Peggy Noonan: The Catholic Church’s Secret PR Operative?

I am often surprised at the women who become the enablers of abusive partners, because so many of them believe they are quite the opposite.  I’ve met women whose presentation to others is confident, even superhuman, only to find their Kryptonite is a spouse or partner whose treatment of them has undermined their very faith in themselves, leading them to believe that life without this cruel partner would lead to emptiness and turmoil.

Peggy Noonan who is a woman to admire for her hard work, exquisite writing and remarkable success in the political and academic arenas, reminds me of just such a woman when she drools over the Catholic Church.  As a woman, I am disgusted by her constant defense of the administration, a defense often veiled as discourse, yet always leading to a triumphant ending.  Most recently, she authored an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal entitled, The Catholic Church’s Catastrophe: The press and the pope deserve credit for confronting scandal.

Her article takes aim at the 2002 sex abuse scandal in Massachusetts and suggests that the church, or more precisely,  Pope Benedict XVI (previously known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), should be exalted for his handling of the sex abuse scandal and steering the church safely back on track, saying:

The press forced the church to admit, confront and attempt to redress what had happened. The press forced them to confess. The press forced the church to change the old regime and begin to come to terms with the abusers. ”

The best and the worst of Peggy Noonan is her sentimentality, which at times can be nauseating.   If Noonan could take off the Catholic-tinted glasses, she would have reminded readers that while Cardinal Ratzinger did at one time take note of the “filth” within the church, he didn’t specifically say which “filth.” Everyone just assumed he met sex abuser, but he didn’t say that, in fact as Cardinal he was the head of the Holy Office of Inquisition, a position that gave him “ultimate oversight of a number of clerical abuse cases,” says a BBC profile on the Pope.

The profile goes on to say, “Critics say he did not grasp the gravity of the crimes involved, allowing them to languish for years without proper attention – or even that he deliberately subordinated the victims’ welfare to that of the Church itself.  He has never publicly given his own version of events.”

This is the same Pope who recently created a separate wing of the church to welcome Anglicans who oppose women being ordained and announced last year that “the ‘attempted ordination’ of women” is now considered “one of the gravest crimes in ecclesiastical law.  The change put the “offence” on a par with the sex abuse of minors,” said the Guardian.

I think the biggest punch in the face comes from Noonan’s denouement, the final paragraph where she tries to tie up the unwritten thesis statement that implies “The Catholic Church is Doing Well Despite…”  My Irish mother (descended from a long, long, long, long line of Catholics including Canon Sheehan) would have called the first sentence of the last paragraph a sin, “There are three great groups of victims in this story,” claims Noonan.

For Noonan to suggest that there are ANY other victims in the church’s sex abuse scandal other than the young children is deplorable.  Parsing out victims for such an inexcusable crime is, at best naive and at the very worst inexcusable.  She suggests that the “good” priests and nuns and the “great leaders of the church” who help the poor and aged, etc., should be “lionized,” not “stigmatized” and the “heroic” Catholics who have stayed the course should be thanked.   “The world thinks they’re stupid,” writes Noonan, “They are not stupid, and with their prayers they keep the world going, and the old church too.”

“Stupid” no, these Catholics blindly follow because they have no where else to go.  They are the enablers of an organization that doesn’t even resemble Jesus’ teachings anymore.  Would Jesus turn away a woman who wanted to spread the word of his Father?

I come from a long line of Catholics, the Italians on one side, the Irish on the other.  Catholicism in my family was a culture, more than a religion.  I now attend the Methodist Church.  Am I alone?  The Catholic population is shrinking, according to a Pew study and   Will the Church last another generation?  If you listen to Peggy Noonan, they have never been better.