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What now for senior clergy who covered up abuse?


Many Catholics will have found the news from Germany this past week painful. A law firm, Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, has presented findings in its investigation into historic sexual abuse in the Munich archdiocese. Running to 1,000 pages, the report is shocking: it lists at least 497 victims for the period 1945–2019 and identifies 235 probable offenders including 173 priests and nine deacons.

Naturally, much interest now centres on events that took place during Joseph Ratzinger’s archepiscopal tenure between 1977 and 1982. Ratzinger’s handling of claims of abuse during his administration of the archdiocese and his role in the decision to re-employ a known abuser within it have understandably become key matters under scrutiny. The man now known as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI denied he was present at a crucial meeting on 15 January 1980, but written minutes contradicted him. The lawyers therefore did not find his testimony credible. And his successor in Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is also criticized in the report, says he is ‘shocked and ashamed’ by everything that went on.

Benedict stands accused of having misled the Church when he wrote in 2013: ‘I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things.’ He now admits to having made a mistake in his testimony and blames the inconsistencies between it and other records on an ‘editorial error’.

To reiterate, this was only ever a ‘fact finding’ investigation by a law firm, which does not have the authority to make its findings legally binding. Nevertheless, further legal processes are likely in light of what the lawyers have concluded. And many will feel white hot anger at the forensic demonstration of yet another instance of morally compromised behaviour on the part of ecclesiastical authorities. Even a charitable reading of the actions of the parties to this case suggests that they were, at best, wilfully blind. The Holy Father emeritus finds his integrity seriously undermined: ascribing inaccuracies to his lawyers won’t wash.

Benedict, who unwisely blamed the sexual revolution of the 1960s for the abuse crisis, is also on record as warning about the evils of moral relativism. My esteemed ACU colleague David Kirchhoffer, who studies Benedict’s theology, creates subtle arguments to show that Benedict does not, in fact, intend his words to resonate in quite the absolutist terms that others sometimes hear in them. But his words currently do him no favours even as his acolytes scramble to marshal his defences. Several lines of exculpation for his conduct would seem possible: he was busy, he is old, few bishops at that time understood the gravity of their own complicity in institutional cover-ups.


"We must acknowledge the anger, the sadness, the betrayal. And we must continue to pursue all paths that will lead to telling truths, bringing justice, and promoting responsible leadership." 


Benedict also seems unlucky to have had the focus thrust on him in his extreme old age. Those within the Church who would condemn him should ask themselves if they can truly be sure that similar inquiries might not reveal equivalent lapses of oversight or judgement involving the leaderships of every diocese at some point in the past five decades?

Yet such arguments risk looking hypocritical when engaged in support of a man who has been so firm about the wrongheadedness of relativizing morality. And, in a way, the matter has also already moved beyond such questions as how much or for what Benedict is blameworthy. The imperative now is surely that of action: not so much what to do but how to cope?

It may tempt to demand righteous punishment for the guilty but what would such a course of action achieve here? Benedict is ninety-four. Reinhard Marx is only sixty-nine but, having offered to resign his see and having renounced the Federal Cross of the Order of Merit (one of Germany’s highest honours) in order to placate protests by abuse survivors, he has already paid a certain price. Would we also have him emulate John Profumo by dedicating the rest of his life to good works? Was he not already doing that as a cardinal archbishop? Must we insist that he withdraw from public life into solitude and obscurity as well?

Insisting on greater oversight of Church officials and their accountability also seems compelling. Except that, in general, stronger rules and regulations are now in place across much of the Western world. Here in Australia the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has issued its final report and recommendations, and various parties have made serious efforts to implement them. Moreover, the now notorious mistreatment of Cardinal Pell in Victoria ought also to remind us that the powers of state authorities are no panacea. Secular governments are no more infallible as purveyors of justice than anyone else is.

The harsh reality is that there is sometimes no sufficient action on the part of those involved that can atone them fully, nor are there further concrete steps that any of us can take to right the past’s mistakes. But the reality is also that those who have sinned, like those who have been sinned against, must go on: we cannot stop our lives and we cannot turn back.

We can — indeed we must — acknowledge the anger, the sadness, the betrayal. And we must continue to pursue all paths that will lead to telling truths, bringing justice, and promoting responsible leadership. The Westpfahl Spilker Wastl report, and other such reports which document what went wrong and the devastating consequences of institutional or personal failings, can be important milestones on that journey.

