Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist and former President Reagan speech writer, offered a strong defense Friday of how Pope Benedict XVI has handled recent scandals embroiling priests in the Catholic Church – and defended the press institutions the Vatican has lambasted for how they've covered the incidents as well.
Noonan said the damage from the priest-abuse scandal "will last at least a generation."
"It is an actual catastrophe, a rolling catastrophe that became public first in the United States, now in Europe," she writes. "It has lowered the standing, reputation and authority of the church.
Noonan says the press has been "the best friend" of the Catholic Church on the scandals, because it exposed the story and "made the church face it."
Regarding Pope Benedict XVI, Noonan states: "The most reliable commentary on Pope Benedict's role in the scandals came from John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, who argues that once Benedict came to fully understand the scope of the crisis, in 2003, he made the church's first real progress toward coming to grips with it."
Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, would simply have found the offenses "literally not imaginable" because he came of age in an era of "heroic priests."
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