It's not that I haven't seen it before. A document from anywhere over the last two thousand years is released, and the press heralds it as 'Smoking Gun Proves Cover Up of Abusive Priests!' Like many things so released, there can be defenses made, as they are being made here, and over here is a good example from Jimmy Akin.
My problem is, yeah, from a very legalistic viewpoint, from a very 'assume innocence until beyond a reasonable doubt' perspective, this just might be more much ado about nothing. But defense of this, and so many other examples of 'stunning evidence' over the last few years, involves a certain 'hey, it may look bad, but if you look at it from the Church following every jot and tittle of canon law, then it's not that bad. It's just the way the Church does things the way it does them.' The problem is, this is all happening while thousands of lives are being irreparably damaged, while entire faiths are being destroyed, and lives altered forever. While it's going on.
This doesn't prove that the Church is evil, this doesn't prove that the Church was even wrong. What it does prove, and what it aids, is that classic Protestant scree against the Church that Catholicism is where the heart and soul of the Gospel of Christ gets entangled in the eternal arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or the demand that the holy and sacred copy machine not be placed along the south wall. Sure, lives may be at stake, but we must do diligence at all cost, and if that means some lives slip through the cracks while we run the numbers, so be it.
I'm not saying that was the attitude of those involved. I'm not saying there is guilt or innocence. I don't know. I just know that when things look stinky, they stink. A picture of a pile of manure has about the same impact as actually standing next to a real pile of manure if you think about it. Impressions are impressions.
All of this is to say that there may well be a need for the Church to rethink its current strategies for bureaucratic administering of the Faith. As charming as it is to imagine the Church as just a bunch of lovable Ents who get around to things when they get around to them, it's not so charming when we remember the all important dignity of the individual that the Church is constantly reminding every other government and nation in the world about on a constant basis. Even one child so harmed should be enough to shake the systems and structures of the bureaucratic institution to its core. At best, this shows a marked lack of anything but doing diligence at all costs, even if the rusty wheels turning slowly means a few lives ruined in the process. That's the best you can say about many of the defenses over the years.
Let's hope it doesn't get any worse.