The Pope’s Defenders

John Allen studies Ratzinger's record on abuse. Brandishing Allen's article as a bludgeon, Carl Olson whacks my Benedict blogging:

[T]he attempts by many pundits, talking heads, and celebrity "conservative" homosexuals to place nearly all blame on Benedict XVI is frustrating (to put it mildly), but hardly surprising. Some simply jumble the facts about what really happened (or didn't happen) during Ratzinger's time in Munich, and then glibly write this sort of nonsense: "If this person headed a secular organization, or if he were a politician, he would be forced to resign." When was the last time you heard someone call for the resignation of the Secretary of Education, the head of the National Education Association, or of any teacher union for the widespread and increasingly prevalent sexual abuse of children in public schools?

As Allen reports, Benedict has, since 2003-2004, taken very concrete steps to address sexual abuse by priests, to investigate reported incidents, and to identify abusers. Compare that with a 2004 study issued by the Office of the Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (PDF format) that flatly states, "There is no research that documents teacher union attempts to identify predators among their members."

This is spin, as a full reading of Allen's piece – which is well worth absorbing in full – makes plain. It's odd, isn't it, that Ratzinger, who has always insisted on total top-down clerical authority, was utterly unaware of the case that no one disputes he signed off on. How do we know he had no idea of what he was doing in such a sensitive case?

The cleric who served as Ratzinger's vicar general in Munich, Gerhard Gruber, assumed "full responsibility" for the original 1980 assignment, insisting that there were more than 1,000 priests in the archdiocese at the time and that Ratzinger entrusted that kind of personnel matter to subordinates.

That settles it, then. A priest found guilty of raping an eleven year-old within Ratzinger's archdiocese was transferred to Munich for therapy by Ratzinger without his having any idea of why this was happening. Sure. He has no responsibility, right? And knew nothing, right? Mark Shea piles on:

Everything that I've seen so far makes it pretty obvious that Benedict is one of the good guys here and that the recent fracas in the Euro press is a pretty transparent attempt to blame the guy for things he is not only not guilty of, but rather zealously trying to stop, as Allen makes plain.

The man who covered for Maciel for years and who in 2002 imposed total secrecy on the process is now the "good guy"? Dreher's judgment:

Rome's inability to discipline bishops, or unwillingness to, now must be faced. On the scandal, though, Joseph Ratzinger is not Karol Wojtyla, and is in fact a great improvement in this area. Don't forget that. But again, the job is not finished. Yet.

Wojtyla and Ratzinger were joined at the hip. They both enabled Maciel. They both covered up as much as they could. They both refused to take responsibiilty. Here's "the good guy" as recently as November 2002, with respect to the sex abuse crisis in America:

In the church, priests are also sinners. But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower. In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than one percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information or to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the church.

Sorry, guys. But the denial won't work any longer.