Tuesday, April 27, 2010

CDF Meets PBS...


He might not be so hot on the Grey Lady these days, but in yet another intervention underscoring the significance with which the Holy See's taken the latest cycle of clergy sex-abuse revelations and the reaction to them, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal William Levada sat for an extended interview with PBS' "Newshour," which ran tonight.

Calling himself "a great fan" of the program, fullvideo's up of the unprecedented broadcast TV sit-down with the Vatican's #3 official -- the highest-ranking American ever at the Holy See, and Rome's top hand on the handling of abuse cases...

...and a full transcript, snipped below:
MARGARET WARNER: ...Last week the pope accepted the resignation of two prominent bishops in Europe. Another bishop tendered his resignation in this clergy sex abuse scandal. Are there going to be more?

CARDINAL WILLIAM LEVADA: I don't think there is any way to predict. There have been several in the past, over the past 10 years let's say for various reasons. There is no way of predicting that, but I wouldn't be surprised.

MARGARET WARNER: Is there a new test really, a new standard for bishops to meet in the way they handle clergy sex abuse cases?

CARDINAL WILLIAM LEVADA: I think the standard is not new but it's being applied more rigorously than in the past.

MARGARET WARNER: And were all these resignations voluntary?


MARGARET WARNER: Would this pope in these sorts of cases consider asking for resignations?


MARGARET WARNER: We've had people say to us that this is the worst crisis the church has faced in a couple hundred years. Do you see it that way?

CARDINAL WILLIAM LEVADA: It's a big crisis. I think no one should try to diminish that. I think the crisis is particularly grave because priests are ordained to be good shepherds. We had Good Shepherd Sunday this last Sunday, and this is anything but being a good shepherd when you abuse children and you violate their innocence and their persons and they are too young to be able to respond on their own. So this is a crisis if you will that I think caught most of us by surprise. One bishop told me this isn't the cruise I signed up for, but that's in fact what has happened. I think the pope that was not his training and background I think he is the right man to be guiding the church at this time....

MARGARET WARNER: So do you think that some of the media are out to get the pope or the church?

CARDINAL WILLIAM LEVADA: Well you know I guess the media likes a good story but I think that by reasonable standards I think that they have not been fair in giving a balanced picture, a picture in context.

MARGARET WARNER: And what is that picture? What is that context that isn't being reported?

CARDINAL WILLIAM LEVADA: I haven't seen in the reporting much attention given to what the United States church has done. The bishops, it's true through media attention, constant media attention in 2002, met and took very concrete action. When you see the programs that have been developed, the educational programs for parents, for children, for all church workers, including priests and teachers, there is a real success story that I personally we ought to be proud of and say this also can be a model. We're not proud that we had to create it but it can be a model for public schools, Boy Scouts, some of these other groups where we're seeing now, while they don't get the media attention the church has in this, we see either huge punitive damage case in Oregon was reported today for the Boy Scouts so I think that's one aspect of it.

MARGARET WARNER: So you don't think it's appropriate that people hold the church to a higher standard? There is more focus on the church?

CARDINAL WILLIAM LEVADA: That's a fair question. I think we should hold ourselves to a higher standard in the sense that this is not something that one would have expected that a bishop or anybody in the church, parents none of us would have expected this but I think the causes we will see go back to changes in society that the church and priests were not prepared for, particularly changes involving how to be a celibate person in a time of the sexual revolution, that's one of the causes I'd say.
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Meanwhile, from the "Rome of the West," the intrepid Patricia Rice -- one of the most-accomplished church-beat scribes American journalism has ever known, "red phone" across the Tiber and all -- unearths a long-hidden story in today's St Louis Beacon, revealing a strikingly candid 2002 father's plea written by David Spotanski, a top diocesan aide to the then-president of the US bishops, Wilton Gregory of Belleville, to the bench chief.

Among its many clarion-call passages, the father of three (then as now, the chancellor of the Belleville church) told "Wilton" that, among other things, the church "chooses to disregard the wellbeing of Her children -- my children -- to protect Her own icons and Her image," warning that "you can issue gracious statements after the fact until there's not a tree left in the forest, but until someone holds the bishops' collective feet to the fire, you've done precious little but make yourself feel better."

As the memo served as "a very important touchstone" that influenced the making of Gregory's highly-regarded response that June to "the gravest" crisis American Catholicism has ever faced, suffice it to say, it's worth reading in full.

PHOTO: Reuters