Journalists riding to the defence of the facts

Slowly the facts are starting to get through.

In today’s regular “The Pope and The Scandal” article in The Age, Paolo Totaro reports, amid all the other inuendo, that there may be some “nuance and context” required to understand the facts:

As always, nuance and context are easily lost in deeply emotional stories. John Allen in the very same paper [ie. the National Catholic Reporter – which had an editorial calling for the papal “disclosure”] argues succinctly that while there is an urgent need for answers, Pope Benedict has undertaken reform of the church’s response to sexual abuse among priests, and warns that the structures of the Vatican have meant he has only had direct responsibility in this area since 2001, or four years before he became Pope: ”One certainly can question how Ratzinger’s office handled those exceptional cases, and the record seems painfully slow and ambivalent in comparison with how similar accusations would be dealt with today …” he wrote.

”[But] to suggest that Ratzinger was the Vatican’s ‘point man’ on sex abuse for almost 25 years, and to fault him for the mishandling of every case that arose between 1981 and 2001, is misleading.”

Well, John Allen isn’t the only prominent journalist to try to get the facts out on this story. Others include Miranda Devine and David Gibson.

Our Miranda is daughter of the late great Australian newspaper man Frank Devine. Her piece in the Sydney Morning Herald (The Age’s northern sister) was published a couple of days ago and entitled “Evildoers, not Pope, to blame”. Some snippets (but please read the whole article):

The pursuit of the Pope reached absurd heights this week with news that atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have asked the Australian barrister Geoffrey Robertson to draw up a case to arrest Benedict XVI for alleged cover-up of paedophilia in the Catholic Church.

That these exhibitionist atheists should seize on the tragedy of child sexual abuse by a small minority of Catholic priests to pursue their vendetta against religion is stomach-turning. Dawkins has become shrill with excitement, describing the Pope as ”a leering old villain in a frock”.

He said the Pope ”should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice – the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gouging, truth-hating, child-raping institution – while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, around his ears”. From what deep cesspool of hatred do those words spring?

…It is the Catholic Church that has been most vocal about the breakdown of moral order, from paedophilia to abortion. And this has made it a target of those who object to moralising they regard as an infringement of their freedoms.

…The Pope may have made mistakes, but his letter to Irish Catholics last month could not have been more frank, humbly penitent, or condemnatory of predator priests and the bishops who failed to stop them.

…Yet the baying from atheists and fellow travellers for the biggest scalp of all has only escalated. …The struggle against religion has taken the form of a new religion. Its new priests ”find their greatest ideological enemies in priests, religious brothers, and sisters. They cannot physically destroy them (as was done in communist countries), so they try other methods.”

What is the motive: to destroy the credibility of the strongest moral voice left? Would the world be a better place without the Catholic Church? Without Christianity? That is the end point of this game, which should frighten everyone, whether religious or not.

David Gibson, on the other hand, is an American. Not particularly conservative as far as I can make out, like Allen he too has a better clue of what is going on in the Eternal City than your average journo. He is the religion journo at PoliticsDaily.com author of a couple of books on the Pope and the Church “The Rule of Benedict” and “The Coming Catholic Church”. No Vatican toady, you can read what he has to say in a couple of articles online: At NJ.com, there is a short edited interview (“Pope Benedict XVI and the church pedophile scandal: Q&A with David Gibson”) and in the Washington Post there is an article called “Five myths about the Catholic sexual abuse scandal”. In the latter article, his five “myths” include:

1. Pope Benedict is the primary culprit in the coverup of the abuse scandal.
2. Gay priests are to blame.
3. Sexual abuse is more pervasive in the Catholic Church than in other institutions.
4. Media outlets are biased against the Catholic Church.
5. The crisis will compel U.S. Catholics to leave the church.

In the interview, Gibson says the “new” factor in this latest round of stories is that it

touches on the credibility of the pope. We haven’t had that in a long time. The last time was with Pius XII and the allegations that he did not take sufficient action to protect Jews during the Holocaust, and that was 60 years ago.

He also says that there is “no evidence that there are more pedophiles in the Catholic Church than in other institutions, such as teaching or the Boy Scouts” and that “[s]ince bishops revamped the seminaries in the early 1980s and introduced better psychological screening, abuse in the Catholic Church has dropped sharply.” When asked whether the pope will resign, he replies:

No, the pope won’t resign unless something cataclysmic happens. But will he be permanently wounded in terms of credibility, that’s the big question. This has been a very tough stretch for the pope, and how much he recovers from it, I don’t know. He remains the pope and over time he may recover, but this has done his reputation grievous harm.

