View Full Version : Should the pope resign?

Valentine One Radar Detector

03-29-2010, 08:39 AM
by Mike Whitney

Pope Benedict should do everyone a favor and resign. By hanging on, he's just dragging the church through the mud. Who knows; maybe he thought he was doing the right thing by covering up the incidents of sexual abuse? Maybe he thought it was a sign of loyalty to the church he professes love. But that's beside the point. The Catholic church is in the "moral authority" business, and the public's confidence has been destroyed. How can people trust the advice of spiritual leaders who can't even be straightforward on an issue as basic as child rape? Everyone knows what Benedict has been up to. Everyone knows he's been trying to sweep the whole thing under the rug. But all he's done is torpedo the church's credibility and prove that he's unfit to lead. That's why he's gotta go.

The allegations of sex abuse are still popping up everywhere. In Wisconsin, Father Lawrence Murphy abused as many as 200 boys at a Milwaukee school for the deaf. One of the victims, Arthur Budzinski, has been all-over TV telling his story and blaming the pope, who was overseeing abuse cases at the time.

Here's what Budzinski's daughter Gigi said in an interview on CBS:

"The pope knew about this. He was the one who handled the sex abuse cases. So, I think he should be accountable, because he did nothing."

Of course, Budzinski is not entirely correct. Benedict did not "do nothing". In fact, he was quite busy shuffling predators from one spot to another while hiding the details from the public. So, tell me: who in their right mind would seek counsel from such a man?

But that just proves the larger point, which is, that the sex abuse scandal was never really about sex abuse. It's about the people that were in positions of authority who used their power to conceal the activities of child predators. That's the real story. And these are the people who deserve the most blame. After all, there are laws on the books for pedophiles. It's much harder to catch a wily cardinal who hides behind religious privilege.

Here's an excerpt from the Associated Press:

"In a signed statement last year, the 67 former pupils at a school for the deaf in Verona described sexual abuse, pedophilia and corporal punishment from the 1950s to the 1980s. They named 24 priests, brothers and lay religious men at the Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf.

One victim, Alessandro Vantini, told the AP last year that priests sodomized him so relentlessly he came to feel "as if I were dead."

"How could I tell my papa that a priest had sex with me?" Vantini, 59, said through a sign-language interpreter. "You couldn't tell your parents because the priests would beat you." ("Sex abuse scandal in US, Italy taints papacy", Nicole Winfield, AP)

It's clear, that Benedict--or Cardinal Ratzinger, as he was known at the time--knew what was going on, which is why the Vatican is circling the wagons now and lashing out at the press. As the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, (which was originally called the Office of the Inquisition) Ratzinger took steps to silence priests and clerics who might have been tempted to speak out or reveal what they knew about the cases. In a 2001 letter to bishops around the world, Benedict "ordered them to keep sexual abuse allegations secret under threat of excommunication -- updating a noxious church policy, expressed in a 1962 document, that both priests accused of sex crimes and their victims "observe the strictest secret" and be "restrained by a perpetual silence." (Washington Post) Some critics of the pope believe that Benedict should be prosecuted for his role in abetting sex predators and tolerating a culture where crimes against children were permitted. Clearly, this is an idea whose time as come. No man is above the law; not even the pope. Religious freedom is not license to inflict suffering on others.

Ratzinger has also been implicated in a German case involving Father Peter Hullermann who was suspended from his duties but then, allowed to return to work "without restrictions" as a priest in Munich, even though a psychiatrist described him as a potential danger.

According to the New York Times: "In September 1979, the chaplain (Hullermann) was removed from his congregation after three sets of parents told his superior, the Rev. Norbert Essink, that he had molested their sons, charges he did not deny, according to notes taken by the superior and still in Father Hullermann’s personnel file...“Reports from the congregation in which he was last active made us aware that Chaplain Hullermann presented a danger that caused us to immediately withdraw him from pastoral duties,” the letter said.

Hullermann was allowed to return to his parish work on Feb. 1, 1980. He was finally convicted in 1986 of molesting boys in Bavaria.

Benedict recently issued a feeble apology to Catholics in Ireland for decades of cruelty and abuse which went unanswered by Rome. In the letter Benedict opines, "I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them."


Benedict's comments are predictably insincere. He knew exactly what was going on. As Catholic theologian, Hans Kueng points out:

"There was not a single man in the whole Catholic Church who knew more about the sex-abuse cases than him, because it was ex officio (part of his official role)..."He can’t wag his finger at the bishops and say, you didn’t do enough. He gave the instruction himself, as head of the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith, and repeated it as Pope."

Sinead O'Connor--Irish musician and abuse-victim--was incensed by Benedict's fake empathy and summed it up in a Washington Post editorial:

"Irish Catholics are in a dysfunctional relationship with an abusive organization. The pope must take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates. If Catholic priests are abusing children, it is Rome, not Dublin, that must answer for it with a full confession and a criminal investigation. Until it does, all good Catholics...should avoid Mass. In Ireland, it is time we separated our God from our religion, and our faith from its alleged leaders."

O'Connor makes a good point. The church needs to get it's act together and that means new leadership. Keep in mind, that Benedict heads the Taliban chapter of the Catholic church; a traditionalist flat-earth contingent of fossilized reactionaries bent on dragging civilization back to the Dark Ages. And he's been quite strident in his views on homosexuality (which he describes as an "intrinsic moral evil”) and the role of women (they should “follow the roles inscribed by her biology” In other words, women should be breeding machines.) But, at the same time, the pope doesn't have the character or good judgment to remove sexual predators from positions where they have access to children?!?


If the pope really cared about the church as much as he says, he'd set aside his personal ambition and let someone more deserving take his place. Catholics are looking for accountability so they can put this mess behind them and begin the long process of healing. That can't happen until Benedict goes.