the readers of his blog. Dear Archbishop Dolan, I was very disturbed to read your blog post about The New York Times, and about my work and that of my colleagues as anti-Catholic. You write as though the Catholic Church is some sort of special target, when in fact any institution that is accused of wrongdoing receives critical coverage and commentary. As you know, the Catholic Church is the largest religious institution in the world, and a quarter of Americans are adherents. The Catholic Church is a hierarchical church with a clear chain of accountability. It is only natural that it receives such scrutiny. As you acknowledged in your blog, there are recent developments in the Church that are well-worth discussing and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. So when a newspaper undertakes this kind of coverage, it should not be seen as anti-Catholic. If so, we could equally be accused of being anti-Every religious group that we have called to task, and there are many. You cite Paul Vitellos front page story about sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community as evidence that the Times is anti-Catholic. Paul and I find it a hard argument to understand. The Times has written about the sexual abuse of minors by clergy of many faiths: Jews, Southern Baptists, mainline Protestants, Jehovahs Witnesses, Orthodox Christians, evangelicals. But the abuse story has been bigger for the Catholic Church simply because of the quantitative facts: there are more priests accused, more alleged victims, more countries involved, more settlements, more years since the problem first became public, more legal and financial consequences and simply more people affected. In mentioning my piece about a priest who had an affair with an adult woman, you imply that there was no reason to run a story now that is 20 years old. You neglected to acknowledge that this piece was written now because the priests son is dying of brain cancer, he believes the church and the priest have failed him, and because the priest was still serving in a parish where neither his parishioners nor his bishop had knowledge of his philandering until I began reporting. One of the women he was involved with was allegedly a minor, and at one point the priest suggested that a pregnancy he was responsible for be terminated by an abortion. I wrote the story because church officials have said privately to me over the years that priests who violate their vows with adult women are far more common than priests who sexually abuse minors. Also, I have also been contacted over the years by adult women in similar situations. I wrote about this woman because she was willing to go public with her experience and had the legal documentation and photographs to prove that this was more than a case of he said/she said. You claim that the Times ran this story instead of covering Afghanistan, health care and the Sudan, but as you know the Times is regularly full of stories about all these issues. And finally, you cite as anti-Catholic the coverage of Pope Benedict XVIs new structure for welcoming traditionalist Anglicans into the Catholic Church. The Times story did state clearly, as you pointed out, that the arrangement was a response to requests from some Anglicans. Certainly, the Vatican is welcoming these Anglicans, but many other Anglicans feel as if the church were making a bid for their allegiances. Our story used language reflecting these various points of view. Our coverage did not differ much from most of the media coverage, except that we were far more tempered than some. Archbishop Dolan, you and I have known one another since we first met in Rome in 1998 when you were rector at the North American College. We met again years later when I was doing a story about you and several others whom I dubbed Healer Bishops who were trying to help the church recover from the scandal over sexual abuse by priests. I am pained that your blog selectively overlooked all the articles in the Times that you and other bishops in the church have praised over the years because you found them fair, and there are many (including some about your appointment to the Archdiocese of New York). This is why I cannot accept your characterization of the Times as anti-Catholic. This weekend, I am going to the conference of the American Academy of Religion, the largest society of religion scholars, to receive their top journalism award for a three-part series I did last year on the Catholic Church. The subject was international priests serving in the church, and the series included stories about a Kenyan priest beloved by his Kentucky parishioners, an American vicar who selects foreign priests to serve in his diocese, and why so many young Indians choose vocations in the Catholic Church. To do these pieces, I spent many weeks in American parishes and a week living in a seminary in India. If the Times were anti-Catholic, why would it devote the reporting time and three consecutive front page stories to a fair and affectionate look at the contemporary Catholic Church? Sincerely, Laurie Goodstein National Religion Correspondent The New York TimesPosted By: Laurie Goodstein2009-11-04 2:42 PM

About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.



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David, I read Abp Dolan's comments earlier. Clearly a TKO for Goodstein. Elicited a Wow! from me. Thanks for sharing. Puts Michael Coren at the National Post and his quasi defense of Bishop Raymond Lahey under the guise of Catholic bashing to shame.

Hello David (and All),Forgive me for stating the obvious, but Mr. Donohue has conflated Commonweal the publication with the web log of the Commonweal web site. Even if some of those who posted on the recent discussion over Archbishop Dolan's own web log piece were guilty of hypocrisy (a charge I would think unfair) it would not follow that the editors of Commonweal were also hypocrites.And just what on earth does it mean to claim that Commonweal is "a Catholic magazine on life support"?Sigh, maybe it's for the best I don't teach at a Roman Catholic university, even though that's my heart's desire. If I did, I'd be tempted to recommend to my students that they visit the Catholic League's web site, for samples of amazingly careless reasoning.

