Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

4/24/2005

It's the child rape, stupid

I think it is time for Catholics to admit that the Church has made a terrible mistake in picking Cardinal Ratzinger to be the new pope. You don't have to be a 'liberal' to see what a bad decision this was. In addition to Ratzinger's Nazi past, details of his role in the Church's cover-up of sexual abuse by priests are beginning to come out, and it's not pretty. From the London Observer, via Atrios:

Pope 'obstructed' sex abuse inquiry

Pope Benedict XVI faced claims last night he had 'obstructed justice' after it emerged he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret.

The order was made in a confidential letter, obtained by The Observer, which was sent to every Catholic bishop in May 2001.

It asserted the church's right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood. The letter was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected as John Paul II's successor last week.

Lawyers acting for abuse victims claim it was designed to prevent the allegations from becoming public knowledge or being investigated by the police. They accuse Ratzinger of committing a 'clear obstruction of justice'.

The letter, 'concerning very grave sins', was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and was overseen by Ratzinger.

It spells out to bishops the church's position on a number of matters ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric 'with a minor below the age of 18 years'. Ratzinger's letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been 'perpetrated with a minor by a cleric'.

The letter states that the church's jurisdiction 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and lasts for 10 years.

It orders that 'preliminary investigations' into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger's office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the 'functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests'.

'Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,' Ratzinger's letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.

The letter is referred to in documents relating to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against a church in Texas and Ratzinger on behalf of two alleged abuse victims. By sending the letter, lawyers acting for the alleged victims claim the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice.


On a more specific level, Ratzinger is accused of covering up the crimes of Marcial Maciel, a priest who was a serial sexual predator. From The Independent:

Pope 'ignored sex abuse claim against John Paul's friend'

Pope Benedict XVI has been accused of ignoring for seven years charges that Fr Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, had sexually abused nine teenagers in his organisation - because Fr Maciel was a close friend of Pope John Paul II.

In 1997 the then Cardinal Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican body which has the power to excommunicate priests guilty of sexual abuse, when Bishop John R McCann of New York forwarded him detailed charges of sexual abuse made by Fr Juan Vaca, a priest in Bishop McCann's diocese. The charges were in the form of a 12-page letter to Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, who founded the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Catholic evangelical order, in Mexico in 1941.

"Everything you did contradicts the beliefs of the Church and the order," Fr Vaca wrote in his open letter. "How many innumerable times did you wake me in the middle of the night and had me with you, abusing my innocence. Nights of fear, so many nights of absolute fear: so many nights of lost sleep, that on more than one occasion placed my own psychological health in jeopardy."

Fr Vaca was one of nine former members of Legionaries of Christ who charged Fr Maciel with having sexually abused them when they were teenage seminarians in the order in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The accusers included three professors, a teacher, a lawyer and an engineer as well as the priest.

Another priest and former member of the Legionaries, Juan Manuel Fernandez Armenabar, made a deathbed declaration denouncing Fr Maciel's sexual abuse. But despite the gravity of the charges, Cardinal Ratzinger took no action. The Vatican confirmed that it had received Fr Vaca's letter, but nothing more was said.

When Cardinal Ratzinger was asked about the accusations he brushed the questions aside. On one occasion he literally slapped the wrist of an American television reporter, Brian Ross, who had the temerity to raise the issue. On another occasion Cardinal Ratzinger said: "One can't put on trial such a close friend of the Pope's as Marcial Maciel."

...

Jose Barba, a professor of Latin America studies, told Reuters ... "Was Cardinal Ratzinger totally and solely responsible [for the failure to investigate]? I think that to a great extent he was because it was his department."



Quite a man the Church has chosen to be its leader. The sexual abuse scandal is one of the blackest marks on the Church in all of its history; you would think they could at least refrain from electing as pope a man who played such a central role in the covering up of these decidedly un-Christ-like acts.

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