Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ross Douthat takes a page from Dick Cheney's rhetorical playbook in his latest.

Has Benedict done enough to clean house and show contrition? Alas, no. Has his Vatican responded to the latest swirl of scandal with retrenchment, resentment, and an un-Christian dose of self-pity? Absolutely. Can this pontiff regain the kind of trust and admiration, for himself and for his office, that John Paul II enjoyed? Not a chance

There needs to be a word for this particular rhetorical strategy. You ask a series of questions that appear to be at least moderately difficult and probing, all the while dancing around the actual tough questions.

Let's try asking some tougher questions. Was Benedict directly responsible for covering up the rapes of children? Has he shown more concern for the reputation of the church than the lives of parishioners? Is there any evidence that he has learned from his mistakes and would do anything differently if he had it all to do over? If this had happened within any institution in the western world outside of the Catholic Church, would those who covered this up be facing criminal prosecution? On what charges? What would be the likely jail time, if convicted? Are we holding members of the Catholic hierarchy to a lower moral and legal standard than others?

I don't even care how you answer those questions. But ask them, please. Those are the questions that matter.

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