Joseph Ratzinger is directly responsible for the sexual abuse of children. He bears responsibility under international law for the rape and molestation of children committed on a widespread and systematic scale. As head of the Congregation for the Defence of the Faith from 1981 to 2005, he was responsible for the system whereby offenders were protected from exposure and victims were silenced. Complainants and witnesses were sworn to secrecy.
My authority is Geoffrey Robertson, QC., first president of the war crimes court in Sierra Leone, and distinguished jurist member of the UN Justice Council.
Child abuse was “endemic” in Irish Catholic boys’ institutions. In the US, dioceses had paid out over $1.6 bn in compensation settlements by 2010. (I can’t find a definitive figure now: This says $3bn in the US alone- there should be a figure, were the RC church not pathologically secretive.) The evidence shows a remarkably higher level of abuse in Catholic institutions: perhaps 6-9% of priests were abusers.
Aged 7, Catholic children may be taking communion, told that the priest who places the wafer directly into the child’s mouth has miraculously converted the bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ. That child is made to confess his sins to the priest, who like God dispenses forgiveness, according to the Catholic church on the direct authority of Jesus himself. The victims of abuse, their reverential fear of the priest inculcated from early childhood, cannot deny the priest’s abusive requests.
The commitment to celibacy and the Church’s condemnation of masturbation as a mortal sin sets up an unendurable tension for many priests, and up to half are “sexually active”. Masturbation is prevalent in seminaries, and the ready forgiveness at Confession forms a cycle of guilt that binds clerics and confessors together wherein secret sexual transgressions become minimalised and trivialised- even sex with minors becomes just another sin to be forgiven. Garry Wills: The infantilism of priests, the combined sexual inexperience and prurience arising from celibacy, the belief that a celibate male is more attuned to spiritual reality than a married man- all this created a framework where sins, when they occurred, had to be denied, the victims had to be blamed, the solution to the problem was simply one of praying harder.
The abuse has been covered up by the bishops, at the direction of the Vatican. Most abusers were moved to different parishes where their record was not known. In 2001, the pope and his cardinals congratulated a French bishop for hiding a paedophile priest from the police and then reassigning him to offend again. In the pope’s apology to his Irish faithful in 2010 he told the perpetrators that forgiveness was theirs for the asking: Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. To his brother bishops, Ratzinger wrote, grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness. How I loathe that passive voice!
The Vatican is a territory of 1.2 square miles in the city of Rome, home to the pope and a shifting population of several hundred bureaucrats. It was granted its current status by Mussolini in 1929. It conducts diplomatic relations of some kind with 178 countries. There is no factual basis for its claim to sovereign immunity.
I was fuzzy on the details, but like everyone I had known that large numbers of priests abused children, and the Catholic church covered it up. I have written this as an exercise in disillusionment. I still look up to authorities, and I seek to stop. The RC church perpetrates monstrous evil, in its abuse of children, and in its ludicrous “moral stances”, such as the refusal to countenance condom use, even to prevent the transmission of AIDS within marriage.