Just as Watergate brought all the Nixon-haters out of their holes to get in on the kill, the pedophile-priest scandal has lured from their dens the whole grinning jackal pack that relishes any opening to sink its teeth into the Catholic Church.
"Is the Pope Catholic?" is the smart-aleck title Catholic-baiters at The New York Times put on the nastiest attack on the Holy Father in memory. The author of Saturday's screed is Times staffer Bill Keller, an apostate Catholic who enjoys being called a "collapsed Catholic."
"In his photo op with the American Cardinals," writes Keller, the pope "was so infirm and unintelligible that you wanted to avert your eyes out of pity. But let's not."
Why not? Because this "is a crisis of the pope's making. ... I do not mean that the Pope condones child abuse, though his zeal to combat it ranks right down there with that of ... Cardinal Bernard Law, the pedophile-juggling head of the Boston archdiocese."
This "Polish pope," rants Keller, has "constructed a Kremlin."
"Like the Communist Party, circa Leonid Brezhnev, the Vatican exists first and foremost to preserve its own power." Equating the Curia with the Moscow Central Committee, he accuses John Paul II of "populating it with reactionaries." Worse, this Pope "has put a stamp of papal infallibility on the issue or ordaining women."
Keller is especially incensed at the Vatican's "mandatum" to Catholic colleges to teach Catholic orthodoxy. Feigning indifference as to "whom the church ordains or how it prays or what it chooses to call a sin," he yet seems obsessed with the church's refusal to accommodate the sexual revolution.
"Probably no institution run by a fraternity of aging celibates was going to reconcile itself easily with a movement that embraced the equality of women, abortion and gay rights," he writes, adding, "most Catholics ignore the pope on contraception as they do on divorce and remarriage, abortion, sex out of wedlock, homosexuality and many other things Rome condemns as violations of natural law."
The struggle of the age is "between tolerance and absolutism," Keller continues. America's war on Al Qaeda is part of that struggle, but John Paul II belongs to the enemy camp. "This is, after all, the church that gave us the Crusades and the
Once there was hope. "The spirit of Vatican II of a more open and dynamic church invigorated American Catholic support for civil rights and other liberal causes. But it soon ran smack-dab into the sexual revolution." The pope's unforgivable sin? "Implored by Catholics to consider the life-saving power of condoms in the case of AIDS, John Paul II was unyielding."
It is good for Catholics to have the barking-mad anti-Catholic bigotry on the record. Now we no longer see the institution as through a glass darkly, but face-to-face.
Yet, for a Times' writer to bring up the Kremlin is puzzling. Was it not the Times' own Walter Duranty who won a Pulitzer for covering up Stalin's genocide in Ukraine? Was it not the Times' Herbert Matthews who sold us Fidel Castro as the Robin Hood of the Sierra Maestre. Was it not the Times' Anthony Lewis who told us how much better things would be in Cambodia when Pol Pot came to power? With its record of appeasement and cover-up of the crimes of communism, perhaps it is understandable the Times hates Pius XII and John Paul II, two of the most unyielding enemies of communist tyranny in the 20th century.
That Keller would hail the salvific properties of condoms is also understandable when one realizes who he works for. According to its political correspondent Richard Burke, speaking to the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, "Three-quarters of the people who decide what goes on the front page (of the Times) are 'not-so-closeted' homosexuals." These same folks likely have decisive influence over whether Bill Keller gets his own column.
But can this purblind man still not see the link between the sexual revolution he celebrates and the AIDS epidemic he bewails? And while he praises the "clear firm policy " of the Boy Scouts "to protect children from molestation," does he not recall that his own homophile newspaper called the Scouts "something akin to a hate group"?
The church is in crisis today not because it failed to adjust its teaching and practices to the sexual revolution, but because it tried both to be true to its teachings and to keep in step with an immoral age, which is an impossibility. The way for the church to restore its lost moral authority is to retrace its steps, even if it means leaving lost souls like Bill Keller out there howling in the wilderness.