Friday, March 12, 2010

Scandal in German Catholic Church is causing angst in Rome

BERLIN — A widening child sexual abuse inquiry in Europe has landed at the doorstep of Pope Benedict XVI, as a senior church official acknowledged Friday that a German archdiocese made “serious mistakes” in handling an abuse case while the pope served as its archbishop.

The archdiocese said that a priest accused of molesting boys was given therapy in 1980 and later allowed to resume pastoral duties, before committing further abuses and being prosecuted. Pope Benedict, who at the time headed the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, approved the priest’s transfer for therapy. A subordinate took full responsibility for allowing the priest to later resume pastoral work, the archdiocese said in a statement.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he had no comment beyond the statement by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, which he said showed the “nonresponsibility” of the pope in the matter.
Read the rest here.


Young fogey emeritus said...

Based on glancing at this story, one should remember that around 1980 the doctors were telling the bishops that this perversion was curable so of course I give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt here.

The best thing for the church to do when there are sex crimes and coverups is to hand the erring clerics to the state to throw the book at them. Come clean.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

This is a huge blow to ecumenical dialogue. Who wants to associate himself with this horror even if we were to come to full doctrinal agreement?

I just cannot, for the life of me, understand how any informed person can continue to believe in Catholicism when shows its true face in some way, and on a massive scale, in every generation.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I think one needs to be careful not to judge the RCC on the acts of a few of its clergy. Orthodoxy has had its share of moral failures in the clergy too. Ours sadly are all too often bishops. The Romans like most institutions have always had a certain natural predisposition to sweep their dirt under the rug.

Unfortunately that rug can't cover all the dirt anymore. But there are many holy people in the RCC even if they are in error. The current Pope deserves much credit for trying to set things to right that have been badly neglected for far too long.


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I'd agree with you if it really were"a few of its clergy." But we aren't talking about a couple of dozen, or a few wcore, or even hundreds. We're talking about at least thousands of priests (known so far) and tens of thousands of victims, just in the United States, plus very many of the bishops covering it up, re-assigning these sick puppies to parishes, failing to turn them over to the law, etc.

No, we don't have anything comparable.

And I wasn't just referring to this scandal, either, but to stuff that has just kept on coming through all these thousand years.

It just puzzles me sorely.

Disgusted in DC said...

Anatasia, if you think Orthodoxy is not without its outrageous pederast/pedophilia scandals and clerical cover-ups, you are very naive indeed. The history of the Greek Church post-1453 makes for very sad reading, for instance. And, there is a reportedly a lot of predation of boys/young men that goes on at a number of Athos monasteries, but because Athos is autonomous and remote, people can pretend that these things never happened.

Fortunately, the truths of the faith do not depend on the holiness (or lack thereof) of its ministers. I am a Catholic, but what I just said is equally applicable to the Orthodox.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Dear Disgusted,

Rumors and slander aside, and even real scandal notwithstanding, no, there is nothing among us that begins to compare in scope with what we are reading about today.

The truth of the faith is indeed not affected by the sinfulness of anybody, including popes or patriarchs. Neither does the validity of sacraments depend upon the holiness of the priest(s), although for Catholics, at least the “required intention” is said to be necessary (CCC 1256).

But for Catholics, the correct content and understanding of faith and practice is defined, developed, “proposed” by the hierarchy (CCC 891, 892). You have only to glance at the CCC to see that everything laid out therein, for Catholics to believe, is supported by citations overwhelmingly from papal and conciliar documents. The Magisterium (meaning for practical purposes, the hierarchy) is the authority for Catholics, is it not? Which means, doesn’t it, you are dependent upon these men to tell you what and how to believe?

And one of those things they tell you to believe is that they are the ones to tell you what to believe. In other words, believing in the hierarchy itself is fundamental to being Catholic? You have somehow to believe them – and this is what mystifies me – when they say “We have this special charism, so believe what we tell you.” Why? And how, in the face of so much evidence to the contrary?

Those are rhetorical questions, not necessarily requiring an answer, simply expressing my frustration in trying to understand this.

Fr Paul said...

I was gearing up to write you a long comment on your own blog, attempting to engage positively with the article you wrote on the Church's teaching authority. Reading what you write here, I am inclined to conclude that there is no point. You seem disposed to conclude whatever the evidence that your own Church is near perfect, and that ours is near-diabolical.

I am particularly surprised at this selective blindness given the fact that you reside part-time in Greece. Have you heard nothing of recent scandals involving clergy sexual misconduct here (the homoerotic telephone conversatims of senior clerics recorded by a journalist, a country priest who paid the mother of a pre-pubescent girl for sexual relations with her, to name but two recent cases), financial corruption on a massive scale (the Vatopaidi land scam) or both combined (the ex-Metroplolitan of Attica, now in prison..) Anecdotal evidence, based on what young Greeks tell me, suggests that this is all just the tip of the iceberg.

I am sorry to mentiom these sad things. It is certainly not my intention to denigrate the Orthodox Churches, The reality is that our Churches are human institutions as well as divine mysteries, and that apalling evil co-exists with real sanctity in both of them, with most of us struggling in the middle to open our sinful hearts to the mercy of God. The evil reaches into the hierarchy - it always has. But to make the teaching authority of the bishops depend on their personal holiness is to fall into Montanism. Did not Christ tell people to heed the authority of the pharisees, but not to imitate their conduct?

With sadness and real regret, I have to say that your reaction makes me think that perhaps you are more interested in partisan point-scoring rather than honest and sincere dialogue.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I'm sorry for my ugly tone; please forgive me. I can't blame you for not wanting to continue the conversation.

Upon reflection, I find I am unable to do better on this topic; it is too horrible. I shall not be able to discuss it with equanimity or an irenic tone.

But I would like you to know I have not been trying to score points off of you. I see no need for any such silly thing. (And if I did, the news media have surely handled that more than adequately already.) I made but one point, that nothing you find elsewhere compares with this child abuse scandal, on account of how endemic it is, and systemic.

Yes, I am aware of the Metropolitan who some years ago stole money from a monastery under his "care". HE is in jail where he belongs. He will never serve at Christ's altar again. But no financial scandal, though it reek to high heaven, compares with raping children and I'm surprised (mild language) any comparison should even be attempted. That's the only point I have tried to make, and only in response to others: nothing compares.

Yes, I am also aware of some very real sexual misconduct among Orthodox clergy (real as opposed to rumors and slander). I ran into that personally, before I was even Orthodox (and it threw me off course for years). Fortunately for me, I was not a child, but already a full-grown woman and I knew what to do, and did it and escaped.

Everything else I've said is by way of clarifying my one, single question, stated at the very beginning: why do and how can Catholics still believe this hierarchy when it claims to have divine mandate for telling you what and how to believe?

Never mind. I'll ask a Catholic friend of mine in person; he won't be offended at the question or the tone.