How much did the Pope know?

Benedict faces tough questions about the Church’s sex abuse scandal

How much did the Pope know?

Photograph by Remo Casilli/Reuters

Two Sundays before Easter, Pope Benedict XVI sent a 4,700-word “pastoral letter” to the Roman Catholic faithful of Ireland. Read in full from the pulpits of every church in the country, the note was the Vatican’s official response to two Irish investigations, which revealed—yet again—that pedophile priests had preyed on helpless children, and that certain self-serving bishops had moved heaven and earth to cover up the truth.

The Pope apologized directly to victims and their families, saying he is “truly sorry” for “these sinful and criminal acts.” He admitted that “grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred,” but assured his flock that “the Church has done an immense amount of work in many parts of the world in order to address and remedy” past mistakes. Benedict’s letter also spoke directly to the guilty priests, known and unknown. “I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow,” he wrote. “God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing.”

The question now is whether the Pope is prepared to do the same: give an account of his actions—and conceal nothing.

Twenty-five years after the Church’s darkest secret was first exposed, the endless sex abuse scandal has finally reached the Pontiff himself. Faced with damning revelations about his own dealings with predatory priests, Benedict has come under unprecedented pressure to reveal what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did (or did not) do about it. No matter how hard the Holy See tries to blame “vile” journalists who “want to involve the Pope at all costs”—or how often Benedict insists he won’t be “intimidated by petty gossip,” as he told parishioners on Palm Sunday—his papacy is suddenly in serious doubt. Some have gone so far as to demand his resignation, and many more are convinced that the Holy Father is not telling the entire truth.

“Is this an all-time low? Absolutely,” says John Swales, a London, Ont., man who, starting at the age of 10, was repeatedly assaulted by a local priest. “The leadership is horrific. I have lost total faith in their ability to do anything with decency. How can anyone be held accountable when the Pope is not held accountable?”

Two decisions in particular—now public after so many years—have come back to haunt His Eminence, threatening to shatter his image as a no-nonsense disciplinarian and raising fresh questions about his possible role in a Vatican-wide cover-up.

In 1980, when Benedict was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the archbishop of Munich, he reportedly approved treatment for a confessed child abuser, Peter Hullermann, only to be informed a few days later that the known “danger” was being returned to priestly duties. Hullermann went on to target more altar boys, and in 1986 was sent to prison. A decade later, while the would-be pontiff was in charge of the Vatican office that investigates allegations of sexual misconduct, he declined to defrock another notorious molester who assaulted more than 200 boys at a Wisconsin school for the deaf. The priest, Lawrence C. Murphy, sent a personal letter to Ratzinger, begging for mercy. “I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood,” he wrote. “I ask your kind assistance in this matter.” Murphy was allowed to die a priest, buried in his vestments.

Uncomfortable questions about the Pope’s personal conduct come as the Church faces a flurry of new abuse allegations spreading across Europe. In recent weeks, as Catholics marked the holy season of Lent, hundreds of victims surfaced to tell their horrific stories, not only in Ireland, but in Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and Benedict’s home nation of Germany. Authorities there are now investigating the possibility that the Pontiff’s older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, turned a blind eye to sexual abuse while in charge of the famed Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir (he denies such accusations).

How much did the Pope know?

Photograph by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/AP

But it’s the Pope, Catholicism’s ultimate authority, who is at the centre of the storm. His reputation is under such ferocious attack that even the National Catholic Reporter, a source of balanced perspective on the sex abuse scandal, has called on Benedict to “directly answer questions, in a credible forum,” about his role in the saga. “We now face the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in Church history,” the paper said. “How this crisis is handled by Benedict, what he says and does, how he responds and what remedies he seeks, will likely determine the future health of our Church for decades, if not centuries, to come. It is time, past time really, for direct answers to difficult questions. It is time to tell the truth.”

The truth, headlines aside, is that no other pope has done more to crack down on depraved clergy than Benedict XVI. Even his harshest critics would agree that he has been infinitely more honest about the scope of the problem than his beloved predecessor, John Paul II, who tended to view pedophilia as an American phenomenon driven more by societal de­gradation than systemic flaws in the priesthood. Benedict met with victims, lamented the “filth” in his Church, and, in the early days of his papacy, took the symbolic step of disciplining Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the notorious Mexican priest (and close friend of John Paul) who assaulted multiple children—and fathered up to seven of his own.

