Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why Did The Pope Skip Boston?

According to Time's Jeff Israely, Some critics are already speculating as to why the Pope is skirting the "Ground Zero" of the American Catholic sex abuse crisis:

Boston was where the first spiral of revelations from victims of abusive clerics began to emerge, and where the head of the Archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law, was eventually forced to resign after admitting that he'd protected a priest who he knew had sexually abused young members of his church.

Several activist groups that speak out on behalf of victims of priest sex abuse immediately criticized the exclusion of the city from the Pope's April 15-20 trip. According to a statement by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Benedict is missing a "golden opportunity" to confront the crisis head-on. Victims' activist Anne Barrett Doyle told the Agence France Presse that the Pope is avoiding Boston for fear of protests.

Father Thomas Reese disagrees:
. . . other factors were key to Benedict's choice to limit his trip to just two cities. The original purpose of the trip was to speak at the United Nations, as both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II did. Benedict wanted to extend the stay and visit the nation's capital as well, but never intended the trip to be a U.S. tour. "The choice of Washington and New York was preordained," Reese says. "If they went to a third diocese, everyone else would say 'why didn't you come to us?'"

Reese defends Benedict's record on the abuse scandal, pointing out that he worked to respond to the crisis when he was a senior Vatican Cardinal. Some mention of the scandal is expected, but don't expect it to be the focus on his trip to the States. "Will he give a whole speech on sex abuse crisis? I doubt it," Reese says.

That isn't stopping some in the mainstream media from racheting up the bile, however: