|Bronze Mural from St. Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco, CA|
Monday, December 27, 2010
POPE BENEDICT EXCUSES PEDOPHILES IN ADDRESS TO CARDINALS
Having heard/read some prurient snippets of POPE BENEDICT XVI’s December 20, 2010 address to the Roman Curia, I thought surely the Pope didn’t say that! So I decided to give the self-styled Holy Father the benefit of the doubt and peruse his own words in context. While not as inflammatory as portions cited by some bloggers and commentators, the entire section of his address dealing with clergy sexual abuse was very troubling. While Benedict lamented the stain of child sexual abuse by clergy on the image of the Church, his callousness and insincerity reared their heads immediately. Feigning ignorance of what his fellow priests and bishops had been up to until 2010, Benedict mused:
“We were all the more dismayed, then, when in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.”
In the real world, the former Cardinal Ratzinger is no stranger to the secret cabals of pedophiles that hide beneath the Vatican’s skirts. Notice that he mentions only abusing priests – not bishops. More on that later.
He then quotes from a vision of the Church by 12th Century mystic Saint Hildegard of Bingen (in which the Church anthropomorphically speaks):
“They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them.”
Good job there, Benedict, connecting the dots to past evils in the Church. There is nothing new under the sun.
Then the platitudes begin.
“We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves.”
Heretofore the lawyers (canonical and secular) have made a greater effort to protect the public image of the Church than to guard unsuspecting parishes from unexpected transfers of pedophile priests from other locations. After victims are dragged through years of litigation, the settlement agreements contain the “without admitting any wrongdoing” non-admission by the Church. And the true culprits get off scot-free to prey upon new victims where their infamy is known only to the bishops and their fellow pedophiles.
So much for the truth.
“We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred.”
The sizeable settlements paid to victims and their lawyers (as well as the Church's legal fees) in abuse cases are billed to the parishes for repayments, while the offending priests and bishops are allowed to practice their vows of poverty in the lap of personal luxury.
Here’s a thought: Once you have reduced to the offending priests and bishops to penury to pay the victims – let the Vatican open her coffers. The parishes should not be forced to pony up for the sins of evil men foisted upon them.
“We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen.”
Your proclamation has been for the past 75 years at least: A priest or bishop in his civvies can do whatever he wants with impunity and the Church will shield him from prosecution. Your subsequent actions have followed suit.
“We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good.”
DUH. But first, Benedict – YOU must repent.
“We must be capable of doing penance.”
I hope you mean the Royal “we” as well. Thus far, your crocodile tears, PR and damage control has evinced the lack of capacity for repentance of the perps and their hierarchs. Forget the Hail Marys. The penance for offending bishops who shuffled perps from parish to parish: resign as did Cardinal Law in Boston.
“We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again.”
Start by ejecting the pedophiles from Catholic schools, universities and young men’s seminaries. Know those who labor among you. Laicize and imprison those who are unfit for duty.
“This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message.”
Lip service at its finest. As long as you shield and coddle the abusers and their enabling hierarchs, your message is not the Gospel.
Then the excuses begin.
Popular culture, child porn, sexual tourism are cited as influences on these poor, misguided perps. He added, “In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself…” inferring that the problem originated in the bad moral theology of the 1970’s.
While it is true that pedophile priests and bishops (along with their secular brethren perps) use popular culture, drugs, booze and porn to lure young folks into their web, it is their addictive use of underage sex-workers both here and in far-flung corners of the world that is the most shocking. Any priest regularly vacationing in Thailand is a pedophile suspect in my book. Bishops: better check all clergy passports and visas. The Vatican’s clarification on condom use ensures that the risk of HIV infection to clergy johns can be minimized while actually lessening the moral gravity of the sin of prostitution.
But sexual abuse of minors (male and female) was going on long before the 1970’s.
Cardinal William Levada, Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome certainly knows this. As the Pope’s left-hand man, Levada oversees Vatican handling of sexual abuse cases. Many of the perps he has personally shielded were pre-Vatican II in their formation.
Considering his dismal record on such matters while serving as Archbishop of San Francisco, Levada is the ideal person to obfuscate the truth on a worldwide basis. In the early portion of this decade, I was a member of an abuse-survivor’s group called No More Secrets which was in dialogue with the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Ron Russel’s SF Weekly May 21, 2003 article entitled “See No Evil” is a thumbnail sketch of some of Levada’s shenanigans here at that time. Suffice it to say that Levada is no friend to survivors of clergy sexual abuse nor to the parishes ravaged by abusing clergy.
Along with Los Angeles’ Cardinal Mahoney, Levada has damaged thousands of faithful Catholics in California by recycling pedophile priests from parish to parish. Victims have been trampled upon and then induced to sign settlement agreements in which the Church admits nothing. Due to the heavy financial burdens of settlement agreements placed on the laity of the parishes, victims are often persona non grata in what were formerly their spiritual homes.
A recent story reported on Albuquerque’s krqe.com (1950’s altar boy alleges abuse by priest) about sexual misconduct within the Diocese of Corpus Christi hits even closer to home for me. My biological father and abuser was a priest serving in the same Diocese in the 1950’s. An unwed mother went to him for the sacrament of reconciliation, and he took her to a motel. Nine months later I was born. He told stories about the wild times he and his fellow priests had in Mexican bordellos when seducing his own children. So much for the moral relativism of the 1970’s being the root of this present evil.
Finally, among other accounts of Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict’s the failure to deal with pedophile priests and bishops, the New York Times recently reported on a 1980 internal Church memo disclosing that the then Cardinal Ratzinger knew of the transfer of a German pedophile priest, Father Hullermann, back to active duty – just days after beginning psychiatric treatment. Hullermann was subsequently convicted of multiple counts of abuse in 1986.
So much for papal infallibility.