But it’s what Benedict did behind the scenes, before he was the public face of 1.1 billion Catholics, that is now being scrutinized and second-guessed. As an archbishop in Germany, was he part of the secretive Church culture that closed its eyes to the problem? And as a cardinal—and the Vatican pit bull—was he too soft on delinquent priests?

“The average rank-and-file Catholic is up to their eyeballs with these stories, but it’s a story that’s not going away,” says Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University who has published dozens of studies about sexually abusive clergy. “It’s one thing to have some bishop somewhere make a decision that was a bad decision. It’s quite another thing to have the future pope make some decisions that were bad decisions.”

The Hullermann file first came to Ratzinger’s attention in early 1980, when another diocese asked if the molester could receive psychiatric treatment in Munich. Archbishop Ratzinger approved the request on Jan. 15, and Hullermann was granted permission to live at a church in the northern part of the city. Then, just five days later, Ratzinger reportedly received a copy of a memo from his vicar-general, announcing Hullermann’s return to full pastoral duties. The pedophile went on to target more victims at another parish, plying them with booze and forcing them to watch pornographic videos.

A subordinate has taken full responsibility, claiming Ratzinger was never told that Hullermann was allowed back into the company of children. But the memo suggests otherwise. “He did what the rest of them were doing,” says Rev. Thomas Doyle, an American priest who first warned the Vatican in the mid-1980s that an epic scandal was brewing. “This was a blatant example. This guy should not have been around kids, and there is no way that assignment could have been done without the archbishop’s signature.”

Others have rushed to the Pope’s defence, pointing out the flaws in applying 2010 standards to a decision that was made three decades earlier. At the time, even the best psychiatrists knew little about pedophilia, and many of them believed it was curable. “Of course it’s scandalous to have men of the cloth sexually violate children,” Plante says. “It’s a terrible story. But to be fair to the bishops, when decisions were made back in 1960, 1970 and 1980, people didn’t know what to do with sex offenders, not only inside the Church but outside the Church.”

That is hardly comfort for victims—or absolution for Pope Benedict. Bishops may not have fully understood the science behind child molestation, but their response was inexcusable. In case after case, predators were given a stern talking-to, quietly shipped to a new parish, or sent for therapy sessions that did little but postpone the next round of abuse. Thousands of children lost their innocence because bishops were more concerned with saving face than saving them. “Their motto was, ‘Avoid scandal at all costs. We don’t care who gets hurt in the process, just avoid scandal at all costs,’ ” says Rev. John Allan Loftus, former executive director of the Southdown Institute, a Toronto-area facility that treats priests for a wide range of psychological disorders. “It was handled very poorly, and there is loads of blame to go around.”

How much did the Pope know?

Photograph by Brian Little/AP

Including, it seems, the man who would become pope. If Ratzinger knew Hullermann was a threat, and sat idly by as he was shuffled back into a church setting, forgiveness will not be swift. “He was the captain of the ship, and he’s got to bear responsibility for what happened,” Loftus says. “The whole thing is dreadful. I’m at a loss for words.”

A year after Hullermann arrived in Munich, Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy See office in charge of promoting “morals throughout the Catholic world.”
When he arrived in Rome in 1981, the Vatican still had no official policy on how to deal with allegations of priestly pedophilia. Only cases involving “solicitation” in the confessional, an act specifically forbidden by canon law, were forwarded for “prosecution.” The rest, tragically, were handled in-house by individual bishops.

What is clear, however, is that the Vatican hierarchy, including the new chief doctrinal officer, was beginning to understand the gravity of the problem. By 1984, Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, a Louisiana priest, had been charged with 34 counts of sexual crimes against minors, and Father Doyle, then stationed at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, was warning his superiors that pedophile priests were “arising with increased frequency” and could cost the Church “one billion dollars” in lawsuits. In 1989, the media was revealing rampant abuse at Newfoundland’s Mount Cashel Orphanage, run by the Christian Brothers, triggering two public inquiries and millions of dollars in settlements. And by 1994, Rev. Brendan Smyth, an Irish priest who molested more than 100 children, was in handcuffs and on front pages. The secret was out.

