Letter shows Pope Paul VI knew of child abuse decades ago
By Andrew McLemore
Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 — 9:30 pm
Further revelations of the Vatican’s inaction to address pedophilia may tarnish not only Pope Benedict’s reputation, but that of Pope Paul VI.
According to a newly released letter, Pope Paul VI and the Vatican knew about clergy abuse of children almost 50 years ago.
The 1963 letter is from the head of a Roman Catholic order dedicated to the treatment of priests who had committed pedophilia. In it, he tells Pope Paul that he recommends removing the priests from active ministry . .
Tony DeMarco, an attorney for clergy abuse victims . . thinks the letter shows clearly that the Vatican knew about priest abuses decades ago and didn’t do anything about it.
He points out that the priest even suggests removing the pedophile priests from ministry entirely instead of shuffling them from parish to parish, which the Vatican has been criticized for since the reports of clergy abuse began.
“It shows without a shadow of a doubt that … how pervasive the problem was was communicated to the pope. He was able to share with him their knowledge of how pervasive this problems was, how destructive this problem was,” DeMarco said.
On Wednesday, Pope Benedict XVI said he believed the scandal was a “test for him and the church.” Several days earlier, he said he would not be “intimidated” by all the outrage over the clergy abuse, dismissing the claims as “petty gossip” . .
I’m always a little perplexed by the outrage these revelations cause. Certainly not because the allegations aren’t true or shocking: children were raped over and over again. But because people actually believe that if they raise their voices high enough, the Vatican will somehow suddenly come to its senses. It won’t.
It’s shown over and over again that it considers itself both above and immune to the morality of secular society which rightfully deems these priests to be evil criminals of the highest order.
It matters nothing to them that their behavior in dealing with pedophiles over centuries clearly amounts to very serious crimes. Other pedophiles have to work far harder to avoid being prosecuted or killed because of their operating in secular society. But within the church, they are protected and abetted.
The priests get access to children across the world. When they’re reported to the church, the church never reports them to authorities though they are ethically, if not clearly legally, compelled to. The church often usually prevails upon the victims to shun authorities as well. The church almost never bars the priests from seeing more children. And the church usually sets them right back into situations where the molesters regain access to and the confidence of children so that they can rape again. These new settings are often away from the previous victims and communities so that no one, police and district attorneys especially, has a clue as to what’s about to happen.
If that doesn’t amount to a criminal conspiracy, I’m not sure what does.
The Pope will be fine, he will go on unaffected by the scandal because Catholics consider him a sacred object, which he is not. They’d sooner sacrifice themselves than allow him, and his seriously wayward policies, to be properly exposed and shamed. And so the beat goes on:
Recall the church’s later handling of the disgraceful treatment of Galileo and who felt compelled to justify it four hundred years later:
On 15 February 1990, in a speech delivered at the Sapienza University of Rome, Cardinal Ratzinger (later to become Pope Benedict XVI) cited some current views on the Galileo affair as forming what he called “a symptomatic case that permits us to see how deep the self-doubt of the modern age, of science and technology goes today.” Some of the views he cited were those of the philosopher Paul Feyerabend, whom he quoted as saying “The Church at the time of Galileo kept much more closely to reason than did Galileo himself, and she took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s teaching too. Her verdict against Galileo was rational and just and the revision of this verdict can be justified only on the grounds of what is politically opportune.” The Cardinal did not clearly indicate whether he agreed or disagreed with Feyerabend’s assertions. He did, however, say “It would be foolish to construct an impulsive apologetic on the basis of such views.”
On 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Catholic church tribunal that judged the scientific positions of Galileo Galilei, as the result of a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture.
You’re looking for sanity and the making of right, finally, in this long-running atrocity? Don’t hold your breath.