Popes, Pedophiles and Saints-to-Be
When an enabler of sexual abuse directed at children sits on the threshold of sainthood, you know you’re living in a world of screwed-up priorities.
The canonisation of Wojtyla is getting closer quickly and it could be celebrated next October. In fact, in the past few days, the medical council of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has recognized as inexplicable one healing attributed to the blessed John Paul II. A supposed “miracle” that, if it is also approved by theologians and the cardinals (as it is very likely), will bring the Polish Pope, who died in 2005, the halo of sainthood in record time, just eight years after his death.
Here’s what I remember about John Paul II’s 26-year-pontificate.
..on the greatest internal crisis facing the church, the pope failed, time and again, to take decisive action in response to clear evidence of a criminal underground in the priesthood, a subculture that sexually traumatized tens of thousands of youngsters. Despite a 1984 warning memo from the Rev. Thomas Doyle, then a canon lawyer in the Vatican Embassy in Washington, and a ninety-three-page report on the problem co-written by Doyle in 1985, which was sent to every American bishop, John Paul ordered no outreach to victims, no binding policy to rid the priesthood of deviants. In 1989 the US conference of bishops sent experts in canon law to Rome, seeking a streamlined process for defrocking child molesters rather than waiting for the byzantine Vatican bureaucracy and final word from the pope. John Paul refused. Litigation and prosecutions spread, but the pope remained passive.
Children were being raped and the one man who could have done something real to punish the perpetrators and bring about justice…did nothing. By his inaction, John Paul made the conscious decision to allow his clergy to continue the rape of innocent children.
And the consequence of this criminal inaction? Was it the vilification this pope (as others before and after him) so deserves? No. Try beatification and canonization instead. What a shameful travesty. Whatever good John Paul did during his 26-year reign (and there was some), his unwillingness to act on a matter that negatively impacted the lives of tens of thousands young boys, is all that really counts.
Political writer and historian, Michael Parenti (who, as far as I can tell, coined the term Vatican shuffle) puts it all in perspective in this 2010 piece.
…the [Catholic] hierarchy, aging men who have no life experience with children and show not the slightest regard or empathy for them. They claim it their duty to protect the “unborn child” but offer no protection to the children in their schools and parishes.
They themselves are called “Father” but they father no one. They do not reside in households or families. They live in an old-boys network, jockeying for power and position, dedicated to the Holy Mother Church that feeds, houses, and adorns them throughout their lives.
From their heady heights, popes and bishops cannot hear the cries of children. In any case, the church belongs not to little children but to the bedecked oligarchs.
The damage done to sexual victims continues to go unnoticed: the ensuing years of depression, drug addiction, alcoholism, panic attacks, sexual dysfunction, and even mental breakdown and suicide–all these terrible aftereffects of child rape seem to leave popes and bishops more or less unruffled.
Yet they build a 45-foot statue to honor one of the many pedophile-enablers who we ‘eagerly’ await to call Saint later this year. That’s pretty messed up.