Andrew Sullivan has taken issue with my charge that the press is doing a poor job reporting on the role of then-Cardinal Ratzinger in the case of Father Stephen Kiesle of Oakland. It is notable, of course, that he does not actually rebut any of the examples I give, nor cite any of the documents in question to make his own case. With Mr. Sullivan, it is all sweeping, breathless judgment: “At best, [the 1985 letter] convicts Ratzinger of negligence and indifference to priestly child-rape, seeing everything through the Vatican's bureaucratic, institutional lens, concerned far more about protocol and authority than about defrocking a priest long ago known to have tied two boys up and raped them.” But, as I noted, the documents sent to Ratzinger do not mention “child-rape” and what Sullivan dismisses as a concern about protocol can as easily be explained by other concerns.
Sullivan has already made up his mind. In an earlier post on the same day he writes: “The Pope must resign. He has no moral authority.” Really? Alas, if you thought the documents relating to Father Kiesle were a smoking gun, perhaps you could reach such a conclusion, but not only was there no smoking gun, there was no smoke and no gun.
Sullivan is never too concerned about other people's reporting when they support his case. He has a an old video up today that repeats the charge that then-Cardinal Ratzinger stalled the investigation into charges against Father Maciel. I do know with absolute certainty, and better sources than Sullivan or the ABC reporter he shows, that this is not the case. As should be obvious from Jason Berry’s reports here at NCR, Cardinal Sodano, not Cardinal Raztinger, was the one protecting Maciel. Sullivan does not even bother to mention that Maciel was removed from public ministry by Benedict after his election as Pope. I would like to commend Sullivan for noting the fact that Mary Ann Glendon, George Weigel and other neocons were staunch defenders of Maciel and, so far, have been strangely silent about the revelations regarding Maciel and the role of Pope John Paul II's senior aides in protecting him.
I do not begrudge Mr. Sullivan his axes to grind with the Vatican. I have my own. But, his high dudgeon is misplaced and difficult to stomach. He needs loads less hubris.