Keeping Pressure on the Pope

“We cannot be fooled.  As we previewed here, the Pope gathered his cardinals last week in Rome, and promised a meaningful discussion regarding clergy childhood sexual abuse.  In reality, as SNAP laments, the meeting of cardinals at the Vatican last week was just as expected, no action, no change, no substance. Once again, new guidelines on child sex abuse will be issued within the church, but once again, these guidelines will fail to call for mandatory reporting of credible allegations of abuse.   Sadly, the biggest news of the weekend regarding the Pope was not his failure to act meaningfully on child sex abuse, but rather his statement on condom use.The Pope’s comment, made during an interview in a forthcoming book on the Pope entitled “The Light of the World”, condoned condom use in very limited circumstances, such as those involving male prostitutes.   This an attempt to smooth over the 2009 media relations disaster in which the Pope, on his way to Africa, denounced the use of condoms in any circumstance, and even went as far as to say that condom use in Africa may in fact worsen the AIDS epidemic there.   In just the same way that the Pope attempts to shift public opinion in his favor by making a limited endorsement of condom use in a very rare circumstance, he attempts to earn favorable public opinion by holding a meeting with the cardinals and purporting to address meaningful change in handling child sexual abuse among clergy.  Both are sneaky and disturbing attempts at image preservation over substantive change.

Additionally, there are many comments by the Pope in this forthcoming book, other than those addressing condoms, that should be receiving the most media attention and drawing the most outrage, but they are not.  For instance, the Pope in this book  makes a despicable remark addressing the Legion of Christ, the unholy religious order founded by Marciel Maciel, a prolific child abuser, drug addict, and sinister swindler.   The Pope says in the book that the Legion “is sound” and its followers should continue the mission of its founder Maciel.  Shockingly, in another remark receiving little media attention, Pope Benedict XVI expresses “surprise” at learning that the level of clergy sex abuse in his home country of Germany reached the level of clergy abuse in Ireland.  What a deceitful and hurtful thing to say.  Who better to know the policies and practices of secrecy and cover up in the German Catholic Church then Ratzinger, who was the Archbishop of Munich and later led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?   Ratzinger’s involvement in the cover up and transfer of a known offender, Rev. Peter Hullermann, while Ratzinger was in Munich, has been documented on CNN’s “What The Pope Knew”.  Ratzinger is implicated in the transfer and placement of this priest into another parish after he was caught abusing kids, where he was later convicted of abusing more children.   The Pope, if no one else, should be intimately familiar with the prevalence of clergy sex abuse in Germany because he fostered it when he was in leadership there.  For him to say otherwise is insulting.

We will not be fooled.  Importantly, SNAP and many others are keeping the pressure on the Pope.  SNAP is now a worldwide force, unifying to urge an end to the secrecy and the lies among the Catholic hierarchy in addressing the clergy sex abuse crisis.  SNAP members protested the Pope and his meeting with cardinals last Thursday, including a brave survivor named Lucy from the UK, her story is here.    These brave survivors will not be fooled into believing the Catholic hierarchs are instituting any meaningful change that will help survivors and protect kids.   We must all join with survivors and advocates to keep pressure on the Pope to implement honest, straightforward, sincere policies of change that will keep kids safe.”