The Pope Just Can't Quite Make the Real Apology
By Lee Russ
Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 09:27 PM
Since his arrival in the U.S., the Pope has broached the subject of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in several contexts. He's admitted his "shame" for the perpetrators of the abuse. He's acknowledged that the scandal was, in some instances, "badly handled." But he just can't seem to publicly acknowledge the role that Church as a whole, and this Pope in particular, played in the concealment and continuation of that widespread sexual abuse.Even before landing, he said:
As I read the histories of those victims, it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way. Their mission was to give healing, to give the love of God to these children. We are deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible that this cannot happen in the future."We" are "deeply ashamed," but of what? The predatory actions of the priests who actually committed the abuse, apparently. Not much of an admission there. Who isn't ashamed of them, who doesn't blanch at the actions committed by men sworn to counsel and protect the very children they abused?
In the same talk, he said:
We hope that we can do, and we have done and will do in the future, all that is possible to heal this wound.No mention of what was done, and what could have been done to prevent and/or minimize that wound in the first place.
In a later speech to the bishops of the United States at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, the Pope elaborated (emphasis added):
Among the countersigns to the Gospel of life found in America and elsewhere is one that causes deep shame: the sexual abuse of minors. Many of you have spoken to me of the enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior. As you strive to eliminate this evil wherever it occurs, you may be assured of the prayerful support of God’s people throughout the world. Rightly, you attach priority to showing compassion and care to the victims. It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged.Another generality. "sometimes very badly handled." Not all the time. Which times were badly handled and which times were not? In those instances that were "badly handled," why were they? And, the biggest one of all--what is being hidden behind that palatable vagary "badly handled?" Does that encompass many cases in which the Church authorities actively concealed abuse, did everything in their power to prevent victims from coming forward, from being believed, from being given the simple courtesy of acknowledging the nightmare that had been perpetrated on them by those that they trusted the most? Does it include relentless concern for the reputation and finances of the church, at the expense of the honor and well being of those the church was sworn to protect and counsel?
Responding to this situation has not been easy and, as the President of your Episcopal Conference has indicated, it was "sometimes very badly handled". Now that the scale and gravity of the problem is more clearly understood, you have been able to adopt more focused remedial and disciplinary measures and to promote a safe environment that gives greater protection to young people. While it must be remembered that the overwhelming majority of clergy and religious in America do outstanding work in bringing the liberating message of the Gospel to the people entrusted to their care, it is vitally important that the vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm. In this regard, your efforts to heal and protect are bearing great fruit not only for those directly under your pastoral care, but for all of society.
"Badly handled?" That's totally inadequate to describe the realities that the pontiff hopes to shield from view by resort to that language. Totally inadequate.
Were there Bishops actually in attendance at this speech who bear moral and legal culpability for their role in this long term scandal that destroyed so many lives?
Is the Pope totally unwilling to even address the potential role he played in his position as Cardinal in this concealment which lengthened the nightmare? He was, after all, the head of the church's Congregation of the Doctrine of The Faith, the church department tasked with promoting Catholic teachings on morals and matters of faith. Much of the child molestation occurred during these years.
I don't follow this issue on a daily basis, but I know there have been supported, plausible claims that then-Cardinal Ratzinger:
...sent out an updated version of the notorious 1962 Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis - Latin for The Crime of Solicitation - which laid down the Vatican's strict instructions on covering up sexual scandal. It was regarded as so secret that it came with instructions that bishops had to keep it locked in a safe at all times.In fact, that policy is claimed to have come directly from Ratzinger, resulting in claims that he had:
Cardinal Ratzinger reinforced the strict cover-up policy by introducing a new principle: that the Vatican must have what it calls Exclusive Competence. In other words, he commanded that all child abuse allegations should be dealt with direct by Rome.
Patrick Wall, a former Vatican-approved enforcer of the Crimen Sollicitationis in America, tells the [BBC] programme: "I found out I wasn't working for a holy institution, but an institution that was wholly concentrated on protecting itself."
...'obstructed justice' [by issuing] an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.Have these claims been debunked, refuted, shown to be false or exaggerated? If so, I missed it. If not, where, Pope Benedict is your shame over and apology for those actions?
The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001.
