Youths Thank Benedict XVI

Nwachukwu Egbunike

A media frenzy that have opened up the infernal gates of mud slinging on Benedict XVI on his supposed role in the handling of paedophile priests. While the drums of lies and unmerited bashing of B16 continues, “university students from 30 different countries… from diverse cultures, not all of which are Catholic or Christian”  expressed their gratitude to the pontiff for steering the boat of Peter for the past five years.

Thank you, Holy Father, for these five years of your Pontificate, in a commission of service and search for the truth.  Thank you for your gatherings with young people: We thank you in the name of millions of young men and women who have been able to hear your words in Cologne, Krakow, Sao Paolo, Loreto, New York, Sydney, Paris, Yaoundé, Luanda, Prague… Thank you for your untiring service and for your example of openness and dialogue which you constantly offer us, to search out the truth of things.

We notice that many have taken advantage of some episodes that are painful for the Church and for the Pope, to spread doubts and suspicion.  To these sowers of diffidence we wish to say with clarity that we do not accept their ideology.  We hold respect for them, but we demand from them respect for our faith and the recognition of the right that we have to live as Christians in a pluralist society.

Each one of us, including those who do not have the gift of faith, know in a personal way countless priests, university chaplains, parish priests, spiritual directors and confessors.  We know them first hand, not by way of newspapers, and we are grateful to them for their constant presence, availability, self-sacrifice, and openness to everyone.  To all of them, and above all to the Pope, we wish to say: thank you!

As painful as it is, it is trite to observe that the most insightful analysis on this saga came from non-Christians. Writing in Spiked, editor Brendan O’Neill says that the hysteria “is a reaction informed more by prejudice and illiberalism than by anything resembling a principled secularism, and one which also threatens to harm individuals, families, society and liberty”.  O’Neill, an atheist, asserts that:

With all the current claims about Pope Benedict XVI himself being involved in a cover-up of child abuse by an American priest and a German priest, and newspaper reports using terms like ‘stuff of nightmares’, the ‘stench of evil’, and ‘systematic rape and torture’, anyone who tries to inject a bit of perspective into this debate is unlikely to be thanked. But perspective is what we need. Someone has to point out that for all the problems with the Catholic Church’s doctrines and style of organisation – and I experienced some of those problems, having been raised a Catholic before becoming an atheist at 17 – the fact is that sexual abuse by priests is a relatively rare phenomenon.

While the media hype continues, it is unfortunate that a press that prides itself on balanced and fair reporting, unwittingly missed the mark. The unfairly ‘balanced’ bias of the New York Times drew the ire of a fellow American in the Vatican.

In our melting pot of peoples, languages and backgrounds, Americans are not noted as examples of “high” culture. But we can take pride as a rule in our passion for fairness…I say this because today’s Times presents both a lengthy article by Laurie Goodstein, a senior columnist, headlined “Warned About Abuse, Vatican Failed to Defrock Priest,” and an accompanying editorial entitled “The Pope and the Pedophilia Scandal,” in which the editors call the Goodstein article a disturbing report (emphasis in original) as a basis for their own charges against the Pope. Both the article and the editorial are deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major media reporting.

Thank you Benedict, despite the tyranny of a vocal but deeply biased media.


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