Times on Dolan's handling of abuse cases

In the midst of a corruption scandal in New York City government in the 1980s, one of the reporters at the newspaper where I worked did a profile of a lobbyist who was closely tied to a corrupt politician. It was one of those articles you do when you haven't been able to get the goods on someone, but still want to get on the record what you do know. For his part, the subject of the article wants to show he has nothing to hide. After the article was published, the lobbyist reacted to the outcome of this game, telling the reporter: "No runs, no hits, no errors." That is, he was unscathed. Nothing had changed. That's my reaction to today's New York Times article on Archbishop Timothy Dolan and his handling of clergy sexual abuse. The Times, which had been criticized harshly (and, in my view, unjustly) by Dolan for its coverage of the sex abuse scandal, focused much of its story on a case in which Dolan, then a bishop in St. Louis, became convinced that a particular priest was innocent of an abuse claim being made against him. There is no evidence that Dolan mishandled the case, in which prosecutors also were unable to make a case. Part of the article focuses on Dolan's willingness to pay claims to victims even though Wisconsin law protected the church from lawsuits. Hard to fault Dolan there, too.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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