By Donal Chambers, Guest Columnist
It was disheartening and disappointing to read the editorial of Thursday, February 28, 2013, titled 'Truth will set free Catholic Church'. It was disheartening because it lacked the usual logical presentation of arguments, and disappointing because of the inaccurate information and the clear signs of intellectual dishonesty.
An editorial seeks to give an opinion on a topical issue. However, opinions rest on two fundamental pillars - accurate information and logical arguments. I will demonstrate how this particular editorial lacked both.
Let me begin by refuting what has been presented as facts. First, you referred to the Pope Emeritus' former position as the "Vatican's top cop, policing criminal conduct ... ."
Joseph Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has the responsibility to promote and safeguard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world.
Furthermore, the various congregations or departments of the Vatican do not micro-manage dioceses worldwide. That's the responsibility of the respective bishops. Any criminal matter committed in the respective sovereign states is a matter to be dealt with by the State, and not the Vatican, which does not have jurisdiction in any sovereign state.
Second, you made reference to the dwindling global Catholic population. According to the Vatican's statistics, the Catholic population only dwindled in Europe and the Americas. Catholic population continues to rise dramatically in Africa and Asia. In fact, the Catholic population in the United States of America (USA) rose in the last year, and the Catholic Church is the single largest Christian denomination in the USA. Furthermore, the global Catholic population rose by 1.3 per cent between 2010 and 2011.
BREAKING DOWN TRUTH
Third, you have abstracted the word "truth" from its scriptural context, and instead put a contemporary interpretation to it in an attempt to advance a lame argument. The word 'truth' found in John's gospel 8:34 does not mean right or wrong.
For John, the truth is the Word of God, which Jesus heard from the Father and repeats to us. That Word is Jesus Christ who will set us free from sin when we receive Him. John borrows the Hebrew word 'truth' which means 'solid and secure'. As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the solid (truth) rock. Therefore, the Church, in all its weakness and frailty, anchors itself in Jesus Christ for healing and transformation.
In addition, the editorial lacks a solid argument. It states that "its adherents are dwindling worldwide" (which is inaccurate) and one country with a historically small Catholic population is selected to substantiate the point. That argument is a fallacy, when one thinks that the Catholic Church is universal.
POPE OFFERED REDRESS
Finally, I believe that you have shown intellectual dishonesty. You state at the beginning of the editorial the premise that "[Benedict XVI's] legacy will ... be marred by what he did not do," then you go on to say what he did not do, yet, you fail to mention his contribution in addressing positively the sexual abuse debacle:
He has apologised to the victims, and declared his abhorrence of the acts.
He has had dialogue with the victims of sexual abuse on his pastoral visits to countries such as England and the US.
He has exhorted regional bishops' conferences to draft and implement policies and guidelines to protect children, and to adopt strict procedures for investigating allegations of sexual abuse by the clergy.
I am, therefore, as previously, disappointed and disheartened by the quality of this particular editorial, because it presents a premise which it fails to develop honestly and objectively.
In my view, a newspaper of the calibre of The Gleaner, which has vast access to information, ought to have done proper research for such an editorial. If such research was not conducted, it leaves the door open to speculate on a sinister agenda.
The Rev Fr Donald Chambers is pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.