Thursday, October 05, 2006

So where is the shock?

Monday's headline on Melbourne's free gossip rag, MX, was "Pope sex shock". They reported that a BBC documentary revealed that Pope Benedict XVI (formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger before he changed his name for legal reasons) was involved in the systematic cover-up of sexual abuse and rape by Catholic priests.

So where's the shock? The Catholic Church has been protecting sexual predators for decades -- the BBC reported on a leaked secret Vatican document from 1962, the Crimen Sollicitationis (they sure love their Latin), that sets out the procedures to follow. The document imposes an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation and any witness.

To learn that the Pope followed Church policy is no surprise. It would have been shocking to learn that Ratzinger had disagreed with the Church policy of protecting the abusers.

As cardinal, Ratzinger was head of the powerful Congregation of the Doctrine of The Faith, the department charged with promoting Catholic teachings on morals and faith, and for 20 years he was responsible for enforcing the Crimen Sollicitationis. In 2001 he issued a secret Vatican edict to bishops instructing them to put the Church's interests ahead of the safety and well-being of the children. (They sure love their secrets as well as their Latin -- anyone would think that the people charged with guarding humanity's morals were ashamed of the things they do.) Victims' silence was enforced by the threat of excommunication.

Naturally enough, when faced with the evidence that the Pope was involved in covering up sexual assault on children, the Archbishop of Birmingham Vincent Nichols accused the BBC of "a deeply prejudiced attack on a revered world religious leader" by revealing what the "revered world religious leader" has actually done in his position of power. According to Nichols, the real bad guys are not the priest abusers or their bishops who covered up their crimes or the cardinals who created Chuch policy, but the BBC for reporting on what the Pope's morals are really like.

Which tells us a lot about the sort of moral midgets who rise to power in the Catholic Church.