Mar 26, 2010

Political Sacrifices Still Made at Rome's Altar of Power

 Taken from:

Mary Ann Sorrentino's Blog/Salon

A quarter century ago-- at a time when about 10 priests in RI had already been accused of sexually abusing children-- the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence tried to stop my then-14-year-old daughter from making her confirmation because of her mother's work with Planned Parenthood.  When that conversation took place in our pastor's office (and was taped by me) I was also told not to come to the rail since I was excommunicated because of that same work.
My reply?
"Let me understand this, Father. Because of my work with women at Planned Parenthood, you don't want me to come to the rail and take communion from the hands of a man who sexually abuses children. Is that what you're telling me, Father?"
The old man mumbled something about not condemning all priests for the actions of "one or two." My daughter was eventually confirmed: 25 years later we all look beyond the Catholic Church for whatever religious support we seek.
The "one or two" pedophile priests-- and those who had multiple sexual contacts (consensual and forced) with adult women and men-- are now known as legions. From around the globe, reports still flood in from former, and current, victims. Most shockingly, the Vatican, under Pope Benedict XVI, continues to stonewall such allegations and does as little as possible to stop the offenders.
This week, a priest named Lawrence C. Murphy stands accused of having sexually molested over 200 deaf boys in his flock at St. John's School for the Deaf in Wisconsin. At the same time, Benedict in Rome was accepting the resignation of Irish Bishop John Magee accused of mishandling charges of sexual abuse there.
The scandals go on and on, bankrupting diocese after diocese and sending even devout Catholics to search of a church with more integrity. In the process, more and more evidence points to former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the Pope, as a central figure at the Vatican's highest levels of power and an engineer of the church's apparent deliberate and orchestrated determination not to expose offending priests and others to public scrutiny, investigation and, ultimately, punishment for their crimes. One of the Vatican's best cover-ups seems, after centuries in place, to be unraveling.
When I was thrown out, there had not been a public pronouncement of excommunication (and certainly none related to abortion services) for centuries. But my diocese was in disarray with documented scandals surfacing daily and rumors that went to the highest offices of the chancery where Bishop Louis Gelineau (since retired) mainly hid from public comment.
The local Monsignor (and former Rome protégé of Ratzinger) was Salvatore Matano who was eventually rewarded with a bishopric in Vermont for providing my daughter and me as a distraction from the diocese's exploding scandals.
In the politics of the Vatican, stoolpigeons and wannabes report alleged infractions to their superiors and are rewarded. Those who try to argue for the true meaning of dogma and the exercise of free will are punished. Hypocrisy wins out over truth every time and the faithful are given "my way of the highway" choices by Rome.
(Bishop Matano went on to bring his diocese in Vermont close to bankruptcy with the settling of pedophile cases, and has since become a more tacit figure.)
Joseph Ratzinger, instead, went on to the papacy, but he was a papal choice that many priests, bishops and even cardinals in the know looked upon with skepticism, at best.  He lacked the charisma of his predecessor John Paul II and certainly had no use for the ecumenism of John XXIII for whom most of the faithful (and clergy) still yearn.
His personal history as a boy, later priest and bishop, in his native Germany has always had a shadow that looked too much like a swastika to reassure his critics. His record as the head of the Vatican's CIA-equivalent (The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith) is rife with vindictive judgments against any individuals-- clerical of lay-- who did not interpret dogma as Ratzinger saw it. During his tenure, there were plenty of punishments for Catholic intellectuals, and even more of ignoring Catholic clergy guilty of heinous crimes, sexual, larcenous, and otherwise. About 20 years ago, Ratzinger in fact, gave the direct order to all Catholic bishops to report the burgeoning sexual scandals only directly to his office in Rome. This was the beginning of Vatican-gate under which complying bishops often did not report such crimes to their local civil authorities.
Whether or not the ultimate exposure of Ratzinger can bring his papacy to an end is doubtful. The church has a long history of protecting its pontiffs, even when they ordered killings, allowed faithful to be slaughtered, fathered illegitimate children, stole and worse.
Short of the unlikely revival of the feudal practices-- rumored to have been used last on Pope John Paul I-- where pontiffs making waves might be poisoned (or tossed in the Tiber, or fatally injured by an arranged fall off their horse) Ratzinger will be pope until his death.
Thus it is clear that the brutal politics of Rome make anything inside Washington's beltway-- or in the darkest political reaches of Iran, Russia, or Beijing-- look extremely benign by comparison.