It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
And while the real apology has not been forthcoming from the Pope, there has been no shortage of scolding about secularism, the loss of family, and several other points that could have been taken directly from the RNC's divide and conquer playbook. From the speech to the Bishops:
Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.In fact, at one point the Pope actually seemed to be trying to dilute the blame of the priests and the church by tying the abuse scandal into the general lack of morals in society at large (emphasis added):
It is easy to be entranced by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and technology place before us; it is easy to make the mistake of thinking we can obtain by our own efforts the fulfillment of our deepest needs. This is an illusion. Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain (cf. Spe Salvi, 31), our lives are ultimately empty.
a matter of deep concern to us all is the state of the family within society. Indeed, Cardinal George mentioned earlier that you have included the strengthening of marriage and family life among the priorities for your attention over the next few years. In this year’s World Day of Peace Message I spoke of the essential contribution that healthy family life makes to peace within and between nations. In the family home we experience "some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them" (no. 3). The family is also the primary place for evangelization, for passing on the faith, for helping young people to appreciate the importance of religious practice and Sunday observance. How can we not be dismayed as we observe the sharp decline of the family as a basic element of Church and society? Divorce and infidelity have increased, and many young men and women are choosing to postpone marriage or to forego it altogether. To some young Catholics, the sacramental bond of marriage seems scarcely distinguishable from a civil bond, or even a purely informal and open-ended arrangement to live with another person. Hence we have an alarming decrease in the number of Catholic marriages in the United States together with an increase in cohabitation, in which the Christ-like mutual self-giving of spouses, sealed by a public promise to live out the demands of an indissoluble lifelong commitment, is simply absent. In such circumstances, children are denied the secure environment that they need in order truly to flourish as human beings, and society is denied the stable building blocks which it requires if the cohesion and moral focus of the community are to be maintained.
This brings us back to our consideration of the centrality of the family and the need to promote the Gospel of life. What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today? We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. All have a part to play in this task — not only parents, religious leaders, teachers and catechists, but the media and entertainment industries as well. Indeed, every member of society can contribute to this moral renewal and benefit from it. Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish. It falls to you, as pastors modelled upon Christ, the Good Shepherd, to proclaim this message loud and clear, and thus to address the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores.Much more of this and the Pope will need to apologize for his apology.
How ironic: the "cover-upper-in chief" is now "deeply ashamed". Deeply ashamed of what? - that he wasn't able to keep the church's dark secrets secret despite his best efforts for decades? Repentance begins with acknowledgment of sin. It's safe to say that this pope has more responsibility for the scandal of the coverup of sexual abuse of children than any other human being on this planet. He's not only the number one Catholic, he's also the number one person responsible for the coverup for what has amounted to the biggest pedophile protection racket ever known to mankind. Think about it. Apologies kind of sound hollow, don't they?
I am presently reading David Ranan's book "Double Cross - The Code of the Catholic Church". It's a fascinating analysis of the Church which I very much recommend. (See: www.doublecross-theopress.co.uk )
The book also covers the sexual abuse by priests and the outrageous cover up by the Church hierarchy over a long time and over many countries. Interestingly, Ranan talks about the abuse by the Church which he considers the real issue, rather than the sick priests. The priests, once found have been punished and finally moved away. The Church continues to act as if she is innocent. "Double Cross" helps understand that the Church is simply incapable of accepting guilt and of truly apologising. We should not be surprised by the Pope's words or rather lack of words - That is how the Catholic Church has been operating for 2000 years.
Well said, Lee Russ, and thank you.
We've been waiting in vain for some toady in the corporate media to report the truth that Ratzinger is responsible for the action of the institutional RCC to this obscenity of obscenities for the last two decades.
Anyone who continues to support this ongoing criminal enterprise known as the RCC is just as guilty as the murdering, raping, sodomizing, molesting, abusing predatory clergy and their mitered and red hatted enablers. Hah, talk about shame! ! ! !
Many of the priests who were discovered to be sexual predators were moved out of their Parishes to other unsuspecting ones. Many of them in the US were moved north as a kind of punishment. The worst of the worst ended up being put in charge in Canada during the first half of the last century of wot were referred to as "residential schools".
Native children (now more commonly refered to as First Nations Peoples) were taken away from their homes forced to speak only english, and beaten if they tried talking in their native tongues.
No adults. Just these poor frightened kids and the worst pedophile priests in North America.
Of course they were abused.
Not only abused but there is talk now of unmarked graves for some of the more recalcitrant kids that folk are still trying to find even today.
The fact that Ratzi the Nazi was part of the massive global mechanism that undertook to cover-up the crimes to avoid bringing shame on the name of the Catholic Church and also to avoid losing priests when their were a shortage of them should not be overlooked by modern observers of the Catholic Church. It is a sinful and hidebound structure that resists change moreso than almost any other Christian faith group.
Whether the Pope is truly sorry for the suffering he helped perpetuate or whether he's just getting a headache because of the legal ramifications including entire parish's put under monetarily due to massive class action suits is one well worth considering.
Good eye, Russ.
PS: Spud is athiest/recovering Catholic.
Sorry, that should be Good Eye, Lee!
You really should consider saving up and buying yerself a proper last name ya know.
Is confusing when you only have two first names to those of us who are victims of the Evelyn Wood school of blog reading!
"You really should consider saving up and buying yerself a proper last name ya know."
I'll have you know that I've got three good last names, all of which can be three good first names:
It drives the junkmailers crazy. And I know immediately that I don't need to read any piece of mail addressed to "Russ Lee Rogers"