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Abusive Priests & Moral Credibility

April 1, 2010

E.J. Manning

Pope Benedict XVI declared a “Year for Priests,” pronouncing the faithfulness of Christ and the faithfulness of priests. This commemoration began with a day designed “to honor the mercy and love of God while making reparation for the serious sins committed against Our Blessed Lord,” known as the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Pope spoke these words: “How can we forget, in this regard, that nothing causes more suffering for the Church, the Body of Christ, than the sins of her pastors, especially the sins of those who become thieves and robbers of the sheep…”

How ironic is the empty noise within the papacy and the Catholic Church while enduring a continuing season of scandals among priests that should be on a global sexual predator list. The Pope is busy washing feet as part of his humility rites of penitence. If his foot washing ministry ritual is a sign of anything decent, his mouth speaks another story entirely. During his Palm Sunday homily, he deflected the rousing global criticism with the prideful statement: “Jesus leads us toward the courage not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion.” One wonders what the Pope is thinking, considering that a global sexual abuse scandal isn’t considered “petty” among most folks or “gossip” in the courts of the secular world. Priests are expected to be “white as snow” by the faithful.  Pope Benedict certainly isn’t thinking about the “flock,” and only about the temporary pressure he feels around a corrupt floundering system. During a time of moral outrage, he demonstrates how coldhearted he is to the needs of others, even more so to the situation among the clergy.

The Vatican has proved unproductive regarding thousands of cases over the last fifty years. Of 3,000 cases recognized by the papacy, 300 involved allegations of “genuine pedophilia.” Most of the others concerned homosexual attraction to youth. Shortly before his ascent to the papacy, he penned his outrage at corrupt clerics. “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to Him.” Since then, the Catholic Church has frittered away whatever moral authority it previously had.

In the face of ongoing scandal and the reluctance to effectively deal with it, people are leaving a “pure Church” full of old priests and papal clerics. Doubtless, the Pope will simply chalk it up to prophecy in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come except there come a Falling Away first; and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” Whether the son of perdition is the Pope is likely to be a lively debate, but certainly the Pope can be proud of his 15 minutes of fame, arguably playing a part in Bible prophecy, however negative. The truth is that moral credibility in any position of authority is in very short supply across the globe, even as moral outrage looms large.

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