But we must also seek out mercy and forgiveness which are our best resources against curdling revulsion.

To forgive is not to forget. But not to forgive is also no solution. As a student of European history, I know that Catholic bishops have not always set the best example of such responses. Sometimes their flocks must guide them.



Dr Miles Pattenden is Senior Research Fellow in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Australian Catholic University. His books include Electing the Pope in Early Modern Italy, 1450-1700 (Oxford University Press, 2017) and he is and Co-Editor of The Journal of Religious History (2022–).

Topic tags: Miles Pattenden, Pope Benedict, the Church, sexual abuse crisis, accountability



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Paedophilia is, sadly, a bit like slavery. There was a time it was part of the territory in certain boarding schools, the Armed Forces and the Church. You could at one time be sentenced to death for if you raped a child in Australia. Many Christian Brothers probably could have swung from the gallows if the system had not protected them. This is the thing: the system protected them. It appears that, for whatever reason, the Pope Emeritus protected paedophiles, whether a sin of omission or commission. He can't escape the faeces sticking to him. He is old and quite truly, yesterday's man. Thank God he is not currently Pope! Cardinal Marx is more au fait with modern society and its mores. Benefit of Clergy no longer exists, thank God! The ex-Pope should now permanently shut up and keep out of sight. Cardinal Marx should probably retire from Munich if he has not already. He has an informed conscience, unlike the ex-Pope. What else he does is up to him. Clergy have, once again, been shown to have feet of clay. Yet our higher clergy carry on as if nothing has happened. That is deplorable.

Edward Fido | 27 January 2022  

“They had to discover that, again like Peter, all along they had been following Jesus “at a distance” (Mt 26:58). This humility, rooted in the awareness of their sins, completes their preparation to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”

And this statement could apply to all of the Baptised no matter how broken (Sinful) or feeble our/their attempt/effort to follow Him might be. So yes “It is by forming consciences that the Church (Led by the Holy Spirit) makes her most specific and valuable contribution to society.” as the fruit of an informed/lively conscience creates a heart of humility the only place the Holy Spirit can dwell.

At this moment in time what the Church needs is renewal rather than reform so

“In the desert prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God”

As in create an honest Way/Heart and serve the Truth in humility and in doing so give hope to all of mankind.

Then Isaiah 40;3-6 “Prepare the way for the Lord in the wilderness” (Brokenness/Lawlessness of our hearts) “make a straight highway (Of Truth wide and open) for our God (The Holy Spirit to enter) “in the desert” (dryness of it). Then “Every valley (Heart) shall be lifted up, (From baseness) and every mountain and hill (Of pride) made low; the uneven (Distorted) ground will become smooth, and the rugged (Coarse) land (heart) a plain (of humility”

This can only come about as manifest in humble hearts before our Father in heaven because

“Then the glory of the Lord shall be
revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. ”

And recently said “Paint a picture according to the vision you see and with the inscription: “Jesus, I Trust in Thee. I desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the whole world”

Throughout history, God has made His Will known to mankind through his Saints, Spiritual leaders, and Prophets. And at crucial times His Will has been revealed in a way that that cannot be misunderstood by His people. The Divine Mercy Image/s that the Church displays to the laity today is an affront to God, instigated by nationalistic pride and those who would pacify the powerful, it has nothing to do with Trust. As The true Divine Mercy Image is an Image of Broken Man. If this image were to be accepted in humility, it would renew the face of the church, by manifesting holy people who hold themselves accountable before the inviolate Word (Will) of God, to each other and mankind.

So make ‘straight His ‘Way’ commencing in Rome by recapturing (Staging) the original ceremony by displaying the present self-serving blasphemous Divine Mercy Image an image of Clericalism, then remove (Destroy) it publicly and re-place it with the true image an Image of Broken Man and in humility venerate it in a symbolic way that cannot be misunderstood by mankind, then re-enact this action with the help of the bishops throughout the whole Church (World).
If this were to happen a Transfiguration would occur within the Church at this moment in time that would resurrect the true face of Jesus Christ our King a face that reflects Truth and humility before all those she is called to serve in Love/Truth and Compassion (The Way the Truth and the life). From this base one of humility before God, the Church can then proceed to tackle many of her on-going problems/dilemmas.

