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This commentary was written by Carol McKinley, a self-described Catholic activist in Boston.
As a Catholic hungry for justice and truth, I’m disappointed by the unfair allegations that Pope Benedict XVI was complicit in obstructing justice in cases of sexual abuse.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not have jurisdiction over pedophile priests until 2001. Catholics familiar with the hierarchy are troubled by the gross exaggerations accusing the pope of aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of children.
It’s akin to putting the onus of misconduct by a soldier in Iraq on the president as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Any person of sound mind would agree that the abuse of a child is serious and should be prosecuted. But the reality is that the way Catholic bishops responded to allegations of sexual abuse in the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s was in lockstep with the rest of society.
In the aftermath of the secular “sexual revolution,” very little was known about pedophilia. Furthermore, the leaders in the Catholic Church were being advised by doctors who, oddly enough, are not being held accountable for what we now know was inaccurate guidance.
The stories about the pope are grossly inaccurate. Documents are being taken out of context and mischaracterized.
In one supposed case of obstruction, the future Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) is accused of impeding the defrocking of a pedophile priest “for the good of the universal church.” But that letter was actually written 15 years before any allegation of abuse surfaced. The priest wanted to be laicized, and the response from Rome simply confirmed the seriousness of the Sacrament of Ordination.
Another sensationalized story made the pope look like he stopped a trial for an accused priest. The press, however, left out the fact that the priest was dying. The proceedings were stopped just weeks before the priest’s death.
Yes, the Catholic Church hired pedophiles. But those numbers have been on the decline for 25 years. Approximately five cases of sexual abuse were alleged against Catholic priests in 2009. The Church now has rigorous psycho-sexual processing in place to weed out seminary applicants.
In fact, there’s ample evidence to prove the pendulum has now swung the other way. Even when an allegation is spurious, some priests are placed on leave for almost a decade before they obtain justice. Some never do.
What kind of a country are we living in where there are more voices demanding justice for al-Qaida terrorists than for Roman Catholic priests?
Every day, not too far from the misfeasance of bishops, in every corner of the world, you’ll find Catholics devoted to the Church. Christ suffered an excruciating death to leave us His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and the precepts which guide the lives of Roman Catholics.
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. The Catholic Church has been burying her enemies for 2,000 years. This, too, shall pass.
Opposing Commentary: Church Should ‘Abandon Shame,’ Embrace Accountability
This program aired on April 26, 2010.
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