Papal Cuts: Why is the Pope Really Resigning?

BLOG SOUP Adele Stan addresses what virtually everyone is thinking but nobody will admit (at least on TV, particularly MSNBC where "pope news" is right up there with a terrorist attack for the amount of attention it garners.)  

“Citing age and infirmity as his reason for leaving the papacy, Benedict's action comes just weeks after he opened his celebrated Twitter account -- and less than a month after the decades-old child abuse scandal drew nearer to the pope's door, with revelations published in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month that Cardinal Roger Mahony, then Archbishop of Los Angeles, sought to evade the law in cases involving the sexual abuse of children by the priests in his charge by sending them to treatment facilities in states that did not require health professionals to report the crimes to authorities.

At the time that Mahony was covering up the crimes of his priests, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that oversaw such matters.

In archdiocese documents released under a court order earlier this month, Mahony is revealed to have taken actions deliberately contrived to avoid legal prosecution of priests who had sexually abused, and even raped, children. The documents were so damaging that Mahony, now retired and once thought to be a contender for the papacy, was publicly rebuked by the current Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez, and stripped of any public duties, an unprecedented censure of a cardinal archbishop by his successor.

Amid the cache of church records, released as part of a settlement between the archdiocese and 500 sex-abuse victims, are several letters to Ratzinger from Mahoney, in which the California prelate reports to the Vatican his reasons for various actions (such as defrocking) taken against the offending priests. The records amount to some 30,000 pages, so their full contents have yet to be pored through by investigators and journalists.

What is clear, though, is that Mahony repeatedly failed to act on concerns about the sexual abuse of children by priests that brought to him by pastors and church officials throughout the diocese, and that when he did, his actions were designed to avoid criminal prosecutions of the predator priests. And it is also clear that in his Vatican office, Ratzinger was the recipient of letters from Mahony informing the Holy See of what actions he had taken.”

They haven't even begun to scratch the surface of these documents. Mahoney and Ratzinger worked closely together and Mahoney was previously thought to be one of the rare exceptions to the Cardinal cover-up, at least to the degree he's recently been revealed to have been involved. So, most likely, was Ratzinger. Stay tuned.

The one thing I'm glad about is that Tim Russert isn't going to be running the "Pope Watch" coverage, although Chris Matthews looks to be stepping up quite gladly. For those of us who have a justifiably jaundiced view of the Catholic hierarchy, it gets pretty hard to take.

(Digby is the pseudonym of progressive political blogger Heather Parton from Santa Monica, California who founded the blog Hullabaloo … where this commentary first appeared.)




Vol 11 Issue 13

Pub: Feb 12, 2013