Michael Sean Winters is doing his best to be the defense lawyer for the current Pope, and wags his finger at the "frustratingly poor quality of press coverage." It's a debater's defense, suggesting that Ratzinger didn't know why the priest was asking to be defrocked, blaming the secular courts and climate for understating the crime, offering the now-familiar defense that the Kiesle case was just about reversing the easy laicization policies of Paul VI etc etc. At best, it convicts Ratzinger of negligence and indifference to priestly child-rape, seeing everything through the Vatican's bureaucratic, institutional lens, concerned far more about protocol and authority than about defrocking a priest long ago known to have tied two boys up and raped them. At best.

Mark Silk counters Winters point by point and concludes:

[T]he delay [in defrocking Kiesle] continued amidst the huge media commotion over the Gauthe case in Louisiana, the first of the big priest pedophile scandals of our time, which broke in the Spring of 1985. At that time, meanwhile, Ratzinger was bringing the hammer down on theologian Charles Curran (for being soft on sexual ethics) and Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen (in part for his ministry to homosexuals), and preparing a document condemning tolerance of homosexuality ("Pastoral Care of Homosexuals"). So in what would become a familiar two-step, it was the hard line on sexual doctrine, the tolerant understanding for abusive priests.

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