The Guilt of Pope Benedict

When Benedict XVI resigned from his papacy in February last year it was clear that it was not soley due to advanced age and overall frailty. Today, the Vatican admitted that the former pope had defrocked almost 400 priests in just two years, 2011 and 2012, for child abuse. Federico Lombardi, spokesman of the Vatican, had initially denied a respective AP report but had later to retract that statement.

After an avalanche of cases Benedict has probably realized that there is no other way than to resign from his post, due to personal involvement. Still in September 2013, Benedict had denied, in an open letter to Professor Piergiorgio Odifreddi, that he had covered-up abusive priests. In fact he has.

“All the issues I have discussed thus far have been part of a serious dialogue, for which, as I’ve said repeatedly, I am grateful. The situation is quite different in the chapter on the priest and on Catholic morality, and even more different in the chapter on Jesus. As for what you say about the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can, as you know, only note it with deep dismay. I have never tried to hide these things. That the power of evil penetrates even to this point in the interior life of the faith is, for us, a suffering which, on the one hand, we must endure, while on the other hand, we must at the same time do everything possible so that cases such as these never occur again. Nor is it a reason for comfort to know that, according to the research of sociologists, the percentage of priests guilty of these crimes is not higher than in those found in other similar professions. In any case, this deviant behaviour should not be ostensibly presented as a filthy crime which only exists in the Catholic Church.” (Emphasis added.)

That is not enough. A common argument in the Catholic Church is that child abuse is not more prevalent among priests as it is in the general population. Benedict is even more conservative when he compares priests with “similar professions”. But which profession does he mean? Teachers, sport trainers? As homosexuals are largely overrepresented among priests simply because of the fact that it would be easier to hide one’s sexual orientation in a closed organization of men where celibacy is an absolute requirement, pedophiles may be overrepresented as well since interaction with the congregation includes daily contact with teenagers of both sexes.

Regardless of the simple fact that the Catholic Church has the highest moral demands in particular as regards all matters of sexuality, defrocking is not enough. Child abuse is a most serious crime, in contrast to homosexuality. The former has to be prosecuted not covered-up. Benedict is an accomplice. May his successor Francis be wise and give criminal pedophiles over to our justice systems.

18 January 2014 @ 7:39 pm.

Last modified January 18, 2014.

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