Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Pope Benedict is not like Nixon

In his op-ed yesterday, Timothy Shriver writes:

The scandal facing Catholics today looks a lot like the Watergate scandal that engulfed the United States in the early 1970s. Then, what started as a crime committed by a few burglars slowly escalated to reveal corruption at the highest levels of authority. The White House counsel, senior advisers and others were punished for their roles. In the end, the president of the United States was implicated and forced to resign. Is the Catholic Church on a similar pathway to the resignation of a pope?

The comparison between Pope Benedict XVI and President Nixon is shameful, and it is also wrong. The obvious flaw in Shriver’s analogy? The break-in at the Watergate complex was not a “third-rate burglary” but part of a political spying operation directed at the highest levels of the Nixon administration. (Indeed, in 2003 Jeb Magruder alleged that Nixon himself personally ordered the break-in.) There have been many scurrilous accusations fired at the Holy Father in recent weeks. But I have yet to see anyone claim that Benedict or senior Vatican officials personally ordered the molestation of children by pedophile priests. Is this what Shriver is suggesting? If not, he needs to correct the record -- and apologize to the Holy Father.

By Marc Thiessen  | April 6, 2010; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Thiessen  | Tags:  Marc Thiessen  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: What's with Tavis Smiley and Obama?
Next: Nerves of Steele


Thiessen, you incompetent hack, you just never will get it will you? The analogy is this: The Watergate breakin "escalated to reveal corruption at the highest levels of authority" and The Pedophile Priest scandal has escalated to reveal corruption (that's what we call it when the people in charge protect child rapists and then shuffle them off to another parish to do it again) at the highest levels of authority in the catholic church. Do you get it now? Read it again, r-e-a-l slow. The analogy is just too obvious, sort of like "torture is illegal and immoral" is too obvious for you to grasp it. Jeeze, your ability to twist the truth makes you a candidate for the "John Yoo" award for insane logic.

Posted by: Watcher1 | April 6, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

As usual you got it wrong!! The semi-holy father owes all of us and especially Catholics an apology for his sanctimonious, implausible stand.

Posted by: alf1052 | April 6, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

It is sad to see the Church leadership so puzzled. They cannot understand why the laity won't knuckle under as they have in the past.

They also fail to understand the power of communication. During the Reformation, the printing press brought the bible directly to the people in their own language. That finished the Petrine model for many. Now, a bishop missteps thinking his comments at St Peters will stay in St Peters when the shock waves instantaneously twit everywhere.

Like Nixon, the Pope seems historically oblivious. Unlike Nixon, there is no mechanism to unseat him. He is much more like a Wall St CEO than a president.

Posted by: twstroud | April 6, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Thiessen, I am not sure that I see much difference between ordering that the break-in occur and the vastly more serious crime of sanctioning the abuse of children. The catholic church is not run by idiots (I am assuming anyway). They simply had to understand that shuffling pedophile priests around in such a way that successive groups of children were exposed to them was going to result in more children being abused. I think what Nixon did was far less serious.

Posted by: reussere | April 6, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

That's right. Defend the man who insisted that children go to confession as young as possible:,CST-EDT-hitch01.article

Posted by: kejia32 | April 6, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

For heaven's sake yes, you can criticize the Pope if you must, but stooping so low as to actually equate him with a REPUBLICAN-- my God that's hitting below the belt, I agree, an apology is in order.

Posted by: BillEPilgrim | April 6, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Please take your Catholic blinders off Mr. Thiessen. We are talking about criminal sexual assault, and leadership complicity in criminal sexual assault, weaving its cancerous web all the way up the hierarchical tree. It's a CRIME with statutory penalties.

It's the Vatican and its hierarchy of bishops/cardinals, and people like yourself, who are a large part of the problem — wanting to whitewash the victimization of the vulnerable by clergy, and then give their enabler accomplices a free pass. The Vatican has the audacity to view themselves and the pope as "victims"!

