News Flash: The Pope and the New York Times are Fallible

Samuel Butler once remarked that, “Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.” The New York Times has been determined to improve upon this method by combining insufficient premises with false ones in order to draw — and then publish — erroneous conclusions, and it has succeeded admirably in the effort within just the past few days.

March 25th saw two articles attempting to taint Pope Benedict with decades-old sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests, one in Wisconsin and one in Germany. The article about the German case bore the title, “Memo to Pope Described Transfer of Pedophile Priest.”  We learn ominously that a key priest dealing with the accuser was, “according to his obituary… a close friend of Cardinal Ratzinger.” Why not of Pope Benedict XVI?  Because the memo was never to the pope at all as it was 20 years before he became pope — but we don’t want to spoil a nice headline with facts. And as for the smoking gun memo itself, one had to read deeply in this article to find the admission that those familiar with the situation “could not rule out that Cardinal Ratzinger had read it.”  Oh.

I get it — the pope, or someone close to him is supposed to prove a negative. Denying the pope’s knowledge is clearly insufficient for the Times because while no one recollects a conversation with him about the reassignment they are unable to “rule out that ‘the [abuser’s] name had come up.’”

The article about the heinous Wisconsin case relies just as much on innuendo and guilt by association. Its entire time line and “when did you stop beating your wife?” line of accusation has been analyzed and the Times‘ conjecture debunked here and refuted even by the Judicial Vicar handling the case who was never contacted for the Times‘ story!

Yeah, but…

What if we ever do find out that prior to becoming pope, say while he was archbishop, Ratzinger had erred in his judgment regarding the handling of a child abuser? What then?

I mean, wouldn’t that be it? How could all of us possibly continue to be Catholic after that?

Wouldn’t everything we know just be… well, wrong?  Wouldn’t we need to find some other diversion on Sundays instead of Mass? And that whole giving to the parish thing, I mean how in good conscience could we?

We wouldn’t know what to believe anymore, would we? “Truth” or “heresy” — they would just be mere words, devoid of meaning. After all — the pope was wrong about something and if that, then why not the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection? And hey, while we are on the subject of stuff the pope — and by implication, the Church — could be wrong about, let’s not forget all the Times‘ favorites: fornication, sodomy, contraception, abortion….

Dream on, Grey Lady.

Theoretically of course, the pope could be wrong, be in error, and make mistakes about all manner of things. After all, all manner of things are not covered by the charism of infallibility — only matters of faith and morals.

We Catholics have to admit that the pope could have been and might still be wrong about trusting certain people, use poor judgment about personnel, confuse facts, draw erroneous conclusions from incomplete or faulty evidence.  Indeed he could.

And if he did, he would have something in common with the New York Times.

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  • PrairieHawk

    Thank you, Mary, for some clear light shining on the Times’ (and others in the MSM) smear campaign against our Holy Father.

    I posted on another site recently that the Church has never confessed to be anything other than a communion of sinners on our way to Heaven via the hard road of purification and suffering that is Calvary. The choice, as I see it, is between being a sinner WITH the hope of salvation or being a sinner WITHOUT the hope of salvation. The people who level accusations against the Church are at least as guilty as the guiltiest Christian, only they don’t see it and they have no means of remedying it. We should pray for those who persecute us.

  • LarryW2LJ

    All this sliming, all this tearing down, all this presecution only reaffirms to me how relevant, and important and TRUE the Catholic Church is today. If our faith was meaningless, if it was just a miniscule piece of nothingness; then why waste all this time and energy in trying to bring it down?

    I hate to sound dramatic, but it is true nonetheless – the forces of Evil cannot stand the Light and it will do whatever they can to hide in the darkness. And for them, the best defense is to mount what they think is a good offense.

    It is especially comforting during this Holy Week to remember that we are not of this world. I don’t WANT the New York Times and the mainstream media to like us. They have gone over to the “dark side” (forgive me for the Star Wars inference). If they loved us and applauded us; then we would be doing something wrong.

    When stuff like this happens, I just remember, “Upon you I will build My Church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”. There WILL be presecution and suffering; but in the end, the Truth will be victorious.

    Wishing you all a very Blessed Holy Week and Easter.

  • navamarg

    Not only the MSM are using incomplete and inaccurate information to smear our Pope but last week, Cal Thomas in his daily syndicated radio commentary called for Pope Benedict’s resignation over the “scandal”. Why are conservative Protestants who know what the media’s bias is on the cultural and moral issues so willing to believe MSM’s reporting on things regarding Catholicism?

  • Christi Derr

    The “journalism” of the New York Times, their manifest ill will toward the Pope and the church, infuriates me!

    These attacks are so hate-filled, and ironic since, as many catholic journalists and bishops have pointed out (with facts instead of inference) no one in the Church has done more to purify her of this horrid abuse than Pope Benedict. It is so necessary at this time for us all to lift up our Holy Father in prayer.

  • goral

    Maybe our dear Holy Father when he met with Pelosi discussed the possibility of her taking over upon his resignation. There was also a call for JPII”s resignation. God makes the call not liberals or conservatives or the new york rag.

    We just have to hold our nose a little longer on this lingering skunk odor.

    One more thing… the law protects victims??? Check with victims that have been victimized again and again under the protection of gov’t agents.

    This is nothing but pornography’s push to reach the mainstream.

  • jpckcmo

    Please read John Allen’s thoughtful op-ed in the Sunday Times. He gives the Pope much credit for everything he has done to address the issue. It certainly gave me a new perspective.

  • Robert Struble, Jr.

    Mary Kochan’s article is a good antidote for the anti-Catholic propaganda springing forth from the bad news out of Ireland and Germany.

    I was confronted about the bad news recently by a well meaning friend, to whom I pointed out the tendency to blame the victim. The Church is the victim when the wolves enter in, as Jesus foretells in Matthew 7:15. There he speaks of false prophets infiltrating, but the same principle applies (I submit) whatever the diabolical purpose might be — as for example, the infiltration by practicing homosexuals and pedophiles.

    At one point the seminaries were notoriously negligent in guarding the gates, but thanks in part to Pope Benedict that has changed radically.

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