Hello again David (and All),It struck me that I could be wrong, and that it is possible that Commonweal has just published a statement in response to Archbishop Dolan's web log article that is in an issue I have not seen and Mr. Donohue has seen, in which case I would owe Mr. Donohue an apology. But even if this is the case, it still does not follow that the editors of Commonweal are hypocrites. Commonweal has published no articles complaining of anti-"Commonwealisn" since I became a subscriber, even though I have learned that at least one publication explicitly states that part of its mission is to attack Commonweal.

Interesting that Gibson notes that his "bias" is with someone in journalism rather than a fellow Catholic and an Archbishop to boot.

Peter, I'm actually not sure where the "not fruitful" line comes from. I didn't find it just now on Bob Imbelli's thread nor in the magazine. Maybe someone can help? Either way, it seems like the most anodyne critique possible. John Borst, thanks for the Coren reference. I'll have to look that up--sounds kind of weird. Eggloff (is that your real name? Or is that Archbishop Dolan playing with me?!) ... My bias is actually with the archbishop in many respects too. I just happen to think this wasn't his best moment, and I also think it necessary to declare one's sympathies or potential conflicts of interest out front. My view would I think be in sympathy both with many other Catholics and with the kind of rational thinking, rather than tribalism, that is integral to our tradition. Readers can make their own judgment on the exchanges cited in the post. Obviously I don't share the view that to be a good Catholic one must reflexively support the bishop over fellow Catholics or the demands of the faith, especially if the evidence seems to point in another direction. But again, this post and exchange is not a matter of faith in any way I can see, but of judgments on various arguments.

David-Thanks for all this. I think this might be a perfect moment for the good Archbishop to engage Ms. Goodstein. He has such a warm and generous personality and spirit. Imagine if there was a reaching out, possibly even in person? God knows what good could come from it.Anthony

o-and if Bill Donahue is so concerned about COMMONWEAL's health (saying that it is on life-support), possibly he might be willing to donate a bit of his $300K+ salary to the magazine. That too might be a great act of warmth and generosity.

Anthony, I agree 100 percent, and I think a genuine dialogue is what is needed. I think we all know how heated we can become in the humanly remote ether of the blogosphere.

Hi everybody: I don't blame you for being confused. In his haste to get out a press release, Bill Donohue apparently forgot to mention what he was responding to. He's quoting this television news segment from Tuesday evening, featuring yours truly, lobbing bricks. If you watch it's even more obvious that Donohue is completely misrepresenting what I said (along with pretty much everything else). You may also be surprised to discover that William [O']Donohue himself agreed to be interviewed by CBS, despite his concerns about their business practices in 1996. Big of him.As for the life-support thing, I suspect that may just be "Catholic League" lingo for "not-for-profit."

Brava, Mollie! Doing TV is tough, and you came off really well--brought insight and reasonableness to a vox pop. Not easy. You done this before? Anyway, you certainly didn't have to be so inflammatory. "Not fruitful"? Whoa.

Goodstein claims that because of its prominence the Catholic Church should expect to receive a lot of negative coverage, though it is not being unfairly targeted. Yet she later claims that the (non-prominent?) NYT only reflected widespread journalistic practice in characterizing the Vaticans recent response to Anglican requests and therefore should not be unfairly targeted as anti-Catholic. If everyone is guilty, no one is guilty -- in the case of the paper but not the Church.She also expresses puzzlement about why Archbishop Dolan cites the story of abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community as an expression of anti-Catholicism. A straightforward reading of Dolans comment shows that he was clearly troubled not about the story but about the failure on the part of the Times to demand the release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency.About the 20 year old Franciscan case she says I wrote the story because church officials have said privately to me over the years that priests who violate their vows with adult women are far more common than priests who sexually abuse minors. Perhaps she could say privately to the editorial board of the Times that it was not out of line for the Archbishop to respond to the Dowd column and that perhaps they could find a place to print at least some of his reaction. At any rate i believe the Archbishops complaints were not about individual writers but about the papers institutional stance and so a summit meeting with her would not resolve the issues.

David, thanks for this post, but I fear that religion and the press are ever doomed to talk past each other. Raber regularly "shops" for interesting magazines at the recycling center downtown and brought home a July 08 copy of Sojourner in which Jim Wallis complains (mildly by comparison with AB Dolan) about "the media's" inability to "get" the new evangelical manifesto. Wallis' beef seems to be that "the media" covered the manifesto in the context of the old Moral Majority paradigm. As if the press is supposed to just pretend that the Dobson-Falwell-Robertson triumvirate had not earlier conflated evangelical Christianity with the GOP, a fact Wallis himself acknowledges.As workaday reporter at a community newspaper years ago, the most thin-skinned readers I encountered were a) parents who felt coverage of their kids' activities were not lavish enough, and b) religious adherents who felt that negative coverage involving a religious figure was tantamount to sacrilege. In all fairness, I'd have to say that those in category a) were the bigger pain in the neck.

