Amid GOP Pederasty Scandal, Child Molestation Coverup Allegations Hound Pope Benedict XVl
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 01:48:00 PM EST
In a striking synchronicity with the emergent scandal surrounding the GOP coverup of Congressman Mark Foley's apparent longstanding habit of sexual predation on minors, a BBC documentary program that aired yesterday, sparking a firestorm of protest from the Vatican, featured allegations that Pope Benedict XVl played a key role in covering up child molestation within the Catholic Church and that in 2001 Benedict - as Cardinal Ratzinger - issued a secret edict advising church officials to cover up instances of sexual predation within the Catholic Church. The edict has been decribed as an updated version of an earlier church document known as the Crimen Sollicitationis. The BBC summarizes:

The 39-page document, written in 1962, apparently instructed Bishops to deal with claims of child sex abuse through an approach which includes an oath of secrecy, enforceable by excommunication, which critics claim inevitably hinders outside investigation and prosecution.

    Expert Father Tom Doyle, a canon solicitor sacked from the Vatican after he criticised its handling of child abuse, interpreted the document for the BBC. He said it explicitly covered up cases of child abuse and emphasised the "total control of the Vatican" while giving no mention to the victims.

In a further, surrealistic wrinkle slightly evocative of accused sexual predator Mark Foley's position as a "guardian" of youth from sexual predation, in his capacity as the chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus ( and author or some 15 bills to protect children from predation ), the Vatican has levelled accusations against the BBC documentary from the very office entrusted with the protection of children. As the blog Disinterested Party reports:

Unsurprisingly, the church has thrown a fit. The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham and chair (I'm not making this up) of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults fumed that:

"As a public service broadcaster, the BBC should be ashamed of the standard of the journalism used to create this unwarranted attack on Pope Benedict XVI.

Indeed, Monsters And Critics reports that the Vatican is filing an official complaint:

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O`Connor is filing a complaint with BBC1`s Director General Mark Thompson, about the 'unwarranted' and 'deeply prejudiced' documentary, the Telegraph reported.

But, Disinterested Party, in a related post, quotes The UK Observer :

In May 2001, [ Cardinal Ratzinger ] ...sent a confidential letter to every bishop in the Catholic church reminding them of the strict penalties facing those who referred allegations of sexual abuse against priests to outside authorities.

    The letter referred to a confidential Vatican document drawn up in 1962 instructing bishops on how to deal with allegations of sexual abuse between a priest and a child arising out of a confessional.

    It urged them to investigate such allegations "in the most secretive way... restrained by a perpetual silence... and everyone... is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office... under the penalty of excommunication."

'Disinterested' further notes:

The Catholic Church itself estimates that 4,450 priests who served between 1950 and 2002 have faced credible accusations of abuse. And research by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice suggests that in the U.S. alone, 10,667 children were abused by the clergy during that period. The Church has already paid as much as $1.3 billion to settle abuse claims, a sum that will likely soar in the years ahead.

Those facts - The Vatican's and Pope Benedict XVl's alleged past roles in covering up sexual predation within the Church - present a compelling prima facie case.

Nothing may express the perfect convergence of the two emergent scandals besetting the Vatican and the US Republican Party - over the willful protection of child predators -  better than two pictures juxtaposed by blogger and political analyst Jeffrey Feldman, of Cardinal Bishop Law and US Speaker Of The House Dennis Hastert, both wearing astoundingly mirroring anguished expressions of remorse -  as if they were twins separated from birth - over identical types of complicity in protecting and covering up for active sexual predators.

[ twin Sons of different mothers ? image far left : Cardinal Bernard Law resigned from the Boston Archdiocese in 2002 following allegations that helped helped cover up cases of child molestation within the church. image near left: GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert. (image credit - Jeffrey Feldman. Link below) ]

Writes Jeffrey Feldman :

Fifty years from now, when historians write about the social problem of sexual predators in early 21st Century America, they will put a photo of Cardinal Bernard Law next to a photo of Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

House Speaker Haster may have covered for the crimes of one congressman while Cardinals Ratzinger and Law might have worked to hide the sexual crimes of hundreds or even thousands of sexual predators, but the nature of the alleged crime - as Feldman's dueling photographs illustrate - seems to have been similar. But, unlike Popes, United States House Speakers come and go at a fairly brisk pace and so Dennis Hastert's fate bears less long term import than that of Pope Benedict XVl.

