There’s nothing new in Maureen Dowd’s lazy, lazy attack on Archbishop Timothy Dolan in her latest column, and so there’s no point in addressing her ideas. If, however, she’s going to continue singling out and defaming Church figures, the New York Times could at least stop allowing her to include simple factual errors.
For example, in yesterday’s column, Dowd wrote:
In yet another attempt at rationalization, the nation’s Catholic bishops – a group Dolan is now in charge of – put out a ridiculous five-year-study last month going with the “blame Woodstock” explanation for the sex-abuse scandal. The report suggested that the problem was caused by permissive secular society rather than cloistered church culture, because priests were trained in the turbulent free-love era.
In this passage, Dowd creates the impression that the Catholic bishops performed the study. They did not — the secular, respected John Jay College of Criminal Justice did. The only sense in which the bishops “put out” the study is that they funded it and announced the findings, which of course was the proper thing for them to do (would Dowd disagree?). Perhaps that’s what Dowd meant by “put out,” in which case her statement would be merely wildly misleading, and not outright false. Except for the first clause: there is no sense in which the independent study commissioned by the bishops could be considered an “attempt at rationalization.” Dowd’s claim is simply wrong, and should be corrected.
In her previous column on Church matters, Dowd made other factual errors and gross distortions, caught by Michael Sean Winters. Without those misstatements, Dowd would have had no column whatsoever. Maybe the Times should ask her to stick to other topics.