Abp. Dolan's piece was published on Oct. 29.Laurie Goodstein's response was posted on Nov. 4.This post was published on Nov. 5.Yet, Mr. Gibson finds it appropriate to state, "In any case, Laurie Goodstein has written a response to the Archbishop on Wednesday, posting it in the combox of his blog. (I guess the Archdiocese refused to print it in the newspaper?) The Archbishop has not responded, which again is unfortunate, as she took the time to engage him directly and personally, and I think a good deal more thoughtfully and charitably than he did. So I would certainly give her this round on points, if not a KO."To summarize, NYT writers get five days to post a response; archbishops get about 30 hours, in spite of the archbishop's many duties beyond responding to reporters. And this is sufficient to give Ms. Goodstein a victoy( although it seems to be Abp. Dolan's target was the Times, not specifically Ms. Goodstein, and I'm not sure there needs to be a winner and a loser here), and hint that Abp. Dolan is trying to silence Ms. Goodstein's response.Why is the Abp. Dolan held to a higher standard than the New York Times?

I think I will also propose a Catholic version of Godwin's law -- if you find it necessary to appeal to Bill Donohue, either to support your point, or as an exemple of how unreaonable the other side is, then you are not in a very good position in the argument.

This is called "pushing back". Her riposte is an example to all the spineless Catholic clerics and theologians who have sat down under Vatican abuse for so long. We have got to tell these people where to get off. Failure to contest abusive power spells collusion -- and when you say your collusion is motivated by holy obedience you are a hypocrite as well!

John McG: I do hope the Archbp responds to Laurie Goodstein and/or the Times, which is why I mentioned that he hasn't yet. But his lack of public response (so far) was not the point of the piece, nor some final nail in the coffin of his argument--though it would become problematic, I think, if in some reasonable time frame he doesn't respond. I do think her response was far better-argued and in a better tone than his, but I probably hold professional writers to a higher standard than bishops when it comes to communications, it is true. The Donohue reference was an aside, really, as I thought it was semi-amusing. You didn't address any of the points of my post or Ms. Goodstein's letter. Do you have anything to add in that regard?

PS to John McG: Godwin's Law? Are you calling Bill Donohue a Nazi?! Better watch out...

"Goodstein claims that because of its prominence the Catholic Church should expect to receive a lot of negative coverage, though it is not being unfairly targeted. Yet she later claims that the (non-prominent?) NYT only reflected widespread journalistic practice in characterizing the Vaticans recent response to Anglican requests and therefore should not be unfairly targeted as anti-Catholic. If everyone is guilty, no one is guilty in the case of the paper but not the Church."What on earth? The negative coverage refers to what is perceived as a grave crime -- abuse of minors. The comments on the recent papal initiatives merely reflect the widespread unease about them within both Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism. Your defensive pirouette is totally illogical.

The real conflict between the NYT and the Church is the conflict between the modern world (including many Catholics) and the hierarchy.

Ms. Goodstein semes to entirely miss the point of Abp. Dolan's criticsim.Why would the scale of the sexual abuse problem in the Catholic Church merit a different response? Abp. Dolan was not criticizing them making a bigger deal out of the Catholic crisis, he was citing the differing advice. For Catholics, only complete transparency is adequate, and statutes of limitations and due process should be set aside. For other populations, sensitivity is in order. Ms Goodstein does not address this.Next is the story of the affair with the Franciscan. While she does explain why investigating it now was appropriate, she does not explain why it merited being placed on the front page. Were the positive pieces Ms. Goodstrin sites about the archibishop and the Church given similar placement?Ms. Goodstein's defense of the Times's coverage of the Anglican outreach boils down to, "everyone eles is doing it." I'm not enough of an expert on this particular issue to judge whether the Times' coverage of this, or Abp. Dolan's criticsm thereof, is fair.She does not even attempt to defend Maureen Dowd's piece, for which I can hardly blame her.--So of the four items Abp. Dolan cites, if we give Ms. Goodstein the point on the Anglican piece, three of them still stand. One could argue that the NYT should not be responsible for the output of their opinion columnists, Dowd is Catholic herself, it was balanced by a more complimentary piece by Ross Douthat, etc., but Ms. Goodstein didn't make those points.Whether that's sufficent for a decision or a knockout I suppose is in the eyes of the judges.

John McG, a point of order: It was Donohue who referenced Commonweal to try to make a point (about "hypocrisy," evidently, although I'm fuzzy on how that applies). Also, to answer your question about the front-page placement: Yes, that series Goodstein did about the international priests -- quite deserving of recognition, IMHO -- got front-page placement, so that's a solid point for her. The archbishop's complaint about that Franciscan-priest story going on the front page reflects a lack of awareness of what the front page looks like every other day. There's always at least one human-interest story there too. That's just how the business works. And often it's about religion/the Church, since a lot of humans are interested in that. And sometimes it's flattering, and sometimes not so much. Thanks, David. I'd like to add that I am really much better looking in person... But of course now that you and I have actually met, you won't be fooled.

