Like many recovering former Roman Catholics, I have been absolutely appalled by the unending tales of sexual abuse of children by priests. Just as appalling have been the endless examples of supervising Bishops quietly transfering priest/rapists to another unsuspecting Parish, full of unsuspecting children, to "protect the reputation of the Church".
Apologists for the Church and its current Pope have argued that "he gets it"; that Benedict has moved forcefully to apologize to victims and to confront this vile rot at the heart of the Church.
If only. Benedict's latest official actions demonstrate where his true loyalties lie. Hint: not with the victims of these despicable crimes.
The first clue that nothing has really changed came with the howls of outrage from the Vatican when Belgian police raided a Bishop's residence, seizing records and computers as part of an investigation into sexual abuse. "How dare they", raged the Vatican.
Remember, this is the Church whose Bishops- scores of them!- knowingly shifted pedophile priests from Parish to Parish one step ahead of the law, concealing their crimes. How dare they indeed; I commend the Belgian police forces for doing their jobs.
Now the other shoe has dropped. Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna was a lone voice within the Church when he condemned the actions of former Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano. Sodano had blocked an investigation into the crimes of accused pedophile Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer. Even worse, Sodano had dismissed the accusations of the victims of clerical rape as "petty gossip".
Schoenborn was summoned to the Vatican for an audience with the Pope, and today was smacked down with an exceedingly rare public rebuke, something rarely applied to a Cardinal.
"With his words, Benedict professes concern for victims. But by his actions, Benedict shows concern for his colleagues," said David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
I can't add anything to that. Benedict claims to care about justice for the victims of this horrific epidemic of the rape of children by priests. Yet his every action attempts to further evade any true accountability.