– Aldous Huxley, “Eyeless in Gaza”
Pope Benedict XVI is not infallible after all.
We now know that as archbishop of Munich the future pope allowed the transfer of a priest molester. As archbishop he looked away despite repeated warnings about a Wisconsin priest who sexually abused 200 deaf boys.
He did not reply to a plea that the Wisconsin priest be defrocked. The priest had signed to the deaf boys that God wanted him to teach them about sex but they must keep the “lessons” secret.
As a Vatican cardinal in 2001, Ratzinger issued a directive to bishops to keep pedophilia investigations secret under threat of excommunication. As a Vatican cardinal he allowed a blatant case of “satanic” rape of children by an Arizona priest to languish 12 years.
“God’s rottweiler” became a see-no-evil pontiff.
Particularly disturbing is that the church reacted to Pedogate like a corporation: using public relations spin to defend the indefensible.
The Catholic Church is not just another corporation. It is a sacred institution. When its priests abuse children it is violating a holy trust.
As John Cory of the online Reader Supported News writes: “Men, not God, not church, stole innocence and trust and possession of one’s body and spirit. … It is murder of the soul.”
The church has been covering up and enabling pedophilia worldwide for decades. Outrages have occurred in Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States. Danish and Swiss bishops are investigating old claims.
Whiffs of scandal have reached Brazil, which has a larger Catholic population than any other country. A Brazilian TV network aired a video of a priest having sex with an altar boy.
But hush-hush is the church position on child abuse. The head of the church in Ireland made two boys sign a document enforcing silence against a priest who had abused them. As a result his priestly role was prolonged 15 years.
Just as rape of a woman leaves mental scars for life, so does sexual abuse of kids. Rape is a horrible intrusion into the precious freedom of being let alone.
Priests who commit such atrocities should be defrocked, not transferred to another parish. Parents of such victims should abandon the church.
It is not just a case of “one rotten apple in the barrel.” It is a worldwide tragedy.
Under church doctrine, all the guilty have to do is confess their sins and all will be forgiven. But priestly pedophilia can never be forgiven. It is an unconscionable act for anyone — let alone “men of God.”
A church that hides crimes cannot claim to be doing God’s work. Yet the church rebuts any criticism with the hollowest rationale: anti-Catholicism. It is hardly anti-Catholic to denounce crime.
Catholics are moved by church ritual. They derive great comfort from the church. But it is harder to be a Catholic for the church’s 1 billion parishioners grappling with the outrage.
The Catholic Church in America has paid $2 billion to abuse victims since 1992. Victims in other countries may seek reparations.
The root cause of church pedophilia is celibacy. Celibacy is absurd. It was enunciated as doctrine in 1022 by another fallible pope, Benedict VIII.
Sexual abstinence is unnatural. Is is impossible for most people to do without sex.
Church theory is that a priest cannot serve God and be married. But many unmarried priests are not serving God.
The church should abolish its harmful celibacy doctrine. Andrew Sullivan, writing for TheAtlantic.com, points out that the insistence on priestly celibacy creates a “truly sick subculture” of “tormented men with arrested sexual and emotional development.”
The church should also stop making women third-class Catholics. It should allow them to become priests.
The prevailing view was given by a Vatican spokesman two years ago: “The church does not feel authorized to change the will of its founder, Jesus.” (This ridiculous argument was made because all the apostles were men.)
Feminism has yet to reach the Vatican. It still espouses the three German k’s: kinder, küchen und kirche (children, kitchen and church).
The archreactionary Ratzsinger, in effect, said as much. In 2004 he issued a Vatican document telling women to be submissive partners, resisting any adversarial roles with men and cultivating “feminine values” like “humility, faithfulness and praise.”
The church, to its detriment, will not change as long as Benedict XVI is pope. Some day a younger, more farsighted pope will change medieval teaching on divorce, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, euthanasia and a celibate male priesthood.
Meanwhlle. the church faces enormous credibility problems, its moral authority undermined, its righteous façade cracked.
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.