The international movement, We Are Church, issued this media release:
"We are Church regrets that the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's election is so much tarnished by the deep crisis our Church at present is undergoing.
"We are Church appreciates the present activities of the Pope combating paedophilia in the Church. Benedict’s tragedy is caused by the fact that he started it too late, too weakly, and that he is not supported enough by all cardinals, bishops, and the Roman Curia. ... Now the five years of the pontificate of Benedict reveal more and more the fundamental weakness of the whole system of the Roman Catholic Church - its hierarchical constitution, "two-class society" priests/laity, the Roman centralism. ...
The bishops of Connecticut have urged their parishioners to fight a proposal in the legislature to lift the statute of limitations on the sexual abuse of minors. In the current climate, of course, this looks like just another example of the hierarchy trying to escape responsibility for their criminal neglect of the abuse.
To be clear, the bishops are wrong to oppose the proposal: One of the things we have learned about the sexual abuse of minors is that if often takes the victim years to admit that the abuse occurred, still less come forward and seek justice. There is a balance to be drawn between justice for the victims and the understandable fear of criminal prosecutions undertaken so long after the fact, but as a society – and most certainly as a Church – we should come down on the side of justice for the victims.
The cleric who last month took responsibility for moving a known pedophile priest into ministry in the Munich archdiocese in 1980 after the priest was allowed into the archdiocese by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is now reportedly saying he was pressured into taking the blame for that decision.
Vicar General Gerhard Gruber last month referred to the decision as a “serious mistake” and said he was solely responsible for the decision. After speaking once about his "mistake" to the Associated Press, Gruber disappeared from public view. I was in Munich at the time and tried to reach him several times, but always unsuccessfully.
But today we find Gruber in the news once again.
It is being reported that Gruber has said he took the fall only after coming under huge pressure from unnamed Catholic Church sources to take responsibility in order to “take the pope out of the firing line”.
Theologian Fr. Hans Küng has written a letter to the world's bishops. (I found it on the web site of the Irish Times, but it carries a New York Times Syndicate tag line.) He begins: "On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I am making this appeal to you [the world's bishops] in an open letter. In doing so, I am motivated by my profound concern for our church, which now finds itself in the worst credibility crisis since the Reformation. ... "
"I want only to lay before you six proposals that I am convinced are supported by millions of Catholics who have no voice in the current situation.
1. Do not keep silent ...
2. Set about reform ...
3. Act in a collegial way ...
4. Unconditional obedience is owed to God alone ...
5. Work for regional solutions ...
6. Call for a council ...
The Associated Press just filed this story describing the identification and hiring of the U.S. lawyer defending Pope Benedict and the Vatican against sexual abuse lawsuits.
Bruno von Egisheim-Dagsburg was born in 1002 to Count Hugo, a cousin of the emperor, and his wife, Heilewide. He was educated by Berthold, Bishop of Toul, and, after his ordination, became a canon of St. Stephen's at Toul. Bruno was consecrated bishop in 1027 and administered the Diocese of Toul for twenty years. When the German Pope Damasus II died in 1048, Bishop Bruno was selected by the emperor, Henry III, to succeed him.
Valletta, Malta -- By meeting privately with sex abuse victims here, but avoiding any public apologies or defense of his record on handling sex abuse cases, Pope Benedict XVI seems to have confirmed his strategy for engaging the fallout from the crisis, one that might be summarized in a sound-bite: “Pastoral, not Political.”
tIn other words, Benedict is willing to do the behind-the-scenes pastoral outreach he believes the suffering of victims demands, but he is otherwise largely opting out of the wider public debate over the church’s policies on sexual abuse, as well as the critical examination of his past.
I bet a good number of people who read NCR Today will resonate with this column, written by Nicholas D. Kristof, and appearing in The New York Times today. Kristof writes about the Vatican, as it "wrestles with the consequences of a patriarchal premodern mind-set," going on to describe another Catholic church he has gotten to know over the years.
The following is how he describes that church and, in a few paragraphs, casts light on some of the ingredients of Catholicism that inspire so many of us. I know that every regular NCR reader personally knows some of the priests, nuns and lay persons he refers to in his column.
You might add their names, as comments, when you think of them.