This is from Reuters of 28 March: “The pontiff [Pope Benedict] said faith in God helps lead one ‘towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion’.” It would be hard to imagine a more arrogant, elitist statement, especially by the head of the entire Roman Catholic Church worldwide. It reeks of an insensitivity that is shocking.
The pope has been relatively free from being connected to the filth dredged up in the last two decades or so with regard to the pedophilia practiced by priests in the U.S., finally culminating in the church’s responding to lawsuits practically bankrupting many dioceses and “outing” the priest-pedophiles nationwide. It’s a wonder that the believers in the pew haven’t pronounced a pox on the church fathers and walked.
The Pope should not even consider using the word courage in anything he says. The bishops and cardinals who had full knowledge from the get-go of the filthy perversions practiced on the most vulnerable, children, and did nothing realistic about it exhibited a cowardice unmatched in anybody’s church, not to mention the crass insensitivity or outright ignoring of criminal laws. And how much courage does it take for a priest to defile a child and then warn him/her not to speak of it, especially in light of the fact that the child has been taught that the priest can do no wrong and that the pope is indeed infallible (perfect?)?
The Pope should take the word intimidated out of his speeches/lexicons/prayers/homilies/whatever. Intimidation of the worst degree was practiced by the priests, most likely promising their charges everything from earthly physical deformity to eternal hellfire if they spoke of priestly perfidy. The pope had better be intimidated because the people in the pews in Europe (his bailiwick) are now making their outrage heard, the accounts of rampant pedophilia appearing daily. This is no longer just a U.S. problem. Even the Catholic bastion of Ireland is filled with seething congregants, and for good reason.
It’s unbelievable that the pope characterized the mega-numbers of well-documented offenses (anything but gossip) and payoffs in the U.S. alone as the result of “petty gossip of dominant opinion.” The very fact that Benedict recognizes the opinion as dominant makes it anything but petty. He apparently feels himself so far above the matter that he doesn’t even realize the seriousness of it. Does he actually believe that pedophilia just devolves into pettiness…nothing to be accounted important enough to make waves? Maybe he thinks a good confession can just make things right, despite the fact that in a civilized country pedophilia is a crime.
Also from Reuters: “As the scandal has convulsed the Church, the Vatican has gone on the offensive, attacking the media for what it called an ‘ignoble attempt’ to smear Pope Benedict and his top advisors.” It’s impossible to smear something or someone that/who has already smeared itself/himself. The media has only presented the sordid truth about the scandal and most likely has only scratched the surface at that, with many more shoes to drop.
It is now known that Benedict, while a bishop in Germany, took no significant action against a pedophile-priest in his charge and – even worse – presided over the Vatican agency for 14 years that handled pedophile-priest cases, apparently keeping everything so quiet that no waves would be made, thus assuring that the pedophiles could continue their perfidies unmolested (no pun intended), with the church going merrily on its way. How disgusting!
Two bishops in Ireland have already resigned, with three more offering their resignations. The head of the Irish church, Sean Brady, should step down no later than yesterday, as some have demanded. Also resigning – and the sooner the better – should be Pope Benedict since the entire mess lies at his feet. Only then will the church gain back some of the respect that has been lost, and for good reason. It’s noteworthy, also, that this perverted pedophile-priest conduct happened on the watch of Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Ironically, the Vatican has him on a fast track for beatification.
There are Elmer Gantry-types in probably all denominations of any size, but the thoroughly documented scope of pedophilia (and homosexual behavior) has been so far-reaching in Roman Catholicism that there should be a thorough cleanup top to bottom in the leadership. It’s hard to imagine how devout Catholic parents can send their youngsters to Catechism or altar-boy training or, certainly, to confession without being conflicted.
It’s probable that pedophile-priests have operated with impunity in the church since its beginning, their safety from prosecution being guaranteed by their absolute control over their charges. The problem is at least now vividly out in the open but it remains to be seen if the Catholic leadership is up to the task of sincere repentance and consequent purging – a sort of penance on a grand scale.