Yet in 1996, when bishops in Wisconsin began pleading with Ratzinger to defrock Father Murphy (the priest who had preyed on deaf boys), he declined. The police never laid charges, his office said, and Murphy was too old and sick to be put on trial.

Again, Benedict has his defenders. While many victims want all abusive priests to be defrocked, others believe the best way to protect children from dangerous clergy is to ensure that those priests remain in the fold, where they can be monitored. “It’s what we call a life of prayer and penance,” says Rev. Frank Morrisey, a professor of canon law at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. “He can’t technically function as a priest, but if we put him out on the street and he was still a predator, then he is under no supervision. People are blaming the Church for keeping these people and putting them in special living situations, but imagine if they just said: ‘Fine, out you go.’ ”

In May 2001—after decades of abuse and obfuscation—the Vatican finally cracked the doctrinal whip in a meaningful way. Appalled by the files that did cross his desk, Ratzinger sent a letter to all bishops, ordering them to forward every allegation, new or old, to his office. The memo specified that each accusation will be “subject to the pontifical secret,” ensuring the internal discipline process remained confidential for both the accused priests and their victims. Some have since characterized the letter as a smoking gun, proof that Ratzinger and the Vatican were conspiring to hide embarrassing details from police and the press. In truth, the document was a monumental step for a Church that had failed to do the moral thing for so long. For the first time, the Holy See acknowledged just how deep the rot ran, and committed itself to punishing the guilty.
Nowhere in that letter were bishops—or victims—forbidden from reporting crimes to authorities. In fact, Canadian bishops already had a decade-old policy that compelled the Church to phone police at the first whiff of wrongdoing.

Of the 3,000 cases forwarded to Rome over the past decade, 20 per cent resulted in full canonical trials. A further 10 per cent resulted in priests being defrocked immediately, while in another 10 per cent they resigned voluntarily. The remaining offenders faced “other administrative and disciplinary provisions,” including a ban on celebrating mass.

“People think that anything short of defrocking is bad, is cover-up, and is not being hard enough,” Plante says. “But the question is: what are you going to do to make sure these guys don’t have contact with kids? There is not a whole lot the Church can do to make things right for something that happened decades ago. All they can really do is make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

And that may be the Pope’s saving grace. If the Vatican is correct—if Benedict is the man who chose honesty over secrecy, who tried to tackled the sex abuse scandal when no one else would—his legacy may survive two regrettable decisions. All he needs to do is follow his own advice: search his conscience, take responsibility for any sins he may have committed, and conceal nothing.

How much did the Pope know?

  1. On the whole, this is a fairly balanced article. But the constant, the pope has his defenders sort of has the ring that you and others have already decided on the basis of little information that he is guilty. I'd prefer stories to wait until facts of cases are known before we publicly try the man.

    • Mary, I agree that it is a "balanced article", but, having been sexually abused myself by a Roman Catholic Teaching Brother, and knowing that he was simply moved to another school. This tells me that we have about as much hope of "the truth coming out" as we have that one day we will know what truly happened to Kennedy!

    • Read the depositions of the bishops who have been required to testify in United States. It is very difficult to believe that anyone who did not have some sort of free pass could testify in a court of law as so many have and not be under the jail for contempt of court. We know facts from the Marciel case, that Sodano and others took bribes. That there were indications of serious character flaws in this man , Marciel, from the time he was kicked out of two seminaries as a teen ager. If you believe in God and also the devil, if ever there was a case of a young man selling his soul and proceeding to live the life he sold his soul to live (this was it). If our pope, cardinal prefects, bishops cannot decern or are part of the intentional betrayal of God and His flock in this case and we know for sure in so many others… how are we going to shine light in the darkness… if we do not even dare to ask the questions? Should we mothers simply feed our souls and those of our children to these, "Many good priests", for their decernment while we wait?