The majority of Catholics aren't buying that nonsense, and neither is anyone else. We can see that the governance of the Church is dreadfully corrupt, and yes, criminal. Thank God for the media who are perhaps actually in the service of the Lord himself to clean up the filth and obfuscation! For sure, these prelates have proven they will not police themselves.

Your defensiveness isn't "holy obedience" — it is unholy spiritual blindness.

Posted by: aileen1 | April 7, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Thiessen, you ignorant dolt.

Posted by: secretaryofspite | April 7, 2010 4:09 AM | Report abuse

Relax all. It's all over now. This Pope has been found guilty in the world wide court of public opinion. All that remains is a hollow shell. Somebody please shove a fork in him -- he's done! His goose is cooked!

What is important is the next Pope. It will be his job to pull the church out of the dark ages and into the light. If his head is stuck in the 12th century we will be no better off than we are right now. Sad, But true.

Posted by: LuckyJon | April 7, 2010 5:47 AM | Report abuse

As he usually does, Thiessen is commenting, inartfully and wrongly on something about which he knows nothing. This on the same day that his fellow Bush speechwriter, Michael Gerson, goes to bat for the Pope.

Pedophilia is a crime and to date no priest has been charged with pedophilia as a felony and incarcerated. That's the way it happens in the real world, Mr. Torture Apologist.

Posted by: harper-d | April 7, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

As he usually does, Thiessen is commenting, inartfully and wrongly on something about which he knows nothing. This on the same day that his fellow Bush speechwriter, Michael Gerson, goes to bat for the Pope.

Pedophilia is a crime and to date no priest has been charged with pedophilia as a felony and incarcerated. That's the way it happens in the real world, Mr. Torture Apologist.

Posted by: harper-d | April 7, 2010 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Suppose the Catholic clergy >actually believed< that they were, collectively, God's representatives on earth, with all that this implies, would any of this have happened, or been covered up?

I don't think so, either.

So the question is, if they don't believe what they say about themselves and their mission, what DO they believe? And why should anyone else believe anything they say?

Posted by: Palladia1 | April 7, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Thiessen, you are damning Pope Benedict with your praise of him.

Let us agree that the leader of one of the world's major religious faiths never actually instructed a priest to sexually abuse a child. We have now agreed that Pope Benedict is not literally a monster.

That is a rather low bar to cross, don't you think? The pope and his church should aspire to a higher standard.

Posted by: hkanders | April 7, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps a more apt political analogy would be former Speaker of the House Denny Haster's cover-up of child predation by Rep. Foley.

Posted by: okjuggler | April 7, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I usually do not respond to these type of articles but Mr. Thiessen’s responsive op-ed about put me over. Nothing changes, we have apparently not learned a thing. As a life-long Catholic I am begging him and others like him to give it a rest and shut up. Mr. Theissen you’re not helping the Church or its faithful, you just make us look that much more ridiculous. Game over on this issue.

Mr. Shriver said it all when he stated the following: “But the church's indifference to public opinion is not designed to protect those who condone blatant violations of gospel principles … an episcopal culture that placed defense of the structure over the defense of children is broken, pure and simple.”

Like so many Catholics claiming orthodox values you are so intertwined in protecting that “structure,” you’ve missed the entire point of Mr. Shriver’s Op-Ed, You are part of that "culture" that allows this kind of abuse to take place in the first place. You are part of the press, so they rely on you. You've just helped make Mr. Shriver's argument, do you not see that?

The systemic corruption with respect to “the Church” is not the molestation by insidious priests, it is the cover-up which took place to protect the structure at the expense of children. That is very much like Watergate and it did happen, one only need to take a small sampling of the archdioceses in America and you will see it time and time again. But that point somehow went right over your head.

Please, please take a deep breath, take a step back, and do some serious reflection. Again, game over, there is no going back despite your defenses and pleas. Like the Church, you just keep digging a deeper and deeper hole. Please stop.

Posted by: Vazavec | April 8, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

No... but he ordered the priests to remain in their positions so that they could continue molesting and raping children....

Posted by: lralperstein | April 9, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company