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Dark days in Rome

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Catholic Church, Gay prostitution ring, Georg Ratzinger, German scandals, Inside the Vatican, Irish scandals, Legionaries of Christ, Robert Moynihan, Vatican on Mar 11, 2010

It’s becoming hard to ignore the bad headines facing the Catholic Church these days.

We’re talking internationally.

Lots of people have asked me in recent days something along the lines of “What’s going on with the Vatican?”

And I was greeted this morning with this headine from Robert Moynihan’s Inside the Vatican email: “Benedict’s Papacy in Crisis?”

You have a growing scandal in Germany, where more than 170 former Catholic school students have alleged that they were sexually abused. Others claim physical abuse.

BC EU Vatican Church AbuseSome of the accusations involve a boys’ choir that was run for 30 years by the pope’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger. He said Tuesday that he did slap students as punishment, but that he was not aware of any sexual abuse during his tenure.

“The problem of sexual abuse that has now come to light was never spoken of,” Ratzinger said.

Then you had a Vatican summit this week about past sexual abuse in Ireland, where the church has been practically brought to its knees by revelations of decades of abuse.

A Vatican statement includes this:


For his part, the Holy Father observed that the sexual abuse of children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image. While realizing that the current painful situation will not be resolved quickly, he challenged the Bishops to address the problems of the past with determination and resolve, and to face the present crisis with honesty and courage.


The fine journalist David Gibson explains how the archbishop of Dublin is trying to cope with the mess and becoming something of a hero in the process.

Then you have this bizarre story involving a papal usher and a Vatican chorister who are accused of being part of a gay prostitution ring.

By accused, we mean that the user, officially a “Gentleman of His Holiness,” was taped arranging transactions.

And then, finally, you have new stories about Fr. Marcial Maciel, the late—and now discredited – founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

The Vatican began an investigation of the order last year after it was revealed that Maciel had fathered a child and lived some sort of “double life.” Now a Mexican woman is saying that she had three sons with Maciel (who told her he was someone else) and that Maciel sexually abused two of the boys.

The Legion reacted with a statement, which includes:


In recent years, the Legionaries of Christ have gradually come to know, with surprise and great sorrow, hidden aspects of the life of Fr Maciel. We confirm our commitment to act in truth and charity. We renew our request for forgiveness from the affected people for all of the suffering this has caused and for the ensuing scandal.


The Legion also implied that the Mexican family’s lawyer tried to extort money from the order.


Now what? Based on the past, I would expect Catholic groups to start circling the wagons. Any day, we should start hearing complaints about media coverage focusing on the scandals instead of all the good work that the Catholic Church is doing in Haiti, Chile and elsewhere.

Otherwise, the Vatican is not known for reacting swiftly to crises. We’ll see.

Inside the Vatican’s Moynihan writes:


In Rome, some fear this is just the beginning.

This fear is not idle, as the internet and world press are already full of reports that these crises may cast a shadow over the entire pontificate.

The battle occurring right now is over how history will judge Benedict’s papacy.


(AP Photo/Diether Endlicher,File)



7 Responses to “Dark days in Rome”

  1. Steve C.

    It’s easily fixed. The Papacy should defrock or sanction the priest and cloister him away for good.
    Secondly, allow priests and nun’s to marry. No where in Catholic/Christian law, bible or otherwise was this required.
    It’s a man made law that should be ended…

  2. The Monk

    Last year, the Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland, Diarmuid Martin said “there is a dramatic and growing rift between the Church and our younger generations and the blame does not lie principally with young people. Our young people are generous and idealistic but such generosity and idealism does not seem to find a home in the Church, which for many remains an alien place.”

    I was a Legionary of Christ for 20 some years and worked closely with Marcial Maciel, the founder. I eventually saw that he was a manipulator of people, Machiavellian, possessed of a lethal dose of narcissism combined with great charisma. More than 25 years after leaving, I was stunned by the awful revelations about him.

    However, more than many in his time, he did manage to make the Church a less alien place for young people. He attracted more than 70,000 members to his lay organization (Regnum Christi.) The Legionaries have more young, committed, orthodox priests and seminarians than practically any other religious congregation. They have a superb network of colleges, schools, missions and important charities. Hence the awful dilemma – can anything good be salvaged from the work of a man who turned out to be a sinner?

    I am about to publish a book about my experiences with him, trying to figure the answer to the dilemma.

