Is Pope Benedict XVI about to resign?
Well, he is under a little pressure.
Not only because of his advancing years, but there appears to be more than a whiff of fin de siècle decay in the air over the global pandemic of priestly paedophilia: the disease has gone viral. The Independent refers to 'the lonely reign of Benedict XVI' as he is 'plagued by scandal upon scandal'.
Following hard upon the litany of appalling revelations emerging out of Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, Richard Owen in The Times says the Roman Catholic Church has now 'been accused of a cover-up after at least 170 allegations of child abuse by German Catholic priests’.
This is evidently not just a little local difficulty.
Ruth Gledhill follows this with the observation that the latest revelations from Germany coming ‘on top of a succession of damaging revelations… can only increase the damage being done to its moral authority on the world stage’.
Fairly inoccuous stuff, you would think.
And these revelations are repeated in journals across the entire world.
Time Magazine: Germany's Priest Sex Abuse Scandal Puts the Vatican on the Defensive
Bloomberg: German Church Suspends Priest Embroiling Pope in Abuse Scandal
The Sydney Morning Herald: Pope named in new twist to German paedophile priest furore
The Australian: Pope Benedict drawn into abuse scandal
La Repubblica: A paedophile priest in Munich when Ratzinger was bishop.
Il Tempo: Germany attacks its Pope.
France24: Pope's diocese took in priest set for paedophilia therapy
Il Messaggero: Paedophilia, abuses at Munich when Ratzinger was bishop.
AGI news agency: Paedophilia: in Munich, Ratzinger accepted a priest for a cure
Reuters: A paedophile priest in the Pope's ex diocese.
Corriere della Sera: Paedophilia, a case in Munich when Ratzinger was bishop.
La Stampa: Paedophilia, new disaster for the Vatican
And even Avvenire, a journal of the Italian bishops, says: Paedophile priest was moved to Munich.
And the National Catholic Register: Pope Benedict Transferred Paedophile?
There are very many more across Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.
But it was not only The Times in the UK which ran this story:
The Daily Mail: ‘Joseph Ratzinger of Munich – the future Pope Benedict – had approved therapy for a priest suspected of abuse’.
Sky: Pope Dragged Into Paedophile Priests Row
The Guardian: Pope is 'shocked' to hear of abuse case in Munich while he was archbishop
Classic FM: Pope Dragged Into Paedophile Priests Row
Belfast Telegraph: Pope's handling of case queried
All of which makes the odd journalist in another place who rails against the ‘anti-Catholicism’ of The Times look foolishly isolated.
Not to say more than a little irrational, crazed and quite absurd.
Only an obsessive would attempt to defend the indefensible.
Only a paranoid schizophrenic would draw attention to Christopher Hitchens’ ‘awkward questions’ about Cardinal Law and paedophilia which the Pope needs to address, and then denounce a fellow journalist for doing precisely the same.
And only a mentally-imbalanced pervert would attempt to deflect from the physical horrors and emotional traumas endured by children at the hands of paedophile priests to a full-frontal assault upon The Times as it attempts to uncover the truth and expose apparent collusion and cover-up.
There is even a bizarre Facebook page for:
Catholics Who Condemn the Times' Treatment of the Pope
One wonders why no-one has ever thought to create a page for:
Anglicans Who Condemn the Telegraph's Treatment of the Church of England
UPDATE (19.00): The Facebook page criticising The Times has been re-named: 'Catholics Who Condemn the Recent Media's Treatment of the Pope'
One wonders who threatened whom...?
But amidst the (quite literally) global outpouring of questions, criticism and condemnation, what is the rationale for singling out The Times for being ‘anti-Catholic’?
Or is it that a particular journalist at The Times is in possession of some secret knowledge and poses a particular threat and so their reputation must be destroyed?
It is beyond question that this flood of child sex abuse cases constitute a papal PR disaster of potentially apocalyptic proportions for the Vatican: it could dwarf the Richard Williamson / SSPX fiasco and the nightmare interview the Pope gave on AIDS, Africa and condoms.
Is it ‘anti-Catholic’ to allude to the utter incompetence of the Vatican communications service?
Some betting companies have now slashed the odds of the Pope resigning to just 3-1.
They say: “The dark clouds of clerical abuse scandals show no sign of abating and recent reports from Germany are surely a little too close to home for the Pope. Current betting patterns hint toward a possible papal resignation and should this happen Cardinal Arinze seems the most papabile.”
Christopher Hitchens is of the view that ‘The pope's entire career has the stench of evil about it.’
He has written in the past about Pope Benedict’s decision to shelter Cardinal Bernard Law:
‘Law was not only aware of egregious sexual misconduct among his subordinates but was apparently engaged in elaborate efforts to cover up incident after incident of child rape. Worse yet, he breezily reassigned clergy known for sexually abusing children to work with more children—conduct not all that distinguishable from leaving a loaded gun in a playground.’
And yet Pope Benedict continues to protect him and deny justice to Law's victims.
Surely, if His Holiness were really prepared to do ‘everything possible’ to cleanse his Church of the stench of evil and heal this appalling wound, he would not only remove Cardinal Law from his Vatican sinecure, he would also remove his cardinal’s hat.
Perhaps the Vatican’s exorcist-in-chief is right when he says: "The Devil resides in the Vatican and you can see the consequences."
Perhaps it is not incense which wafts around His Holiness, but plumes of sulphur. Father Gabriele Amorth said the evil influence of Satan was evident in the highest ranks of the Catholic hierarchy, with ‘cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon’.
So the Pope’s chief exorcist believes the Anti-Christ lurks within?
If the ever-threatened schism within the Church of England is deemed to constitute a ‘wreckage’ from which Christians must be saved by swimming the Tiber, who will rescue the saints from the purple intoxication, the scarlet deviancy and the priestly blasphemy of the reeking ruins of Rome? Who will save the children from those perverted priests, debased bishops and corrupt cardinals who have robbed them of their innocence, relieved them of their holiness and ‘interfered’ with their purity?