For the Catholic world, read Ireland

As the Washington Post observes, the world will be watching to see if the Pope in his letter to the Irish church tears away the veil of secrecy over the full extent of clerical cover-up and admits some blame of his own. Honesty demands that Joseph Ratzinger himself, the man who for decades has been principally responsible for the worldwide cover-up, at last pronounce his own mea culpa,” says Hans Kung, the world’s most famous Catholic theologian, harrassed by JP2 for his liberal thoughts. It seems to me the Pope is between a rock and a hard place of his own making. Does the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. the old Holy Office he headed, hold all the details of the thousands of cases? If so, will he promise full disclosure? If he does, he exposes his own cover-up; if he doesn’t, he continues it. If neither as is likely, the pressure for full disclosure will be mightily boosted by anti-climax and his very authority put seriously at risk. The BBC’s Rome correspondent David Willey, no callow secularist and the veteran of six papacies “has never seen a graver crisis affecting the very credibility of the leadership of the world’s longest surviving international organisation, the Roman Catholic Church.” Willey believes the Irish letter was held up because of the emergence of the Munich case which points straight to Joseph Ratzinger himself. It’s the old Watergate question: what did he know and when did he know it?. . David Willey “From Our Own Correspondent”

The other day a senior Vatican official, Monsignor Charles Scicluna – an amiable priest from Malta who holds the title of Promoter of Justice – actually gave a lengthy official interview about how headquarters in Rome have been reacting to the huge growth in the number of cases of clerical abuse reported to the Pope during the past decade alone. He also gave numbers: during the past decade the Holy Office received details of 3,000 Catholic priests reported by their Bishops to Rome for sexual misconduct or, even worse, crimes.
Sixty per cent of these cases involved homosexual acts, 30% related to heterosexual behaviour and only 10% – or 300 priests – were, he said, “actual cases of paedophilia.” This was, of course, too many, Monsignor Scicluna admitted, but he added: “The phenomenon is not as widespread as has been believed.”

So how many cases and how many to come? 3000 reported to Rome says the reverend Promoter, “7000 in the US, 700 new cases” says the (unsourced ) Guardian report which quotes another veteran reporter and prominent lay Catholic Clifford Longley with an even more expansive verdict than Willey’s.

“It is such a big story because everything about it is extreme,” says the religious affairs author and journalist Clifford Longley. “It is the worst crisis for the Vatican since the middle ages.”Longley says the church survived nazism, fascism and communism and will outlast the EU, the UN, the US. “Bad though this crisis is, it has survived much worse. At the start of the 16th century the Vatican was little better than a shit-hole.”

There

is a sharp distinction between his attitude while a cardinal and his activities as pope that could yet leave an indelible stain on the reign of Benedict XVI. In 2005 he was elected days after declaring that the time had come to sweep “the filth” from his church. By then he had read – and was disgusted by – files on more than 3,000 clerical abuse cases that were channelled to his department by a decree issued four years earlier by John Paul II.
Most of the cases dealt with by the Vatican department in recent years resulted in the accused being removed, if not defrocked. The problem for Benedict is that, as in many other theological respects, he changed his mind. The US Vatican-watcher John Allen this week published in National Catholic Reporter an extract from the transcript of a conference in Spain that showed that, as late as November 2002, Ratzinger dismissed the American abuse scandals as the result of a “planned campaign” in the media.

I can find only one voice in the press joining the valiant band of Slugger commenters defending the Church’s behaviour, Damian Thomson in the Daily Telegraph.

Many Catholics – and I am one of them – believe that the Pope has been stitched up over this Munich case.

  • Ulick

    Joseph Ratzinger himself, the man who for decades has been principally responsible for the worldwide cover-up

    Now that is just bollocks

  • georgieleigh

    There are differences between this crisis and past crises.

    Firstly, global media sharply focuses the issue to a worldwide audience, who demand openness and accountibility. This was not so before.

    Secondly, the Church is built on something that isn’t naturally and scientifically true, and which relies on faith. Once faith goes, the Church is in trouble.

    Individuals, families, and communities will always need spiritual and moral sustenance. But, round these parts, the Whitby stitch-up may start to unravel.

  • joeCanuck

    a sharp distinction between his attitude while a cardinal and his activities as pope

    The man has shown himself unfit to be the CEO of the Church. As Cardinal he said the filth had to be removed but when he was elected to be the head honcho he suddenly adopted the attitude of the 3 monkeys.
    He came up in the organization, knew who the deadwood were and didn’t axe/retire/remove/put out a contract on (it is Rome) the useless, probably corrupt, bishops and cardinals time servers in positions of power. He is probably hostage to them now. Expect weasel words when his pastoral letter is read out.