Well, that is what our prayers are for, I guess.

On the Bertone comment, by the way, there was a rather puzzling article in The Age yesterday by Tablet journalist and one time press secretary for the Archbishop of Westminster, Austen Invereigh. The article was headed “Cardinal error to conflate homosexuality with paedophilia”. That headline was rather at odds with the piece itself which, while saying the Cardinal was imprudent in his comment, nevertheless manages to get the facts of the matter out on the table. Worth reading in full.

So. We have a long way to go on this, but we are relieved to find that not all who work in the print media are as blind to “nuance and context” as others.

Update: Following Pastor Weedon’s link in the com box led me to this piece in The Guardian from April 15: The mob should lay off. The pope is innocent | Jack Valero. It is as succinct and factual a case for the defense of the Holy Father as you could ask for.

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46 responses to “Journalists riding to the defence of the facts

  1. David,

    This entry might be of some interest as well. It is written by an internet friend of mine:

    http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/dawkins-1-pope-0/

  2. Louise

    no evidence that there are more pedophiles in the Catholic Church than in other institutions, such as teaching or the Boy Scouts

    Indeed. Although there is evidence that the are fewer paedophiles in the Catholic Church than everywhere else in society.

  3. Louise

    Pastor Weedon said:
    We should feel immense outrage here – and unfortunately when it comes to the sex-abuse scandals, it seems that it is Dawkin’s outrage – not the Churchs’ – that is the most deeply felt.

    Well, you know what? – I don’t feel any outrage over the sex abuse scandal at all. I feel sick to the stomach. I have little girls and boys, you know (lots of them) and I feel ill any time I contemplate what some people do/have done to such little ones. It’s sickening.

    But… does my lack of outrage mean I’m a Bad Person? Or is “sick to the stomach” good enough? IOW, what’s with all this judgement of mere emotion? The plain *fact* is that children are safer in Catholic institutions here in the Church of Hobart for example than they are anywhere else in the state. Does this *fact* not speak for itself?

    • Tom

      Louise,

      the comments about feeling outrage and finding something sickening is to do with the development of ethics as a discipline and especially to do with a fellow called G.E. Moore, who argued (using Hume’s is/ought distinction) that since it is utterly logically fallacious to argue any moral ‘principle’ from ‘facts’, the best way to know the good is to rely on feelings. It was called ‘ethical intuition’ which basically meant instead of thinking about, and discerning what is right or good, you just ‘feel it’.

      Without getting into an extended argument, it’s a total load of bunkum, but it does explain the bulk of modern media judgments. They’re based on an ‘intuition’ rather than a complex set of principles which explain or answer a moral problem. The simplest answer is to say that moral propositions are just facts in themselves; everyone knows, for a fact, that it is wrong to murder. Anyone who pretends otherwise is deluding themselves.

      • Louise

        God help us! I didn’t realise there was some kind of formal “philosophy” to this phenomenon!

        In a way, I could *almost* agree with it. In his essay, “The Abolition of Man” CS Lewis says that it’s not that we shouldn’t have sentiments (or even rely on them to an extent) but that they should be proper sentiments. This is taught to us by our elders and hopefully we will be formed into proper sentiments. So for example, we should feel that a magnificent waterfall is awe-inspiring, that the elderly are venerable and that young children are delightful. From my own life, I would say that the only proper sentiment one should feel when a married woman tells you she is expecting her sixth child is joy. Some people still have proper sentiments, like that subset of my mother’s acquaintances who hear the news that I am having baby #6 and say, “oh how wonderful!”

        If one had proper sentiments one could almost rely on them with confidence. But they must be consistent with the natural law and that’s what’s missing.

        For example, the 60yo brother of a woman I know saw a funeral notice in the paper of a woman who had 13 children and some 40+ grandchildren, all of whom were named in the notice. His comment? “That’s disgusting!”

        Hi 80yo mother gave him a serve!

    • Just to note:

      I didn’t say that. I merely linked a friend’s article that I thought would be of interest.

  4. Louise

    David, you seem to be missing a link at the end of your post.

