- As the head of the Vatican, a city-state, the pope has immunity;
- American bishops who abused thousands of wee uns weren't actually employed by the Vatican;
- The 1962 document Crimen Sollicitationis does not provide proof of a cover-up.
Perhaps I'm out of my depth making comments on international politics and their interface with religious powers and power-mongers (e.g., the pope). So be it. But it does seem a matter of practical logic, to me, that if crimes are committed internationally, by priests of various nationalities, and who all happen to trace their legal fiat back to a single religio-political entity called The Vatican, that perhaps that single religio-political entity and the person who oversees it should be made accountable for the actions of the people he is claiming sovereignty over.
When Saddam Hussein slaughtered the Kurdish people, his immunity as head of the Iraqi state wasn't worth spit. On December 30th, 2006, Hussein was executed for his crimes against humanity. I'm certainly not calling for the exectution of the pope, not by any means. However, I am concerned that the pope's factual involvement in protecting the image of Catholicism, and the offices of the priests under him, amounts to nothing more than a chance for Ratzinger to plead plausible deniability on the world stage.
Let him deny it, if he dares. But to then move on and say that the bishops involved in covering up the actions of lecherous priests were not actually employed by the Vatican is a clear-cut case of four-square stupidity. If they weren't employed by the Vatican, they wouldn't have been acting in their offices. There wouldn't be any question of their alleged cover-ups because they wouldn't have been Catholic bishops. How fucking stupid do they really think the observing public is? The medieval period is over, Ratzinger. We're not baffled by ecclesial Latin anymore, and you certainly can't moonshine us any longer by suddenly changing the story and preying on our illiteracy.
Still, Crimen Sollicitationis is not proof of a cover-up. I'll quote the document, and you be the judge about whether it is a blatant attempt to keep sexual crimes secret, or just an exercise in fancy rhetoric.
"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, incurred ipso facto without need of any declaration other than the present one, and reserved to the Supreme Pontiff in person alone, excluding even the Apostolic Penitentiary."
To end this article, I would like to draw your attention to the words of Christopher Hitchens, who wrote the following on March 29th, 2010. I echo his sentiments, and could not have phrased them any better.
"This is what makes the scandal an institutional one and not a matter of delinquency here and there. The church needs and wants control of the very young and asks their parents to entrust their children to certain "confessors," who until recently enjoyed enormous prestige and immunity. It cannot afford to admit that many of these confessors, and their superiors, are calcified sadists who cannot believe their luck. Nor can it afford to admit that the church regularly abandoned the children and did its best to protect and sometimes even promote their tormentors. So instead it is whiningly and falsely asserting that all charges against the pope—none of them surfacing except from within the Catholic community—are part of a plan to embarrass him.
This hasn't been true so far, but it ought to be true from now on. This grisly little man is not above or outside the law. He is the titular head of a small state. We know more and more of the names of the children who were victims and of the pederasts who were his pets. This is a crime under any law (as well as a sin), and crime demands not sickly private ceremonies of "repentance," or faux compensation by means of church-financed payoffs, but justice and punishment. The secular authorities have been feeble for too long but now some lawyers and prosecutors are starting to bestir themselves. I know some serious men of law who are discussing what to do if Benedict tries to make his proposed visit to Britain in the fall. It's enough. There has to be a reckoning, and it should start now."