Sunday, March 14, 2010

Benny the Rat

It is with absolutely no satisfaction that I find that I was right about the priest sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. I asserted in an earlier post that there were three reasons why the Church has reacted so severely against the allegations of sexual abuse of children: 1. Because of the financial cost, 2. Because of the fact that prominent members of the hierarchy were themselves involved either directly or indirectly in the abuse, and 3. For doctrinal reasons; namely, that it is impossible for any Catholic to accept the idea that the priest who performs the miracle of transubstantiation at Mass has, with the very same consecrated fingers, violated the innocence of a child. The child sexual abuse scandal therefore threatens the very heart of the liturgy itself.

Now it is beginning to appear that the abuse scandal reaches to the highest level of the Vatican. From early reports, Pope Benedict XVI may have covered up not only abuse by priests under his control in Germany, but that of his own brother. This man, a priest, was, evidently, director of a church boys choir in which there were cases of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, which were concealed by his brother, Cardinal Ratzinger, now the pope of Rome. The investigation has only just begun, and revelations continue to occur. For my own part, I have little doubt that the current pope did hide instances of sexual abuse of children by priests under his authority (and instructed others to do so), and thereby made further sexual predation possible, indeed, inevitable, given the pathology of the pedophile.

I believe that in the coming weeks and months (unless the investigators are bribed or cowed into relenting), we will discover that the current pope was, in fact, implicated in a history of priest sexual abuse, the discovery of which should render him unfit to hold that, or any other office of authority. Indeed, it ought by any civilized lights, to subject him to legal sanction. Thus, we may yet witness the spectacle of a pope forced to resign rather than face prosecution and imprisonment.

But another possibility occurred to me as I read of the investigation of the pope's brother's misconduct. It may just be possible that Cardinal Ratzinger orchestrated his own ascension to the throne of Saint Peter in order to avoid the very kinds of accusations that are now beginning to close around him.

Think about it: Ratzinger was the prefect of the College of Cardinals, the body charged with choosing the new pope. When the College gathered in Rome to select a successor to John-Paul II, it was Ratzinger who set the agenda for and presided over their secret conclaves. And what was the result? Ratzinger himself was chosen. This, it seemed to me at the time, was nothing less than a coup. Ratzinger, a very powerful and influential cardinal, carefully stage managed his own ascension to the papacy, and for what? For the power and glory, of course. But might it also not have been to insulate himself, in the midst of the sex scandals, from his own past?

If so, it is beginning to appear that he failed in this attempt. The pope who was once photographed in the uniform of the Hitler Youth, may have displayed no more moral insight or courage later when he covered up and facilitated the crimes of pedophiles under his own purview. If this proves true, then he was as complicit in their crimes as he was, de facto, in the crimes of the Nazis. As I said at the time of his elevation to the papacy, Ratzinger was, and apparently remained, a moral coward.

What the public must understand is that the sexual abuse of children by priests (and perhaps also by nuns) is far more pervasive in the history of the Church than even the recent scandals have indicated. I am prepared to offer the opinion that fully a third of all priests may have been guilty of such abuse, and that most of the children in Catholic schools during my time there (the Fifties and Sixties) were exposed to such abuse.

Pedophilia, alcoholism, hypocrisy, and mediocrity were the hallmarks of the Catholic clergy as I experienced it, and that legacy remains a part of the Church's ethos to this day. The hierarchy is now consumed with the struggle to contain and therefore control the scandal, but it will not succeed. Now that it is lapping at the very doors of the Vatican, there is hope that the whole filthy mess will one day come to light, and that those who suffered at the hands of this heinous and predatory religion may yet find justice, and the peace which that may entail.