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The Hind and the Panther

No one expects to discover in a drug dealer the character of Johnny Appleseed or Santa Claus, overflowing with compassion and the milk of human kindness, scattering sweetness and light wherever he goes.  On the other hand, I suspect even the most hardened undercover cop in his local antidrug unit would be shocked to witness a dealer who, having supplied a customer with heroin for years, openly mocked and derided the addict for the physical and moral degradation to which he had succumbed as a result of his addiction.  It is a scene whose wickedness would challenge even the pens of Dickens and George Cruikshank to portray.  Nevertheless, the situation as I describe it is in some degree a metaphor for the relationship between liberalism and the Holy Church of Rome.

There is no institution I can think of in recent times that has received more derisive, contemptuous, sneering, snide, wildly unbalanced, presumptuous, impertinent, generally hostile, and above all ignorant treatment than the Church has since February 11, when Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement from the Chair of Saint Peter.  (In this respect, the New York Times’ treatment of the story has been incomparably the most shameless I have seen.)  Despite Benedict’s patent physical decrepitude, the media instantly agreed on a Party Line—unanimous, as Party Lines are meant to be—to explain...

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