  2. There is one thing that all of us need to keep in mind during this scandal. Should governments or intergovernmental courts (i.e. the Hague) interfere with a religion? Lets say that Pope Benedict is tried in an international court of law as a head of state and not as a bishop. Acquittal or conviction is irrelevant at that point. Such a trial would set the precedent of national or intergovernmental interference with the selection of Popes and their temporal matters such as travel. Many Catholics are wary of an "international veto" on the closely intertwined link between the spiritual and temporal aspects of the Papacy.

    I sympathize with those who want justice and perhaps even vengeance. I don't know what it's like to be abused, but I do know that abuse shatters lives. Still, we all need to seriously consider the long term ramifications of overt international interference with the Vatican. While international actions may prove just in this case, future cases may prove unjust and damaging to the Church.

    • The vatican has long since abandoned any right to be given the sort of consideration I think you are proposing. Crimes have been committed; call in the police and deal with it. The church has damaged itself so severely that only outsiders could possibly have any credibility.

  3. Sounds like a pervasive issue that is not likely to go away any time soon. How many people are affected – directly through molestation, by being part of the family of someone molested, or by being another part of the circle of this victim in other ways? The depression, suicides, dysfunctional families and workplaces…Extending it further, by being a part of hiding the issue?

    I'd like to know how Mark Steyne would compare this to his issues with Islam. There's far-reaching impacts for both. It might seem like apples and oranges.

  4. To me the worst evidence is found in a letter that he sent, before he became Pope, in which he threatens excommunication – not for committing child-rape but rather for reporting it to secular authorities rather than allowing the Church to deal with it.

  5. The "sins" of the clergy are as great as the "sins" of the regular society at large all over the world. These are wrongs that have been going on for centuries, and that most victims took to their grave in the past. Only when society, recognized the evils of sexual abuse and "outed" the problem, did it become possible to address the abuse as a criminal act. The RC Church, made the huge error of hiding the crimes and supporting the guilty instead of the innocent. This Pope is unwilling to own up to his part in the coverup and for this grave denial, he does not deserve his position in the Church.

  6. Most of the sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church is caused by homosexuals. Priests sexually abusing boys is homosexuality.Next homosexuals-gays and lesbians been and are attacking the RC from the outside!. {It's a homosexual problem}

    • Your comments are absurd and morally and intellectually reprehensible.

      Although I can come up with a pretty lengthy list, as an example, Canada's worst (by conviction) pedophile priest preyed upon girls (100s)… Charles Sylvestre.

      Your understanding of human development and sexuality is extremely poor. By your rationale (that it's a homosexual thing), the children victims would not be victims at all but rather partners. It is, in itself, a grotesque suggestion.

    • This is NOT a homosexual problem, this is a problem that the church has created by expecting its clergy to live secluded from society in celebacy. This is a perverse situation that any sensible person can see might lead to perverse things happening. Human beings are sexual creatures and it is perverse to expect anyone to live like the church expects its clergy to live.

  7. Here is an article from the London Independent. I have not seen any comments about this in Canada.

    This is not a homosexual issue. It is an issue of abuse of power and the cover-up of it that seemingly is still going on.
    ************
    Vatican confirms report of sexual abuse and rape of nuns by priests in 23 countries
    By Frances Kennedy in Rome
    The Catholic Church in Rome made the extraordinary admission yesterday that it is aware priests from at least 23 countries have been sexually abusing nuns.
    Most of the abuse has occurred in Africa, where priests vowed to celibacy, who previously sought out prostitutes, have preyed on nuns to avoid contracting the Aids virus.
    Confidential Vatican reports obtained by the National Catholic Reporter, a weekly magazine in the US, have revealed that members of the Catholic clergy have been exploiting their financial and spiritual authority to gain sexual favours from nuns, particularly those from the Third World who are more likely to be culturally conditioned to be subservient to men.

    The reports, some of which are recent and some of which have been in circulation for at least seven years, said that such priests had demanded sex in exchange for favours, such as certification to work in a given diocese.
    In extreme instances, the priests had made nuns pregnant and then encouraged them to have abortions.
    *********
    There is more, but space does not allow it.