  3. Dave

    It would be nice to put time period of the abuse in your story because the average reader would think this all happened in the last 4 years, which it didn’t. There are a billion Catholic in the world and obviously a lot of terrible people included. However, to lay that on Benedict is like laying Judas’ betrayal on Jesus or the apostles.
    Sure I would like to see more aggresive measures taken but the church is alway playing catch up to the stories many years after the fact. Benedict’s the one who took measures against Maciel when things started becoming clear.

  4. Mike

    It appears to me that the liberal MSM, anti-Catholic,and self-hating Catholic press is behind these stories. Now this is not to minimize or in any way, shape or form to say that horrible acts took place and that these were not handled properly by the Church. But can we also put this into perspective. We have over 1 Billion members of the RC Church and during the past 40-50 years when these events took place, we had multi-thousands of priests and religious in service. No one has ever said that the members and clergy were perfect people. There were and are some bad people in the Church institution. Furthermore, the Institution of the Church itself responded very poorly. But depsite all of this, the numbers of abuse victims compared to the total results in a small percentage. In fact, the percent of abuse in the Church is a much smaller number compared to other Institutions like schools, other demoniations and in fcat our own US Congress. It is for that resaon that I beleiev the media continually raises these stories to attack the Church because the Church often takes social positions at odds with the media and society in general. Of course the media wants to scandalize and attack not just this Pope, but any Pope. They did it to JPII, they attack Paul VI and most recently Pius XXII. To be quite frank, I dont care what the MSM says about MY Church or MY Holy Father because I dont trust them and I know their motivations. This Pope as well as his predecessor aplogized for what a very small percentage of its priests did and have put very strict programs into place to assure it does not happen again. Does the media ever focus on this? Have there been recently (in past 10 years) reports of abuse-no, but again no reporting on this. So, from my perspective the dark days are upon us all- because of the evil and hateful intentions of the media to attack the Church. As a faithful RC, this is not a surprise as the Lord Himself said these days would come but He also said teh gates of hell would not prevail to destroy the Church Chrsit Himself Founded.

  5. devonianfish

    The real problem faced by the Church is the claim that it is of the Holy Spirit. If so, how can the H.S. stand by and watch the abuse?

  6. devonianfish

    Mike. The Catholic Church claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. If this is so, then Catholicism has a direct line to God. Given this, many would find it hard to believe that God would call to his service one who he knew would rape children.

    Many also find it impossible to believe that the angels would watch the whole depraved act while shouting “free will, free will”, thereby relieving themselves of all responsibility.

    Sex and corruption in the Church is big news because irregularities such as this damages the church’s claim of divine inspiration, reducing it to nothing more than a political institution backed up by a stock portfolio.

    One cannot compare the percentage of abuse in the Church to that of secular institutions without making it “Common” to those institutions, and sacrificing the assumed divine origin of the religion.

  7. Mike

    Despite your rejection of the concept of free will, it is nontheless how the Creator made us all. And why not? Indeed, we are made in the image and likeness of God-therefore we are made with an intellect, a soul and the ability to make choices. Because of this great gift, people from the beginning of time have used this gift unwisley. If God continually interfered in our ability to choose, well then we would truly not be in his image, possessing some of the divine qualities. God has always sought the cooperation of humans, not their robotic following of him. Animals are trained to follow their master, as humans we are given the choice and the grace to follow our Master. God so much sought our cooperation that He sent His son to live among us. Even one og his followers was allowed to betray HIM. If Jesus had his Judas, why should the Church of today now have Judas” in its midst? Just as Judas’ actions were a refelction on him as a person and certainly not upon the institution of the Church, so too are the actions of the very small percenatge of modern day Judas’priests and bishops who were involved in the evils of child abuse. The HS is quite alive today in our Church-what other institution has come out and recognized the problem it had, pur guidance into action to prevent it from happening again and who sought reconcilitaion with its victims. I come full circle to my point the MSM has used this evil to attack the Church and it seeks every opportunity to raise it again and again. Anti-Catholic bigots that blog in this newspaper week after week whenever a story (many having nothing to do with the abuse scandal-like the one this week on Fr. Pavone) sling their evil words and malign the Church. When I read the dribble that these people write, I often wonder what reaction would they received if they spewed the same hate and bigotry toward Jews or Muslims? So my friend, you can continue to assert that somehow because individual members (even priest and bishops) of the Church are sinners, that the Institution of the Church is not divine, but you would be making a grave error. I suppose because of your athiestic perspective, no argument will convince you, so therefore I hope and pray one day that the Truth enlighten you.

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