The subject of this post was Goodstein's repsone to Abp. Dolan. Mr. Gibson elected to bring Bill Donohue's screed into it, as if Bill Donohue regularly waits for this bishops to say something before he says something stupid. "Bill Donohue said something related and stupid" is not not an argument. Abp. Dolan could have played the same game -- doesn't the NYT's negative coverage of the Church provide ammunition to those who make less temperate attacks (like Maureed Dowd's column)? So what?---I also now see that Ms. Goldstein did note that the international priests story appeared on the front page, so I apologize for missing that in my first post.--The other question that remains is wheter Abp. Dolan's points are sufficient to sustain a charge of "anti-Catholicism." I would be inclined to say no, since I have a pretty high bar for accusations of bigotry, so I think Abp. Dolan's choice of words was poorly chosen, and does dovetail with less temperate criticsims like Bill Donohue's.But there is a tendency to cast a light on some stories that is less than flattering to the church, and reduces the Church's ability to speak, not just about abortion, but also on matters like health care and war. It is certainly within Abp. Dolan's duties to defend that.

Bill Donohue said something related and stupid is not not an argument. Exactly. My point is, David didn't intend it to be an argument. He mentioned Donohue's press release as "worth the read" -- and in parentheses at that -- because it happens to reference C'weal.

I think Patrick Malloy makes a excellent point. Goodstein's characterization of Archbishop's Dolan's reference to the story on abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community is so disingenuous that it's hard to conclude she's not being intellectually dishonest. So what credibility does she have on other matters Catholic?Mollie--Good show! Though I cant say I agree with everything you said, you make an effective talking head. Perhaps you've done it before. Question: Given the newsclip focused on the appropriateness of the Archbishop's blog post, and hardly at all on his assertion of anti-Catholicism at the NYT, it that an example of anti-Catholic bias in the mainstream media?Mr. O'Leary--You seem very angry at the Church.

Hello Mollie (and All),"In his haste to get out a press release, Bill Donohue apparently forgot to mention what he was responding to." Thanks for setting us straight about this, and also for your charitable interpretation of Mr. Donahue's remarks.It was a real pleasure seeing you on TV.I agree with you that Mr. Donohue misrepresented you, but you are obviously a good sport. Maybe I should add (since I was complaining about him in my earlier posts) that in an odd way I sort of like Mr. Donahue. I find him a silly loudmouth, but I think he knows this and he has never pretended to be anything other than a silly loudmouth. And every once in a while he's right, as was the case when he complained recently about the college student who desecrated the Eucharist and my colleagues in the academic profession who immediately followed the incident by mocking the Eucharist and inviting people to send them consecrated hosts to desecrate. But that doesn't mean I'm about to become a supporter of the Catholic League.

Peter, please don't... After all, as I'm sure Mr. Donohue would agree, it's a Catholic's duty to sustain those on life support! ;-)

I have always enjoyed reading Laurie Goodstein's articles in the New York Times and I think she made a number of good points in her response to the Archbishop. I can see it from both points of view.I am puzzled though at the line in Mr. Gibson's original post, in reference to Ms. Goodstein's letter, where he states: "I guess the Archdiocese refused to print it in the newspaper?" Ms. Goodstein begins her response by writing that she had only just sent the letter to the Archbishop the previous day and was re-posting it on his blog the day after for the benefit of the other readers.From what I can tell, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York is called "Catholic New York" and is published twice a month. I do not know if they have a "letters" section but even if the Archbishop only received her letter two days ago, the next issue of the newspaper does not come out for another 2 weeks. Given this fact, I wonder how Mr. Gibson could suggest that the Archdiocese refused to print her letter. Were they supposed to come out with a special edition simply to publish the said letter?

Oh my, it must depend on where you sit. I consider Dolan the one being intellectually dishonest in discussing the NYT coverage of abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community. (Link above via Imbelli post).As for the lack of a simultaneous editorial calling for the release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency that did not happen right after the first article(s) on Catholic priests either.It took seven years as issues were clarified, detailing countless abuse cases and cover-up for that to happen. To assume the Times, based on one well-done, balanced article about 26 arrests and 40 cases believes Orthodox Jews should be selectively exempt from those standards is an unwarranted conclusion. Dolan mixes apples and oranges, confusing what should be in news reports versus editorials, as though one equaled the other. I found it difficult to sort out. He incorrectly blames the article itself for not including criticism of the DA (wrong, its there), and vaguely mentions some attorney (inaccurate) for favoring religious sensitivities, as though the Times approved of the content of the quote (not so).The article noted the growing trend of Orthodox Jews to rely on criminal sex abuse prosecutions, as opposed to internal rabbinical courts, not found trustworthy (surprise, surprise). That is happening because *because the Orthodox themselves are speaking out for the first time.* Legitimate news.They are being assisted by the DAs office, which sends prosecutors into synagogues and schools to train personnel and talk about abuse. BTW, I am unaware of prosecutors given access to Catholic churches and schools for the same purpose.The lede: For decades, prosecutors in Brooklyn routinely pursued child molesters from every major ethnic and religious segment of the boroughs diverse population. Except one. Is that opening complimentary to prosecutors? I dont think so. Dolan likewise ignores references to some advocates for victims who found the DA too accommodating to clergy, and to complaints that the DA works too closely with an Orthodox agency. The article quotes from a range of rabbis/officials, from those still favoring secrecy to those who do not, with various shades in between. Good reporting, IMHO. One, not a lawyer as Dolan claims, advocated recognition of religious sensitivities. Should the Times have ignored that input from a major Orthodox official? As for Dolan minimizing by citing a tiny minority of priests involved in abuse - really? Considering about 5 percent nationally, and some dioceses now up to 8 to 10 percent, with only about 20 percent of abuse reported, according to research?I appreciate Dolans fatigue, but he is blaming the messenger. Still, he chose an effective PR tool, trading on the discontent of Catholics with bad news to generate public opinion against the NYT. Smart approach to try to inhibit coverage of wrongdoing going forward.