  5. Louise

    From the SMH article:

    But most accused priests fall into a different category. Almost all the accused are alleged to have molested one minor (only 3 per cent of the accused in the John Jay study had more than 10 alleged victims); the classic perpetrator was a priest in his 30s who spent some time, mostly less than a year, sexually involved with a boy in his early teens. That boy has usually been someone who has had his boundaries violated early in life, probably by a relative.

    Hence, most of the priests who sexually molested/seduced legal minors (adolescents, rather than children) were gay.

    Bertone was right to bring up the topic, although it would seem that he has conflated paedophilia proper with sex acts with adolescents. So has the media in general, btw.

    So, is homosexuality a problem? You bet.

  6. Tony

    Louise, In the very next paragraph of the SMH it says:

    And to claim that their homosexuality is a cause of their abusing is as daft as suggesting that paedophilia is linked to heterosexuality.

    Yet, citing this article, you conclude:

    So, is homosexuality a problem? You bet.

    How does that follow?

    • Louise

      Because, Tony, the people who were molested were underage (so there could be no sense of “consent” legally speaking) but not all were pre-pubescent and they were mostly teenage boys. Get it? We all know that homosexuals in general have a great lust for boys. Sorry, it’s a fact, both statistically and anecdotally. Why do you think they want to lower the age of consent?

      • Tony

        Because, Tony, the people who were molested were underage (so there could be no sense of “consent” legally speaking) but not all were pre-pubescent and they were mostly teenage boys. Get it?

        Does this mean you extrapolate that to the general population? If what you’re suggesting is the case, then homosexuality would be seen as a causal factor in under-age abuse in the general community. As far as I’m aware that is not the case.

        Again, from the SMH article that you seemed to give credence to:


        Homosexuality is about orientation – same-sex attraction. Sexual abuse of minors is about malformed sexual orientation, immaturity and power. The statistics that disprove any link between celibacy and the sexual abuse of minors – almost all of which takes place within the family, often by married men and women – are the same as those that undermine any attempts to conflate sexual abuse and homosexuality.

        We all know …

        You’re kidding aren’t you?

        … that homosexuals in general have a great lust for boys. Sorry, it’s a fact, both statistically and anecdotally.

        Really? You can malign a whole group of people with all the confidence of ‘We all know’??

        This is the same standard of proof as those who say, ‘we all know priests are abusers’.

        Why do you think they want to lower the age of consent?

        Who is ‘they’? And on what basis do you make such a claim?

        I can’t see how you can counter sweeping generalisations against the church, by the media for example, if you’re doing it with other groups.

        • Louise

          Does this mean you extrapolate that to the general population?

          Well, pretty much, Tony, yes. But I will have to go digging for the online evidence.

          Let us consider this though: most boys and girls are abused sexually by men. Most. Not all.

          Now, boys and girls are pretty equally likely to be abused in their childhood or adolescence. The latter is probably more common (though I don’t know).

          Either way, when you consider that most men are heterosexual and only some 1%-3% of the population is gay, ask yourself why boys are just as likely to be sexually abused as girls.

          Are you getting a picture here?

          I’m certainly not saying that every homosexual wants to have sex with underage boys, but it is common enough within the gay “community” to be a big problem.

          If there is any section of society likely to be most unsafe for boys, it’s among the gay “community.”

          • Louise

            “They”? Well, NAMBLA for a start, but there are plenty of others. Although, the lowering of the age of consent is something most gliberals seem to want anyway, regardless of the sex of the minor.

        • Louise and Tony, I am not keen to have to edit this conversation between you. But I too would ask for a little more moderation in the way things are expressed. I, like Tony, am not willing to wear the “we all know” comment. Public disclamour moment: Louise’s statements do not represent MY position. I don’t have a position on this. I was just noting that Invereigh’s comments were of interest and perhaps helpful for forming an opinion.

          Invereigh says in his article:“…the classic perpetrator was a priest in his thirties who spent some time, mostly less than a year, sexually involved with a boy in his early teens. …Are those priests paedophiles? No – although the damage they cause is considerable. Are they homosexual? Possibly – but not healthy ones.”

          I do not approve of the direction of Louise’s argument. I will leave this conversation up for the moment, because I think that open discussion of the issue may be less damaging than closing it down and deleting all comments, and because I think that Tony’s replies are reasonable and a good answer to the direction of Louise’s argument.

          • Tony

            Sorry David, it seems to me that Louise is maligning a whole group of people who identify as homosexual and the strength of those assertions are, to say the least, thin.

            We all can see how harshly unjust it is to tar priests with the abuse brush because a small number offend. Let’s not fall into the same trap because gays are an easy target.

