Satan is not employed by The New York Times.
And sorry, Catholic Paranoiacs in Denial, that meeting where all of mainstream media gathered to plot the latest attack on the church took place only in your overheated imaginations.
The original Times report about how the Vatican handled the case of a pervy Wisconisin priest -- one accused of abusing more than 200 deaf children -- may or may not have assumed too much and the reporting may or may not have been sloppy (and, yes, Maureen Dowd is still Maureen Dowd), but the original all-American, all-Catholic crime remains.
The cover-up for -- and the decades-long tolerance of -- a child molester remains as a millstone around the neck of the bishops who supervised him, if not the neck of the cardinal-now-pope who got the case dumped in his lap years too late.
It is disingenuous for the anti-media church militants to yell at the Times for excessive scrutiny of Pope Benedict XVI while tolerating insufficient scrutiny of Catholic leaders closer to home -- leaders who, in effect, enabled criminal acts that cry out to heaven for redress.
BUT THINGS are better now, says the church militant. We don't let such unfortunate things happen anymore.
Bull, say those who keep track of such things.
Today's story from National Public Radio just might dwarf the impact of the original, disputed Times piece:
In the wake of its own scandal almost a decade ago, the U.S. church says it has reformed its policies for handling sexual abuse allegations and will remove from ministry every priest who is credibly accused of abuse.THERE'S MORE. Oh, is there more. Go to the NPR website and read on.
But some of those priests are now being quietly reinstated.
Juan Rocha was 12 years old when he says he was molested by his parish priest, the Rev. Eric Swearingen. He eventually brought his complaints to the bishop of Fresno, Calif., John Steinbock. When Steinbock said he didn't find the allegations credible, Rocha sued the priest and the diocese in civil court.
In 2006, the jury found 9 to 3 that Swearingen had abused Rocha. But it could not decide whether the diocese knew about it. Rather than go through a new trial, the two sides settled.
At the time, Steinbock said he thought the jury got it wrong, and that while the Catholic Church should protect children, "doing this cannot be done in such a manner as to punish innocent priests."
"Bishop Steinbock continues Swearingen in ministry to this day, choosing to believe the priest is innocent, choosing to protect the priest, and choosing to disregard entirely the judicial finding by a jury that found he had committed the crime of sexual abuse against Juan," says Rocha's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson.
Today, Swearingen serves as priest at Holy Spirit parish in Fresno, where he also oversees the youth ministry. Swearingen did not return phone calls, and Steinbock declined requests for an interview.
Swearingen's case is not an isolated one, says Anne Barrett Doyle, who works with the watchdog group BishopAccountability.org. She says that recently, bishops have started quietly returning to ministry priests who previously have been accused of abuse.
"I think they feel that the crisis has died down in the public mind," she says. "Therefore, they have some confidence that if they go ahead and reinstate these priests, that they'll get very little backlash."
And while the Catholic attack dogs throw brickbats at the devil where he ain't, the original fallen angel will be erecting the gates of hell in the middle of all those circled wagons.