  8. he US article was based on five documents, which senior women from religious orders and priests have presented to the Vatican over the past decade. They describe a particularly bad situation in Africa. In a continent devastated by Aids, nuns, along with early adolescent girls, are perceived by some as safe sexual targets. The reports said that the church authorities had done little to tackle the problem.
    The Vatican reports cited countless cases of nuns forced to have sex with priests. Some were obliged to take the pill, others became pregnant and were encouraged to have abortions. In one case in which an African sister was forced to have an abortion, she died during the operation and her aggressor led the funeral mass. Another case involved 29 sisters from the same congregation who all became pregnant to priests in the diocese.
    The reports said that the cultures in some African countries made it almost impossible for a young woman to disobey an older man, especially one seen as spiritually superior. There were cases of novices who applied to their local priest or bishop for certificates of good Catholic practice that were required for them to pursue their vocation. In return they were made to have sex. Some incidents of sexual abuse allegedly took place almost within the Vatican walls.

    • The pill and abortions – how can that be – doesn't the Catholic church forbid them?

  9. Certain unscrupulous clerics took advantage of young nuns who were having trouble finding accommodation, writing their essays and funding their theological studies.
    Forced to acknowledge the problem, the Vatican has tried to play down its gravity. In a statement issued yesterday the Pope's official spokesman, Joaquin Navarro Valls, said: "The problem is known and involves a restricted geographical area. Certain negative situations must not overshadow the often heroic faith of the overwhelming majority of religious, nuns and priests".
    One of the most comprehensive documents was compiled by Sister Maura O'Donohue, an Aids co-ordinator for Cafod, the London-based Catholic Fund for Overseas Development.
    She noted that religious sisters had been identified as "safe" targets for sexual activity. She quotes a case in 1991 of a community superior being approached by priests requesting that the nuns be made available to them for sexual favours.
    "When the superior refused the priests explained they would otherwise be obliged to go to the village to find women and might thus get Aids."Sister O'Donohue said her initial reaction to what she was told by her fellow religious "was one of shock and disbelief at the magnitude of the problem".
    While most of the abuse happened in African countries, Sister O'Donohue reported incidents in 23 countries including India, Ireland, Italy, the Philippines and the United States.
    She heard cases of priests encouraging the nuns to take the pill telling them it would prevent HIV. Others "actually encouraged abortion for the sisters" and Catholic hospitals and medical staff reported pressure from priests to carry out terminations for nuns and other young women.

  10. The elephant in the room that everyone seems able to ignore is the CHILDREN. This article and most others I have read are all about the damage this scandal is doing to the church hierarchy. The article says "What is clear, however, is that the Vatican hierarchy, including the new chief doctrinal officer, was beginning to understand the gravity of the problem." Beginning to understand something after about four decades that was extremely obvious to the most casual observer! THESE PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE MORAL LEADERS. Instead they are being dragged kicking and screaming from the 16th century. To date the catholic church has dedicated more resrouces to an effort to avoid legal liability for the damage done to children than towards any effort to help the children.

  11. I take issue with "As Pope he is accountable only to God. ". National governments around the world have for centuries given the Pope, not the man, the authority to undertake many works on behalf of civil society and have provided funding for this. Schools, hospitals, orphanages, seniors homes, homes for unwed mothers, prisons, etc. When the pope or his delegates committ crimes while undertaking these works, they are all accountable to civil society. This is especially true when it is obvious that god has done nothing.

    • Schools, hospitals, etc. are not technically part of his role as Pope. I don't think you understand what the Papacy is actually about, but for this discussion it probably doesn't matter. As I stated above, if he commits crimes he needs to be held accountable to the law since all men are equal under the law.

      As to your last sentence, I will pray for you.

  12. Your tribute to Ratzinger is a bit of a fluff piece.

    First, on deserting the Hitler military regime. The altruistic aspects of this ''story'' is at best hearsay and, at worst self-aggrandizing on his part. What is clear is that his desertion came after a few years and, when the writing was on the wall for Nazi Germany – time was up. Fact of the matter is, any German in Nazi Germany having an iota of respect for humanity would've spent their life (at the time) resisting in every way possible (even if it meant death). Most stood idly by, watched, and said/did nothing. The same can be said of whites in apartheid Africa (Rhodesia, Apartheid South Africa, etc… The whites with respect for humanity would have died trying to prevent the horrors that were.

