Ratzinger addresses abuse on arrival to UK

Via the NY Times:

EDINBURGH — As Pope Benedict XVI arrived here Thursday for the first state visit to Britain by a pope, he offered his strongest criticism yet of the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of the sex abuse crisis, saying it had not been “sufficiently vigilant” or “sufficiently swift and decisive” in cracking down on abusers.

Speaking to reporters on his flight from Rome, Benedict also said that the church’s “first interest is the victims.”

“I must say that these revelations were a shock for me, a great sadness,” he said of the crisis that has undermined the church’s moral authority in many parts of Europe and beyond.

He expressed “sadness also that the authority of the church was not sufficiently vigilant and not sufficiently swift and decisive to take the necessary measures.”

His remarks showed that the Vatican had perhaps begun to learn from its mistakes after stumbling in its response to the crisis.

Asked how the church could restore the faith of those shaken by the revelations of widespread priestly abuse, the pope said: “The first interest is the victims” and the church needed to determine “how can we repair, what can we do to help them to overcome the trauma, to re-find their lives.” He also said that priests who are guilty of abuse had a “sickness” and needed to be kept away from children.

There are nine names one must take into account when Ratzinger insists on his sincerity in punishing abusers:

i.) Rev. Peter Hullermann, to who Ratzinger prescribed “therapy” to remedy his pedophilia, and who after the administration of these treatments was allowed by the then-archbishop was transfered to another succession of parishes wherein he raped again, and who was only excused from clerical duties earlier this year;

ii.) Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, the rapist of approximately 200 deaf children entrusted to his care, and who Ratzinger refused to press any charges against the abuser of 200-plus deaf children on account of the abuser’s old age;

iii.) Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, a scam artist, bigamist, and serial rapist who abused the seminarians under his own care and the children he fathered, against whom Ratzinger only initiated a secret investigation against, only to sentence the criminal to a pacific retirement;

iv.) the “satanic” Rev. Michael Teta, violater of children for some twenty years, and whose case under Ratzinger’s office for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith resulted in the rapist’s explusion from the clergy only after sitting on the case for 14 years;

v.) Msgr. Robert Trupia, a rapist whose case wallowed for twelve years in the same office before being permitted an “early retirement” to a “Baltimore condo and  leather-seated Mercedes-Benz,”

vi.) Rev. Stephen Kiesle, the pedophile who admitted he was unfit for the priesthood and begged laicization, and who Ratzinger explicitly refused to remove from duty, citing “the good of the universal church” and the “young age” of the perpatrator,

vii.) Cardinal Hans Hermann  Groër, rapist of children and the seminarians entrusted to his care, and who Ratzinger failed to vet before nominating him for the position of archbishop of Vienna, and

viii.)  Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, the conspirator behind the coverups of rape in his jurisdiction of Boston, against whom Ratzinger never initiated investigations or penalties, clearing the path for him to resign his post and assume several cushy jobs in the Vatican and a vote in the 2005 Papal Conclave. Since assuming the papacy, Ratzinger has not removed Law from any of his duties or publically condemned his actions.

ix.) Rev. Allen Campbell, a rapist who would be convicted of his crimes in 1985, but whose ecclesiastical investigation was dropped by Ratzinger’s office after Campbell refused to accept the charges.

Also, as pope, Ratzinger has extended the stature of limitations on abuse cases, so that victims might press ecclesiastical charges against their rapist up to 20 years after their eighteenth birthday. So anyone who can only summon the courage to face their abuser only after the age of 39 has neither recourse within the church. Why they would even seek it at this point is beyond my imagination, but Rome isn’t helping me expand that faculty on this matter.

Nor has he addressed his personal tweaking of church policy; since assuming the papacy, Ratzinger has never publically addressed his 2001 declaration that sex abuse cases be handled with the highest level of secrecy within the church, pontifical secrecy, nor is it clear he ever rescinded that policy. As pope, has publically articulated, but not updated, the church’s longstanding unofficial policy of requiring bishops to report their underlings’ abuse to civil authorities if and only if they can be legally procecuted for abetting by keeping silent under local statutes. And it is clear this exposition was only made grudgingly; at least one high-ranking Vatican official has described such mandates of the barest decency and sense of responsibility “onerous.” Perhaps more importantly, no one in the Vatican has made any comment on individual bishops, like Milwaukee’s own Listecki, who petition their local governments not to extend the stature of limitations in crimes of sexual violence, thus shielding their flock not only from ecclesiastical punishment, but civic justice as well. Until Ratzinger or one of his spokespersons denounces this lobbying, we can only assume Qui tacet consentire vidétur, “He who keeps silent is assumed to consent.”

Finally, and tellingly, the organizational culture of the current Vatican does not seem to recognize the severity of the crisis. In the same document making explicit rules for bishops handling abuse cases, pedophilia was described as one of the “more grave delicts,” and placed on par with the ordination of women and disagreement with Church dogma. So either the coterie Ratzinger assembled to address the paramount crisis facing his institution was tonedeaf to the severity of that crisis, or unselfconscious of how their insinuations about women would be recieved, or both. In any case, tone is set from the top. 

All this taxes the good faith of one trying to believe Ratzinger is really committed to expending all his intellectual energies to ridding the church of its filth. Even if he does feel real symapathy for the victims, he lacks either the courage or competency to recognize the fundamental change to organizational structure and culture needed to atone for it. He has yet to apologize for, or even acknowledge, his part in bungling the discipline of the nine figures listed above. The policies he has clarified or implemented throughout his career are feeble, reactionary, reassertive to demonstrably failed mechanisms, counterproductive. Ratzinger’s apparatus is not even impotent to bring to justice its most abominable members; it is unwilling.

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