More Headaches for the Vatican: Priests and Child Porn

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Does anyone at the Vatican talk to each other? Or are these guys just really really awful at public relations? Earlier this week, the Holy See’s ambassador to the United Nations delivered a defiant statement in response to allegations that Vatican officials haven’t done enough to deal with sex abuse within the church. The statement itself wasn’t exactly a model of how to win supporters and influence public opinion. Anytime you have to resort to everybody-does-it and why-don’t-you-pick-on-the-Presbyterians-instead? arguments, you’ve lost the moral high ground.

But the ambassador might have reconsidered the timing of his remarks had he known what the rest of us learned yesterday, which is that Ottawa police have issued a warrant for the arrest of a Nova Scotia bishop who resigned suddenly over the weekend. The charge? Possession of child pornography.

The CBC gives us some additional details about the bishop, who cited the need for “personal renewal” when he resigned:

The former leader of the diocese of Antigonish is perhaps best known as the man who helped broker a $15-million settlement with people who said they had been sexually abused by priests in the diocese, in some cases dating back to 1950. That settlement was approved by a Nova Scotia court on Sept. 10.

(It’s worth noting that the Holy See ambassador’s remarks were in response to blistering allegations made by a representative from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, an umbrella organization of humanist, atheist, and other groups skeptical of religion, and that the allegations included a call for the U.N. to investigate the Vatican. Given that context, it’s not surprising that the Vatican would respond. That it would choose such a clumsy, tin-eared defense kind of is.)

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