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Forgiveness Includes Consequences!

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On Friday in the Vatican in a solemn moment during a special mass Pope Benedict XVI asked for forgiveness for the sins of the Roman Catholic Clergy. It was a remarkable moment both for the admission and the incompleteness of the plea. The New York Times reports that additional measures will be undertaken to insure that offending clergy are not given the "Victorian cover" [my term] they have in the past, that is, that bishops, cardinals, and the curia do not read the reticence of the society to speak openly of such things as some kind of permission.

Contrition is the first word to come to my mind. Where is the evidence of contrition. Has the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger ever admitted his culpability in the covering up of the wanton rapes of Catholic school children by Catholic clergy? I do not think so. The reason I do not think so is that it is a crime to cover up a crime and to harbor the original criminal from justice. Benedict would be cutting his own throat.

The second thing that hovered through my thoughts was money. Having just read in The New York Review of Books an article about the nearly psychopathic sexual rampage of a Mexican cleric, Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the so-called "Legion of Christ", a duly approved Roman Catholic Order rivaling the power and financial means of Opus Dei, ... and seeing the the Vatican protects golden geese even when these are forcing young boys to masturbate Rev. Maciel. The actions of the Vatican can be interpreted easily and wisely as attempts to cap the flow of criticism and outing of additional cases of pederasty and child rape. The Pontiff is looking at the same sort of problem that the CEO of BP is looking at, an uncappable flow of bad news into the gulf of discontent and disbelief growing within the Church and accelerating among the critics outside. Both were involved in the deliberate falsification of information with the goal to bring money into their grasp. Both are responsible (where the buck stops) for damage to a world they were supposed to be helping which will last for generations.

Forgiveness from God is God's business if you will. I will not take Benedict's word for it that God forgives him, however. Benedict's word is not worth much these days. His latest plea shows that he has obviously not learned his lesson, is not truly contrite, and is depending instead on the kindness of a laity which sorely needs a clergy and church that understands the human condition, not one that takes advantage and preys upon it.

JB

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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)
 

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