John Allen looks at Ratzinger/Benedict’s response to abuse

The growing numbers of news reports about Catholic Church sex-abuse scandals in Germany and Ireland will draw every possible reaction from observers.

Some will say that it’s about time that the media are focusing on decades of abuse.

Others will say that the abuse cases in question date back to the 60s, 70s and sometimes 80, and that it is irresponsible for the media to cover these things as if they happened yesterday.

The fact that Pope Benedict XVI has been tied indirectly to one notorious case will ensure that emotions on all sides are hotter than ever.

JohnLAllenI have to recommend that people who want to get a handle on things read John Allen’s outstanding analysis in NCR. He focuses on Cardinal Ratzinger’s response to sex-abuse allegations and how he, as the pope, has evolved.

I see it as a detailed, comprehensive, pretty balanced and ultimately educational look at a big story. Of course, others will see it quite differently.

In fact, if you read it, go on and read the dozens of comments afterward. They cover the gamut.

He’s getting killed by critics of the church, like this one:

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I realize, John, that for your access to your sources at the Vatican, you cannot be too blunt. But talk about who has been drinking the Kool-Aid, you must be on a sugar-high! This is the Pope we are talking about who is able to demote and/or remove anyone in the hierarchy!!!! Not ONE bishop from the United States has been removed by this Pope; not ONE!!!!!!

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And he’s taking it from defenders of the church, like this one:

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Benedict is one of the greatest Popes in the History of the Church! There is so much more to all of this then know, we should becareful with what we say! He is the Pope, God had chosen him to lead his people in a World full of hate for the Church and our Lord.

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Many readers are arguing that John bends over backwards to present the pope in the best possible light.

The comments make for good reading. But read John first.

Catholic Archbishop Burke calls for pressure on fellow bishops, then recants (sort of)

This is plain weird.

Yesterday, Randall Terry, the longtime anti-abortion activist, held a news conference at the National Press Conference in Washington to share a videotaped interview he did with Archbishop Raymond Burke, formerly of St. Louis and now head of the Vatican supreme court in Rome.

In the videotape, Burke takes the very unusual step of urging pro-lifers to press U.S. bishops to withhold Communion from Catholic politicians who are pro-choice.

Burke seemed to be calling many of his fellow bishops on the carpet.

You can see a video of the interview HERE in two parts.

Today, National Catholic Reporter is saying that Burke has released a statement apologizing for his comments. So far, I can’t find the statement anywhere. ADD: HERE IT IS.

NCR says that Burke says that he only gave the interview to Terry “to share with pro-life workers.” Burke says that Terry’s use of the interview, as part of a media campaign to put pressure on bishops, is “objectionable.”

NCR says Burke’s statement includes this: “If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it.”

What am I missing here? Is Burke saying that he wants people to put pressure on bishops to withhold Communion — but he doesn’t want the bishops know he takes this stand?

What is another way to interpret this?

Actions of Legion of Christ founder called ‘difficult for us to understand’

The story of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, continues to get weirder.

Over a decade ago, he was accused of molesting several former seminarians. The accusations got little official traction, as Maciel and his conservative order were favorites of Pope John Paul II.

Then in 2006, the Vatican said that Maciel would retire and live a life of “prayer and penance.”

He died in January 2008.

Now the Legion — an order with a strong presence in Westchester — is apparently acknowledging to supporters that Maciel fathered a child.

A spokesman for the order told the NYT : “We have learned some things about our founder’s life that are surprising and difficult for us to understand. We can confirm that there are some aspects of his life that were not appropriate for a Catholic priest.”

The National Catholic Reporter is saying:

Rumors that the Legionaries had reached new damning conclusions about Maciel have built in recent days in the wake of confidential meetings the new superior of the order, Fr. Álvaro Corcuera, has been holding with members to inform them of an internal probe of Maciel’s conduct.

Legionary sources told NCR that Corcuera has stressed that Maciel’s misconduct was not a “one-time slipup,” but rather “a pattern that stretched over years.”

These sources said Corcuera and other Legionary officials began their review after Maciel stepped down as the order’s superior in January 2006, and after the Vatican’s conclusions were issued four months later.

NCR also notes that Tom Hoopes, editor of the National Catholic Register, a Catholic weekly published by the Legion, wrote the following comment on the blog of the popular Catholic blogger Amy Welborn:

All I want to say is, I’m sorry.

I want to say it here, because I defended Fr. Maciel here, and I need to be on the record regarding that defense:

I’m sorry, to the victims, who were victims twice, the second time by calumny. I’m sorry, to the Church, which has been damaged. I’m sorry, to those I’ve misled.

I did it unwittingly, but this isn’t a time for excuses.

The Church gave me great, great good in Regnum Christi.

The Church did bring justice, and did penalize this man.

Thank God for the Church.

I seek repentance and forgiveness, and I leave it at that.

The Legion owns large estates in Mount Pleasant and New Castle, but has run into all sorts of development obstacles.

Nuns defend Bourgeois to Vatican

To my knowledge, there has been no word yet on the fate of Father Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who faces excommunication from the Vatican for taking part in a woman’s “ordination” ceremony (and refusing to recant).

But National Catholic Reporter reports that 113 nuns have signed a letter to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that pleads Bourgeois’ case. The letter was organized by the National Coalition of American Nuns and explicitly supports the ordination of women as priests.

Dominican Sister Donna Quinn, one of the coordinators of NCAN, told NCR: “We hope the excommunication is not issued. The medieval punishment of excommunication serves only to embarrass our Church in the eyes of the world and fuels further anger and resentment among the U.S. faithful.”

Here’s the letter, addressed to Cardinal William Levada, head of the congregation:

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“Dear Cardinal Levada:

The Vatican’s threatened excommunication of Fr. Roy Bourgeois because of his belief in the priestly ordination of women has diminished our Church.

As women religious who love our Church and who have served the People of God for decades, we support our brother Roy. As a Maryknoll priest for 36 years, he has followed the Gospel of Jesus in his ministry for peace and justice by speaking out against the war in Iraq and against the torture of countless human beings, aided and abetted by the U.S. government’s School of the Americas. He has been a prophetic voice for thousands in our society.

Roy is now a prophetic voice in our church because of his support for women’s equality in all Church ministries. Excommunications depend not on edicts or laws, but on compliance. We do not believe Roy is outside the community and we embrace him wholeheartedly. Like Roy, we know women who testify that they are called to priesthood. We know that Jesus did not discriminate in calling both women and men to ministry. And we know that our church needs the gifts of everyone called.

So we join Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the majority of U.S. Catholics, who believe that women are called to priestly ordination in the Catholic Church. We look forward to the day when Catholic women, following in the footsteps of Mary Magdalene who announced the Resurrection to the male Apostles, will minister as full equals in our church.”