cittá di vaticano | piazza di san pietroI blogged this morning about the Pope’s own personal involvement in the case of at least one pedophile priest (known only as “H”) during his tenure as Archbishop (and Cardinal) of Munich and Freising. This involvement is incontrovertible, since then-Cardinal and Archbishop Ratzinger signed the orders to reassign H — but the Vatican is saying that, somehow, in spite of this fact, the Pope had not actually been involved. (I guess they define “signing an order” as something other than “involvement,” although this defies logic.) The New York Times reports on this Vatican push-back campaign (WebCite cached article):

Vatican Sees Campaign Against the Pope

As new details emerged on allegations of child sexual abuse by priests in the Munich archdiocese then led by Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican spoke out on Saturday to protect the pope against what it called an aggressive campaign against him in his native Germany. …

In a note read on Vatican Radio on Saturday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it was “evident that in recent days there are those who have tried, with a certain aggressive tenacity, in Regensburg and in Munich, to find elements to involve the Holy Father personally in issues of abuse.” He added, “It is clear that those efforts have failed.”

I don’t know how this “failure” came about, since H’s reassignment order could only have been approved by his Archbishop … i.e. Joseph Ratzinger. Moreover, it had been Ratzinger, who — after leaving the archdiocese of Munich and Freising, had presided over the Church’s doctrinal-watchdog arm, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — had personally ordered any abuse proceedings to be kept secret and thus out of reach of secular criminal authorities:

In the interview on Saturday, Monsignor Scicluna also addressed accusations that the Vatican was obstructing justice by imposing secrecy on reports of abuse.

In 2001, Benedict, who was then in charge of Vatican investigations of abuse allegations, sent a letter to bishops counseling them to forward all cases of abuse of minors to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where they were to be subject to secrecy.

While dismissing the idea that the Vatican imposed secrecy “in order to hide the facts,” Monsignor Scicluna said that “secrecy during the investigative phase served to protect the good name of all the people involved; first and foremost, the victims themselves, then the accused priests who have the right — as everyone does — to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.”

But he said church secrecy had “never been understood as a ban on denouncing the crimes to the civil authorities.”

Nevertheless, it is this same policy which Catholic bishops around the world have — since it was issued — used to justify refusing to hand over information on accused priests to secular criminal authorities. Scicluna can say this was not intended … and it may not have been … but it did, nevertheless, happen.

The Vatican’s paranoid, “it’s-just-a-nefarious-anti-papal-plot” reasoning is, at best, irrational, and at worst, downright delusional. It’s time for Catholics to stop letting them get away with these responses.

Photo credit: p_valdivieso.

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2 Responses to “It’s An Anti-Papal Plot!”
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