The true DM Image One of Broken Man is a missionary call instigated by our Lord Himself to the whole Church, to evangelize through the action of Humility, a disarming action in its honesty, that embrace all in its simplicity, as we encounter and welcome our brothers and sisters who stand and seek direction at the crossroads (Difficulties) of life.

kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 27 January 2022  

Meanwhile, nothing about the truths served by the Church has changed. It consecrates and forgives, through celibate men only; matrimony is for men with women only and sex is for matrimony only; obedience to what the Church knows to be intrinsically evil is obligatory, the rest being a prudential exploration in the spirit of Scripture and Tradition for what can contingently be hypothesised to be true; and rule is by bishops because the laity, always liable to be fragmented by the world, the flesh and the devil, Satan having asked for and received permission to sift the people under obligation to the Judaeo-Christian God and the people under obligation to the natural law like wheat, cannot be relied upon to know what is true.

Don’t worry about mercy and forgiveness for perpetrators and enablers. Some people are better anathematised (which means being left to God) and exposed to the secular law represented by Caesar whose function is to weigh the rights and grievances of all who are made in the image and likeness of God. Scripture says those who break the law put themselves in the hands of others. Being left to the justice and mercy of God without much practical concern for his current daily condition, apart from being bundled up in the amorphous mass of souls that the Church prays for when it prays for everybody, seems to be the standard Christian response to Judas, in whose image and likeness perpetrators and enablers arguably are. And, of course, nobody is expected to have sympathy for Lucifer on account of mental illness or some such thing because there comes a time when to assume the role of perpetrator or enabler is to be disowned by all.

The secular historical situation of the Church is no different from those of formerly wartime, now post-war, Germany and Japan.

roy chen yee | 28 January 2022  

Thanks for well-reasoned and thoughtfully Christian writing, Miles. I’ll reply to your final paragraphs. Your final sentence in particular merits a considered reply. To a pastor in the Catholic Church his flock is his reason for living. If betrayal is involved in that commission then every person in the flock, including the pastor, is compromised. We can talk about forgiveness (which must include repentance of wrong-doing); however repentance to be truly felt has to be on-going. Secular society will not forget that if the church preaches forgiveness but does not do the necessary work of repentance then it’s all for show with no substance.

Pam | 28 January 2022  

This article displays the genesis of the "moral outrage" generated in so many erstwhile Catholics so clearly defined in Professor Lucas Keefer's article in today's ES. I suspect the God that the abusers and their apologists have ignored will be their ultimate judge and perhaps he will not forgive all of them regardless or what we collectively do about it.

john frawley | 28 January 2022  
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Wisely observed, John.

Michael Furtado | 08 February 2022  

As usual, I find myself unable to comprehand either Kevin Walter's long, twisting sermon or RCY's piece. The late Father Gabriel Amorth, priest, decorated Resistance hero and longtime exorcist of the Rome archdiocese, speaks more directly to me from his writing. Paedophilia is a psychological aberration, and, when put into full effect, both a serious sin and a punishable offence. Many institutions have shielded paedophiles to preserve their reputation. The priest who exposed paedophilia in the Wollongong archdiocese not so long ago was not supported and eventually committed suicide. Policing crimes should be right out of the Church's hands. Any complaints must go straight to the Police. The accused needs to be stood down immediately pending the police investigation. No recrimination should be taken against anyone exposing the matter. The Church is completely out-of-date here. It is the narrow clericalist mindset that created the problem in the first case. People like the late Ronald Mulkearns of Ballarat and the former Pope, along with a host of others, including Cardinal Hume of Westminster, failed miserably here. Clericalism is something that needs to be addressed seriously. Proper respect for decent clergy is not clericalism. They are different.

Edward Fido | 28 January 2022  

Thank you for an insightful comment on the ongoing crisis in the leadership of the Catholic Church especially the examination of the, at best, denying of truth by the former pope. That said I would like to disagree with the comment, "the mistreatment of Cardinal Pell". Whatever can be deduced from the several appeals of Pell it has to be said that he was found guilty in a trial by his peers. Cardinal Pell might have been seen as a target for the media, somewhat like the former Pope is currently seen by some, but while his appeal was upheld my understanding is that this does not mean he was found innocent of abuse of the altarboys.

