The New York Times' article, Church Office Failed to Act on Abuse Scandal, is filled with so many statements that are just plain wrong one hardly knows where to begin to refute the piece. Catholic Culture's site features a fairly brief but helpful rebuttal.
Meanwhile, Ignatius Press founder and editor, Father Joseph Fessio, cuts to the chase when it comes to the NYT's piece:
Great theme: the bishops wanted to do more but were handcuffed by the Vatican's--and Ratzinger's--in action. That's a wonderful storyline which is a masterpiece of topsyturvydom.
One question can cut through it all: You are a bishop, say in 1980, and you find one of your priests has been abusing little boys. What do you do? Nothing whatever prevents you from removing that priest from ministry, disciplining him, and reporting him to civil authorities. All talk about "arcane canonical processes", "complicated and overlapping jurisdictions", is simply beside the point.
And if one needed any indication of the mindset of the NYT, the beginning of this sentence would provide it: "As Father Gauthé was being prosecuted in Louisiana, Cardinal Ratzinger was publicly disciplining priests in Brazil and Peru for preaching that the church should work to empower the poor and oppressed,..."