By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

For John Allen, a smart, unconventional debut

Today marks the Boston Globe print debut of John Allen, the longtime Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter who was recently hired by the Globe to beef up its coverage of the Catholic Church.

The piece — a news analysis that was posted online Wednesday — examines a United Nations report on the church’s pedophile-clergy crisis and finds it wanting. The problem, Allen writes, is that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child threw in gratuitous criticism of the church’s stands on abortion rights, same-sex marriage and birth control. Allen explains:

Not only are those bits of advice most unlikely to be adopted, they may actually strengthen the hand of those still in denial in the church about the enormity of the abuse scandals by allowing them to style the UN report as an all-too-familiar secular criticism driven by politics.

That could overshadow the fact that there are, in truth, many child protection recommendations in the report that the church’s own reform wing has long championed.

Overall: smart, authoritative and unconventional. Like many, I am accustomed to reading (and agreeing with) criticism of the Catholic Church’s stands on cultural issues. So I found it refreshing and unusual to read a piece arguing that, sometimes, such criticism can be counterproductive.

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  1. Smart, authoritative, unconventional indeed….a welcome change.

  2. Aaron Read

    I know this is arguing the larger point rather than critiquing Allen…but I thought Charlie Pierce makes the valid point that you can’t separate the Church’s pedophile problem from its stance on moral issues. As he says:

    “The UN report is completely correct in making the atrocities practiced on children in the Church’s care part and parcel with the Church’s retrograde attitudes toward human sexuality in almost every area. In practice, these attitudes create within the institution a twisted view of humanity that is destructive to everyone it touches.”

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