            The facts, as I understand them, are that if you were looking for the most likely abusers in a general community, sadly, fathers , stepfathers and adult male friends of the family (those who identify as heterosexuals) come in long before anyone identifying as homosexual.

            Beyond that, again, the article makes it plain:

            Homosexuality is about orientation – same-sex attraction. Sexual abuse of minors is about malformed sexual orientation, immaturity and power.

            • I agree entirely, Tony, especially in the light of Catechism paragraph 2358, paragraph 2357 notwithstanding.

              It would perhaps be better (in making claims about what a particular group is “demanding”) to name the particular lobby group that is demanding this, rather than to speak of an entire group of people. I know some homosexuals, for instance, who live an exemplary Catholic life, despite their same-sex attraction.

              • Louise

                I will happily concede that I have broken my own rule, by following the article’s terminology. I rarely refer to homosexuals, but make the distinction between gays, the gay lobby and same sex attracted people, who as you say can be very virtuous and I was speaking more of the gay lifestyle and more especially still of the gay lobby.

                I will also just note that I have only felt antagonistic towards the advocates of the gay lifestyle during this last decade or so. Perhaps even only more recently. It has a great deal to do with their own behaviour and endless whinging.

                I certainly do not comprehend faithful Catholic SSA people in these general remarks and I’ll be more careful in future to make distinctions.

                The gay lifestyle, as something entered into pretty voluntarily, is very toxic.

                • Tony

                  Louise,

                  I’m still wondering, in the light of your concession what you mean by:

                  We all know that homosexuals in general have a great lust for boys. Sorry, it’s a fact, both statistically and anecdotally.

                  And what on earth is a ‘gay lifestyle’? Is there an equivalent ‘straight lifestyle’?

                  It seems to me that you’re still using these ‘broad brush’ assertions, you’ve just given the brushes different names.

    • Louise

      The only time I was ever interested in underage boys was when I was an underage girl. After attaining majority and particularly once reaching the age of about 20, I preferred men aged 18-40. That’s about normal.

  7. Tony

    Leaving aside the extremists (although to the extent that their claims are seen as credible is some sort of benchmark of the depth of this crisis), I think there is a huge problem for PB16.

    There may be many things he’s not guilty of but I don’t think Valero’s view is realistic, the Pope is not innocent even if only by virtue of his position.

    In the west we are used to a notion of ‘ministerial accountability’ (albeit imperfectly applied) in that the person in charge can face sacking or demotion by sins of commission or omission. Sometimes individuals can be found completely innocent of wrong doing themselves but pay the price of not being vigilant enough.

    When this latest crisis begins with an incident in Benedict’s own (former) diocese and is responded to by a former deputy taking the rap, it really is not a good look. Benedict needs to respond personally because he was in charge and not leave his former loyal deputy out to dry.

    What is amazing me about this issue is not so much the plethora of opinions, both extreme and not so extreme, from all forms of formal and informal media, but the how ordinary salt-of-the-earth Catholics are saying, ‘how could he let this happen?’.

  8. matthias

    I do agree with Tony ‘s comments and I have Catholic friends who are ‘salt of the earth ‘ hardworking parish members who have made the point ‘we take no notice of the hierarchy”.
    If the Pope mishandled the abise scandal whilst ArchBishop of Munich ,then he needs to give a full accounting to a General Church Council. However let not Proddies go ‘phew glad it is not us”
    For example a few years ago an esteemed minister at Kew Baptist Church was postumously labelled a sexaul abuser of young women. We had Alex Kenworthy the Radio Rev who also was found to have taken advantage of women when they came for counselling. St paul’s instruction to put off all appearance of evil needs to be upheld.

  9. This is a link to a 2002 letter written to the USCBC by three psychiatrists who had many years of experience treating people who sexually abused children.
    http://www.personal.psu.edu/glm7/m129.htm

    They conclude that SSA (same-sex attraction) is an issue.

    On the other hand, a researcher with the John Jay School (they wrote the definitive report on the US cases) has been quoted as saying that SSA is definitely not an issue.

    I note that the questions were different. John Jay asked ‘do you identify as homosexual/ heterosexual?’ and overwhelmingly the answer was heterosexual.

    The psychiatrists asked ‘have you had sex with another man?’ and overwhelmingly the answer was ‘yes’.