I thought we'd covered the Abp.'s piece pretty well in a previous thread.That said, I found both Ms. Goodstein's and Mollie's points reasonable and proportionate.I thought the CBS 2 minutes plus clip summarized the"debate" quite well in a short time.I'd ask if there's something wrong with Frather O'Leary being angry at Church areas of critique.As usual here, positions are staked out on how they perceive the(C)hurch and the amount of loyalty due to hierachical figures. I guess I'm with folks like David, Jean, and the irish Voice who deal directly with people instead out of their personal views to appreciarte whether the NYT has practiced reasonable, not "anti-catholic" jornalism

"But that doesnt mean Im about to become a supporter of the Catholic League."Peter V--Careful, that's how it begins.

I would really like to see Catholic spokespersons declare a moratorium on the "but the Jews get away with it" line of argument. I think it is a throwback to the bad old days of Catholic-Jewish relations. Bill Donohue uses it every now and then, which isn't a surprise. Bishops shouldn't go there. Given the history of the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, it's an unseemly argument for Catholic authorities to make. Archbishop Dolan shows a church historian's grasp of the history of anti-Catholic bias in the U.S. But what about the history of Catholic bias against Jews? What of the history of Catholic-Jewish relations in New York City?In this case, this divisive line of argument is absolutely unfair. In his front-page article in The Times, Paul Vitello certainly questioned why Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes didn't investigate cases involving sex abuse among Orthodox Jews adequately. Archbishop Dolan insists the newspaper should be calling for "release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency."In the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal, these were things that developed over a drawn-out period of years, not immediately after the story broke. To claim that The Times is anti-Catholic because it hasn't immediately called for all these measures is ridiculous.In any case, an organization as large and influential as the Catholic Church in the U.S. is simply going to be subjected to more media scrutiny than will the small, fragmented community of Orthodox Jews.

Hello Mark (and All),I suppose one should never say never - today I purchased a Mac laptop after I had sworn for years I would never use a Mac. But to reassure Molly, I just can't see myself ever supporting the Catholic League. Indeed, being a philosophy professor I am quite embarrassed that Robert George supports the Catholic League so actively.

Am I "angry with the Church"? No, I am sad that the hungry sheep look up and are not fed, and I feel personally guilty about this. I am angry at the absentee shepherds who waste their time on fatuous public campaigns about Obama at Notre Dame, civil marriage for gays and lesbians, and now this anti-Catholicism meme, while being unable to ensure a decent liturgy, preaching and catechesis.

"Archbishop Dolan insists the newspaper should be calling for release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency."I thought the Archbishop was being ironic, and that he regards all this as excessive. But whether he was ironic or not it is the height of frivolous insensitivity to use finger-pointing at Jews for this purpose. Let him speak frankly, and with due shame, about the Church's performance and leave the Jews out of it. His quarrel with Dowd et al. is really an intra-Catholic quarrel. We saw plenty of that in Ireland in the fifty years after independence, when alleged defenses against foreign, British and Protestant influences were used to shore up a repressive politique for keeping restive Catholics in line.

What Paul Moses said. Also, it should be noted that the Times (in its editorials, where such things are done) did call for a rollback on the statute of limitations to get at abuse in the Catholic and Orthodox communities. Mark Proska, you wrote: "Goodsteins characterization of Archbishops Dolans reference to the story on abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community is so disingenuous that its hard to conclude shes not being intellectually dishonest. So what credibility does she have on other matters Catholic?"That's an unfair judgment, and her argument is shared by many people here and elsewhere who are hardly intellectually dishonest and also manage to maintain a degree of civility and integrity in their comments.

BTW, Rodrigo--I was being too cute with my reference about them refusing to print the Goodstein response. It was a reference to the archbishop's original complaint that the Times refused to print his letter to the editor, or op-ed. Yes, CNY ain't what it used to be, then what print outlet is. Hence the online presence, which is a very good thing, esp for an organization like a diocese. Where diocesan papers will wind up, I don't know. I recall the heyday of the O'Connor years when Catholic New York was a must-read. O'Connor always had a very complete essay which often made news.

