Bonnie Erbe of US News and World Report is in high dudgeon. The Pope was remiss in handling a sexually abuse priest!
Hang the Pope!
Yada, yada, yada.
Now, as a Catholic, I want to personally thank Bonnie and company for their close attention to the Catholic Church's trials and tribulations. After all, Bonnie is very concerned for Catholic welfare. She cares about Catholics in a way that she obviously doesn't care when it comes to any other group of people.
For instance, when Carol Shakeshaft reported on the level of sexual abuse in the American public school system (400x higher in the schools than in the Church) Bonnie was silent as a lamb. For every child abused by a priest, 400 were abused by the public schools. It's actually worse than that, because the Church abuse was spread over five decades, while the school abuse is just the estimate for the last decade.
Similarly, when Yemen found it impossible to outlaw child marriage, Bonnie saw no news. There is nothing wrong with Muslims who insist that child marriage is not only legal, but laudable, because they are Muslims, after all, and we can't expect them to be decent people.
And we won't even discuss how the ritual of Jewish circumcision passes on HIV to infants, nor will we mention the higher rates of sexual abuse in Jewish or Protestant communities.
The examples could be multipled, but why bother?
None of this is news.
Furthermore, we should also recognize that it is only purest coincidence that by piling onto the Pope, the MSM are simultaneously attacking Barack Obama's most formidable political opponent apart from the Republican Party and Barack himself.
So, why does Bonnie get upset with the Pope? Because Bonnie is interested in our welfare. She cares. It brings tears to my eyes to know that she cares.
But she needn't worry. Even if Pope Benedict is eventually found to have exercised the worst possible judgment in regard to priestly sexual abusers, it's not like he's the first or the worst of the Popes to have done that. Let's reminisce a bit, shall we?Pope Stephen VI (896-897) had a grudge against his predecessor, Pope Formosus. In order to humiliate his memory, he had Formosus’ body dug up, placed on a throne, and tried for acting improperly as a bishop. The corpse was found guilty, its three blessing fingers were cut off, it was dressed as a layman, briefly re-buried, then exhumed again and the body thrown in the
Pope John XII (937-964) was accused by a synod of 50 Italian and German bishops (bishops, mind you, not scurvy little reporter-babes) of sacrilege, simony, perjury, murder, adultery and incest. The conflict between the Pope’s supporters and his opponents resulted in bloodshed in the streets of
Pope Urban VI (1378-1389) treated the people around him so badly that several cardinals defected, fled Rome, and attempted to elect a different pope. This began the Great Western Schism, when two different lines of men both claimed to be pope, and each was backed by a saint and doctor of the Church. Urban himself was subject to at least two attempts to assassinate or depose him, both plots hatched by cardinals of the Church.
And these are just some of the finest examples of papal depravity that could be brought forward. There are more. If you insist on being scandalized by bad popes, or leaving the Church because of a bad pope, why on earth would you choose to balk at the present contender when so many better examples of great papal sinners are available?
So, we have had bad popes. Although the evidence is still by no means clear, let us grant, for the sake of argument, that this particular pope, Benedict XVI, could be numbered with them.
As Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461) declared, in his third homily for Christmas Day, "the dignity of Peter suffers no diminution even in an unworthy successor" (cujus dignitas etiam in indigno haerede non deficit).
Even by 450 AD, less than 70 years after the Church had become the official religion of the Roman Empire, the Church had already seen anti-popes and attacks on the popes that overshadow anything the 20th or 21st century has produced. The fact that people are outraged when some evil can be attributed to a priest, bishop or even Pope is merely a demonstration that everyone holds the Church in the highest regard.
What is barely newsworthy in reference to public school teachers, what is roundly ignored when it comes to other faiths, this same conduct is considered outrageous in Catholic Faith precisely because our Faith is true and none of the others are.
The Magisterium of the Catholic Church is the sole source of moral Truth. When our leaders fail, it is a much greater failing.
"The latter are forgiven nothing", says De Maistre in his great work, Du Pape, "because everything is expected from them, wherefore the vices lightly passed over in a Louis XIV become most offensive and scandalous in an Alexander VI" (II, c. xiv).
Thanks for affirming what we already knew, Bonnie.