    I think it is possible to resolve this seeming discrepancy by concluding that those with the distorted view of sex and themselves outlined by the psychiatrists don’t so much experience SSA (in the true sense) but rather are willing to seek sexual gratification from any source.

  10. infanttheology

    Louise,

    I just wanted to point out that the comment you attributed to Pastor Weedon in the post above is not his, but mine (although I think he’d agree with me).

    David – I responded to your post at my blog. Thanks for visiting!

    In Christ,
    Nathan

  11. Peter

    “Sorry David, it seems to me that Louise is maligning a whole group of people who identify as homosexual ”

    This is a huge part of the problem. With so many general efforts to identify same sex attraction as a legitimate and healthy sexuality seems to be a false idea that there is one kind of homosexual, just born that way, stamped out with a cookie cutter. This mentality overlooks the vast diversity of experiences and other factors which brought each individual to their current state.

    We don’t ask a heterosexual “So, when did you realise you were hetero?” If we had any business talking to them about their sexual development we would be interested in the various factors, biological, environmental and experiential which have led them to their current state. We would treat each of these seperately and the person as an individual.

    No matter what we think about same sex attraction we should attribute the same dignity to their lives and, if we are ever privilaged enough to have business talking with them about such things, ask the same serious questions about the various factors that led to them being who they are.

    Labelling ANY kind of end resultant sexuality with an overly simplistic label is dangerous. Imagine how dangerous it is to put two of these dangerous labels together?

  12. Louise

    David, is this true?

    Pope Benedict XVI pledged Wednesday that the Catholic Church would take action to confront the clerical sex abuse scandal, his first public remarks calling for change since the crisis erupted.

    http://detnews.com/article/20100422/LIFESTYLE04/4220415/1041/rss11

    These are certainly not his first remarks about the clerical abuse scandal, but are they his first remarks about it since this latest wave of media misreporting and venom?

    I don’t think so, but might be wrong. Either way, it’s a misleading sentence.

    • Yes, they are his first public spoken remarks that are undeniably about The Scandal rather than simply an oblique reference to them. Nevertheless, he has clearly spoken on the issue in the past both on his Apostolic Visit to the States and on his visit to Sydney, so you have to think in short term “Journalist-time” here. They mean today’s version of The Scandal, not last years.

      • Louise

        Right, I’ll take your word for it. Do you think it’s a bit misleading though?

        • Sure. But you have to understand that, like the Church being a “powerful” and “secretive” organisation, the “silence” or “denial” of the Pope/Vatican is part of the narrative structure of these stories. So when he says something it has to be “breaking the silence” etc. All sadly predictable…

          • Tony

            Trouble is, David, that ‘narrative’, as you describe it, has substance.

            The works of a Dan Brown can be easily dismissed as fantasy but even as fantasy they have a plausibility because that ‘narrative’ is not fantasy.

            The way the church has handled the reassignment of ‘Father H’ when he was in Ratzinger’s diocese screams ‘Dan Brown’.

            Does this incident promote the opposite of your narrative, ie, not powerful, not secretive, not silent and not in denial?

            The Pope has remained silent on this incident.

            We are expected to believe that while he knew Fr H had come to his dio for treatment, he didn’t know he’d been let loose on a parish in his dio (or didn’t care to know?).

            We are expected to cop the ‘I didn’t know’ excuse because a loyal deputy said so?

            That loyal deputy has since disappeared from public view and his old boss has said nothing, nothing, in support of him. Poor old Mons Gruber has been left out to dry.

            And you enclose your narrative descriptions in quotation marks?

            Again, many commentators have taken on media bias and media sensationalism in this issue while also making the point that it’s not the problem.

            • Look, Tony, we have an account of what happened. There seems to be a general unwillingness to believe that account. Why? Because of the power of what Terry Pratchett calls “narrativium”. That is, when our minds are presented with a series of incidents for which we have evidence, we string them together – like joining dot-to-dots – into the story that has most “narrative power” over our minds. It is the narrative power that substantiates the story we make up, not the evidence. Dan Brown’s novels work just like this. To put it simply, we believe the story we most want to hear, not the story that has the most empirical evidence. Thus, the power of narrativium rejects the story that it was Mons Gruber who reassigned Fr H without Archbishop Ratzinger’s knowledge, because the story of “coverup” and “conspiracy” is just more attractive.

              • Tony

                ‘Look, Tony …’ ??

                David,

                I’ve heard some excuses put forward in this issue but ‘narrativium’ must surely be a first!

