Can the pope!

March 30, 2010 • 3:29 pm

It’s become increasingly clear that the Pope cannot claim that he was insulated from the child-rape scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church.   He had personal knowledge of the transfer of a pederast priest, Peter Hullermann, from one diocese to another after that priest underwent psychiatric counseling.  And of course Hullermann started up his depredations in the new parish.  The Vatican, of course, claims that the memo that the Pope may have seen was “routine.”

On Sunday, Ratzinger dismissed his critics, saying that his faith in God helped him “toward the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion.”

Petty gossip?  What world is Ratzinger living in?

Over at Slate, Christoper Hitchens continues his exposé of Ratzinger’s sleaziness.

This is what makes the scandal an institutional one and not a matter of delinquency here and there. The church needs and wants control of the very young and asks their parents to entrust their children to certain “confessors,” who until recently enjoyed enormous prestige and immunity. It cannot afford to admit that many of these confessors, and their superiors, are calcified sadists who cannot believe their luck. Nor can it afford to admit that the church regularly abandoned the children and did its best to protect and sometimes even promote their tormentors. So instead it is whiningly and falsely asserting that all charges against the pope—none of them surfacing except from within the Catholic community—are part of a plan to embarrass him.

This hasn’t been true so far, but it ought to be true from now on. This grisly little man is not above or outside the law. He is the titular head of a small state. We know more and more of the names of the children who were victims and of the pederasts who were his pets. This is a crime under any law (as well as a sin), and crime demands not sickly private ceremonies of “repentance,” or faux compensation by means of church-financed payoffs, but justice and punishment. The secular authorities have been feeble for too long but now some lawyers and prosecutors are starting to bestir themselves. I know some serious men of law who are discussing what to do if Benedict tries to make his proposed visit to Britain in the fall. It’s enough. There has to be a reckoning, and it should start now.

If the Pope were a Japanese businessman, and running a firm that was corrupt, he’d be forced to step down in humiliation. But Ratzinger is infinitely worse: he presided over an institution that bills itself as a paragon of moral guidance, and yet systematically and institutionally raped its charges and covered up its crimes. And, more and more, we see that Ratzinger was not ignorant but complicit.  In a just world, he  would resign.  Do Catholics have the moral backbone to force him out?

31 thoughts on “Can the pope!

  1. In a just world, he would resign. Do Catholics have the moral backbone to force him out?

    Just FYI – no one can force the pope out. Period. The pope can resign his office but no one can force the pope to resign. The bishops can’t do it. The laity can’t do it. The council of cardinals can’t do it. There are only two ways a pope leaves his office – he either resigns voluntarily (something that should be noted hasn’t happened since 1417) or he dies in office.

    And, FWIW, there is very little that the laity can actually do in any event. You can stop being Catholic and that’s about it. That’s what happens when you belong to a feudal organization that thinks secularism is the root of all problems, that democracy puts too much power in the hands of the people, and that wishes the Enlightenment would just go away. The Church has been like that for as long as I’ve been alive – apparently there was a bit of a burp in the 1960s when they decided that they should try updating themselves to the Enlightenment and stop using Latin, but even that is apparently widely viewed as a mistake by folks at the top of the hierarchy these days.

    Perhaps this will get so nasty and ugly that Catholics just stop attending – stop giving money and stop showing up on Sundays. I doubt it. The Church has already been fairly successful at driving off anyone who might disagree with their claims of absolute authority. The folks who are sticking it out are either delusional folks who think you can change a top-down corrupt organization with no transparency like the Church from the inside or folks who just don’t care.

    1. What’s happening to Ratzi now is the worst thing that can happen to him.

      He and his institution are being publicly questioned, mocked and marginalized.

      These guys thrive on power, respect and public adulation.

      This is hitting them where it hurts most, not that I’d be against some public prosecutors taking aim at some high profile clergy all the way up to the pope.

      Not going to look good for Ratzinger et al with outstanding arrest warrants in multiple jurisdictions, could make international travel a bit complicated.