  • Ulick

    Joe if you read my link you will see that is just untrue.

  • joeCanuck

    Ulick, I have now read the link. Fair enough, he did do a bit of housekeeping. But I am still very concerned about the apparently sole devotion to ensuring that it does not happen again. That is good, very good, but the victims of previous abuse need justice. It is at times like this that I regret a bit that I am no longer religious; if I still was I might be able to take comfort from the thought that evil people will rot in hell.

  • padraig
  • iluvni

    Mr Willey?

    Stop sniggering at the back…

  • FitzjamesHorse

    The bowlers Holding the batsmans Wille……..no I cant finish it.
    England v West Indies (1976)

  • ardmaj55

    JoeCanuck [3] I read in the ‘Tele’ a short time ago a potted history of JR’s entire career in which je executed a 180 degree turn in his view of the Church’s purpose. This doesn’t auger well for his pastoral address. Both he and his predecessor are in this scandal up to their necks.
    They haven’t changed their outlook simply because they cannot afford to, in either mercenary or moral senses.

  • apollo293867

    Padraig:

    “But this campaign by the media and anti-Christian liberals is hardly a righteous one. It is rather a sinister ploy to undermine an institution that, despite its many problems, is one of the few remaining pillars of reverence and respect in society. Its primary aim is to drive God out of the public sphere, and to drag into the mud everything that is good. It is also financially motivated, and driven by greed and sensationalism.”

    How can you read this piece and not view it as an obvious self serving piece of clap-trap. It is time for the civil authorities to start kicking doors in, getting the documentation and putting those responsible for abuse and the cover up behind bars.

    Mr Ratzinger is as responsible as anyone for the said cover up, his position now is irrelevant as it is driven by other forces. His response in 2001 was to cover up and no doubt if that had been a success we would not be where we are now.

    The reality of this appears to be that The church appears to believe that it is above the law. Justice must be blind and must be dispensed without fear or favour, otherwise we are all in peril.

  • padraig

    [b]How can you read this piece and not view it as an obvious self serving piece of clap-trap. [/b]

    Apollo, I can not view it as [b]’self-serving[/b] because it was written by an Anabaptist Minister, thats how. For how could it by ‘self serving’ ,as you suggest then that it ‘self serving’ if it was written by someone who is not actually a Catholic.

    You have me baffled.

    Read it again and see for yourself.

  • Democrat

    Monsignor Charles Scicluna said that during the past decade the Holy Office received details of 3,000 Catholic priests reported by their Bishops to Rome for sexual misconduct or, even worse, crimes.

    In one decade!

    There is obviously a major flaw in the system, ie the church itself. There will have to be major reform of its practices. Changing a few personnel is not enough.

  • apollo293867

    Padraig

    Sorry I am living proof that should not blog when you are raging. I tend to shove all theists and christians into the same basket and the sentence ” But this campaign by the media and anti-Christian liberals is hardly a righteous one” Really made me rip.

    For me Justice is a righteous thing of itself and does not need endorsement from church or whatever shky god holds sway over the particular piece of the earth that you stand on.

  • padraig

    [b]Sorry I am living proof that should not blog when you are raging.[/b]

    I am happy to learn, Apollo that you have learned your lessons in the need to control your temper when blogging, For in reading your posts I feel that I must share your concerns in this regard.

    However I feel this is some degree of optimism in that the first step to your recovery is that you recognise that you have problems and recognise them in so open and public a fashion.

    This is all good.

    I wish you every Blessing from God in whatever steps towards recovery or therapy you are taking towards healing and any suggestions I can make I will be very happy to do so.

  • apollo293867

    Thanks Padraig,

    I feel better already. Now where is my Sunday paper so I can test that theory……

    Watch this space!

  • Paddy

    Brian Walker at the bishop bashing again. Note the small window he gives to the Telegraph, Britain’s most authoritaive broadsheet and the top billing to (theological and societal) nobody Hans Kung.
    Padraig and some others make some good points with interesting links. Empty brains have been after the Pope (any pope really) since he was elected, citing his membership of the Hitler Youth and of an anti aircraft crew. Those people have no credibility.

    “For the Catholic world, read Ireland” If Mr Walker is equating Ireland with the Catholic Church, it just shows how his inner demons have taken control of him. Two German diocese and Chicago pay the Church’s bills, Poland has far more RCs than Ireland and so does Britain.

    The problem is Ireland is not so much paedophila but that boys and girls younger than 15 were railroaded into the priest/brother/sister hood, leading to the inevitable abuses.

    Brendan Smyth was portrayed by the 2 brain cell media as the most dangerous man in Ireland. A cursory look at the man would have shown he was a nut case and less dangerous than King Rat, The Jackal, Slab or your average thuggish squaddie.