Tom Michael Kingston | 28 January 2022  
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Tom Kingston, I can understand you saying that Pell’s acquittal, “does not mean he was found innocent”, but you are incorrect. An accused person is innocent until proven guilty, and the High Court’s decision is “final and conclusive.”

But the “Saturday Paper” declared “George Pell has not been found innocent. It is wrong to say so.” “The Conversation” carried an article stating “this extraordinary outcome is strange justice indeed. Pell has won today on a legal technicality.” And Dr Pattenden’s reference to “the mistreatment of Cardinal Pell” is an article by himself which states “Pell’s acquittal on the narrow technical grounds…”

Victoria’s Criminal Evidence Act 2009 requires a conviction to be set aside if “the verdict of the jury is unreasonable or cannot be supported having regard to the evidence.” The judges applied the principle that where there is “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof” the conviction must be set aside, and the accused acquitted.
The unanimous 7:0 decision was a conclusive repudiation of the Victorian legal system, the media lynch mob, and everyone involved in the false imprisonment of Cardinal Pell.

Ross Howard | 01 February 2022  

Miles has presented an excellent insight into the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl report as it pertains to Joseph Ratzinger, during his tenure as Archbishop of Munich. Miles asks what may happen to senior clergy who covered up sexual abuse? A related question, and one easily overlooked, is what is happening to some audience groups hearing, yet again, of CSA cover ups in the clerical world?
For survivors, their families and supporters there is a further measure of validation. The pain and isolation of the abuse, the graceless processes they endured in the early days of reporting and, frequently, the less than sympathetic reception by fellow pew dwellers may be momentarily dulled as another cover up agent is exposed.
Then there are the doppler damaged - as another revelation disturbs the clerical pond. Fringe Catholics, lapsed Catholics and cancelled Catholics are caught up in an apparent conclusion: so many perpetrators and so many cover-ups, all seemingly pointing to the judgement all, or almost all, priests must be part of the problem.
The next two groups can be found in most parishes. The Stunned into Silence are parishoners who have become wordless worshippers, settling for access to the Eucharist and other sacraments. In their youth, they imbibed a Pere Larcodaire view of the priesthood that implied the grace of state would enable priests to be worthy ministers of Word and Sacrament. The shock that so often this was not so remains unprocessed – locked in an inchoate state of suppressed pain and bewilderment.
Finally, there are today's version of Nichodemus. These believers are able to process the reality of the CSA phenomenon and have identified a critical question. They want to know how a life of prayer and intimate proximity to the sacraments could produce such a shallow crop of wisdom in so many in the presbyterate.. Failing to initiate criminal proceedings is the first order of failure – but allowing perpetrators ongoing access to children in new surrounds -again and again - elicits even sharper pangs of incomprehension.
Bringing the Church's field hospital to meet the needs of these groups is an urgent task. It is also an essential component of the renewal of all that is good and graceful in the ministry of Orders .

Bill Burke | 28 January 2022  
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‘A related question, and one easily overlooked, is what is happening to some audience groups hearing, yet again, of CSA cover ups in the clerical world?....Then there are the doppler damaged….Fringe Catholics, lapsed Catholics and cancelled Catholics are caught up in an apparent conclusion: so many perpetrators and so many cover-ups, all seemingly pointing to the judgement all, or almost all, priests must be part of the problem….The next two groups can be found in most parishes. The Stunned into Silence are parishioners who have become wordless worshippers, …. locked in an inchoate state of suppressed pain and bewilderment. Finally, there are today's version of Nicodemus….They want to know how a life of prayer and intimate proximity to the sacraments could produce such a shallow crop of wisdom in so many in the presbyterate….’

God provides the means to overcome challenges, accessed by a little thinking, and all of the above self-traumatising audience groups need to rediscover the fact that a baptised Christian (or Catholic) is a prince or princess of the Kingdom for whom to be wimpy and traumatised is simply to be undignified and unworthy of the privilege of baptism.

Satan has probably asked for the chance to sift the faith of the laity by allowing madness to usurp some of the clergy and episcopacy (those who opened themselves up to madness by deficiencies in their faith-lives), and God has consented, but dented the impact by allowing a secular situation of the same kind to occur within the sight and hearing of those who choose to have eyes and ears, the odd situation in the US where the voter has to choose between a Democratic Party that fosters abortion and other forms of personal unholiness and a Republican Party which has run off the rails in embracing beliefs and denials which are singularly unhelpful in protecting people from the medical and economic consequences of COVID-19.

