Most recently, the pope has issued an apology to Irish victims of clergy-enforced sexual abuse. The contents of the letter certainly do make note of the fact that abuse has happened, and that it is terrible that such a reality exists. Says Ratzinger (I now refuse to call him by his self-decided honorific name):
Like yourselves, I have been deeply disturbed by the information which has come to light regarding the abuse of children and vulnerable young people by members of the Church in Ireland, particularly by priests and religious.I would be remiss to suggest that Ratzinger is not sincere in his lamentations but for one peculiar quibble: he is directly reponsible for the reason why the disturbing information regarding child-rape is only now coming to light.
Within the matrix of Catholicism, priests and bishops who make grave offenses against the public are to be tried infront of a church tribunal. That tribunal is sworn to the strictest secrecy upon threat of excommunication if any of the tribunal leaks information regarding offending clergy (see, Crimen Sollicitationis).
As, assuredly, what must be mainly taken care of and complied with in handling these trials is that they be managed with maximum confidentiality and after the verdict is declared and put into effect never be mentioned again (20 February 1867 Instruction of the Holy Office, 14), each and every person, who in any way belongs to the tribunal or is given knowledge of the matter because of their office, is obliged to keep inviolate the strictest secrecy (what is commonly called "the secrecy of the Holy Office") in all things and with all persons, under pain of automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication...Crimen Sollicitationis received backing by Ratzinger in 2001, and was, in fact, enforced by Ratzinger for 20 years prior to his election to pope in 2005. Confidentiality itself is not bad conduct, but when it is used as a control mechanism -- as Ratzinger, in fact, has used it -- to suppress the goings-on of serial abusers, to cover-up mortal crimes, and divert the attention of the public away from alleged abusers, one has to call into question the actual purpose of that confidentiality.
Says Father Tom Doyle, Canon Lawyer, in a BBC Documenary, Sex Crimes and the Vatican,
Crimen sollicitationis is indicative of a world-wide policy of absolute secrecy and control of all cases of sexual abuse by the clergy. But what you really have here is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy, to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by churchmen. You've got a written policy that says the Vatican will control these situations, and you also have, I think, clear written evidence of the fact that all they're concerned about is containing and controlling the problem. Nowhere in any of these documents does it say anything about helping the victims. The only thing it does is say that they can impose fear on the victims, and punish the victims, for discussing or disclosing what had happened to them.Indeed, Ratzinger has consciously orchestrated the scandal he is now the centerpiece of: by enforcing crimen sollicitationis, priests and bishops have stood with toothy grins in front of a 'holy' tribunal and, at worst, come away defrocked, but more likely scuttled-off to another parish with full access to children (future victims).
Given Ratzinger's 'disturbance' that the crimes he fought so desperately to keep secret are now in the public eye, I wholeheartedly reject his milquetoast apology, and call on him to step down. Nevermind the juridical reign of the Roman bishop, the in-office-'till-death mentality; have the moral fortitude to resign your office and be done with your hypocritical charade. Prove you have some quality left in you by removing yourself from 'supreme authority' over the church, and standing trial in a secular court for your brazen obstructions of justice, and your intentional use of truth-suppression and diversionary tactics.
Christopher Hitchens, reporting on this issue once again in his recent article Tear Down That Wall, states,
Pope Benedict's pathetic and euphemistic letter to his "flock" in Ireland doesn't even propose that such people should lose their positions in the church. And this cowardly guardedness on his part is for a good and sufficient reason: If there was to be a serious criminal investigation, it would have to depose the pope himself.So while the fact remains that all of this abuse has happened, an equally disturbing fact has surfaced: the "vicar of Christ on earth", the pope himself has led a charge into purposeful lying, deceit, and evasion. If we were to remove the religious motif from this scandal just for the purpose of speculation, what do we think would be the result of these abuses and cover-ups in the real world? Trials would be held, people would be jailed, recompense (if that is even possible given the nature of the crime) would be levied, and in some places the criminals might even be executed.
But because the criminals are dyed-in-the-wool clergy, they can somehow claim religious immunity and be insulated from the world courts. This alone is criminal, and should be loudly protested. The pope's letter is a disgrace. I don't think I'm alone in suggesting that the only way any of this can get better is if the pope relieves himself of his office, and the entire system of Catholicism itself gasps its last breath.