So a Catholic priest molested a couple hundred deaf boys entrusted by their parents to his care, and Church officials decided that the priority was to shield other boys from a sexual predator the Church from negative press:

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

In response to these disturbing revelations of official Church misconduct that sully the Church’s name, Bill Donohue demands accountability would rather everyone just let bygones be bygones:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments today on the front-page article in today’s New York Times about priestly sexual abuse: Media requests to deal with this subject make it difficult to provide an adequate response to today’s article by Laurie Goodstein. But the time has come to ask some serious questions about why the Times is working overtime with wholly discredited lawyers to uncover dirt in the Catholic Church that occurred a half-century ago. Those questions will be raised in an ad I am writing that will be published in next Tuesday’s New York Times; a rejoinder to the article will also be made. All I can say now is that this is the last straw. [emph. added]

Note to Donohue: There is no statue of limitations for the crime of rape [update: in many jurisdictions].  Legally speaking.  There’s a reason for this: rape (like murder) is so heinous an act that no matter how long it takes for the evidence to be collected, or case to be built, you can still be convicted and punished.

Morally speaking, the raping of little children by anyone  (let alone by a person with a duty to look after their interests) is an ethical crime that is in no way rendered meaningless or passe by the passage of time.  That Donohue would suggest that hundreds of instances of child molestation (and the ensuing cover-up) is so much water under the bridge is a defense that would make Lucifer himself blush.

Vile.

UPDATE: See, also, other examples of Donohue doing the Church no favors.

THE EDITORS ADDS:

Bad taste?  I can think of something worse.

Much as it pains me to say this, Christopher Hitchens is (oh God forgive me) quite right.  I would like to believe that the most enduring institution in human history is not just a 2000-year-old pedo ring.  I’d really like to believe that, because I have a young son and a Catholic wife, and it would just make a lot of familial obligations a lot easier.  So do me a solid, Vatican City.  Because this moved beyond “fucked up” about ten years ago.