Coming late to this....thanks, Mr. Gibson and Mr. Moses; excellent points. May I add some other thoughts:a) so, Dolan offered this op-ed piece and it was not printed in the NYT; so, he posted it on his own blog;b) Goodstein replied to his original op-ed piece but now posted in his blog - this seems to change the message vehicle and one could question why the bishop has not replied - it his own blog;c) as a historian, I do not agree that Dolan's op-ed piece did any type of justice in terms of catholic history; he made no references or parellels to earlier anti-catholicism and the NYT's front page story, etc.d) as a bishop in a high profile position and like Mr. Gibson, I expect more in terms of a carefully nuanced, worded, and organized would have been a better approach to not go on an anti-catholic and defensive tack; expect a more careful respnse to those stories cited on the front page - he never questioned their veracity; only why they were printed? pretty simple to figure that out - read the stories. Again, as the archbishop, why not respond with something that had teeth; e) some of his statements are contradictory - why didn't the NYT demand the abuse approach which, in fact, Dolan and his fellow bishops have avoided; delayed, argued against, and spent millions on in court - thus, his statements are not very credible.A counter-intuitive approach would have been better - apologize for the mistakes that the church has made; explain how those stories could have been handled with grace, hope, forgiveness, and compassion; and then suggest that front page news needs to be not only objective but also point to some steps that can support the common good via public, church, private/public insitutions.

Jehovah's Witnesses have written in their magazines and books, much information on protecting children from child abuse. It is a practice abhorent by Jehovah's Witnesses, and sex offenders are not permitted to continue as Jehovah's Witnesses. Anyone who has been a child abuser in the past, may not hold a position of privilege among Jehovah's Witnesses ever.This is the position that Jehovah's Witnesses have taken, as child abuse has become more common in this world. We work on an organizational level, and on an individual level to protect children from child abuse, and help persons to heal from the wounds of child abuse. Please see for more information on that subject. Also, Thank you.

The sorry truth in all this is that the NewYork times has been weak in insisting that the New York Archdiocese open up its books on its treatment of pedophilia. So I see this as a calculated move by Dolan to at least find a way to soften the coverage since the story of the New York Diocese's treatment of the coverup is one yet to unravel.I do find it interesting that Goodstein found it important to use the blog of the Archbishop where the Archbishop did not want to blog on the NY Times story. I guess the op-ed status is much more significant than a blog because, presumably, Dolan would have been allowed to blog on the Times article but not as an op-ed entry.Dolan may be smarter than we realize in this matter because the NY story of the coverup has been covered up by Egan, but is demanding to be told. So when it comes out and it is coming, Dolan will cry foul and fend off its impact. Is this chapter one?

I think that any attack from Bill Donohue on Commonweal benefits the magazine, so it is a disappointment his insult was so weak. David Gibson's reference to Cardinal O'Connor reminds me of a quip the cardinal once made in reference to his relationship to the news media. He was being honored at a dinner at the time, and said, "I want to thank the smallest group of people here tonight - my friends in the media."

As I've mentioned on several previous occasions, the fruitfulness of a major PR move by a major religious leader is usually difficult to measure immediately. We tend to ask questions of image that are actually rather shallow. That's fine if someone is running for office. But if he's got the job, the question is whether he has concretely changed things for the better.

I always thought that one who is "media savvy", is someone who is among the group of those who do not engage a question directly. That being said, perhaps Bishop Dolan should respond to Ms.Goodstein's defence of The New York Times, since I have no doubt, enough evidence exists to fill a dissertation.

Those of you following John Samuels's links might also be interested in this:

"Thats an unfair judgment, and her argument is shared by many people here and elsewhere who are hardly intellectually dishonest "I will leave it up to others to decide if it is an unfair judgment to claim someone has made an unfair judgment, and backs it up with the assumption that the popularity of an argument determines its validity.

Actually, you claimed she was being "disingenuous" and "intellectually dishonest."

I'd be bemused, if I wasn't so saddened by the fact we just had threads on ethics and spiritulaity in blgging and we get judgemental attacks on the the"intellectual dishonesty" of otehrs without perhaps lookin gha the beam in their own eye.I also think it's problematic that there is often little diffeernece in how people state what is fact, their belief or their opinion.Oh well....

GrantThat is correct. Bus since my last post was directed not towards Goodstein, but towards a fellow poster who made an accusation, I wanted to maintain civility.

Mark, thanks for retracting your comments. Much appreciated.

David, retraction?

The newspaper's public editor (ombudsman, in any other place) has a column on l'affaire Dolan. think it's a fair and balanced (ahem) take, and reveals the emotions that seem to drive this debate more than reason and nuance. Hoyt is relatively independent, but of course he is a journo and that seems to inform his final verdict more or less absolving the NYT. What seems lacking in his article--perforce, given the space--as well as our discussions is exactly what is anti-Catholicism? Dislike of Catholicism, Catholic beliefs, Catholics themselves?

