National Catholic Reporter vs. Ratzinger
I'm told that tomorrow's Palm Sunday (actually, someone told me yesterday that Easter is a week from tomorrow, so I just figured the Palm Sunday thing out), and even Catholics are starting to challenge Ratzinger to come clean on the child rape story.
The Holy Father needs to directly answer questions, in a credible forum, about his role -- as archbishop of Munich (1977-82), as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1982-2005), and as pope (2005-present) -- in the mismanagement of the clergy sex abuse crisis.
We urge this not primarily as journalists seeking a story, but as Catholics who appreciate that extraordinary circumstances require an extraordinary response. Nothing less than a full, personal and public accounting will begin to address the crisis that is engulfing the worldwide church. It is that serious.
Like it or not, this new focus on the pope and his actions as an archbishop and Vatican official fits the distressing logic of this scandal. For those who have followed this tragedy over the years, the whole episode seems familiar: accusation, revelation, denial and obfuscation, with no bishop held accountable for actions taken on their watch. Yes, there is a depressing madness to this story. Time after time, this is a story of institutional failure of the deepest kind, a failure to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a failure to put compassion ahead of institutional decisions aimed at short-term benefits and avoiding public scandal.
The strategies employed so far -- taking the legal path, obscuring the truth, and doing everything possible to protect perpetrators as well as the church's reputation and treasury -- have failed miserably.It's high time that people within the church are taking this issue seriously, and holding the church management responsible for their crimes.