                Mons Gruber’s story is doubtful because it is difficult to imagine that +Ratzinger wouldn’t have taken some interest in Fr H given he gave permission for him to be there (this is not disputed).

                Sure the dio was big and, presumably, a high work load for its Cardinal, but how many times would this kind of situation come across his desk?

                The idea that +Ratzinger didn’t ask, formerly or informerly, about Fr H seems far-fetched, but I can put it no stronger than that.

                Even more importantly though, is the notion that +Ratzinger should have asked. It was, after all, his responsibility.

                The issue of Fr H wasn’t some ordinary day-to-day management issue to be delegated and forgotten about. He was in the dio because of his past actions in another dio, to receive therapy.

                You may dismiss the notion that, in fact, +Ratzinger didn’t know as ‘narrativium’ but you can’t dismiss the notion that he should have known so easily.

                And you also can’t not conjure up any concept like ‘narrativium’ to sugar coat the way Mons Gruber has been left out to dry by his former boss.

                At a local level, the ‘Insulation Affair’ and, more recently, the ‘Melbourne Storm’ affair illustrate the point that bosses are responsible even if those below them are responsible.

                Garrett and his department can point to all the things they did to make the scheme safe and how the difficulties were cause by unscrupulous operators. BUT it is legitimate to ask if they did enough.

                The News Limited boss (the owner of the Melbourne Storm) can point all he likes at the rotten apples who cooked the books, but you can be sure that Rupert (and the Melbourne Storm fans and the evil press) will be asking, ‘did you do enough to guard against this sort of deception’ and ‘you must have been suspicious when the very best players on the league were signed up’.

                And this is just secular accountability. Again, it’s not a benchmark I expect the church to fall below.

                It’s not a benchmark that inspires people within and outside the church in terms of openness, honesty, courage, love, compassion and willingness to own responsibility.

                Fr H was +Ratzinger’s responsibility. No amount of ‘narrativium’ can change this.

                • “it is difficult to imagine”… “the idea…seems far-fetched”…

                  And that was what I was saying. Your mind can imagine some things more easily than others. What goes on in your imagination is “narrativium”: the power of narrative. And I think, from a literary rather than a scientific point of view, Pratchett has invented a very useful idea in coining this phrase in terms of “text analysis” at least.

                  • Tony

                    Could be David, but in the context of this issue it’s a great big red herring.

                    It’s your way of saying that we must take the explanations at face value and not imagine other, darker possibilities.

                    Trouble is history (not ‘narrative’) has shown that the face value explanations have, time and again, been incomplete or down right dishonest.

          • Louise

            Yes, David, that about sums it up.

            • Louise

              Of course, some things ought to remain secret: the seal of the confessional; or even just doctor-patient confidentiality, for pity’s sake. Not all secret-keeping is bad.

              And then, sometimes it is better to keep one’s mouth shut, b/c one might make things worse by saying something. Not if you’re the Pope though…

            • Louise

              It seems to me that in this present situation, B16 is damned if he do and damned if he don’t. The media have decreed that he cannot do anything right, so there you have it.

              • Tony

                There is some truth in that Louise.

                When people are angry or are touched by abuse, they look to the leaders to vent their anger and, sometimes, no amount of logic will make a difference.

                Church leaders, priests and, to some extent, all who identify as Catholics have to wear that with humility and understanding.

                BUT there is no sense that the ‘Fr H’ issue in Munich has anything to do with the seal of the confessional.

                The only way to counter falsity is with truth, the only way to counter rumour is with openness and the only way to counter bias is by telling the whole story honestly.

                There is a saying in Latin (NB I’m no Latin scholar, I just stumbled on it) — Rex non potest peccare (the king cannot sin) — and that seems to be how this issue is playing out.

                It would be very reasonable to think that even a busy Cardinal in a big dio would know about the progress of a priest in these circumstances — there has been no denial that +Ratzinger knew of him. It would be very reasonable, IMO, that he should have known.

                In the context of the wider issue, it is very reasonable to ask what he did when he had the chance.

                Not answering that question, just feeds the narrative.

                Allowing a, now, 80+ year old Monsignor to take the rap, feeds the narrative.

                This is not a story that inspires ‘the world’ with a particularly christian narrative — especially in terms of honesty, admitting mistakes and seeking to take responsibility for those mistakes.

                This story tells the world that the church is like other large corporations or governments. Not much of a benchmark IMO.