The Catholic League responses to another slur against the Pope.
William A. Donohue, Ph.D. Catholic League – 1st October 2010
The CNN documentary, "What the Pope Knew," which aired September 25, deserves a response.
The program begins with music and graphics that set the tone: those who think Pope Benedict XVI has been adept at combating priestly sexual abuse must realize that there is "a darker, more complicated story." Dark, yes, but from CNN's perch, the story is not all that complicated: the pope is guilty of "foot-dragging and, perhaps, obstruction."
We learn from CNN host Gary Tuchman that "For decades, before he became pope, Joseph Ratzinger was a high-ranking Vatican official who, more than anyone else beside Pope John Paul, could have taken decisive action to stem the sexual abuse crisis." Similarly, author David Gibson says the pope "always took the stalling tactic."
It is simply not true that Ratzinger was in charge of this issue "for decades." In fact, he wasn't given the authority to police the sexual abuse problem until 2001. What is truly astonishing is that Tuchman concedes as much later in the program. After he notes that "By 2001, the sexual abuse crisis was beginning to engulf the Catholic Church," he says, "The pope gave Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) the power to cut through the bureaucracy and handle all sexual abuse cases directly."
In other words, Tuchman was incorrect the first time when he said that "for decades" Ratzinger "could have taken decisive action." He couldn't have been in charge "for decades" if he wasn't given police powers until 2001 (he became pope in 2005).
Nowhere in the program is there any evidence that the pope was guilty of obstruction of justice. This is a serious charge—the most serious made in the course of the documentary. Yet to throw this out, without ever producing evidence to substantiate it, is malicious. It won't cut it to say that he was "perhaps" guilty of obstruction. CNN intentionally planted this seed and never explicitly addressed the subject of obstruction of justice again.