The Pope: Drowning, Not Waving


Yes, I know. "Excitable Andrew" is getting excitable again. The recent flurry of stories about sexual abuse and acting out in the Catholic church is just a flurry. The Pope is not Cardinal Law. The hierarchy remains entrenched in the developing world. Benedict's gamble - to double-down on denial about the celibate priesthood's sexual problems, to add more incense to the smoke-screen and more pageantry to the theater of it all - is working.

But it isn't. Let us review the recent evidence. The American church is still shell-shocked by abuse cases that have implicated the very top of the church hierarchy in recent years. Many Catholics - from the liberals to the arch-conservatives - will never feel the same way they once did about this institution, nor should we. The church in Ireland is in tatters, attendance cratering and vocations collapsing. Yes: Ireland. This is a function not just of the abuse crisis, but it has played a central role. We just found out that the current primate, Cardinal Sean Brady,

as a priest in 1975 ... was at meetings where children signed vows of silence over complaints against pedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.

Brady refuses point-blank to resign:

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, said this week that he will only resign if he's personally asked to by the Pope. In Ireland increasing calls for his resignation have come amid allegations that he attended meetings were children were asked to sign vows of silence over the abuse they had suffered.

But if the Pope asked Brady to resign, wouldn't he also have to ask himself to resign? After all, the Pope was part of a similar cover-up in Germany in which then-cardinal Ratzinger knowingly assigned a pedophile priest to therapy, without informing the authorities that he knew that the priest had forced an eleven year old boy to fellate him, and then allowed that priest to continue in his career, with his finally being convicted of more child abuse six years later. He was only removed from pastoral duties a few days ago.

The current moral authority for all Catholics personally put the interests of the hierarchy above the welfare of vulnerable children. He heard a case of a priest forcing an eleven-year-old to perform oral sex on him, and he did not take that priest to the police, as he should have, or removed him from his duties immediately. He sent him to therapy and allowed him to continue molesting children in future parishes, and never informed the parents of the priest's past. Would you have done that? Would anyone you know have done that? Would anyone you know who had done that be able to sleep at night?

I don't know of many things I find as repugnant as knowingly putting the interests of an institution's public relations before children's protection from molestation. Yet this is the Pope we have. This is the moral judgment he made.

How can anyone retain confidence in that figurehead? How can any orthodox Catholic not find this repugnant? And what has the Pope done since this has been revealed? He has said nothing, and put out a p.r. campaign to accuse critics in Germany of being anti-Catholic.

In Mexico and beyond. the last Pope and this allowed a serial molester and cult-leader, Marcial Maciel, continue his predatory habits for decades, and postponed any serious investigation until it was too late. His theoconservative allies in America defended Maciel for years. Late theocon-in-chief, Richard John Neuhaus, attacked those investigating the abuse allegations and declared that it was "a moral certainty" that Maciel was innocent of all charges. Now, in Brazil, another dam is breaking. This new story beggars belief:

Brazilian authorities are investigating three priests accused of sexually abusing altar boys after a video allegedly showing one case of abuse was broadcast on television, police and church officials said Tuesday.

The case came to light after the SBT network aired a video purportedly showing an 82-year-old priest having sex with a 19-year-old altar boy who worked for him for four years. Other young men appeared on the report saying that they, too, had been abused by Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa.

Also under investigation are Monsignor Raimundo Gomes, 52, and Father Edilson Duarte, 43, for allegedly having sexual relations with boys and young men...

In its report last week, SBT showed footage of a man who looks like Barbosa having sex with the 19-year-old. It said the footage was secretly filmed in January 2009 by a 21-year-old man who charges Barbosa had abused him since age 12.

But here's what remains staggering:

An SBT reporter visited Barbosa's house to conduct an interview and confront him with the allegations.

Before raising the allegations of sexual abuse, the reporter asks if the priest had ever sinned.

"Who has never committed a sin?" Barbosa responds.

The priest is then asked if the region has problems with pedophilia.

"I think it is more (a problem) of homosexuality than pedophilia," Barbosa says.

Asked directly if he ever abused boys, Barbosa says he could only answer such a question "in confession."

How much more do we have to see, how much more damage has to be done to human beings, before the hierarchy cones to terms with its denial about homosexuality, its warped psyche on sexuality, the brutal consequences of its celibacy requirements ... and the total iniquity of allowing children and teens in your care, entrusted to men of God, to be raped and abused and molested with impunity for years?

When will this Pope step down?

(Photo: Pope Benedict XVI waves through a car window at the end of his visit to Rome's Lutheran church, on March 14, 2010. The Vatican fought attempts to link Pope Benedict XVI to child sex abuse in a counteroffensive on Saturday against widening paedophilia scandals. By Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images.)