Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ross Douthat Throws Pope John Paul II Under The Bus

In a feeble attempt to excuse Pope Benedict for his abetting of child rapists and molesters, Ross "sex is icky" Douthat throws Pope John Paul II under the bus, blaming him for Benedict's inaction. Benedict was in charge of handling the rape and molestation cases as the head of the re-named Inquisition, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was very active hunting down liberal priests and nuns, which is no doubt why he found it so difficult to stop priest child rapists and molesters. As pope, he felt it was necessary to ask George W. Bush for diplomatic immunity for one of his crimes; covering up the sexual assault of three Texas boys.

Lawyers for Pope Benedict XVI have asked U.S. President George W. Bush to declare the pontiff immune from liability in a lawsuit that accuses him of conspiring to cover up the molestation of three boys by a seminarian in Texas, court records show.

The Vatican's embassy in Washington sent a diplomatic memo to the State Department on May 20 requesting the U.S. government grant the pope immunity because he is a head of state, according to a May 26 motion submitted by the pope's lawyers in U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Texas in Houston.

Joseph Ratzinger is named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit. Now Benedict XVI, he's accused of conspiring with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to cover up the abuse during the mid-1990s. The suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages.


The three boys, identified in court documents as John Does I, II and III, allege that a Colombian-born seminarian on assignment at St. Francis de Sales church in Houston, Juan Carlos Patino-Arango, molested them during counseling sessions in the church in the mid-1990s.

Patino-Arango has been indicted in a criminal case by a Harris County, Texas grand jury and is a fugitive from justice, the lawsuit says.

Of course Bush granted Benedict immunity.

Meanwhile, back at the chicken ranch, Douthat explains that Pope Benedict was right on top of the scandal that John Paul let fester.

So the high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up. This pattern extends to other fraught issues that the last pope tended to avoid — the debasement of the Catholic liturgy, or the rise of Islam in once-Christian Europe. And it extends to the caliber of the church’s bishops, where Benedict’s appointments are widely viewed as an improvement over the choices John Paul made. It isn’t a coincidence that some of the most forthright ecclesiastical responses to the abuse scandal have come from friends and protégés of the current pope.

Has Benedict done enough to clean house and show contrition? Alas, no. Has his Vatican responded to the latest swirl of scandal with retrenchment, resentment, and an un-Christian dose of self-pity? Absolutely. Can this pontiff regain the kind of trust and admiration, for himself and for his office, that John Paul II enjoyed? Not a chance.

But as unlikely as it seems today, Benedict may yet deserve to be remembered as the better pope.

Strange--it was only a month ago that Douthat was preaching responsibility and criticizing Pope Benedict.

I think there are two things the pope can do. The first is to answer (or have the Vatican answer) allegations related to his time as archbishop of Munich in a “buck stops here” spirit, rather than just trying to deflect blame away from the pontiff’s person. Whatever then-Archbishop Ratzinger’s direct responsibility for allowing a sex abuser to return to public ministry, he was ultimately the man in charge in the archdiocese at that time, and he should be able to say “yes, I bear some responsibility,” even if he wasn’t the primary official at fault. This is what I meant when I said the pontiff should be willing to express contrition “on his own behalf,” as well as on behalf of the church as a whole.

Now it seems only John Paul II was to blame, as more facts become public and the public and press start to call for Benedict's resignation. I look forward to the next pope, when Douthat will, no doubt, write about that fine Pope Benedict, and how his successor just didn't live up to his predecessor's example.


aimai said...

That essay was so jaw droppingly stupid and self delusional that it practically makes you think the Times should simply forbid Douthat to write about Catholicism--if there were any chance he might be less stupid about other things. The thing that struck me about his determination to throw the entire mess up to JPII is how quickly the old love is cast off for the new. How easy it is to blame the one who got up from the dinner table--this is why no one ever left the table to pee when Dorothy Parker was sitting there.

