The New York Times has published an Op-Ed piece by Maureen Dowd.
Usually, when I peruse the pages of the Gray Lady, and cross an item with her by-line over it, I say a prayer for her soul and move on.
Her latest effort is filled with the usual vitriol, loathing and low spirit.
This, on its own, would place it in the company of her usual efforts, and would not qualify it as worthy of the response of any person used to civilized discourse.
Her latest piece is also profoundly and pitiably narcissistic, though this, alone, were not sufficient to merit the attention, let alone the response, of an intelligent reader.
Ms. Dowd's most recent contribution is, however, so deliberately and hatefully tendentious, so appallingly false in its claims and insinuations against the good name of the world's greatest moral leader, that its appearance in the pages of the Gray Lady impugns the very profession of journalistic opinion, and sullies the name of those who profess it.
This calls for a reply.
I make this a matter of journalistic integrity because the man Ms. Dowd has so unfairly, so uselessly and withal how spitefully attacked, has neither need nor desire of defense from this or any other quarter.
I must say that I am embarrassed by the number and variety of statements, claims, insinuations and suggestions that present themselves for cavil.
Ought I to take issue with her use of the term, "inquisition" to refer to the Apostolic visitation?
Her patently false assertion that "the Vatican" is looking to "herd [the women religious] (whom she inaccurately groups together under the technically specific "nuns" thus further betraying her appalling ignorance of the faith into which she was baptized as a child and against which she rails so violently now) back into their old-fashioned habits and convents and curb any speck of modernity or independence."
Surely this last ought not to be mentioned before the infinitely more serious claim, according to which the Holy See would like to punish Catholic women religious for working with ailing gays.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
For the record, the Church has nothing but praise for religious sisters who work for ailing gays, Ms. Dowd. She is concerned, however, when those women religious are helping those ailing gays find dates for Saturday evening.
For the record, the Church is not overly concerned even with the transformation of community life in certain communities. Sisters living in apartments is not an issue: sisters living in apartments and sacrificing to the triple goddess is.
I will not stoop so low as to answer her assertion that the recent announced dispositions for former Anglican communities to enter full communion are really an attempt to pad the ranks of the Church's gay-hating, mysogynistic right wing.
We are all familiar with Sister X's claim to the effect that the visitation amounts to bullying.
Bull is right.
Shall I pause to consider Ms. Dowd's hackneyed caricature of the Pope as "God's rottweiler" and her discussion of his office as prefect of the CDF? She said Cardinal Ratzinger was “The Enforcer” and backed this up with his investigation and and discipline of two American women religious.
That's right: in nearly a quarter century as the Pope's "Doctrinal Enforcer", the man who now sits on Peter's throne investigated two whole sisters.
One of the sisters was involved in active and contumacious opposition to the Church's teaching on sexuality.
The other, a Sister of Mercy, was making sure that state money was going to help poor women safely and legally rip the living flesh of their offspring from their wombs.
This almost makes one wonder what the Pope's watchdog was watching.
At the end, her claims become so hysterical, her accusations so preposterous, and her arguments so specious, that the only proper response is pity, and prayer for Ms. Dowd's mental healing and spiritual conversion.
We are left wondering, however, why the New York Times would have published such implausible, such lunatic screed.
The paper's almost apologetic tag-line to Dowd's piece says it all. It reads: "Nicholas D. Kristof is off today."