This weekend, His Eminence the Most Reverend Archbishop Cardinal-Elect Timothy Michael Dolan will be made a cardinal of the Roman Catholic church. A cardinal's scarlet beanie is the highest honor a pope can confer on a member of the Roman Catholic church.
As His Most Reverend Eminence is honored in this most prestigious way, the group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests is issuing a press release asking journalists, the public, and Catholics to think twice about precisely whom and what we're honoring when we applaud the awarding of a red beanie to Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan. As SNAP notes,
1. His Eminence kept quiet nine months after child pornography was found last Valentine's day on the computer of Lawrence Gordon, assistant principal of St. Michael's Academy in the Bronx.
2. When Father Jaime Duenas of his diocese was arrested on child sex charges, not only did His Eminence fail to ask Catholics or others to do anything to assist the criminal investigation, but he also wrote a "mean-spirited statement" that he posted on his blog, attacking the teenaged victim making credible allegations against Father Duenas.
3. His Eminence is now quietly going along with the Vatican's refusal to defrock a serial predator priest of the New York archdiocese, Monsignor Wallace Harris, whom His Eminence permitted to resign quietly despite allegations of at least ten men that Monsignor abused them as children.
4. After his predecessor His Eminence Cardinal Edward Michael Egan recently informed the media that he took back any apology he had previously issued for his behavior in shielding priests abusing minors, His Eminence Cardinal-Elect Timothy Michael Dolan told the media that His Eminence Cardinal Egan “had always" "responded appropriately and with rigor" to sex-abuse cases.
As the SNAP press release notes, His Eminence Cardinal-Elect Timothy Michael Dolan sure does know how to smile pretty (well, I'll admit that I've translated the press release into Southern down-home talk) and shake hands. And that's the kind of things reporters go for.
But when the person smiling pretty and glad-handing with glee also leads a powerful religious organization that's simultaneously a powerful political machine, and when that religious organization-cum-political machine has a proven track record of inflicting unthinkable pain on minors while its chief leaders either stand by in silence or actively protect those inflicting the pain on minors, reporters (and the public, and Catholics in general) might want to get beyond the pretty smile, the big handshake, the ready quip that glides over the surface of thought and the bright scarlet beanie, and look at what's really going on beneath the glib, oily surface.
P.S. Did I say that reporters sometimes go in for the blinding bling and ignore the insubstantiality that the blinding bling is designed to conceal? Case in point: for the leading Catholic media maven who holds forth at National Catholic Reporter, John Allen, as for His Eminence's confreres in Rome, His Eminence rocks!