"...exactly what is anti-Catholicism? Dislike of Catholicism, Catholic beliefs, Catholics themselves?ummm, all of the above.

That's a pretty high bar, Nancy! I think there's an argument to be made that if you ring just one of those bells you could qualify.

David, true, but regarding Catholics themselves, Catholic beliefs, and Catholicism, those bells should ring in unison. :-)

The public editor, as expected, is rather indulgent to the columnist because bland is not what Dowd does. As for the Archbishops complaint, the warning seems to be: just wait till you see the critical stories in the pipeline. These are only to be expected since the Archbishop has not done enough to please advocates. Therell be no more Friar Tuck coverage in the NYT. But Dolan, unlike Dowd, should just stay warm, flexible and not given to confrontation if he ever expects to be absolved from his sin of calling into question the judgment of expert journalists.

Gee, the Times wouldn't publish the letter I sent to all the New York legislators either. To whom should I complain? I tried to post it on the archbishop's blog but no go there either. Oh, well, here it is anyway:The following letter was sent to each New York state senator on September 8, 2009, by victims advocate Sister Maureen Paul Turlish.* * *Legislators of the New York SenateLegislative Office BuildingAlbany, New York 12247Dear Senator,The sexual exploitation of children is a major epidemic in our United States. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18 whether that abuse is committed by a parent, teacher, doctor, rabbi, priest, nun or stranger.It is a heinous and reprehensible crime against the body and soul of a child with serious and long lasting effects. Unfortunately, a percentage of individuals injured in this way cannot cope with some of these effects and take their own lives. Those parents lost their sons because their adult children could not get over it, could not get on with their lives and ended up taking their own lives.Such crimes are committed by individuals from all segments of society and they all cry out to God for justice.Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, Maryland described sexual abuse as murder of the soul and it truly is. It is fitting then, that there be no statutes of limitation, criminally or civilly, in regard to the sexual abuse of children, no matter who the perpetrators may be or what positions they may hold. Child abuse is the act of a coward bent on exercising his or her power and control over a helpless and pliant child.The egregious and heinous crime that childhood sexual is should propel those of us in public service and church ministry to do all we can to protect our children and hold those accountable who would shelter and protect the sexual predators who would harm them, no matter the cost in institutional reputation or credibility.In the state of New York it appears that leaders of the institutional Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox Jewish community are among those who believe that sexual predators should not be held accountable.Such behavior by any religious leader is outrageous and reprehensible.There are no reasons and no extenuating circumstances that could ever justify or rationalize any institution, public or private, or any religious denomination, not actively supporting their states attempts to bring childhood sexual abuse legislation into the 21st century.It is particularly egregious for the Catholic dioceses of New York and the New York Catholic Conference to be opposing accountability and transparency in regard to childhood sexual abuse when they promised accountability and transparency in 2002.Window legislation is not anti any particular group but it is very much pro-child. It forces records, if they exist and have not been destroyed, to be made available in a court of justice and hopefully into the public venue as well.Arbitrary statutes of limitation have protected sexual predators for too long. It is time they were removed. Delaware now has no statutes of limitation, criminally or civilly, in regard to childhood sexual abuse and their 2007 Child Victims Law also opened a two year window for bringing forward previously time barred cases by anyone, no matter what public, private or religious affiliation attaches.The time to protect all children is now.While New Yorks Senate Bill # S5893 is a rather modest bill when compared with Delawares it is, nevertheless, a brave attempt to hold all institutions accountable for their actions and in particular an institution which is a formal signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.I implore you, as a legislator in the state of New York, to be very wary about accepting claims made by members of any religious institution, their spokesmen or their representative conferences that would attempt to connect passage of Senate Bill 5893, the Child Victims bill with the closing of churches, parishes, social services or outreach programs because it simply is not true and no denomination has produced proof that would support the waves of disinformation that have been circulated in the media.Vicious opposition to the passage of any laws or the removal of any statutes of limitation regarding childhood sexual abuse of children has been the pattern employed by some leaders of the institutional Roman Catholic Church in a number of states including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Colorado.For any bishop to say that legislation like that now being proposed in New York threatens the church is as inflammatory as it is untrue. It shows that the bishops never really bought into the accountability and transparency that they promised through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops back in 2002.The hiring of public relations firms, lobbyists and law firms to push an agenda that hurts all children in an attempt to keep secret a conspiracy that put the protection of sexual predators within a religious institution before the protection of its children, has already cost dioceses across the United States hundreds of millions of dollars.Money, however, should not trump justice as the defining issue.Would any thinking person consider giving an organization, like the W.R. Grace Company, for example, a pass for the illnesses brought on by the asbestos contamination and radiation poisoning that generated over 200,000 lawsuits against a company that knew the damage that was impacting the lives of people and their families in different parts of the country because of their many philanthropic endeavors? Of course not. To even consider such an idea is obscene and well beyond the pale, as it should be.So too, there should be no accommodation in law that gives more protection to sexual predators of children and the enablers who conspired to protect them, then to the very real victims of childhood sexual abuse.It is unconscionable for religious denominations and their leadership to protect and enable sexual predators by refusing to support changes in the laws that would hold both the perpetrators and their enablers accountable.In all good conscience, I strongly encourage you, as a member of the New York Legislature, to support criminal and civil laws that are as strong as possible in holding accountable the sexual predators of our children together with any enabling individuals or institutions who were complicit in their protection.I have spoken before the Senate and House judiciary committees in support of Delawares 2007 Child Victims Law which removed all statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children as well as instituting a two year window for bringing forward previously time barred cases of childhood sexual abuse by anyone. I would be more then happy to testify in support of the Senate Bill # S5893 if this would be helpful.God bless you for all the work you do,Sister Maureen Paul TurlishVictims AdvocateNew Castle, [email protected]

