by Zoe Pollock

Nicholas P. Cafardi gets in the weeds:

The Ratzinger who in 1988 sought a speedier canonical process for handling abusive priests delayed decisions to remove them later. ... By all accounts, Ratzinger’s awareness of the sexual-abuse crisis evolved over time, not always in a straight line, and often in conflict with other curial officials. ...

Obviously, there’s no shortage of blame to go around. The Catholic community deserves a fuller explanation of Rome’s reticence in laicizing known abusers. (In turn, church critics ought to acknowledge that cutting a molester loose doesn’t necessarily protect kids.) The pope could do that. He should do that. We need less “back story” and more openness. If there’s anything we can say with certainty about the crisis, it’s that secrecy does more harm than good. What if Ratzinger’s exchange with Castillo Lara had been published when it took place? The discussion that might have engendered among bishops, canonists, and the faithful could have saved the churchand her victimsfrom profound and enduring grief.

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