The Third Strike

10pope-cnd-articleLarge
 
The AP's story on Joseph Ratzinger's direct involvement in delaying for six years the defrocking of a priest who had confessed to tying up and raping minors ends any doubt that the future Pope is as implicated in the sex abuse crisis as much as any other official in the church. 

The facts are as clear as they are damning. From the documents, the priest fits exactly the model of arrested development I sketched out here. He seems to have been pressured by a bossy mother to become a priest, and was interested only in hanging out with children around the ages of 11 to 13 (the age of the boys he raped). He had no genuine impulse to ordination, but the church was so desperate for priests he was acceptable.

When confronted with the charges, the priest pleaded no contest to tying up and raping two pre-teen boys in 1978 in the rectory of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Union City. There were, apparently, several more victims. There was no dispute as to his guilt. The priest, Stephen Kiesle, personally requested he be defrocked. His legacy is horrifying:

Kiesle, now 63 and recently released from prison, lives in the Rossmoor senior community in Walnut Creek and wears a Global Positioning System anklet. He is on parole for a different sex crime against a child. Numerous accusers have said he abused them as children at Our Lady of the Rosary, Santa Paula (now Our Lady of Guadalupe) in Fremont and Saint Joseph in Pinole, where he served in the mid-1970s, then returned in 1985 to volunteer as a youth minister.

Yes, this rapist was subsequently allowed back into the parish where he tied up and raped children seven years later as a volunteer youth minister. Even after his eventual defrocking, in 1987, he continued to work with children at the parish for another year.

Whose fault was this? In this case, it is absolutely clear that his remaining a priest was entirely the fault of the Vatican, and the person directly responsible for the delay in defrocking him was Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. Kiesle himself requested he be defrocked. The local bishop desperately wanted him to be defrocked and petitioned Raztinger first in 1981 that it happen expeditiously. The bishop, knowing that what the hierarchy cared about was bad press, not the protection and welfare of children, argued that there would be more "scandal" if the priest were kept in ministry than if he were fired:

"It is my conviction that there would be no scandal if this petition were granted and that as a matter of fact, given the nature of the case, there might be greater scandal to the community if Father Kiesle were allowed to return to the active ministry," Cummins wrote in 1982.

Despite several appeals from Cummins, Ratzinger's office delayed any resolution for three years and then proposed more time to process the case because of two things:

This court, although it regards the arguments presented in favor of removal in this case to be of grave significance, nevertheless deems it necessary to consider the good of the Universal Church together with that of the petitioner, and it is also unable to make light of the detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke with the community of Christ's faithful, particularly regarding the young age of the petitioner.

It is necessary for this Congregation to submit incidents of this sort to very careful consideration, which necessitates a longer period of time.

In the meantime your Excellency must not fail to provide the petitioner with as much paternal care as possible and in addition to explain to same the rationale of this court, which is accustomed to proceed keeping the common good especially before its eyes.

This is signed by Ratzinger himself. It reveals several key things.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Just In