By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
If someone set out to destroy the image of the Catholic Church hierarchy as god-like and beyond reproach, that person could not possibly do a better job of destroying that veneer than what is being done by church leaders themselves. Sex scandal after sex scandal after pedophilia scandal has dogged the church leadership for the past two decades or more, and the pope and his close advisers have yet to catch up with how to handle a 21st-century public relations gaffe, much less trying to piece back together the lives of so many people ruined by priests’ actions.
First, there were the priest pedophilia incidents that came to light in the mid-1980s and rocked the American church to the point where whole dioceses filed for bankruptcy as lawsuits for sexual abuse skyrocketed.
Now similar cases seem to be appearing all over Europe, including Germany, where the pope’s own brother is linked to a nasty and growing scandal. According to Reuters:
The scandal there has personally drawn in Bavarian-born Pope Benedict, whose brother ran for 30 years the prestigious Regensburg choir which has been linked to cases of abuse.
The era of technology and instant global communication as well as more openness in government and governance has made it almost impossible for large institutions to hide corruption and scandal as they became used to doing in previous eras. This is not new. And the Catholic Church is far from the only major religion to have been jolted down to the foundation by similar allegations.
The question in my mind is why, after all the evidence of man-made corruption, do the “faithful” continue to be so? Isn’t it obvious that organized religion is completely man-made? Isn’t it obvious that men pervert the power that followers voluntarily give over to them and use it to rape and pillage again and again?
The following comment, also in the Reuters article, emanated from no less than the second-highest-ranking official of the church, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. Even he acknowledged that confidence in the church had declined:
“There has been a reduction in faith in all institutions including the Church,” said Bertone, number two in the Vatican hierarchy, after meeting Italian business leaders.
“The Church still enjoys great confidence on the part of the faithful, it is just that someone is trying to undermine that,” he said, without referring directly to the pedophilia scandal. “But the Church has special help, from above.”
Sorry, Mr. Bertone, but no one is trying to “undermine that” more than the priests and church leaders who not only participated in these horrendous acts but conspired to keep them silent for many years.
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