It seems to me that a better reading of the entire story is that JPII was a somewhat smarter and more important political figure than Bush, and its as though he were succeeded by Cheney. Bush's sins are a composite of his intentions and Cheney's, and a Cheney succession would be guilty of yet more crimes. Its not excuse to say that Ratzinger was low down in the hierarchy prior to elevation. He was in a pivotal and powerful position and, of course, has been Pope for quite some time. The argument that he didn't know what he clearly knew simply doesn't fly.

I think its highly significant that the Maciel case, which is the only one on which Ratzinger moved decisively after he became pope, is really a case where the Church is struggling to recapture control of an out of control money making machine. This kind of thing has gone on for centuries--every time an order gets powerful and controls a lot of money and donors the head of the order is either brought under control, or gotten rid of by the Church.

If you read the long piece at the National Catholic Reporter the sums of money that change hands around the person of the pope--the selling of private visits and bribery of all sorts--is simply staggering. I see Ratzinger taking out maciel as more like Bush I turning on Noriega or Saddam and not as any kind of reflection of moral values.

Susan of Texas said...

Yes, Maciel had become too notorious and sacrificing him made Ratzinger look better. It was good politics, not morality.

Everyone is acting as if the Catholic Church is too big to fail, like the banks. The weight of its power is like a steamroller. When an organization has that much money and political influence, abuses are inevitable because nobody can hold bad actors to account.

The Church needs to be broken down and reformed by the laity, but of course that won't happen. In the eyes of the Church, they are an utterly essential intermediary between the souls of mankind and God. Without them, they think, we'd all burn in Hell for eternity, and what's rape and molestation compared to that?

The pope's diplomatic immunity should be revoked. The Texas case was in our diocese.

bulbul said...

What. An. Asshole.

This pattern extends to other fraught issues that the last pope tended to avoid — the debasement of the Catholic liturgy, or the rise of Islam in once-Christian Europe.
The fuck? What debasement, the Vatican II reforms? Guitars in churches? And would anybody please make them get off our European backs about Christianity. Europe either still is Christian or it hasn't been in a hundred years, depending on how you see things. Islam has nothing to do with it.

Everyone is acting as if the Catholic Church is too big to fail, like the banks.
That comparison is deeply flawed, mostly because you seem to mean "the Vatican" when you say "the Church". That's not how we, the faithful, see it. The Church, that's us. And to us, this whole scandal is primarily about the failure of the leadership of the Church, not the Church as a whole. The problem is that the Vatican elite is irreplaceable and untouchable, or at least it thinks it is. Someone needs to show them wrong and go, pardon the multilevel pun, all medieval on their asses. Starting with the pope. Who should resign. What's this shit we've been hearing about popes not resigning? Of course they do. It hasn't been done since the 15th century, but hey, some customs are worth reviving.

The Church needs to be broken down and reformed by the laity
No offense, Susan, but don't you think that's a wee bit patronizing?

Susan of Texas said...

Isn't it contradictory to say that the church is us, but we can't reform it? That the structure should remain, even if it leads to abuses? If the leadership is changed but the power imbalances are not addressed, what is to keep the abuses from returning?

Like Cheney, realizing that the only thing wrong with the Watergate affair was that the administration was caught.

bulbul said...

Isn't it contradictory to say that the church is us, but we can't reform it?
It is, which is why I didn't say anything of the sort.
What got to me was the "The Church needs to be broken down". Well, it doesn't, no more than the US needed to be broken down during the Cheney/Bush regime. The power structure needs shaking up, sure.
And as for the reform by the laity, I'm afraid there is at least one already on the way, but it's being driven forward by people like Asshat. They want to emulate the 'success' of the American rabid religious right. For Christ's sake, there are already evolution deniers, charismatics and religious warriors taking over Catholic parishes all over Europe, not to mention small but vocal (and well funded) 'traditionalists'. I was naively expecting the chief inquisitor to put the stop to that once he got elected pope, but boy, did he pull one over on me.

Susan of Texas said...

Heh--I think the government needs to be broken down as well, for the same reason--an imbalance of power that is too big to stop in its present form.

The problem with anarchy is all that death and destruction, but I feel very strongly that I'm letting others suffer and die so I can live comfortably in the present power structure. I can't live with that.