Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ratzinger Out: What Next?

Okay, so this isn't news anymore, but it's still a big deal. Ratzinger announced he's gone at the end of the month, which leaves a vacancy for god's vicar on earth.

The question is, what's next?

Who next to replace this venomous old man, the man who engineered and institutionalized the coverup of child rape by Catholic priests? The commissar who determined that to report the rape of a child by a priest would be a sin punishable by excommunication. (Thanks to Christopher Hitchens, who also pointed out in 2010 that "Nobody has yet been excommunicated for the rape and torture of children.")

Still, it's not quite fair to say that the church conducted a coverup of child rape by its employees. No, not fair at all, because what the church actually did was a much greater crime than a mere coverup. A coverup would be one thing, but Mother Church not only concealed the rapes of children by her officials, Mother Church transferred the rapists to other parishes, other territories, where new victims would be delivered to them.

Yes, what the church did with the assistance of Ratzinger was much worse than a mere coverup, but the question now, as I said, is how to replace him, and with whom?

So a few of the details. The election is carried out in the College of Cardinals, but not every cardinal is eligible to vote, just those under eighty years of age. Of those, a majority were appointed by Ratzinger himself, and can be expected to follow his doctrinal conservatism. Of the voting members, only five are younger than sixty. One of those voting members, incidentally, is Roger Mahony (or to use the Catholic construction, "Roger Cardinal Mahony"), who was recently stripped of all his public duties because of his involvement in the coverup; he remains a member in good standing, and says, "I look forward to traveling to Rome soon to help thank Pope Benedict XVI for his gifted service to the Church, and to participate in the conclave to elect his successor." One wonders if he will take the opportunity to stay at the Vatican in an effort to duck extradition, should the United States seek to charge him for his crimes.

So the electorate is a group ranging in age from fifty-three to seventy-nine, with the great majority seventy or older. The eligible candidates are largely the same group. All of these men have been priests, bishops, and cardinals during the same decades that the church has concealed thousands of rapes by its priests. The John Jay Report, a 2004 investigation into the extent of child sexual abuse in the United States from 1950 to 2002, found that there were nearly 11,000 allegations of some form of sexual abuse by over 4,000 priests just in the United States. Of course, the problem extends to every continent.

Generations of priests committing crimes against children. Generations of bishops and cardinals who knew about these crimes and who failed to protect the children from their subordinates.

How many of these men who were priests, bishops, and cardinals during these years have clean hands? How many participated in the crime, either directly and actively or passively? Or, to put the question another way, where is the bishop or the cardinal who stood against the tide?

Can any bishop or cardinal be a credible choice? Can any person elected by this group be accepted as a legitimate moral leader?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jack,
Being a Catholic for half of my life and then a recovering Catholic the rest, it's impossible for me to counter your piece. However, I will say that there is one group that rarely gets the attention it deserves; the average Catholic faithful. I feel for all common Catholics who want to worship the lord and want to have confidence in their church leaders but for the persistent darkness hanging over their minds, they cannot. How hard is it to put faith in the Vatican these days? For me it's never going to happen.

February 12, 2013 7:18 AM  

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