    On ''idiotic and harmful fads within the Church throughout the 60's, 70's, and 80's''. It is a damn shame that the most idiotic, depraving and harmful fad (as, by the 70s, it had clearly become a trend) within the Catholic church had been so criminally handled. It is now time for the chickens to come home to roost.

  13. I dont think the current Pope is guilty. This article quotes a man who says that it would impossible for the german pedophile priest to have been transfered without the signature of the Bishop. That is not true. There is still no evidence that the Pope actually knew a priest was put back to work with children.

    I do believe that the Pope should remove much of the current church leadership and replace them with younger Bishops who are not tainted with this scandal simply for the fact that most of this abuse happened 30-50 years ago and new, younger Bishops simply were not in charge.

    I also think that Roman Catholic priests should be able to marry just as the Pope allows the Catholic priests in Ukraine, Lebanon, Slovakia and Iraq to marry. Removing Celibacy will not cure abuse, as there are numerous married rabbis charged with abuse in Judaism as well, but it would at least ensure a larger selection of priest candidates and ensure that the priests were challenged more often by their wives and children rather than simply adored by parishners.

  14. Firstly, I think it is problematic that sex abuse is being made out to be a Catholic problem. According to the three companies that insure most Protestant churches in the US, about 260 sex abuse cases occur in Protestant churches. Without a centralized institution to organize a collective response, many protestant churches may represent an even more intractable source of sex abuse (contrary to the popular position that priestly celibacy is the main cause of sex abuse). This isn't meant to absolve the Catholic church by the way – it clearly needs to clean up its act.

    Any organization that gives certain members a high degree of authority and unsupervised access to children is going to have a high risk of attracting paedophiles. For instance, the Boyscouts of America has had a large number of sex abuse cases against it. However, its youth protection programs have been reasonably successful at reducing that number substantially. The Boyscouts accomplished this through background checks, requiring two adults to be present when children were around, avoiding one-on-one contact between scoutmasters and scouts and by setting explicit guidelines that eliminated situations where abuse was likely (such as skinny-dipping or corporal punishment).

    Now that the Church has acknowledged the problem, it needs to implement policies that will effectively combat the problem. I posit that the Boyscout model has been reasonably successful, and could be implemented relatively easily (without, for instance, doctrinal battles over priestly celibacy).

    • "Now that the Church has acknowledged the problem" ???? You really believe they did not know about this common practice for centuries?

  15. In my opion there are three things that must happen for the church to continue in any meaningful way. First the church must abandon the secrecy that surrounds everything they do. This is related to the tendency to call the scandal "sins" rather than crimes. In Canada any other authority figure is required by law to report suspected crimes involving children to police; why doesn't this apply to church leaders? Second they must implement an open and democratic process for selection of church leaders right from the parish priest to the pope. Third they must abandon the perverse idea that church leaders should live secluded from society and in celebacy.

  16. Media "petty gossip"! That's all it is. It will all fade away when the press realizes nothing really came out of it. Just a story blown out of perception. How many times does that happen these days? Hmm.

  17. the olde phiarrtt is complicit and guilty as his lower dark evil angels…

  18. Who chose the photo? (or why must the ever so respectable McLeans Magazine play in the sewers of yellow journalism)?

    • I must agree. This photo obviously got photoshoped. Trying to depict he is evil? I don't find all voices upon this problem are well heard . Well what can I say, we never get the whole story straight. Might as well make stories up and hope they come true. I think not.

  19. holy smoke! what a stupid picture…

  20. joe
    and they wonder why some countries are rebelling against the catholic church or other christian religions.

