Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.
The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.
Be sure to read the whole story. Meanwhile, Sinead O'Connor, who tore up a photo of Ratzinger's predecessor, John Paul II, on "Saturday Night Live" years ago, is calling for the current pope to be criminally prosecuted.
I've suggested half-seriously in previous posts that the Catholic clergy is merely a pedophile ring in robes, but the incredible number of sexual abuse cases seems to make that hypothesis plausible. Perhaps a better way to think about it is that the clergy attracts many pedophile men who have gone into the Church thinking that it is either a solution to their urges or an opportunity to indulge in them under the cloak of papal authority, as it were. As for the Church's coverup of the scandal, in which Benedict is now seriously implicated, that also could have at least two underlying aspects. Either the Church knows that it is attracting pedophiles and doesn't have a serious moral problem with that, and/or it knows that the vow of chastity is really against human nature and doesn't want to admit that--because it would increase pressure to withdraw the celibacy requirement for the priesthood.
It's up to ordinary Catholics to make sure their church deals squarely with this issue (or better yet, in my personal view, to leave the church, a moribund and corrupt institution.) And it's up to the courts to bring these priests to justice, including the man who supposedly talks to God.
Afterthought. As a journalist, I continue to find it very odd that the news media don't ever seem to ask why there is so much pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Perhaps I am missing something. If any readers of this blog have come across such analyses, I would be grateful if they would share them with all of us.
Additional thought. I suppose the vow of chastity is what nuns take, but you know what I mean.
Update. Yet more evidence against Benedict XVI surfaces in the New York Times.
More on this topic. A biting commentary in Slate by Christopher Hitchens.