      I can just imagine the conversation with the vatican travel agent, I need to get to Brazil (might be a few of the nazi war criminals the vatican helped spirit out of europe post WWII still kicking around in that area) pronto, but under no circumstances can there be stop overs in Germany, UK, USA etc.

      Looks like there may already be a bit of backpedaling in the UK with respect to the papal state visit. No buggy ride thru central London for his holiness and the head honcho of the CofE is acting a bit cool since the rcc raid on the homophobic, misogynist contingent of the CofE.

      Want a bet that the pope may be not feeling too well and can’t make the state visit at this time, so sorry for the short notice, hope you are not too inconvenienced ?

      This could have the effect of driving away those catholic with any vestige of conscience, those that are left are right where they belong.

      The rcc could become a non entity in the western affluent nations, they would have to focus their depredations entirely on the 3rd world, and while there are a lot of poor, uneducated (in other words, prime catholic fodder) people there, there is not a lot of money to be had. And boy will they need money and lots of it as the civil suits continue to roll in.

      If it weren’t for the horrifying real world impact on generations of children and their families, I’d say you just can’t buy entertainment of this caliber.

      Oh well, dare to dream …

      1. I tend not to agree that this mild mocking is the best thing that can happen to the church.
        The current Pope is a willful genocidal war-criminal, an enabler & supporter of an army of child-rapists & torturers.
        Mocking is the best thing?
        No, prosecution of everyone involved, and dissolution of the RCC to pay as much as they are able to the victims and their families is the ‘best thing’.

      2. I have never heard of a sex scandal involving the catholic church in the third world nations. OK, there was this “legioners of christ” guy in Mexico, but that’s about it.
        So what is happening in the ubercatholic Phillipines,or in El Salvador? Well, I can think of two possible explanations.
        A) The clergy in poor nations are godly and pious and wouldn’t ever dream of such heinous acts.
        B) Those nations lack the legal infrastructure that it takes to pursue such allegations outside the church itself.
        Take your pick.

        1. I suspect there have been stories of rape by priests throughout third world nations like the Philippines. In the novel “El Filibusterismo” by the filipino Jose Rizal, the daughter of one of the characters is the illegitimate child of the priest. On top of that, why would you expect condemnation of the church in a country where the church believes itself above the law and even harasses government ministers who take responsible actions which the church does not condone? Remember this is the church which tells people that condoms spread AIDS. I suspect the third world folk are so scared of the great bogeyman that the church can do as it pleases. Don’t forget that most of Europe was like that only about 100 years ago – a mere 4 generations.

  2. Historically popes have only been forced out by threats or actual violence (including poisoning). The pope can be asked to quit, but aside from that I think only god-approved methods such as murder or death by natural causes can be used to remove him.

    Personally I’d rather the pope stayed and more catholics left the church. I’d like to see the church selling off its property at bargain prices.

    1. Why would you want him to go? He is the perfect pope as Dawkins said. He is the perfect embodiment of the institution he heads.
      I’ll pray to the FSM to prolong his papacy and thin out his congregation. (The two eventualites are likely interrelated).

  3. Is there a site or a book or a few good articles anyone knows of that explains the world of priests and the abuse they’ve inflicted and, importantly, why?

    What is it about the priesthood that apparently attracts so many twisted individuals?

    Is it because they have certain feelings they know are wrong and think becoming a priest (vow of celibacy and all) will keep them from acting out? Is it emotional and psychological retardation? By that I mean they seem to have the sexual maturity of a 12 year old. 12 year olds going through puberty think other 12 year olds are icky and attractive all at the same time. A very confusing and weird time for kids. It’s as if certain priests never matured beyond this.

    Anyway, curious what others think and any info is greatly appreciated.

    1. A woman who attended an international conference of gay men and lesbians before it kicked paedophiles out (in the 1980s) had this insight: –

      The paedophiles (AMBLA, the American Man-Boy Love Association, I kid you not, times have indeed changed) were like little boys themselves. She implied they practically had food-fights.

  4. The Vatican, of course, claims that the memo that the Pope may have seen was “routine.”

    Wow, documents about a pedophile priest being shuffled from one parish to another is considered “routine.” I don’t see how that helps them in any way.

