I have to say that as even a marginally informed Catholic, it's hard to take anything that the New York Times says seriously. They have managed, again and again, to butcher the truth. Any semblance of responsible journalism seems to have disappeared long ago and the newspaper is content to make claims without actually siting sources (in this particular article they repeatedly say that "canon lawyers" confirm what they're writing, without actually giving the name of a single canon lawyer who they spoke with).
I only had to click back on a few of the articles that I researched back in March and April to watch the Times' claims begin to unravel. For those of you who are new to the subject these posts are a good starting point and link to quite a few explanations by actual canon lawyers who aren't afraid to sign their names to their work:
After reading through the first page of the Times' newest bit of slop, I think one might have a good idea of the "canon lawyer" that the Times is talking to. Retired Bishop Geoffrey James Robinson spoke of "secret meetings" that he attended 2000, when he claims that the Vatican was begged by Bishops from around the world to do something.
This makes me wonder if the retired bishop is the canon lawyer (he used to teach canon law) who claimed that the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith was given the power over these cases in 1922 (when pretty much every other analysis from every other canon lawyer who speaks on the subject says that that was the realm of the Roman Rota and that the CDF wasn't given jurisdiction over the subject until 2001).
My curiosity was peaked by the Bishop's brief statements and I checked Wikipedia to see what I could find. This quote, from the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, made in 2008, hardly came as a surprise (it talks about Robinson's book):
"The book's questioning of the authority of the Church is connected to Bishop Robinson's uncertainty about the knowledge and authority of Christ himself. Catholics believe that the Church, founded by Christ, is endowed by him with a teaching office which endures through time. This is why the Church's Magisterium teaches the truth authoritatively in the name of Christ. The book casts doubt upon these teachings. This leads in turn to the questioning of Catholic teaching on, among other things, the nature of Tradition, the inspiration of the Holy Scripture, the infallibility of the Councils and the Pope, the authority of the Creeds, the nature of the ministerial priesthood and central elements of the Church's moral teaching."This Times also plays down individual Bishops' authority in their own diocese. They would like the public to believe that only the Vatican could have stepped in and stopped what was going on. But as most semi-educated Catholics know Bishops exercise a great deal of autonomy in their individual diocese. The Vatican rarely steps in and violates that autonomy.
The New York Times continues, stepping into yet another realm of Catholicism that the writer clearly doesn't understand. On the third page the author is clearly scornful that the CDF was dealing with "supernatural phenomena" and liberation theology during the 70s and 80s. The implication is that they were busy examining apparitions and claims and that those took precedence over abuse cases. That, however, is inaccurate, because it is based on the earlier lie that the CDF already had jurisdiction over the cases, which simply isn't true...
I could go on and on... It would easily be possible to write a thesis length paper on new and creative ways that the New York Times seeks to twist the truth and use it to attack the Catholic Church.
And at this point can anyone truly be surprised that the Times has published another hit job on Christ's Church? I wonder what they're trying to distract us from now? The timing of these articles is always one of the most interesting (and telling) things about them.