  21. This shows that people cannot handle power and freedom especially in trusted positions.

  22. The problem are not the priests, but those irresponsible parents that give out their children to them. Children should not be left with men (nor women) with a troubled sex life (= who publicly declared to live in sexual abstinence – which is a behavior against healthy sexuality)

  23. If the Roman Catholic Church is a "good tree", how can it produce such "rotten fruit"?
    See Matthew 7:18 and Luke 6:43.
    These seemingly never-ending deviant sex scandals indicate a very serious problem within the Church, much more than a small minority of "bad apples" just as there in any other group or organization. I'm sorry; The Church is not like any other group or organization. It claims to be one true religion, the representative of God on earth. As such, it must be perfect; forget about a few bad apples.
    I submit the problems are not just the result of the weaknesses of human flesh. It goes much, much deeper. The Church's problems are structural and systemic.
    Why does the Church insist on a celibate clergy? Because Jesus was celibate? We have not scriptural proof that He was. We do know that He had a fondness for harlotry, however. I submit the reason for celibacy in the priesthood is primarily due to financial considerations. If the priesthood was allowed to marry, but was forbidden to practice contraception, this would naturally result in large families for whom the Church would be responsible for housing, feeding, educating, and general maintenance etc.. A tremendous financial responsibility. Hence celibacy.
    By not allowing the priesthood to marry, the Church unwittingly and unintentionally, provides a perfect excuse for homosexuals to seek out the priesthood to lend a cover of respectability to their sexual orientation and life style.
    As long as the Church maintains its present Theology which includes a celibate priesthood the Church will never rid itself of this systemic error. And as long as it maintains its present Theology, serious thinkers of good faith must question whether Roman Catholicism is the true faith.
    How can a good tree produce rotten fruit?

    • "If the Roman Catholic Church is a "good tree", how can it produce such "rotten fruit"? "

      Fair question.

      The distinction needed here is this: Is it the Catholic Church that is producing such rotten fruit, or is it something else that has gotten inside the Catholic Church? If pedophilia can be shown to be a logical consequence of Church doctrine, teaching, or practice, than your point stands. But if Catholic doctrine, teaching, and practice is antithetical to pedophilia then the problem is something at odds with the Church's character that has managed to infiltrate….like moral relativism and sexual permissiveness, for example.

  24. VIEW FROM THE SEE OF PETER: Christ is the king of kings. I, Peter am the vicar of Christ. Vicar means second in command. My mandate is to,"Go and teach all nations." From my See, I see no nations. I see churches. The Americas (north, central and south) is one church. All of Africa is one church. Asia is one church. Europe is one church. The middle east is one church. Oceania is one church. We the bishops of the world are the iron rod of God. Keep the sheep quiet and get them breeding again. We are loosing to the muslims, because they are better at keeping their women with their legs open and their mouth shut. You bishops are not a superior cast, you are the superior cast. Now get these media dogs shut up and get it done.

  25. Shut it all down, close the whole crooked waste of mental capacity. this is madness, you religious fools need to open your eyes.

  26. HELLO !!!!!!!!!!! Priests and Popes and Kindergarden teachers and Doctors oh, even the dentists and the lady at the flower shop , ARE HUMAN BEINGS, we cannot ask of them superhuman qualities, they are bound to make the same ''sins'' as your neighbor or your roommate, maybe you parents too!

    Doctors smoke
    Dentists dont brush 3 times a day
    Teachers cheat
    policemen commit crimes
    Priests sin, and the big brothers and big sisters club molest kids….
    What more do we expect from this lower lifeform called HUMANS

  27. Oh yeah, do i need to mention politics, which is what religion is anyway

  28. Forget about doctors, dentists, teachers, policemen, politicians,etc., none of whom claim to be following the word of God.
    The Church is unique. It claims Divine Sanction, which implies goodness, loving kindness, and perfection in everything it does.
    The Pope, the Vicar of Christ, claims infallibility in Church Doctrine.
    That being the case, the Church cannot have it both ways; Roman Catholicism is either the true religion or it is not.
    When you get down to the nitty-gritty, it is not only the Pope and the Church that are open to serious fundamental questions as to the truth and legitimacy of its Doctrinal claims, we are talking here about the very truth of the Nature of God and Jesus Christ Himself.
    Again I ask: How could God and Jesus Christ allow this disgusting, sick, sordid,criminal behavior and subsequent criminal cover-up to be perpetrated in Their Names?
    The fact that similar scandals may occur outside the Church is absolutely no defense or excuse.

  29. I just want to say, that picture is effing scary.

    and everyone should pray for the victims and the catholic church cuz they aren't a bad church. They should probly let them marry. That should be only one of many other tactics.

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