"An important question is whether the Church should investigate and discipline severe ethical transgressions of its leaders as do other major organizations, including corporations. It appears that when it comes to ethical and leadership failures, Pope Benedict believes the answer is "no," that the Churchwhich serves Godshould not be held even to the same standards as responsible corporationsservants of Mammon," - former GE executive Ben Heineman in Business Week.

And this is the case Benedict is making: because we are the church, we need not observe the same moral standards as secular institutions. Even child rape must be dealt with entirely internally and secretly - and even then, no actual firings in any way commensurate with the offense. And now that we know that Ratzinger chaired an actual meeting that agreed to transfer a pedophile priest to therapy and another parish, rather than fire him immediately and report him to the authorities, we know how far up that attitude goes.

That's why there really is no solution apart from a mass resignation at the top of the Church and some attempt to start over.

It seems mercifully as if the worst of the abuse is behind us. But those who enabled the abuse still run the church. This strikes me as somewhat similar to the US torture issue. By now, no serious person can deny that the US tortured prisoners and that the president authorized it. But few can actually own this yet and follow it to its inevitable conclusion. Similarly, it is so mind-blowing to think of the Catholic Church as an international conspiracy with respect to raping and abusing children with impunity for decades that few of us can get out of the denial that everything is somehow still ok.

But it isn't ok. If the Pope had any true sense of personal responsibility for enabling the abuse and rape of children, he would resign immediately. And if the Pope cannot take that personal responsibility for something so vile, something that wounded so many, something that violated core, basic levels of human trust, then what is he doing as a moral leader of any kind?

His clerical power may remain; but his moral authority is finished.

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