Pope Benedict is not like Nixon

Posted on April 06, 2010

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.

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