Friday, March 26, 2010

Responding to the papal smear campaign: "Cardinal Ratzinger acted against abusers"

Keeping the record straight on Benedict and the crisis

Intense scrutiny is being devoted these days to Pope Benedict XVI's history on the sex abuse crisis. Revelations from Germany have put his five years as a diocesan bishop under a spotlight, and a piece on Thursday in The New York Times, on the case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy of Milwaukee, also called into question his Vatican years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Despite complaints in some quarters that all this is about wounding the pope and/or the church, raising these questions is entirely legitimate. Anyone involved in church leadership at the most senior levels for as long as Benedict XVI inevitably bears some responsibility for the present mess. My newspaper, the National Catholic Reporter, today called editorially for full disclosure about the pope's record, and it now seems abundantly clear that only such transparency can resolve the hard questions facing Benedict.

Yet as always, the first casualty of any crisis is perspective. There are at least three aspects of Benedict's record on the sexual abuse crisis which are being misconstrued, or at least sloppily characterized, in today's discussion. Bringing clarity to these points is not a matter of excusing the pope, but rather of trying to understand accurately how we got where we are.

Read the rest of John L. Allen's excellent analysis here.

March 26th, 2010 7:53

Cardinal Ratzinger acted powerfully against abusers, says Archbishop Vincent Nichols

At last – Archbishop Vincent Nichols, writing in The Times, has explained how far-reaching the former Cardinal Ratzinger’s reforms of Vatican procedures were after he took over responsibility for dealing with abuse allegations in 2001. More should have been done, and much earlier. But, although his record was not perfect, Ratzinger was part of the solution, not the problem. And we need to bear that in mind when we listen to commentators like the monumentally pompous ex-Jesuit Michael Walsh scoring points against their old enemy. Oh, and if anyone is under the impression that veteran BBC Rome correspondent David Willey doesn’t have an axe to grind, let me put you right on that one.

Here’s the quote from Archbishop Nichols. He may not be on quite the same liturgical wavelength as the Pope, but he can recognise a hit job when he sees one:

What of the role of Pope Benedict?

Read the full article here.

French bishops say in letter to pope that they're "ashamed" of priests who abuse children

March 26, 2010 8:52 a.m.

French bishops said in a letter to Pope Benedict XVI that they were ashamed of priests who committed “abominable acts” by sexually abusing children. The Vatican has been on the defensive in recent days as criticism over the handling of some of the abuse probes in the United States and in Benedict's German homeland have threatened to engulf the papacy.

Benedict, in his previous role as a Vatican-based Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, directed the Holy See office that deals with sex allegations. Earlier, as Munich archbishop he was the top authority in the diocese in his German homeland.

The letter to Benedict from French bishops, and a Web site statement by the Legionaries of Christ, were the latest expressions of shame and regret from local churches or religious orders.

Both contained expressions of solidarity toward Benedict for his handling of abuse cases.

Abuse victims from the United States to Europe have been demanding that Benedict take responsibility for what he did or didn't do, both in his tenure in Germany and as the director of a Vatican policy that centralized the cases in Rome under a cloak of confidentiality.

French bishops said in their letter to Benedict that they are ashamed of priests who molested and raped children. The bishops said these “abominable acts” had “disfigured the church, wounded Christian communities and cast suspicion on all the members of the clergy.”

But they also expressed solidarity with Benedict, saying the sexual abuse scandals were “being used in a campaign to attack you personally.”

Source: Vancouver

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