There is a helpful article in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning by Miranda Devine entitled Evildoers, not Pope, are to blame. It compares the tactics of aggressive atheists to communismist attacks on the Church.
It is by no means a puff piece - the author critiques the continuing mishandling of the media by the Vatican bureaucracy (and yes Louise I take your point about generalising and 'the Vatican' but the reality is that so many members of the system are contributing that one can't just point to individuals and say it's their fault. Either a whole lot of individual are shooting their mouths off in an uncoordinated way, in which case, why can't they get their act together and coordinate their messages like every other large organisation?, or there is a strategy and on the face of it not a good one).
But she does point out the over-the-top nature of the campaign being waged by Dawkins, Hitchens' et al:
"The pursuit of the Pope reached absurd heights this week with news that atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have asked the Australian barrister Geoffrey Robertson to draw up a case to arrest Benedict XVI for alleged cover-up of paedophilia in the Catholic Church.
That these exhibitionist atheists should seize on the tragedy of child sexual abuse by a small minority of Catholic priests to pursue their vendetta against religion is stomach-turning."
Devine helps us to understand how paedophiles got away with it, pointing to parallels with an entirely secular Australian case:
"It is so awful as to be unbelievable. But it did happen, in Australia, Germany, the United States, Ireland and elsewhere. Catholics have to accept that fact, and that for too long church leaders allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by paedophiles, who are by nature, brilliantly deceptive. This was an important lesson from the Wood royal commission; paedophilia is often unchecked because of the naivety of people who cannot bring themselves to believe it is occurring.
As we saw from the trials of the Sydney paedophiles Robert ''Dolly'' Dunn and Philip Bell, the predators use positions of power in an institution to gain access to children and escape detection. They are endlessly patient, willing to performing hundreds or thousands of good works for every foul deed. God knows what drives them except a desire to extinguish what is most good and pure about humanity....But it also has to be said that if paedophilia seems to be on the increase, it has been enabled by the eroticisation of our culture over decades, and even priests are not immune."
She also points to various attempts to 'normalise' paedophilia through political action and even defining it away as a psychological illness.
The most important message though is about the nature of the attacks:
"Yet the baying from atheists and fellow travellers for the biggest scalp of all has only escalated. The process is not unfamiliar to people who have lived under communist rule when destruction of the church was a goal. Professor Piotr Jaroszynski from Poland's Catholic University of Lublin has written in the Catholic country's mass newspaper that the offensive against the Pope is recognisable particularly to Poles who lived under communist rule. "It has elements that have been very well planned, rational to the extreme, but at the same time there is a singular hatred for Catholicism hidden under concern for victim." The struggle against religion has taken the form of a new religion. Its new priests "find their greatest ideological enemies in priests, religious brothers, and sisters. They cannot physically destroy them (as was done in communist countries), so they try other methods."
What is the motive: to destroy the credibility of the strongest moral voice left? Would the world be a better place without the Catholic Church? Without Christianity? That is the end point of this game, which should frighten everyone, whether religious or not."
You might also want to check out an article in The Australian, 'The Pope-hunters' pathological campaign'.
Unsurprisingly, Cath News (the daily alert service that we the pewsitters pay for via the bishops conference) fails to pick up either of these, instead featuring on its website stories such as the local Jesuit Provincial welcoming the media attack in a minor US publication....