It is a modern-era phenomenon to shirk responsibility for one’s actions that at one time was the domain of criminals and spoiled little children. In the past, the clergy preached that unless one accepted responsibility for their actions and repented, they were still sinning. So, in keeping with the tendency of today’s mindset of deflecting blame, the Pope stated that the church’s child sex-abuse scandal was a product of secular society where child abuse is commonplace.
Pope Benedict made his pronouncement at his traditional year-end address to cardinals and bishops of the Vatican, and said that the exposure of abuse in 2010 had reached “an unimaginable dimension” forcing the church to accept the humiliation as a call for renewal. Ratzinger wondered how the church had allowed the abuse to happen and claimed that it was a “terrifying sign of the times.” But it is not just a sign of the times. The Pope ignores the fact that child sex-abuse by priests has gone on for decades while the church turned a blind eye, and was in collusion by reassigning offenders to different parishes so they could continue their perverse sexual abuse.
The most telling statement of the Pope’s detachment with the real world is his insinuation that as recent as the 1970s, child sex-abuse didn’t qualify as an evil, but a behavior that people refused to judge because of tolerance and relativism. The Pope said, “In the 1970s, pedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” and that “It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself.” The notion that raping a helpless, innocent child is not evil and in conformity with man demonstrates that the Pope still doesn’t comprehend real world sensibilities of evil.
There is a sickness in the church when the Pontiff conveniently misdiagnoses the depravity of its priests and bishops by blaming society instead of the miscreants that its followers entrusted their children to. To blame society for the Catholic church’s culture of secrecy and self-preservation is no different than a criminal blaming a victim, and the failure of church leaders to discipline the offenders shows a tacit approval of pedophilia because as the Pope said, it was something “fully in conformity with man and even with children.”
Pope Benedict is a liar and complicit in the crimes of the church. If as Benedict claims, pedophilia was in conformity of man, why in 1988 did then-Cardinal Ratzinger look for ways to remove priests who were guilty of rape and molestation of children? The Vatican has changed its rules now to make it easier to defrock priests guilty of pedophilia because in the past the rules made it difficult to oust priests against their will. Although changing the rules is a start, the fact that bishops do not (as a matter of course) report pedophiles to law enforcement demonstrates the church’s willingness to cover up such vicious crimes against children. It is universally accepted that knowingly covering up criminal activity is a crime, and in many countries considered tantamount to direct involvement in the crime.
If the church truly believed child sex-abuse was a crime, they would have changed church doctrine to reflect their abhorrence of the priest’s crimes and not cover up the activity by reassigning offenders to a different region, but they have not. The Pope’s reluctance to take positive actions against criminals in the priesthood in the guise of following archaic church rules shows there still is no acceptance of responsibility for wrongdoing, and blaming secular society reinforces the belief that the church’s self-preservation outweighs concern for the victims.
The Pope said that pedophilia by priests should be viewed in a broad social context in which child pornography is considered normal by society. Child pornography and sex-abuse may be considered normal in Catholic society, but in the real world it is considered a crime. Instead of taking bold steps toward transparency and exposing the offenders by reporting their crimes to law enforcement, he blames secular society and claims pedophilia conforms to accepted societal norms.
There is nothing in secular society that indicates pedophilia is acceptable or normal, and in most countries is against the law. The Catholic Church has turned a blind eye to the practice of child rape and molestation by its priests and the practice continues unabated. It is only when the victims have come forward that the church acknowledged any malfeasance, and only when the courts ordered compensatory damages that they took actions to remove the priests found guilty. There are still no provisions in church doctrine mandating bishops to report sex-abuse crimes to law enforcement officials, and no transparency in releasing information and documentation about known pedophiles in the priesthood. In stark contrast to transparency and accountability, the practice of relocating pedophile priests to different parishes continues unabated.
It is time for the Catholic Church and the Pope in particular to cease the practice of covering up the sins of its priests and accept responsibility for their crimes against children and humanity. The idea that church officials are above the law because they do god’s work is not acceptable under any circumstance, and the same rules that apply to a school teacher who molests a child should apply to a priest. There is nothing within society’s norms that excuse child sex-abuse in spite of the Pope’s statements otherwise.
The priests and their accomplices in the church hierarchy must be held accountable and their criminal behavior must be punished to the full extent of the law. According to the bible, repentance means confessing and turning away from sin; there is no provision for blaming society. Obviously, the Pope is just a criminal who blames someone else for their crimes, and will not take steps to stop sinning meaning they are non-repentant. They should rot in hell for making their victims’ lives hell on Earth.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.