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?