And Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict’s right in the thick of it.
Germany’s going through a public convulsion these days as news of sexual abuse by Catholic priests has finally hit the fatherland.
It’s not just America and Ireland any more. Did anyone think the scandal would stop at the border?
A pedophile priest in the Munich archdiocese underwent “treatment” there in 1980 while Benedict was archbishop. After two years the priest was transferred to the nearby town of Grafing, where he was accused of molesting kids in 1985 and convicted the next year.
Benedict’s vicar general while he was in Munich has apparently volunteered to be the Fall Guy. He made the decision to allow the transfer, he says, and Benedict didn’t know a thing about it.
Do you believe that? The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests doesn’t.
Nicole Winfield of Associated Press reported March 13:
“We find it extraordinarily hard to believe that Ratzinger didn’t reassign the predator, or know about the reassignment,” said Barbara Blaine, president and founder of SNAP.
Imagine: you’re the regional vice president of a $50 million-a-year business and one of your district managers gets accused of heinous crimes against children. Do you hustle him out of sight so he can see a doctor, or fire his ass?
If you chose to get him to a doctor, do you allow your chief deputy to handle everything without ever reporting back to you? Do you allow your deputy to get the man rehired as a district manager in an adjacent region? Munich to Grafing is 25 miles away, but in a different diocese.
As archbishop your job is to be a control freak. You’re so good at it, you’re soon promoted to corporate headquarters in Rome and put in charge of the Vatican’s sex police.
In 2001 you send out a letter telling bishops worldwide that they’re to report their sex freaks to you, where all investigations are secret.
The pope, meanwhile, remains under fire for a 2001 Vatican letter he sent to bishops advising them that cases of sexual abuse of minors must be forwarded to his then-office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and that the cases were subject to pontifical secret.
In Ireland, the bishops interpreted that to mean they shouldn’t tell anybody, not police, not parents, only Ratzinger.
Now the Vatican claims his letter was “misinterpreted” by the Irish bishops. Let me ask you, what kind of a Senior Vice President can’t make an order clear to highly educated Regional Managers?
Germany’s justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, has cited the document as evidence that the Vatican created a “wall of silence” around abuse cases that prevented prosecution. Irish bishops have said the document had been “widely misunderstood” by the bishops to mean they shouldn’t go to police.
But canon lawyers insisted Friday that nothing in the document precludes bishops from going to police when confronted with a case of child abuse.
The letter doesn’t tell bishops to also report the crimes to police. But the Rev. John Coughlin, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School, said a principle of moral theology to which every bishop should adhere is that church officials are obliged to follow civil laws where they live.
In the U.S., Dan Shea, an attorney for several victims, has introduced the Ratzinger letter in court as evidence that the church was trying to obstruct justice by keeping the cases secret.
“This is an international criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice,” Shea said.
The other day the head of the German Catholic Church had a big meeting with Benedict about the abuse crisis. The pope’s PR team said he listened carefully and was very concerned.
But he didn’t say anything afterwards, and the PR team promised he’ll soon send a letter about this—to Irish bishops, not German ones, and “soon” is a relative term.
Yesterday the German Church suspended the convicted pedophile priest, who was working in comfy digs, providing pastoral care to tourists in a spa town. You can’t make this stuff up.
Christopher Lawton of Reuters reports:
In Ireland on Monday, Cardinal Sean Brady dismissed calls to resign for his minor role in a 1975 case where two victims of a wayward priest had to sign oaths of secrecy. The priest later admitted to molesting 90 children over a 40-year period.
Minor role? That’s not what AP’s reporting. Brady doesn’t want to play Fall Guy, so he’s playing another bureaucratic game, Pass the Buck:
Irish Catholic leader won’t quit for abuse coverup
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK (AP) – 9 hours ago
DUBLIN — Ireland’s senior Roman Catholic, Cardinal Sean Brady, said Monday he would not resign despite admitting he helped the church collect evidence against a child-molesting priest — and never told police about the crimes.
Brady, as a priest and Vatican-trained canon lawyer in 1975, said he interviewed two children about the abuse they suffered at the hands of the Rev. Brendan Smyth. He said both children were required to sign oaths promising not to tell anyone outside the church of their allegations.
Smyth went on to molest and rape scores of other children in Ireland, Britain and the United States before British authorities in neighboring Northern Ireland demanded his arrest in 1994. The Irish government of the day collapsed amid acrimony over why Smyth was not quickly extradited to Belfast.
Brady admitted his role in gathering evidence against Smyth because he has been named as a defendant in a current Dublin lawsuit filed by one of Smyth’s female victims. Lawyers in that case unearthed records of Brady’s involvement in gathering testimony from two Irish boys abused by Smyth.
Brady said it was the responsibility of his diocesan bishop, as well as the leader of Smyth’s separate Catholic order of priests, to tell police. But he said the church didn’t do this because of “a culture of silence about this, a culture of secrecy.”
“Yes, I knew that these were crimes,” Brady said. “But I did not feel that it was my responsibility to denounce the actions of Brendan Smyth to the police. Now I know with hindsight that I should have done more, but I thought at the time I was doing what I was required to do.”
Brady said he would resign as leader of Ireland’s 4 million Catholics only if Pope Benedict XVI asked him to go.
The pontiff so far has failed to accept the 3-month-old resignation offers of three other Irish bishops who have been implicated in Catholic abuse cover-ups in Dublin. The reform-minded Dublin archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, had pressed for all three to go, but other Irish bishops have criticized Martin for not adequately defending the church against outside attack.
But indeed, it’s the Vatican PR team that’s on the attack. They’re playing Shoot the Messenger. How dare anyone think that the “holy father” made a mistake or failed to act?
But that really isn’t the accusation anymore. The question is whether Ratzinger has directed an international criminal conspiracy.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why he was elected. As the longtime head of the Vatican Sex Police, he knows where all the bodies are buried, and he knows how to protect himself first and foremost. His flunkies will pull out all the stops to save him; they have to, because if he goes down, so do they; so does the entire edifice.
Let no one underestimate the Vatican’s ability to survive; self-protection is the one thing they’re experts at. From selling indulgences to waging wars, the Vatican has been a monumentally corrupt institution for at least a thousand years.
What they can’t do, haven’t done and will not do, is protect children in their care. They have a grand rationalization; their job is to defend the “one true religion” from all enemies.
Unfortunately they’ve convinced themselves they do that by protecting their CEO instead of Jesus Christ, who doesn’t need their help and never did.
But The Big Lie is starting to unravel right on Benedict’s doorstep. Soon he’ll be Playing the Martyr himself.
What bothers me most is that millions more people will make the mistake of deciding that Jesus is the problem, when the pope is the problem and always has been.
The Church doesn’t need secrecy, it needs transparency. That’s why I’m a Protestant; that’s why I’m an Episcopalian.++