by Pa Rock
Catholicism is pretty damned important in Ireland, a majority religion that is the pervasive element in much of the Irish culture. The violence that tore apart Northern Ireland for decades was, in fact, a product of bitterness between the majority Irish Catholics and minority Irish Protestants, many of whom were descendants of the English "occupiers."
So when a Catholic pedophile priest scandal broke in Ireland in November of 2009, it was a very big deal. It struck at the very heart of Irish culture.
The Murphy Report, a government study of the problem, cataloged a series of child sexual abuses (rape and torture, that kind of stuff) conducted by 46 priests between the years of 1975 and 2004, as well as Church cover-ups of these crimes. The Archdiocese of Dublin worked diligently at fixing the problem - through measures such as moving problem priests around and being preoccupied with maintaining secrecy. (Sound familiar?) The Church's primary goal was to protect its reputation and its assets. The Murphy Report concluded that "All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities."
Many child victims were forced to sign secrecy oaths that prevented them from testifying against their rapists and torturers. The mightiest social institution in Ireland was forcing scared children and scarred adults to keep quiet about horrible crimes - making them feel as though they were actually to blame. Yeah, that's a solution to be proud of!
The Pope wrote a letter of apology to members of the Irish Church and will allow a Church investigation of the crimes to go forward.
Christ allowed himself to be nailed to a cross and die a tortuous death for the sins of mankind - all of mankind. Now the heir to the Throne of St. Peter, issues a pissy little letter of apology for the sins, the awful sins, of the religious leaders of his church - sins against children! Well, in fairness to the Pope, Christ didn't have all of the gilded Church property to worry about.
But that was last month's news. In the past couple of days another story of Church sexual abuse has spilled onto the pages of the world's press. These sex crimes occurred in Wisconsin between the 1950's and the 1970's. There was just one scumbag priest perpetrator (that we know about) in this case, Father Lawrence Murphy. He sexually abused over 200 little boys in a school for the deaf during those two decades of terror. Can you imagine being deaf, sent from your home to live in a Church school for deaf boys, and being sexually abused by one of the people who was supposed to be protecting you? There are no words to describe the awfulness and horror of what happened to those little boys.
This forty-year-old story of child sexual abuse has just come to light, and the thing that makes it internationally newsworthy is that the current Pope, Benedict XVI, was a player in the cover-up of the crime.
Two American bishops who became aware of the crimes in the 1990's petitioned the Vatican to let them conduct a Church trial of Father Murphy. Unfortunately, the office in the Vatican that received the request was headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, the man who would later become Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzo's office quickly killed the plan for a trial. The Cardinal had received a letter from the sleazy priest, who was old and ill, saying that he "simply want(ed) to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood." Astonishingly, Ratzo and his assistant (who is now the Vatican Secretary of State) concurred with that request and let the matter slide. (The "dignity" of his priesthood?) God got to sort it out a short time later when the priest died. Hopefully She showed some compassion toward the victims!
Cardinal Ratzinger was a church administrator. He was concerned with protecting the Church's image and its assets. He did his job. Today as Pope, he is righteously outraged that he is being attacked in the press for his mollycoddling of pedophile priests. One wonders if he would feel differently if he had been a child victim of a pedophile priest.
The Catholic Church is a creaky, old business run by creaky, old men. It is, much like the U.S. Supreme Court, set up in such a way as to continually be fifty years behind the times. It will never get rid of the pedophile priest problem until it quits protecting these criminals from prosecution. It will never get rid of the pedophile priest problem until it addresses the very real issue of priestly sexual needs and allows these frustrated individuals to marry and have families. It will never solve the pedophile priest problem until the Pope himself, the leader of the world's largest Christian church, quits being a shill for criminals and a protector of real estate, and truly becomes a shepherd of his Church - a Church of people, not assets.
The pedophile priest problem will not even begin to diminish until the Church does some basic restructuring. Young people need to be in power positions within the Church, people who are connected to children and have a realistic understanding of the true impact that child sexual abuse has on victims.
And, in the spirit of true Christianity, it might be a good idea if this Pope took the sins of his Church upon himself. Crucifixion is a bit arcane, but an old-fashioned horse-whipping could be just the thing. It might at least make a couple of hundred deaf men feel like somebody was punished for the hell that they endured - and it would make for damned good reality television!
Pope Benedict is irrelevant in the modern world, and he is maintaining practices that hurt children and demean the Church. He needs to resign or be fired!