The Real Benedict XVI


We now know that this Pope was personally involved in enabling the rape of children rather than confronting criminal priests during his time as an archbishop in Munich. We know that while he had jurisdiction as head of the CDF, child-rapists were often allowed to carry on their crimes, and the most powerful rapist, abuser and cultist, Marcial Maciel, was abetted in his behavior. We know also that Benedict has seemed to try to get a grip on the problem as Pope, while never actually relenting on his own authority or the church's own sense of its own immunity from legal or criminal investigation. And we had, for example, his stirring letter to the Irish bishops about the appalling legacy of child abuse, torture and cruelty perpetrated for decades by men and women abusing the power of their religious office.

In this mixed legacy, we now find this. Two bishops in Ireland tendered their resignations to the Vatican in the wake of the ground-breaking and earth-moving Murphy report on church abuse. The Pope has now refused to accept their resignations, setting off a firestorm of outrage in Ireland:

Survivor Andrew Madden, who was abused as a child by paedophile priest Ivan Payne, said the announcement came as no surprise. "Today's announcement also shows how utterly meaningless the instruction was that Pope Benedict gave to Irish bishops to identify steps that would bring healing to victims of clerical child sexual abuse. Victims asked for those who were part of the governance of the archdiocese when sexual abuse was being covered up to resign, and this is ignored," he said.

John Kelly, of SOCA, said he was "bitterly disappointed" the bishops' resignations had not been accepted by the Vatican. "It will do nothing for the church and it will do nothing to help bring closure for the victims, especially in the Dublin Archdiocese," he said.

Kevin Clarke in the Jesuit magazine, America, writes:

It is truly becoming difficult to comprehend the thinking going on within the Curia on this issue. Here were two men making, after some episcopal arm-twisting that no doubt cost Archbishop Martin a great deal, who offered themselves up in a small gesture of accountabilityso much more is requiredbut even this meek effort has been rejected in Rome. Could the Curia truly be so oblivious to the anger and frustration of average Catholics worldwide trying to make sense of the church's response to years of sexual abuse by clergy on Catholic children? It doesn't seem possible.

And yet, tragically, it does.

(Photo: Joe Klamar/Getty.)