Thursday, April 17, 2008

FACT CHECKING THE INFALLIBLE


IF YOU still share the media's delusion about its objectivity, the coverage of the Pope should cure it. The pope has long been the media's favorite preacher. It's not the theology, but the outfit, the pomp and the wheels he uses. Besides, who needs to fact check the infallible?

But for those who still think the press shouldn't play favorites in these matters, we have included a few items previously run here that may help put Benedict in perspective. One might even say that his widely circulated words about child abuse are just a tad hypocritical. Besides, as George Bernard Shaw noted, "Why should we take advice on sex from the Pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't."

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 2006 - A British documentary claimed that Pope Benedict XVI was implicated in the systematic cover-up of child sex abuse allegations against Catholic priests. Before becoming head of the church, the then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger enforced church doctrinal orthodoxy, including a "secret Vatican decree which seemed to shelter the perpetrators and silence the victims of abuse", the Panorama program said. This was the 1962 document Crimen Sollicitationis, which told top churchmen how to deal with priests who "solicit or provoke the penitent toward impure and obscene matters", according to a translation from Latin on the BBC website. It imposed an oath of secrecy on victims, witnesses and those probing abuse claims and said that anyone breaking this would be excommunicated, the BBC said.

Father Tom Doyle, a canon solicitor reportedly sacked by the Vatican after criticizing its handling of child abuse claims, told the BBC that Crimen was "an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy, to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by the churchmen." . . .

Ratzinger clarified church law on the issue in 2001 and Panorama reported that he had ordered that the Vatican must have "exclusive competence" for child abuse cases. "It's all controlled by the Vatican and at the top of the Vatican is the pope so Joseph Ratzinger was in the middle of this for most of the years that Crimen was enforced," Doyle added.

MARY ALICE ROBBINS, TEXAS LAWYER - U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal of Houston dismissed claims against Pope Benedict XVI in a suit in which three plaintiffs allege that the pope conspired to cover up a seminarian's sexual abuse of them in the mid-1990s. Rosenthal based her decision in John Doe 1, et al. v. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, et al. on Pope Benedict's head-of-state-immunity, although the suit was filed in 2004 before he was elected pope. Pope Benedict, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, alleged in amended motions filed in May that he should be dismissed from the suit on several grounds, including immunity. . .

"I think it's a shame that our State Department would get involved in an issue that basically involved covering up the sexual abuse of children in this country," says Tahira Kahn Merritt, attorney for two of the plaintiffs. "We're going to go forward with the case against the archdiocese," says Merritt, of Kahn Merritt & Allen in Dallas. . . The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that Ratzinger "designed and explicitly directed" a conspiracy to fraudulently conceal tortious conduct in connection with Colombian-born Juan Carlos Patino-Arango's alleged abuse of them while he was a seminarian working at St. Francis de Sales Church in Houston. They further allege in the complaint that after the parents of one plaintiff reported the alleged abuse to the archdiocese, Patino-Arango was moved to a "retreat house for abusive priests" and later "secretly spirited" out of this country and sent back to Colombia.

A Harris County grand jury indicted Patino-Arango on a charge of indecency with a child in 2004 and he is a fugitive from justice, according to an Associated Press report.

AP - Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches. . .

In the latest document - formulated as five questions and answers - the Vatican seeks to set the record straight on Vatican II's ecumenical intent, saying some contemporary theological interpretation had been "erroneous or ambiguous" and had prompted confusion and doubt.

It restates key sections of a 2000 document the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, "Dominus Iesus," which set off a firestorm of criticism among Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."

In the new document and an accompanying commentary, which were released as the pope vacations here in Italy's Dolomite mountains, the Vatican repeated that position.

"Christ 'established here on earth' only one church," the document said. The other communities "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession - the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles.

Vatican One, for good or ill,
Declared the pope infallible.
Vatican Two, the recent sequel,
Made pope and bishops more coequal.
And that is why, betwixt you and me,
The pope isn't calling Vatican Three.

But should there be a Vatican Three,
Each bishop with his wife will be.
And if there were a Vatican Four,
Each bishop would have her husband, or more.
Ecclesial power remaineth, Oremus!
With men who can claim, "Testiculi habemus!"
But millions of women think it ridiculi
To base empowerment on a pair of testiculi!

-Anonymous, quoted in a letter in Commonweal

5 Comments:

At April 17, 2008 7:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pope Benedict was able to get a visa to travel in the United States even though he has spent a major part of his career diligently climbing the corporate ladder of a supposedly religious organization that incubates , shelters, and protects serial child abusers, all the wretched while bearing thoroughly false witness against any victim who survives intact enough to breathe a word about the crimes.

Throw the bum out.
- John A. Joslin ( Detroit ex-catholic)

 
At April 18, 2008 6:03 AM, Anonymous Ajit said...

What may be the number of victims of these sexual abuses committed by "God's men"? Are there any reliable numbers?

It is true Catholic Church is more like a corporate organization than religious one.

But it has always been like that.

A concentrated power will always be a source of threat to the well being of people. The catholic church is just that.

Compared to earlier attrocities committed by Catholic Church this scandal is a very minor one.

But they are getting a lot of heat for this. Which is a good thing.

Their power is crumbling.

 
At April 18, 2008 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, your coverage of the Pope isn't any better than corporate media's. Get this through your head: not everything the Pope says is infallible, it is only when he is speaking ex cathedra, which is not the case for the majority of his pronouncements.

And those of you who've gotten all self-righteously pissed-off and secular because of the sexual abuse scandals (or some other reason) would do well to consider the fact that the hierarchy is not equivalent to the church. There are several million Catholics out there who are just as upset by both the scandals and the Pope as you are - but many of us are also working feverishly to end torture, end the war, address poverty and homelessness, and speak truth to power. The progressive movement could be one hell of a lot stronger if the secular left would stop insulting the religious left and try to work together.

 
At April 18, 2008 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look again, 7:12. Sam doesn't say anything that suggests he misunderstands the doctrine of infallibility. He is, rather, accusing the press of believing the Pope is infallible under all circumstances.

 
At April 21, 2008 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, I was confused by your comment-less inclusion of the 2006 article from the Daily Mail in today's Review. Are you still digging up old dirt on the Pope? Which is fine, of course, except that this article is not primary source material about the main dirt of all, this top-secret document attributed to the current Pope. Do we have a leaked copy or are they all still locked up in a bishop's safe somewhere? Have you seen the BBC special referred to in the article, and if so can you tell us its sources for these very damning allegations, as the Daily Mail article does not? I have to say, the Daily Mail article, down to getting the name of the Pope wrong (it's Joseph, not Thomas), reminds me of those anonymous emails that circle the globe saying Obama is a Muslim or that Target hates Christmas. Lots of heat and very little light.

 

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