April 16, 2010
By James Brett
New Yorker Magazine's Hendrick Hertzberg gives Pope Benedict's Church a virtual pass. Since when are medieval indulgences a greater evil than raping children!
::::::::In the April 19th edition of The New Yorker magazine the lead off article by Hendrick Hertzberg is about the scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. If you are one of the many who have been fondled, bung-holed, brow-beaten, and terrorized by Catholic clergy whose problem, according to Hertzberg, is that they practice "sexual abuse," you will not want to read that article. SEXUAL ABUSE!! How about rape, Hertzberg! How about brow-beating terrorism of our male juveniles! How dare you try to patch it up with a neutered, clinical term like "sexual abuse!" As if ... dammit ... there was some kind of sexual activity between clergy and children that was not abusive!!
But, that's not where it begins with Mr. Hertzberg. He has the temerity to say that the current scandal is not in the same league with the "indulgences" that so sorely vexed Fr. Martin Luther five hundred years ago, a vexation that turned into a conflagration that sundered Roman Catholicism ... temporarily. Indeed, Hertzberg sees the sale of fairy tales as more important than rape of children??!!! I reread that article several times looking for a hint of sarcasm or of irony. Nada. Because rape is not a theological issue "but an administrative one," Hertzberg gives Benedict/Ratzinger a pass.
Well, the NYr has screwed up before and Hertzberg has been there and so has Remnick. This one, though, is so far from reality that one wonders exactly what the editorial position of the NYr might be. They are undoubtedly aware that Roman Catholicism is unworthy of the mantel of trust people put onto it, so they must be afraid of the outcome, the demolition of the "monolith" and all the verities that it once stood for (they assert).
Very disappointing position Mr. Hertzberg! Try again with some kind of compassion for the victims instead of angst for the criminals at the top, middle, and bottom of the Roman Catholic clergy!
James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese History, the history of science, and the history of ideas, including psychology and consciousness studies. He is retired and living on the Left Coast.