Home > current events, religion > The Problem with the Church

The Problem with the Church

I’m not going to rehash the entire history of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. That would be tedious, the issue I have is that of responsibility concerning the position of the Pontiff for this latest scandal.

It’s not really a new scandal, the news is that it just isn’t an American problem as what once was though several years ago. It now appears that the sexual abuse was not limited to this country but is at least also pervasive in Europe. That isn’t the scandal itself. The scandal is that the hierarchy knew about it and instead of doing something to punish the offenders simply shuffled them around from one place to another often times ignoring that the new place the offenders were going would just afford them new opportunities to continue their crimes. Exactly how high did the knowledge of it proceed?

When it was an American problem it was widely believed that there was a buffer between the decision to transfer and the Pope, at the time John Paul II. It was a well defended idea, John Paul II was believed to be on the fast track to sainthood as his work in Poland during the Nazi and Communist occupations was widely accepted as being noble. Those actions are not in dispute. My issue is that if you take that position with regard to the previous pope you can’t take it now.

Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, was the head of the office in charge of dealing with the allegations. He opted for maintaining secrecy rather than conducting trials. As it stands this means that between the allegations and Pope John Paul II, he was the buffer. I can accept this as it is rare for any problem to always reach the top of a hierarchy, no matter what its seriousness. If that is to be accepted then it means that between this Pope and the current scandal there is no wall.

If the church accepts that ultimately Pope Benedict is responsible for this, which I would like to hear arguments in favor of, then…well, there isn’t really anything that can be done but to accept responsibility. Given that the Vatican is both a worldwide religious organization and its own political entity no outside government can force it to pay for its crimes either punitively or criminally. They can only punish the offenders or restrict the access of those people to enter other countries.

Although the Pope has issued an apology to the Catholic citizens of Ireland, which in itself is unprecedented, this is not justice. In essence the apology is saying that while they are sorry for the victims they aren’t taking any measures to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. Yet I am at a loss to envision an acceptable solution that would satisfy the demands of justice. This type of problem isn’t easily overcome it will be interesting to see what the official solution will be.

Categories: current events, religion
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