In both situations, the pearl of great price that is endangered is institutional faith, or the faith that behind the institutions that seem to have gone awry are values that cannot be jettisoned.

Christians within Westminster systems are even better placed than Americans to consider what being a prince or princess of the kingdom means in a worldly sense – the inability to rule but the right to advise and warn the actual rulers.

The bulwark of a democracy or even a church is a great mass of non-rulers who know what the truth is to which the rulers should conform and who do not lose their heads because Satan has merely been given a dramatic opportunity to sift their faith.

roy chen yee | 29 January 2022  

'Ce n'est pas génie, ni gloire, ni amour qui reflète la grandeur de l'âme humaine; c'est bonté.' (Pere Lacordaire, who re-established Catholicism in post-Revolutionary France).

('It is not genius, nor glory, nor love that reflects the greatness of the human soul; it is kindness.')

Michael Furtado | 08 February 2022  

Many Web Sites and newspaper articles with posters on different web sites have proclaimed that Pederasty, within the Priesthood is its current most serious problem, augmented recently by former Cardinal McCarrick, as here we see the corruption of young men, who presumably entered the Priesthood, intending to live the celibate life. Some of whom may have acknowledged having homosexual tendencies, especially via the secrecy of the Sacrament of Confession, easy prey to be groomed/ensnared/corrupted by the likes of Cardinal McCarrick, who possibly was ensnared also as a young seminarian, many years ago.

Not all priests are Christian as I can testify, as I have witnessed many times, over the last thirty-five years, actions that incorporate intimidation, duplicity, gesture, implied talk, murmurings, and symbolism. Those who practice evil, the dark arts, are proficient in creating a situation where others do their dirty work, by manipulating them, as in, to use words of power/’association’ in conversation with their intended victim, while being totally unaware, that they are been used. This has happened to me via the Parish Priest when I was in the SVP. (Verified by another Catholic, years later who was living in isolation in one of his former parishes)

While other many years I have also witnessed others who also been unaware, have intimidated others which leads to division, as the recipient of this accumulated action of evil from different sources ..V.. becomes confused/fearful as friend or foe you no longer know (Hence isolation). Our emptying Church’s bear witness to this as no (Worldly) lawyer or civil agency can expose what these evil men use while smiling, as they are the tools of the Evil One.

Kevin Walters | 29 January 2022  
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Addendum to my post as my post above appears to have been considerably moderated, so here is a link to the full post.


kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 31 January 2022  

‘Not all priests….’

Subsidiarity is your right to test, from Scripture and Tradition, the spirits of someone in a cassock or speaking from the authority of the cassock. After all, Scripture gives any human the subsidiarity to test what an angel might tell him or her. And priests are, for the moment, less than angels, as is everyone else on the planet.

Anyway, thanks for making a distinction between the Church and the wolves within it, and thanks for your service in 'Vinnies'.

roy chen yee | 03 February 2022  

Thank you, Roy, for taking the time to respond to my comments for which I am most grateful.
kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 03 February 2022  

There is such a person as a cultural Catholic, who may have severe reservations about the current state of the Church. I think the current Pope is trying to do everything he can to change this state. As I have stated, I believe any crime committed by church officers should be reported to the police without exception. Any church officer who attempts to conceal, or does conceal, such crimes is open to legal prosecution. The old excuse 'I/we did not know' doesn't carry much weight. Serious sexual offenders, like 'Uncle Ted', the former Archbishop of Washington DC, are unlikely to change. Their basic psychological makeup is aberrant. I am not one for praying for them, I would rather support their victims. People who have no authority to preach, should cease to do so. Those of utter theological ignorance are basically known as such. This is the time for intelligent, focussed discussion. We have no time for irrelevance.

Edward Fido | 30 January 2022  

One puzzles over the link between Miles Pattenden's appellation as a 'Senior Research Fellow in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at ACU' and his topics of focus in Eureka Street. A wider appreciation of his specialisation is available from reading his articles in 'The Conversation', available for public viewing on the internet.

This may well account for the quality of response that he has drawn on this topic from both of his published pieces in this Jesuit journal. Can this be a trap, one is entitled to politely ask, set by the editors to amuse both him and us, or did they have a busy day and allow it to slip through their preoccupied fingers for publication?