Clark Hoyt, the public editor, kicks the can down the alley. Unlike his usual sharp observations, he spends much of the column reprising Dolan's column (see it sort of gets published in the Times!). Though he is independent, I was led to observe this morning that he partakes of the Times culture sufficiently to miss the main points of the Vitello and Goldstein's (franciscan) story as seen by Dolan; Catholics get treated differently.Dolan was a panelist at the Nostra Aetatae Lecture at Fordham on Thursday evening. He did a good job--as did Chancellor Arnold Eisen (JTS) his dialgue partner. I would say from Dolan's personality and performance (as observed) that he will survive all of this, probably go on to get good coverage by the Times, and perhaps even become popular among New Yorkers, Catholics and not. Not that everyone will agree with him. He gave the impression that he does not expect that. Smart man!

Margaret says:"Clark Hoyt, the public editor, kicks the can down the alley." Hoyt declares that Dowd was "well within a columnist's bounds" but quotes James Martin saying that the column "was over the top in mocking the Pope."Sounds more like football than kick the can: a field goal -- over the top but well within bounds!

"over the top but well within bounds!" Let's take a look in slow motion on instant replay. Not only is Ms.Dowd over the top, she was never within bounds to begin with:

Too many bishops have lost credibility where it counts and that is with those who depended on them the most, the children, those victims of sexual abuse by some among their own episcopal ranks as well as ordinary priests. The USCCB promised Accountability & Transparency back in 2002 but have grudgingly given it since. Bishops have been especially slow in making public the names and locations of all convicted, known or credibly accused sexual predators among their ranks and many like Roger Mahony in LA, Lori in Bridgeport still have not complied with courts' orders to release files, records, testimony and depositions related to known abusers. A number of bishops of dioceses, like our own Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on the eve of going to trial in another misguided attempt to avoid responsibility for what they and their predecessors have done in enabling and facilitating felony crimes of sexual abuse, crimes that would have landed them in jail except for the vagaries of the then existing statutes of limitation. In Delaware today there are no criminal or civil statutes of limitation going forward on the sexual abuse of children. There also was a two year civil window for previously time barred cases of abuse - by anyone - which closed in July of 2009. However, the institutional Church thumbed its nose at the law by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on the Sunday evening before the DeLuca 8 trial was to begin. So much for accountability and transparency. It isn't about money, it's about accountability and transparency for the crimes and sins of the past. There is no doubt about it, it is truly a scandal but the scandal is about the abuse of power and authority in the institutional church. It is about the bishops' abuse of their power and their moral authority by their lack of anger, their lack of outrage, their lack of pastoral concern for the "least of the Lord's little ones." The bishops have yet to address or answer for their very real complicity, along with their predecessors, in protecting predators rather than victims. So individuals like the archbishop of New York will probably continue to find the chutzpah to complain about anti-Catholic bias much in the vein of Cardinal Bernard Law's tirade against the Boston Globe but most people will see it as more smoke and mirrors, a diversionary tactic at best. To most of the People of God such actions continue to be an embarrassment.

I thought Fr. Martin's comments in the Public Editor peice were quite reasonable and wonder why they were not alluded to here!

I also agree with Carolyn Disco's earlier statements especially about Dolan's mention of a "minority of priests." That "minority" underreported as it is, is responsible for the sexual abuse, molestation , rape and sodomy of thousands of children, many, of whom would never have suffered so if those bishops and other church officials had done what they were mandated to do by Canon Law and Civil Law.

I wish that our Bishops had the logic, pastoral concern and credability of Ms. Goodstein. Women priests were yesterdays concern. I support women Bishops.

Speaking of Church bashing; the is an interesting opinion piece at the Full Comment blog at the National Post titled:The two Catholic Churches by Philip Mathias the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) being bashed these days, as writer Michael Coren recently claimed on these pages? Coren even goes so far as to say that RCC-bashing is the last acceptable prejudice in Western society which suggests an element of base religious bigotry.On the other hand, is it possible that the torrent of criticism aimed at the Church is both fair and constructive?

...And then there's Tom Fox's editorial comment on what's anti-Catholic....

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