Levada takes on the Times

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Cardinal William Levada

Cardinal William Levada, former archbishop of San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, has penned a caustic response to recent New York Times articles and editorials that were critical of how the church and Pope Benedict XVI have handled sexual abuse cases involving priests over the years, calling the coverage “deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major media reporting.”

This bold, Spiro Agnew-like counterattack on the press during a time of mounting evidence of a covered-up pedophilia epidemic in the church is all the more notable given that Levada is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an office then-Cardinal Ratzinger held before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, helping to place that office in charge of all reports of pedophiliac priests, a move that critics have charged was made to shield the church from criticism.

“I ask the Times to reconsider its attack mode about Pope Benedict XVI and give the world a more balanced view of a leader it can and should count on,” Levada writes, giving a far more charitable view of the current pope than the general public is feeling right now.

Rather than these defensive counterattacks on the Times’ solid journalism and analysis, Levada should realize that this tactic is precisely the attitude that has people concerned about the church, which has yet to fully atone for its many sins, including those committed by the Pope.

Back home in San Francisco, the church continues to stiff the city for millions of dollars in real estate transfer taxes involving the deed transfers of hundreds of properties under Levada’s leadership, a strange move that many critics have speculated was done to shield church assets from the claims of sexual abuse victims.

To me, this seems deficient by any reasonable standards of morality and openness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major religious institutions, particularly one that aspires to leadership that we can and should count on.