Dr Pattenden is unquestionably a considerable medieval and early modern historian, as his profile confirms. However, how such an eminent background entitles him to speak with authority on Pope Benedict's lapse of leadership on the priestly abuse question, is, respectfully, a doubtful assumption.

Michael Furtado | 31 January 2022  
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Michael - as you are aware, it is common for academics to moonlight as journalists or commentators outside their special subject. In this instance, Miles offers an individual reflection on a recently released and well resourced report; he does so with more circumspection than many opinion pieces available in other reputable publications, made on the same topic. I have come to expect a thoughtful basis for your interventions in this domain - but, am puzzled this time round.

Bill Burke | 01 February 2022  

Bill, Thanks for this. My question is: was Miles the right person to address this shocking memory lapse, and perhaps conscience too, on Benedict's part, I would have applauded the publication of his piece.

The terrible truth of the matter, emerging but after Miles' piece was published, is that, given the shockingly minor attention that this scandal has aroused on a global scale, you might well be right!

Last night I heard John Allen (a fair-minded reporter, noted for the generosity and accessibility of his reportage) in his weekly La Croix International summation for North American viewers, speculate that forgetfulness in an elderly man (on such a colossal scale) was no more than a aberration and therefore excusable.

With journalists of the quality and standing of Massimo Faggioli and Robert Mickens on their books having held their fire so far, and the extent to which this compromises the former Pope being largely ignored by the quality secular British and American press, we may well have to congratulate Miles for inadvertently 'making the point he didn't make but could have' that, all along, it was Benedict's cover-up of the clerical sex abuse scandal that dealt the fatal blow to our Church.

Michael Furtado | 02 February 2022  

Michael - thank you for your reply. I accept the reasonableness of your hesitations, but add two cautions: a longer look at John Allen's work would pay dividends. In his last days at the NCR, he allowed his colors to fly for all to see - perhaps as an advertising preliminary to the La Croix endeavor. One of his ongoing involvements has been to act as an apologist for Benedict XVI during and after his pontificate. Secondly, if you attend closely to who is talking and not talking in Rome, Europe and North America these days you will detect considerable restraint on a range of topics - many have taken gardening leave while they count the numbers and try to sense wind shifts before another conclave is required. That said, significant commentary is available in The Tablet, National Catholic Reporter and an official release from the Head of the German Bishops Conference.

Bill Burke | 02 February 2022  

Thanks, Bill. I knew that about Allen and take him for the 'romantic Catholic' that I also am, with a love for my people that transcends much of the murky stuff that I admit.

Its a difficult path to tread, often leading me to sentimentalise, for I am nothing if not a Catholic 'tragic', aware of my many faults as well as those of 'my' people.

This goes to ecclesiology: we are a Church of Sinners, although I don't intend that to justify child-abuse but instead to see ourselves as the Church of the Anawim, of 'lepers', of many faults, of the 'Despised', the 'sneered-at' and 'spat-upon'.

Sure, among us are people who have succumbed to committing the most unspeakable crimes, but somehow I don't desire, as some appear to do here, to so sensationalise them as to fetishise our own virtue in NOT having done such terrible things.

'There, but for the Grace of God, go I', prayed John Bradford, and which those in charge of the Temple, (they know who they are) forget when they reach for the scourge of accusation and retribution to kick a scurvy dog when its down, rather than apply the balm of forgiveness.

Michael Furtado | 08 February 2022  

MF, I'd say he is eminently qualified to comment and your "doubtful assumption" appears to suggest you are better qualified to comment which is a highly sceptical proposition. It brings to mind a piece from a former Pope.
"Satire or sense, alas, can Sporus feel,
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?'
Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt, that stinks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'er enjoys:
So well-bred spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite." A Pope.

Francis Armstrong | 01 February 2022  

Miles, the revelations of entrenched paedophilia worldwide in the church (including Australia) are the primary reason catholic congregations have abandoned the church in droves.
Pope Benedict may have handed the reigns over to Pope Francis yet he still maintains and active daily online propaganda presence on Twitter as Pope Benedict. Even at age 94.
And yes amnesia or ignorance seems to be a recurrent theme when these historical revelations come to light.

