Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 14, 2010.  (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)Everything that’s come out of the Vatican over the last couple months, only confirms what I’ve been saying for a while now (first here, then more recently here), which is that the Roman Catholic Church views the clerical child-abuse scandal as a merely-spiritual attack upon their righteous institution by the Forces of Darkness, rather than as a true criminal problem they need to address as such. Recently the Vatican alluded to the scandal, but in the process claimed that the scandal itself was an “attack,” thus confirming — once again — my assumption that this is how the Holy See views it. CBS News reports on this statement (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict XVI spoke Thursday about “attacks” on the church and the need for Catholics to repent for sins and recognize their mistakes, in an apparent reference to the clerical abuse scandal.

Benedict made the comments during a homily at a Mass inside the Vatican for members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. …

“I must say, we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word ‘repent’, which seemed too tough. But now under attack from the world, which has been telling us about our sins … we realize that it’s necessary to repent, in other words, recognize what is wrong in our lives,” Benedict said.

To the Pope, then, “telling the Church about its sins” is equivalent to an “attack” on the Church.

In addition to this little snippet of evasiveness, I note that the Pope referred to “we Christians” and mentioned “Christians” throughout this homily. He did not refer to “the Church” or to “the clergy” in his comments … but to all “Christians.” Thus, he attempts to generalize the problem — as if to suggest the laity and non-Catholic Christians, who are “Christians” just as much as the R.C. clergy are — were somehow involved, and had something to “repent” that they were refusing to. Some of the laity have, to be sure, aided, abetted, and advocated for the criminal clergy and the hierarchy which enabled them (lay Catholics like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League leap immediately to mind in this regard*), but for the most part, lay Catholics as well as non-Catholics were not responsible for the decades or centuries of child abuse that the Roman Catholic Church allowed to happen. The Pope is wrong to include them in his comments about “repentance.” He is not admitting that it’s largely only the abusive priests, and the Catholic hierarchy — who covered up their activities, going as far as shuffling them around to different parishes, dioceses, and even countries in order to evade prosecution (cached article) — are the ones who have anything to “repent.”

Thus, the Pope implicates all of the world’s Christians in the criminality of this relative few. He’s doing this, of course, to make his own clergy and hierarchy appear less guilty than they truly are.

* To see some reasons why I say this, check out the Media Matters archive of Donohue material, among other sources.

Photo credit: AP Photo / Pier Paolo Cito via CBS News.

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