Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 5:18 AM
A few years ago, revelations about the nature and scope of sexual abuse by priests gave the impression that the Catholic Church in America was being run by a syndicate of pedophile enablers. By contrast, the moral indignation European priests cast at their brethren in America back then gave the impression that the Catholic Church in Europe was wholly without sin in this respect.
Indeed, here’s how the Pope himself expressed his pastoral concern:
It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen. It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission … to these children.
I am deeply ashamed, and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future. I do not wish to talk at this moment about homosexuality, but about pedophilia, which is another thing.
We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry. It is more important to have good priests than many priests. We will do everything possible to heal this wound.
(Pope Benedict XVI)
In commenting on this unfolding scandal, I noted that faithful Catholics might find the Pope’s expression of concern more troubling than comforting. Here, in part, is what I wrote back then:
A cabal of homosexuals in the Vatican continues to indulge and cover up the serial sexual exploits of gay priests, including pedophiles…
And I’m sure the Pope is acutely mindful that disabusing Americans of this suspicion is critical to getting them to replenish the billions the Church has lost in payoffs and tithing withheld as a result of the sex abuse scandal….
[The Pope comes to America, TIJ, April 16, 2008]
Well, there are dirty little secrets coming out of the closet in churches all over Europe today – most notably in the Pope’s home country of Germany. And these revelations give the impression that the ecumenical council of the Catholic Church not only condoned but actually enabled a culture of pederasty that would make Sodom and Gomorrah seem chaste. Which gives a whole new meaning to Christ’s exhortation to “suffer the little children to come on to Me.”
Even worse, no less a person than the Pope has been implicated. Specifically, reports are that the Pope, in his position as bishop of diocese of Munich, harbored a known pedophile priest, who continued his predatory sexual abuse of little boys under the Pope’ pastoral supervision. This, of course, is exactly what the Pope condemned American bishops for doing a few years ago.
Not surprisingly, the Vatican is deflecting blame from the Pope by summoning his former deputy at the Munich diocese to claim complete responsibility for housing this notorious pedophile. Unfortunately, this deflection was undermined by the fact that his former diocese had already put out the patently specious claim that the Pope “unwittingly approved the housing.” And nothing has laid this scandal at the feet of the Pope quite like his own brother, The Rev. Georg Ratzinger, admitting recently that he not only flagellated little boys but also ignored their cries when they were being abused by other bishops.
Nevertheless, the Pope himself has joined in this open conspiracy to deflect blame. No doubt this explains his tact of announcing earlier this week that he will be issuing a pastoral letter to facilitate “repentance, healing and renewal” among Irish Catholics instead of issuing one to help German Catholics clean up the mess he left behind.
Somehow “the pot calling the kettle black” doesn’t quite convey the hypocrisy inherent in this papal tact. I will note, though, that he seems to be deploying the psychological defense mechanism of projection. Moreover, one wonders about the categorical imperative of issuing similar pastoral letters to countries from Asia to the Caribbean as well as all those in between, where revelations of endemic sexual and physical abuse by priests are rocking the foundations of the Catholic Church….
In any case, whatever the moral relativism that governs the way the Pope deals with the sexual (mis)conduct of priests, the Church is clearly abiding a moral hazard:
Much has been made of the moral hazard the US government created by bailing out big banks. Because this effectively gave investment bankers carte blanche to continue their high-risk financial transactions knowing full well that the government will be there to catch them if they fall; i.e., before their banks fail.
By the same token, the fact that the Church has been covering up the perverted (and criminal) behavior of Catholic priests from time immemorial suggests that a similar moral hazard is inherent in the conduct of Vatican affairs. Never mind what it says about the moral authority of a Church that invariably showed greater empathy and compassion towards these sexual predators than it showed towards their adolescent victims….
Meanwhile, even if belatedly, I hope Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican official in charge of prosecuting priests alleged to have committed serious sexual crimes, is as zealous in prosecuting them today as the Vatican was in protecting them over the years.
I remain intrigued, however, by the Pope’s allusion (in the quote above) to a moral distinction between homosexuality and pedophilia. For in this he seems to have “unwittingly” conveyed a papal indulgence of the former, while censuring of the latter.
Not to mention that such a distinction would make a mockery of the Church’s purported practice of clerical celibacy; i.e., refraining from all sexual activity, including masturbation.
More to the point, it would suggest that Catholic priests – who pattern their celibate lives on that of Jesus Christ – must believe that Christ himself indulged, if not indulged in, homosexuality. The 12 disciples with whom he consorted were all men, after all….
Finally, it is foolhardy to expect the Pope, who is vested with the prerogative of infallibility, to resign over these wrongdoings (including his). But it is plain for all to see that the moral authority of the Catholic Church is being blown asunder.
Therefore, you’d think this would at least compel the Pope to heed the message to lead his bishops and priests in an ecumenical revival, vowing before God and man to repent from the sins of the flesh that have brought Christianity into such disrepute. Instead, the Pope is reacting more like Barabas than Jesus by condemning the messenger; most notably, The New York Times.
Father, forgive them, even though they know well what they do…. Celibacy…? Yeah right!
NOTE: I appreciate that there are some naïve souls who are genuinely alarmed by revelations about sexual abuse of children by priests throughout Europe and the US. Therefore, I hereby admonish them to brace themselves for revelations that are bound to come about an even greater prevalence of this perverted behavior throughout Africa and the Caribbean….
The Pope comes to America