Dissents Of The Day

Benedictgeorgfrancoorigliagetty

In response to my thoughts on the pope, Michael Dougherty writes:

“This was not an accidental omission,” is a slippery phrase. Does Sullivan mean to imply the pope tacitly approves of U.S. torture? He should use plain language.

“His own priests” is also delightfully non-specific. Is Sullivan saying something about the pontiff’s time as Bishop of Munich (in the 70s), when he would have been in charge of priestly formation in his diocese? If it refers to the recent scandals, when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this is equivalent to pretending the secretary of health and human services should have devised an exit-strategy for Iraq. There are plenty of people to blame in the Church for what is euphemistically called the "abuse-scandal" - Benedict is not one of them.

“In return, the president refused” is even stranger, as if to say that Bush thought, “Hey Benny, thanks for not taking me out to the woodshed over that torture thing. I’ll do you a solid and not accuse you of covering up child-rape.”

One of Mark Shea's readers remarks on the same post:

The funniest part is that those who fear theocracy are the same people who are bashing the Pope for not smacking down Bush. If the Pope gets involved in American politics, it's theocracy. If he doesn't, he gets blasted for not condemning torture. B16 cannot win. Thankfully he does what he does regardless.

Two responses: anyone who believes that Benedict has no responsibility for the crimes the Church enabled while he was the very apex of ecclesiastical power is in willful denial. Yes, Benedict was the protector and ally of Bernard Law, the man who delayed holding Maciel to account for years, and the careful architect of the strategy to displace blame by holding celibate gay seminarians responsible. He is a man who even now argues that the broader culture is really responsible for the criminal cover-ups in the church he helped run for decades. As for Mark Shea's reader, torture is not a political intervention. It is a profound, universal moral issue that the whole world knows is at the core of what is rotten in the Bush administration. Benedict punted in speaking truth to power. He is as much a politician in this respect as Bush.

(Photo: Benedict XVI and his inseparable aide, Georg Ganschwein, by Franco Origilia/Getty.)