Elderly German Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, wrote an open letter to Catholics in Ireland in March 2010, (to be published on the 20th of March.) The letter responds to widespread child sex abuse scandals involving Irish priests.
Ratzinger and the Catholic church were simultaneously beset by revelations of frequent child sexual abuse and beatings by priests at Catholic-run schools and homes in Germany, Holland and Austria. Georg Ratzinger, Joseph’s brother, was involved in one case.
The stated aim of the letter was to “help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal”.
At the same time, the head of Ireland’s Catholic church, Cardinal Sean Brady, apologised for his abject failure to report a priest convicted of sexually abusing 20 children over 40 years. Having consistently protected the paedophile at the expense of his victims, the cardinal announced that he would now be considering his future.
Irish bishops travelled to Vatican City in Rome in February 2010 to discuss the developing crisis caused by the abuse revelations and the church’s cover-up.
The Vatican’s exorcist also weighed in to assure the faithful that demons were at fault in paedophile cases.
All of this increase in official Catholic action on the issue of church paedophiles has the hallmark of a damage limitation exercise. That became inevitable after the findings of the Commission led by Judge Yvonne Murphy in November 2009. They slammed the church for hushing up more than 300 sex abuse allegations in the archdiocese of Dublin between 1975 to 2004. The Commission found that Catholic bishops frequently took action to shield the abusers and were diligent in their efforts to avoid scandal and protect the assets and reputation of the church. Concern for child victims was not a priority.
Speaking of the letter the Pope has written for Irish Catholics, Vatican official Archbishop Rino Fisichella said it would set out “specific measures,” on how the Catholic church should handle cases of paedophilia and other forms of abuse.
There are, I guess, many genuinely devout Catholics in the world. This writer has to wonder however if they still do not spot anything intrinsically suspect about a very large, wealthy brotherhood of “celibate” men, all unmarried, generally wearing frocks in gorgeous materials and colours, who spend much of their time with each other, young schoolboys and choirboys. There may be many sincere and wonderful priests in the world, but don’t recent revelations make it look as though they’re naively living in the midst of the biggest, richest and best-organised paedophile network in history?