That something is terribly wrong with the ethics of the Vatican is yet again coming to global attention with the latest wave of revelations of priestly pedophilia and higher-level cover ups that some contend goes all the way to the Pope. But this sort of episodic spike in concern represents a chronic practical failure to appreciate the greater scale of the problem that is allowing the church to get away with claiming that despite the occasional human flaw is a moral beacon to the world. The grave failings of the Roman Church are not isolated to a few items or times. It is a many faceted, systemic set of issues that go back to the male dominated autocracy as a state power, first by the Roman emperor Constantine, and more recently by the fascistic dictator Mussolini. A classic example of the repeated moral incompetence of the church is how it made the critical contribution to making Hitler the dictator of Germany, and instead of rebuking the cleric who made a leading contribution to the uber mistake, wants to reward him with the highest honor the church can bestow.
The Vatican continues its program to elevate Pious XII whose reign began in 1939 to sainthood. Catholic apologists for Eugenio Pacelli claim that "there is overwhelming evidence which proves beyond doubt that he labored without pause for peace, that he sought to assist in every way possible the victims of war, especially Jews, hundreds of thousands of whom were spared in every way possible the victims of war, especially Jews, hundreds of thousands of whom where spared through his efforts, and that he constantly warned the world of the horrors of Nazism" (http://www.piusxiipope.info). This over the top, hyperbolic claim of deity level perfection beyond any human level shows that those who say are far detached from objective reality. They are instead far down the path of base propaganda carefully crafted to avoid revealing the many reasons sainthood for this incredibly flawed man is such a bad proposition that it constitutes a big lie. The truth is that overwhelming evidence shows that in 1933 Pacelli could have without great difficulty have taken common-sense steps that would have prevented the Holocaust from happening, and that the amoral knave instead made critical contributions to giving Hitler the power he would use to slaughter millions. Pacelli's later actions were a mixed moral bag that did not come close the cleaning up the disaster he helped bring upon the world. You could have done a better job than he did. Seriously.
I know why the sainthood project is ill advised because some years ago I got fed up with there not being a well presented explanation of what Hitler and EuroChristianity was really up to back then opinion ranges from Adolf being a devoted Catholic who happily schemed with Pious XII to wipe out millions of Jews, to the Nazis being atheists who hated the Christian churches for valiantly opposing their evil schemes. I published the inevitably historically and morally complex results in a two part article (http://www.secularism.org/index.php?section=library&page=paul_23_4; http://www.secularism.org/index.php?section=library&page=paul_24_1). It is not at all hard to come up with and present the openly available information that damns Pacelli. Those who want to confer honors upon him should be ashamed of themselves. That includes Pope Benedict.
The defects of Catholicism do not start with Benedict or Pious. The early Catholic church invented classic anti-Semitism by forcing Jews to live in ghettos and to wear identification, limiting their economic options, force converting many, and killing others. In the 1800s the emergence of political, press and religious freedom in the United States and parts of Europe caused an incensed and frightened Rome to issue the hyper reactionary Vatican I doctrine that condemned such freedoms in favor of divine rule by God ordained autocracy to the extent that it banned direct opposition of tyrants. The dictatorial church demanded absolute fealty from members, no continental EuroCatholic who took the church seriously would not obey its political instructions (that many English and AmeroCatholics were more independent chronically vexed Rome). The replacement of the German monarchy after the Great War by democracy appalled the churches Catholic as well as Protestant. They were bought off when the Weimer constitution directed about a tenth of income tax revenues to the church that a given taxpayer belonged to. The objections by the MotherChurch suddenly lessened as Germany became a cash cow for Rome. Since Catholics made up a third of the population their institution got about a third of the income, amounting to about a billion per year in current dollars (still running, the system currently delivers about six billion per annum). But repeated and ardent attempts, lead by the envoy Pacelli, to persuade the Weimer democracy to agree to a nondemocratic concordat that would ensure special church privileges never went anywhere.
In Italy the once powerful church was shocked and devastated after losing the Papal states and being reduced to property in Rome. The nonpious Mussolini was not in the best graces of the Vatican, but the Catholic monarch endorsed his dictatorship. Wanting to further suppress political opposition, El Duce cut a deal via the Lateran Treaties and Concordant of 1920 that made the wee Vatican property an actual nation immune to control and investigation, and lavished the church with subsidies, plus a bonus direct payment equal to about a billion current dollars. In exchange Catholic political opposition to the tyrant was dropped. Hitler took note of this cynical right wing arrangement of mutual convenience.
Hitler grew up in a devout Catholic family with a father so physically abusive that he contributed to the world war and Holocaust his mentally damaged son would create. Hitler admired the authoritarian priesthood at the religious school he attended. By the time the war hero and lover joined the Nazis he had evolved into an Aryan Volk Christian whose world-view melded hard right, Jew hating Christianity with some paganism, occultism and a dash of the perverted racial version of Darwinism that had descended from Christian race bigotry. Only Aryans were the children of God with immortal souls, most others were inferior soulless subhumans suitable for slavery, while Jews were the diabolically clever creations of Satan. Hitler's writings and talk private and public make it clear he felt he was doing the will of the true Aryan God whose son Jesus was sent to fight the Jews. The atheist hater Hitler saw unbelievers as godless Bolsheviks needing destruction. The hyper nationalist despised the Roman church. Yet Hitler never left the organization, and paid his church taxes to the end -- Himmler in contrast officially resigned from the church as he went fully pagan. Nazis support was largely Protestant, but included numerous Catholics. In Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism (Oxford U Press) Derek Hastings explains how the German flavor of fascism got its start in Catholic Bavaria with the complicity of hard right church elements. The two forces later divorced over growing theological disputes, but in the 1920s Rome paid limited attention to the party despite Hitler's heresies because they did not see his fringe movement as a serious problem -- until the Depression made the Nazis a potent sociopolitical force.