In 2005 Pope Benedict was served legal papers and named as a defendant in a  2005 Texas lawsuit alleging his involvement in covering up the sexual abuse of three boys by a seminarian during the 1990's, but the Lone Star State's legal jurisdiction does not extend to the Vatican. Nonetheless, Pope Benedict XVl appears be caught between his past, as a Cardinal-enforcer, and the far reaching demands of his new office. Now - as scandals tend to go and as the House GOP's child predator coverup scandal will likely illustrate - however great a blow to institutional authority such embarassments might seem to threaten - further denials and coverups tend only to perpetuate the dynamics of scandal by holding and teasing public interest into a a toxic mix of prurient fascination, anger, and disgust.

To whom does a Pope confess - a Speaker of The US House ? And, can the Pope return the favor ( unoficially, that is ) ? Beyond the realm of idle theological musings, Dennis Hastert is in a different position and subject to vastly more flack than any pope would normally be. Further, as a Protestant, Hastert is subject to a plutocracy of opinion issuing from the broadcast towers and email volleys of Christian right leaders. For the meanwhile though, those voices, writes Talk To Action contributor moiv, are as silent on this scandal as crickets. How far does complicity extend ?

Editor's Note: For a more detailed and very impartial look into this aspect of the Catholic Church / Child Abuse scandal, please see Richard Bartholomew's coverage, at "Bartholomew's Notes On Religion", here and here

MORE Scandals !

"Help, Help! We've fallen Into Moral Relativism and We Can't Get Up !"

[ excerpt ] On Friday, October 6, Focus On The Family's radio broadcast was an "Update On The Foley Incident" and featured a conversation, between James Dobson and Focus On The Family Vice President Tom Minnery, in which an obviously angry Dobson wondered what the Foley scandal had to do with him and Tom Minnery aired a rather suprising concern : "I fear that we're in a society in which you will be held to the standards which you claim." Minnery seemed to be saying - with Dobson in tacit agreement - that he was afraid Americans would no longer tolerate lies and hypocrisy from their political leaders. ( Inside is a partial transcription of the conversation. ) In a related story, a keen eyed blogger on the Daily Kos noticed a statement, from Tony Perkins, that implied Perkins has long known of Mark Foley's habit of pursuing underage Congressional pages.

Liars For Jesus

[ excerpt ]
Would self professed spokespersons, in the name of Christianity and whose words are routinely broadcast to millions around the United States and the globe, attend public events in honor of, and present awards to, politicians who have derived financial profit from a regime of forced abortion and sexual slavery ? Well, yes. Might the leader of a major world religion have conspired to cover up the sexual molestation of thousands of children ? The answer, again, is yes.

So, it is no great stretch to suppose that Christian historical revisionists might - in the words of author Chris Rodda - "Lie For Jesus"....

yet more scandals ! :

See Scandals, and Reed and Abramoff Also, I'd highly recommend everything written by Talk To Action contributors moiv ( on reproductive rights and the Christian right ) and Jonathan Hutson ( our top hypocrisy skewerer )

The extent to which the Catholic Church decries supposed antagonistic or even evil forces that are supposed to be hostile to the faith while demonstrable complicity ( in the case of Bernard Law certainly ) in covering up the sexual abuse of children is covered up as if that act in itself were somehow not antagonistic to, or corrosive of, faith.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 02:56:50 PM EST
I seem to remember the original and translated Vatican document (pdf) being posted on the web somewhere around the original 2002ish Boston scandal.

by NancyP on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 10:19:19 PM EST
I'd say the 2005  Texas lawsuit gives this scandal an extended lease on life....

Then, there's the fact that hundreds of thousands of molested childen were involved.  

I'd call that newsworthy.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Oct 03, 2006 at 10:42:50 PM EST

You know the "Censored 200x" series of books documenting big stories that the mainstream media missed and little magazines got (ed. by Robert Jensen, a journalism prof. at UTAustin)? The stories may reach the mainstream press eventually - or may not.

This actually got into the mainstream news, but the reaction was short-lived for most folks not directly affected (ie, they aren't the families or they aren't in  dioceses making big payouts). I have to wonder how many defections to other churches/ no church affiliation, and how much, if any, reduction in diocesan fundraising occured.

by NancyP on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 01:26:49 AM EST

I was surprised by how little media play this latest eructation of the scandal got considering the decibel level of outraged howls coming from the Vatican over the BBC1 documentary.

Now, from a local angle in New England where I live, the Catholic Church pedophilia/sexual molestation coverup scandal seems to merit media coverage, and that's driven by ongoing pitched battles - over church closings for one thing - between Catholic activist groups that have emerged from the coverup scandal and the Boston archdiocese.

One might think that the sheer magnitude of the scandal laid out for the world to see - allegations ( or perhaps actually proven fact even ? ) that Pope Benedict XVl played a key role in covering up, literally, thousands of cases of sexual molestation and in protecting, literally, thousands of sexual predators within the church - might merit some broadcast bandwidth.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 07:31:07 AM EST

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