    Do Catholics have the moral backbone to force him out?

    Ha. The top-down authoritarian structure is a vital part of Catholicism. You may recall that the primacy of the Bishop of Rome (i.e. pope) is what separated the Holy Roman Catholic Church from the Orthodox. Pope Indulgence has the God-given authority to enact moral law not only here on Earth, but in Heaven as well. This is Catholic doctrine, and all those “cafeteria Catholics” need to be reminded of this once in a while.

  5. Good post! Personally I don’t understand why people bring their allegations of criminal deeds to officials in the church instead of police. These are criminal matters, not ecclesiastical ones. Criminal investigations need to be handled by the police, not church officials. Period. Criminal behavior is a PUBLIC concern, not an internal matter for the church, which has consistently shown that it places more importance on image than protecting its flock from harm.

  6. In a just world, he would resign.

    In a just world, he and all the other bishops who were complicit in this would spend the rest of their lives in prison.

  7. Let’s see, if the headline was, “Leader of Atheist Group Implicated in Child Rape Scandal”, which do you think the the public/official reaction would be?

    A) Much shuffling of feet whilst looking at ground trying to decide what to do
    B) Politely ask the accused to step down – think of all the other atheists, after all!
    C) Lay siege to his house, burn it to the ground, and shoot anything that moved

    1. Let’s see, how many divisions (to quote Stalin’s blunt question) does the Pope have? Still too darn many, wherefore lots of A) and some B) and much official wetting of pants.

    2. A is what is happening now. B is what would never happen. C sounds like a pretty good option from where I’m sitting. We’ll keep most of our fires and bullets metaphorical.

  8. One thing I can’t work out is why any western country (particularly those that haven’t been dominated by the RCC since the reformation) choose to treat the Vatican as a state.

    The idea clearly goes back to pre-1870 Italy when the Pope was a prince and ruled something like 1/3 of Italy in the form of the Papal States.

    After the Papal States were swallowed up in the newly unified Italy, Pope Pius IX locked himself up in the Vatican like a teenager throwing a tantrum, and refused to come down to dinner, and likewise his successors until (I think) 1929. That was when that nice Mr Mussolini whispered sweet nothings in the ear of Pius XI and told him he could have his own little papal state in the middle of Rome, and everyone could be friends again. They even got their own passports and stamps. And the rest of the lined up to do the same.

    The result is that Vatican envoys (Papal Nuncios, as they are known) and their staff not only get to keep your local bishops in line, they get diplomatic immunity, meaning no tax, no lawsuits, and most importantly, no need to produce documents.

    And the Vatican, as a state, has sovereign immunity. This means, in effect, that its assets cannot be made subject to court orders etc of any foreign country. So when your local parish goes bankrupt, don’t look to Ratzi to foot the abuse bill. Here in Ireland we recently had a bishop asking people of the diocese to contribute to pay abuse costs – otherwise, the Church would be forced to sell some of its property! That went down nearly as well as you’d expect.

  9. I live in Canada but recently visited family in the United States. I was shocked to see a TV news report describe the most recent accounts of child rape as ‘sexual misconduct’ by priests. That sounds somewhat benign. I can’t believe that people are more worried about offending VAMBLA (Vatican Man-Boy Love Association) and its leader instead of protecting their own children.

    1. Its the christian disease that is rampant in the United States.

      I’ve just been watching CNN talking about the catholic problem. Bill Donohue (catolicker league) was defending(?) his disgusting religion by framing their pedophilia as a homosexuality problem, basically that it wasn’t about child rape with NO mention of violent crime. It was reported that a commenter on a CNN blog noted that catholics also rape girls but that didn’t seem to make a difference to Bill Donohue or Rick Sanchez.

      The very next story on CNN was concerning video games that depict rape, which was framed as, not about sex but a crime of violence.

      Rick Sanchez (the CNN reporter for both stories) had no problem with admitting that he was a member of the disgusting christian catholic religion.

      The whole thing highlights the sicko disease that is caused by christianity.

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