"The elder brother of retired Pope Benedict XVI (Fr Georg Ratzinger now deceased) said that he was unaware of any sexual abuse occurring at a choir boarding school he previously directed.

"These things were never discussed," he told German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse. "The problem of sexual abuse that has now come to light was never spoken of." CNA Jan 2016.
Georg Ratzinger became the music director at the 10th-century St. Peter’s Cathedral in Regensburg, a city about 75 miles northeast of Munich. He served as choirmaster of one of Europe’s great children’s choirs, the Regensburg Domspatzen — Cathedral Sparrows — from 1964 to 1994. (NYT). This was while his brother was archbishop. Hundreds of boys were abused physically and sexually.
Given the number of clergy involved (235offenders) is it credible that he was unaware? Like Australia, where paedophilia has also flourished, the hierarchy was primarily concerned with protecting church reputation rather than actively dealing with the problem. Here nothing has changed except the criminal laws of 3 states.

Francis Armstrong | 31 January 2022  
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You are undoubtedly right to uncover these carefully confected excuses, Francis Armtrong; but truth is sometimes said to be stranger than fiction.

In a former parish, a dear friend confessed to me that he had been caught shop-lifting. Embarrassed but also forgiving I didn't know what to say except to ask if he needed support. I accompanied him to the Police Station with my solicitor and where he made a statement.

I was more intrigued than dumbfounded when it appeared that he had been doing it all his adult life! The duty sergeant called me aside, explaining that, when apprehended, kleptomaniacs usually make a clean breast of it, including admitting crimes that go undetected and sometimes where others have been held responsible and falsely convicted.

Given the opportunity to unburden himself my friend, who was comfortably off, paid a large fine and served time in prison that included psychological/psychiatric examination and treatment.

We 'took him off the plate' even though the PP said he'd never pinched a sou from it. From this experience I learnt that some thieves, perhaps like some child-molesters, experience deep shame, even when perpetrating their murky deeds, and get their kicks vicariously from not getting caught.

Michael Furtado | 18 February 2022  

Shame wont cut it. Two strikes now in NSW incurs 10 years in the crowbar motel.

Francis Armstrong | 04 March 2022  

The creaking administrative apparatus which the Catholic Church and Emeritus Pope Benedict seem to function under are extremely medieval, Michael F, so who better to discuss Benedict's bizarre attitude to and treatment of those pesky paedophile priests than a genuine, accredited, published and respected medievalist? The key opens the lock. Pity the current Pope, who is trying to bring a progressive modern sensibility to the matter. Our 'enlightened' leaders are probably waiting for his demise and replacement by someone from somewhere such as Subsaharan Africa, where they still burn innocent 'witches' and murder gays.

Edward Fido | 01 February 2022  
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‘someone from somewhere such as Subsaharan Africa, where they still burn innocent 'witches' and murder gays’

Well, the Original Pope of the One, True Church came from a place where they were prepared to stone women caught in the act of adultery, at least when there was a possible PR success to be had.

roy chen yee | 03 February 2022  

I am sure Kevin Walters is not in any position to decide who is a Christian or not. That is well above his pay grade. Only the Almighty knows. So called Christians can do appalling things. God will judge. Michael Furtardo and Francis Armstrong, along with most/all posters here, are decent, normal people outside the elitist clerical club, who have the most appalling record at concealing vile crimes by their fellows. It seemed to me that Georg Ratzinger was taking the Nuremberg Defence. They all do: 'I did not know.' I find that extremely plausible, to say the least.

Edward Fido | 02 February 2022  
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“So called Christians can do appalling things. God will judge.” Christians are called by that name because of a belief, a surrender, a way. Those who are called Christians are not necessarily better people than those with no belief in God. What we are called to do is follow humbly in the knowledge of our imperfection. I would not absolve laity of complicity, even if unknowingly.

Pam | 04 February 2022  

Edward, I am deeply saddened by your total lack of empathy manifest with so many disparaging remarks directed at myself more so as previously you appeared to have a good opinion of me (See a part copy of one of your early posts below on Dec 17,)

“Lordy, Lord! Another Kevin Walters poetic gem. The man is unstoppable. It's incredibly well meant and I believe him, like Marty Rice, John Frawley, and John RD to be a genuine Christian and full of the spirit of this time. So, it's more than excusable”……

What changed?

kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 04 February 2022  

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