By the early 1930s the church opposed the fast rising Hitler not because he openly attacked democracy -- the freedom hating church candidly backed the papist Catholic dictator Dollfuss in Austria, and the ruthless believer Franco in Spain. As Vatican Cardinal Secretary of State Pacelli endorsed this policy, which encouraged those German Catholics opposed to Hitler. But the church got nervous and started to revise their anti-Nazis stance. They were in a bad bind. If and when the political sin of democracy was at long last overthrown the Protestant majority obviously was not going to tolerate a papist ruler who would endorse a concordat, while a Protestant tyrant might even cut off the flow of tax revenues to Rome as well as cause other problems. And increasing numbers of German Catholics were proNazi. It was perceived that Hitler for all his flaws was the best solution. As a member of the church and hopefully would not disrespect Rome, but not being a papist he would not freak out the Protestant majority. And the fanatical anti-communist corporate socialist Hitler was going to do something about the true threat to Eurocivilization, those Godless Bolsheviks. Hitler's minions let the church know he, like Mussolini, was favorable to the concordat Rome and Pacelli craved. Hitler told his advisors the below truth about his church (from Guenter Lewy's extensive failings of the institution during the era, The Catholic Church and Nazis Germany).
"We should trap the priests by their notorious greed and self indulgence. We shall thus be able to settle everything with them in perfect peace and harmony" They will swallow anything in order to keep their material advantages."
The Hitler who grew up in the church knew exactly what he was talking about, Pacelli and company would walk right into his trap.
Franz von Papen was not a Nazi, but he was hard right German nationalist and devout papist Catholic who did not disobey Rome who reviled democracy and often worked with Pacelli. Early in WW I Papen was the military attache to the German embassy in the US, he was expelled when he was caught organizing a successful sabotage campaign against the Allied war effort. After his own inept grab at power at the top failed, it was he who made Hitler chancellor in an attempt to gain a degree of control over the author of Mein Kampf (you can see the well known video of the happy event at http://www.youtube.com/watch?V=rYYcN6pwFMK, the fool at the front right chatting it up with the proud and thrilled to actually be running Deutschland Hitler and Goering is Papen). German Catholic bishops with the agreement of Rome and Pacelli issued a statement that explicitly dropped their prior opposition to Hitler, shocking and dismaying some Catholics as others flocked to the party now that they were freed by their "moral" leaders to do so.
The Catholic Centre Party or Zentrum was run by Father Kaas, a head over heels papist who along with his sometimes opponent Papen and close ally Pacelli was willing to trade the existence of the political party for the greater goal of a Catholic friendly autocrat ordained by God. After the Reichstag fire Hitler demanded the Enabling Act to give him "temporary" dictatorial power. Because the Nazis were a minority they needed the votes of compliant political blocs, otherwise it would have been impossible for Hitler to execute his plan to take over Germany. Both fearing the consequences of failing to support the thuggish Nazis, and hoping to exploit the situation, the entire Zentrum voted for the Enabling Act. It cannot be overemphasized that the vote for Adolf could not have occurred if Rome objected. Had the church that claims to represent the perfect and morally pure Christian God had the basic decency and common-sense to order the party to bravely vote no, then the Holocaust that only Hitler could have brought would never have happened, and the next world war might have been avoided. Instead the Roman Church, whose secretary of state Cardinal Pacelli was actively involved, played the critical political role in bringing these events to pass.
The church, with seeing-his-chance-to-finally-get-that-splendid-concordat Cardinal Pacelli in direct charge of the events under the higher aegis of Pious XI, sprung to action. In an extraordinary exhibition of they-just-did-not-care-that-it-was-unethical-conflict-of-interest, the believing Catholics von Papen and Kaas representing fellow church member Hitler traveled to Rome to negotiate the Concordat with their church, the Pacelli who had spent years trying to get the Germans to sign on to a concordat being in charge at the Roman end of the talks. Up in Germany Hitler frequently involved himself in the negotiations. In a birthday message to his boss Hitler Kaas offered the following.
"Sincere good wishes for today and assurances of unswerving collaboration in the great work of the creation of a Germany united within, socially at peace, and outwardly free."
Hitler was cynically delighted not only with the above message, but an agreement with Rome would give him the infamous fascist corporal the same badly needed international creds it had given to his inspiration, Mussolini. The Pacelli that Rome now wants to make a saint signed the finished document for Rome while Papen did so for Hitler, you can see the photo at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-R24391,_Konkordatsunterzeichnung_inRom.jpg (with Papen again at the scene of the calumny). Here is the opening of the agreement that Cardinal Pacelli signed.
"His Holiness Pope Pious XI and the President of the German Reich, moved by a common desire to consolidate and enhance the friendly relations existing between the Holy See and the German Reich.....have agreed to the following articles."
An article the church insisted be included.