Tuesday, March 30, 2010

If the truth sets you free, the Catholic Church is in captivity

As It Stands: If the truth sets you free, the Catholic Church is in captivity
Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 03/28/2010 02:26:41 AM PDT

Facts can fracture foundations, but once they are exposed they can also be repaired. The current scandals involving the Roman Catholic pedophile priests in Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the United States, the Netherlands and Italy are rocking the church's credibility and stability to the core.

When Pope Benedict XVI recently sent a letter to Ireland apologizing for the chronic child abuse within the Catholic Church, after offering no help to three official Irish investigations that revealed 100 years of abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese and the rural Ferns diocese, he followed the road paved by his predecessors. Over 15,000 victims of sexual abuse by priests have been discovered thus far.

In his letter, the Pope urged priests to confess if they're child molesters, but didn't say what he'd do with them when they did. He mentioned facing the law. But whose law? The Vatican's track record with the church's pedophiles is not very reassuring. The church outright refused to help in the 2001-2009 probes that revealed the scale and longevity of the abuse suffered by Irish children throughout the 20th century.

The investigations summary said “Catholic church leaders protected the Church's reputation from scandals at the expense of the children,” according to a March 20 article in The Associated Press.

The Pope's letter never mentioned the other abuse scandals involving other Catholic institutions. He

didn't say a word about his German homeland embroiled in scandals with hundreds claiming abuse in schools, and in a choir run by his brother. The most recent scandal involves an American priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys. Vatican officials (along with future Pope Benedict XVI) were complicit in covering up the sordid affair, according to investigators.
Pope Benedict is following the path taken by earlier popes. They put the reputation of the church before the welfare of its parishioners. A look back at the church's history is controversial enough, but the fact that pedophile priests still thrive in the 21st century is outrageous.

These scandals continue to haunt American Catholics. As more people step forward and tell their story, the worldwide pattern of the Catholic Church's secret policy for priests is becoming public knowledge.

Another apology for failing to protect children from predator priests was offered at the German Bishops Conference by its leader, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. He was in charge of human resources and staffing when the investigations of the '90s revealed that one of his priests was abusing children.

Victims' rights advocates in Ireland and the United States fear this culture of protecting rogue priests occurs because the pope considers secular law a higher priority than canon law when dealing with abusers. The church says it will cooperate in punishing the priests, but history suggests otherwise.

The Vatican's chief spokesman, the Rev. Frederico Lombardi, made excuses for the Pope's letter to the Irish and explained it was a “pastoral letter” and that's why it didn't mention punishing the priests.

If you think Catholic priests molesting children isn't still happening, check out BishopAccountability.org -- a Web site that documents Catholic abuse scandals worldwide.

Andrew Madden, a former Dublin altar boy, was the first person in Ireland to file a lawsuit against the church in 1995. He told the international press the Pope missed the whole point of a meaningful apology because he failed to acknowledge the church hierarchy's historical role in protecting its pedophile priests.

The Pope is the ultimate leader of the Catholic Church and if he continues to protect these sick priests who prey on the rank-and-file, he's an enabler. If he's unable or willing to stop a reviled practice that brings shame upon the Catholic Church, he is an enabler of the worst kind.

It's hard to understand why any organization would protect pedophiles, and harder still to rationalize a church's stance on the sins committed within its hallowed walls. Understand, I'm not bringing this subject up to attack the true believers in Catholicism who are the victim pool for these priests. It's a challenge to those who run the church to repair the fractured foundation this perverse practice has produced.

As It Stands, the only thing that stands in the way of true reconciliation is the absence of truth.

No comments: