The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.
By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!
Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.
It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”
If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:
On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”
Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.
He cites other examples as well. While it might be political suicide to slam the Times (they surely won't write anything now in favor of Catholics!), Archbishop Dolan is smart enough to point out the specifics of anti Catholic bias that the Times and others have been participating in. With an especially important nod in the cases of sexual abuse, it's not that Catholics were not supposed to be excoriated for the part they played in the sexual abuse of children, it's that other religion's clerics are not held to that same standard.
There's a larger issue of symbolism here with regards to the priesthood. Priests are visible symbols of God in a world that often misses that presence. Therefore when they violate that trust the symbol takes a huge hit. As good as some protestant clergy or even an Orthodox Rabbi might be--they don't hold that same symbol.
Today let us pray that we Catholics can live lives of not quiet dignity, but rather, enthusiastic witness.