The Associated Press' Rome bureau reports that Pope Francis is now “using the defensive rhetoric of the Vatican from a decade ago.”
Like “no one's done more” on abuse than the church. And only the church is “attacked” over child sex crimes.
With the pope recycling old, discredited myths about the abuse crisis, what’s next? Will he trot out these silly but hurtful claims too:
--Pope Benedict's 2010 claim that the crisis is “petty gossip."
--Pope Benedict's 2002 claim that "In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type."
(The truth: "The U.S. bishops have reported receiving allegations of abuse by 6,275 priests in 1950-2011, or 5.7% of the 109,694 U.S. priests active since 1950," according to BishopAccountability.org)
--Cardinal Edward Egan 2012 gems like “I don’t think we did anything wrong” and “I’m very proud of how this thing was handled” and “I believe the sex abuse thing was incredibly good” and “There really wasn’t much . . . hidden” and “I do think it’s time to get off this subject.”
--The now-retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland's claim that “some adolescent sex abuse victims were 'not so innocent' and were sexually active, streetwise and aggressive.”
--Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga's 2003 claim that The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe as ''protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the church'' and his claim that the media had covered the abuse scandal with ''a fury which reminds me of the times of Diocletian and Nero and more recently, Stalin and Hitler.''
We could go on and on.
Fortunately, however, myths are myths, whether repeated by someone popular or unpopular.
And since, according to this pope, the church is supposedly the only institution “attacked” on abuse, will Francis someday repeat Cardinal Bernard Law's famous line "By all means we call down God’s power on the media?”
(Thanks to Peter, Joelle, Steve, and Anne)
Balance, my friend, balance.