Commentators are drawing parallels between the growing woes of Pope Benedict XVI and the fall of Richard Nixon. Just like Nixon, the Pope has been accused of covering up crimes, has blamed the media, and ignored calls to stand down. Some have even branded this "Watergate with holy water." How valid are these comparisons?
The pope's media attacks certainly echo Nixon: Reducing pervasive sex abuse and pedophilia to "the problem of an overzealous media" is certainly Nixonian, says Jeff Schweitzer in the Huffington Post, The church's "paranoid insularity" causes it to lash out at the press rather than "acknowlege moral failure" at an institutional level, just as in the 1970s White House. "Nixon would be proud."
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Nixon's crimes were far worse: To compare Nixon and the Pope is "shameful" and wrong, says Marc Thiessen in the Washington Post. The Watergate burglary was ordered by "the highest levels of the Nixon administration." But there is no evidence that Benedict or anyone close to him "personally ordered the molestation of children." These "scurrilous accusations" must stop.
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The office of the Pope is not above the law: Just as Nixon believed his office was above the law, says Tom McNichol in the Atlantic, so the Pope relies on his "papal infallability" to avoid dealing with this scandal. But that doctrine only covers "specific matters of dogma," not everything the Pope says or does. If the Church won't admit that, then Benedict could share Nixon's fate – "a long and bitter fight, followed by resignation."
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