and one more thing…

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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13 Responses

  1. Michael Drew says:

    Even here in America, E.D., we don’t say we are innocent until proven guilty; we say we are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (for serious crimes) to a jury of our peers. If we are in fact guilty,then we’re guilty from the act onward, and so is the Pope. Who comprise the jury in this case, you? And what is the necessary standard of proof? And how can we be assured all the evidence ever comes to light? And if resignation is not the right remedy in any case, what is the question at hand exactly and what hangs on it? What level of guilt is critical thereto? Above all, do not these figures of authority have a responsibility to hold themselves to a much, much higher level of conduct and accountability than the mere standard of guilt or innocence applied to American defendants?Report

  2. Lev says:

    This isn’t really my issue, as I’m a Protestant. But my observation of this whole thing has been that the Catholic Church is more interested in spinning themselves as victims than with showing outrage at these crimes and compassion for the real victims. The Pope has become the epicenter of the controversy because he appears to be at least tangentially involved in them, but also because people looking at someplace to place the blame for this, and as the head of an institution that institutionalized the rape of children, he’s getting it, fair or not. He could help himself by imposing accountability and accepting some of the blame, but that isn’t what is happening.

    Ultimately, when heinous stuff happens, people look for somebody to blame. I don’t know what the Pope’s responsibility is, and I surely don’t know what sorts of constraints he has on his authority. But if it seemed as though his heart were in the right place, I think he’d get some more leeway from most people. Instead, he seems to be waging one of the most poorly conceived PR battles of all time. I still can’t really wrap my head around it.Report

  3. Mike Schilling says:

    The aesthetic question was an attempt to explain why people so dislike Benedict and so loved John Paul II when the two men are so similar in every conceivable way.

    JP II started his papacy with his heroic, and ultimately successful, fight against communism. Benedict started with his reputation as an enemy of Vatican II and his service in the Hitler Youth.Report

  4. Roque Nuevo says:

    My defense is simply this: the Pope is innocent until proven guilty and nobody has in any way proved that the Pope has had any roll [sic]to play in covering up sexual abuse in the Church.

    What kind of proof do your require? Some sort of Nixon-like smoking gun? Vatican tapes where Ratzinger orders his underlings to stonewall, etc etc?

    The situation I outlined in the comments to your other piece on this topic, about Marcial Maciel, is enough proof for me. The cover up went on for many years, especially during the time when Ratzinger was in charge of these things as the Holy Inquisitor. Today, after death, the Church admits Maciel’s crimes and asks for forgiveness. Yes, new information has emerged about new crimes committed by Maciel but nothing else has changed in the interim. There was proof before about his serial child rape; this proof was deemed insufficient by Ratzinger and JPII. Today Ratzinger has flipped but that changes nothing: he effectively admitted the cover up himself by admitting that Maciel was a serial child rapist all along. He had all the evidence he needed long ago but did nothing. By flipping today he effectively admits that he was covering up for Maciel all along.

    The point is, Maciel was formally accused back in the ’90s; Ratzinger was responsible for investigating the accusations; he found Maciel innocent and instead smeared his accusers as liars who wanted to destroy the Church. Instead of turning him over to the authorities for prosecution he and JPII moved Maciel to the Vatican to live out the rest of his life in peace. He changed his tune once he became Pope but that doesn’t change the cover up he operated for so many years. It doesn’t change the fact that Maciel died in the Vatican without ever facing his accusers in open court. That’s proof enough for me of a cover up. Is that proof enough for you? Or has the stature of limitations run out on that one?

    Moreover, this is just one case out of many, all with similar characteristics. Even more this is just one case out of many that never even saw the priestly child rapist accused or even slapped on the wrist with an order to pray and reflect in the Austrian woods (or wherever they do that stuff). Priestly child rape, and the reflexive covering up by Church authorities has been going on a long time, surely as long as there have been pederasts walking the Earth under Church authority. Today’s revelations cannot even be considered the tip of the iceberg when you think about the two thousand year history of the Church during which time there was no Internet and no freedom of expression. Up until the liberal revolutions in the 19th century, anyone accusing a priest of child rape would be effectively committing suicide. People just had to suck it up. No more.

    I can’t understand how anyone can remain a Catholic under these circumstances, aside from loving the superstitions—the rituals, the transmogrified blood and guts, the graven images, and the rest of that Baroque madness.Report

  5. John Henry says:

    Really? Andrew Sullivan is presenting a strawman of the objections to one of his obsessions, then engaging in question-begging ad hominems to ridicule the person whose objections he’s misrepresenting? Huh. Never would have seen that coming….

    In a similar vein, what’s your theory on the sun tomorrow: will it rise or not?Report

  6. agorabum says:

    PJP II was a man on the edge of death for a long time, and, as noted above, helped lead the fight against communism.
    If PJP II was still hale, hearty, and kicking it at the Vatican, he’d be getting pilloried just the same. Becuase it seems like he too took the sides of the priests over the victims.
    I agree that stopping the Murphy trial a few days before he died is not really that big a deal.
    The big deal is the thousands of molested children. A church that covered it up. And now that the cover up is finished and the truth is coming out, the church claims to be the victim instead of groveling for forginess to those it betryaed.

    There is the corny line, “what would jesus do?” But we typically expect that the Catholic church might ocassinally consider that thought. They’ve shown no inclination. But they have exhibitied all the characteristics of a hierarchy eager to defend its privlegies.

    A church that is so steeped in the idea of pennance should have leadership willing to resign, to sacrafice. Instead, it’s a few mumbled mea cupas and an attempt to sweep things under the rug or blame the media.
    You should not be on the side of the pedobear. And if you were, you really need to express profound regret. Until the Church does so, it deserves all the pilloring it gets.Report

  7. MarkedMan says:

    I just don’t understand why you are saying that no one has proved his complicity. Proved in the legal sense? Well then, of course – he’ll never go to trial. But in the moral sense, it’s done and done. The proof is in his own (or rather his spokesman’s) words. His defense for the case of the priest in Munich (raped at least 200 boys, showed no remorse and was then transferred to another location in secret where he continued his depravity) was that he delegated such matters to underlings. Really? As Bishop of Munich he had, what, several hundred priests under him? I would be surprised if it was a thousand, but even say it was two thousand. So that puts him in the category of chief of police for a medium sized city with a police force of a couple thousand. Would anyone accept it if a cop under his jurisdiction had been a serial child molester with a similar outcome and his defense was that he didn’t concern himself with such matters? It’s ludicrous to even imagine someone trying this defense. It just goes to show the total moral breakdown of the Catholic hierarchy that they view this as acceptable.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to MarkedMan says:

      Exactly. I don’t know that the proof of Benedict’s personal moral culpability of is done and done, but you are absolutely right that we can never know what evidence would prove, “guilt” here, because we don’t even know exactly what the nature of the crime were thinking about is. Outside of opaque canonocal processes we can’t see into, and barring civil trials of the highest church authorities (I agree with you ont the lieklihood of that), this comes down to people looking a the facts on the record and saying what they think they mean or what their reaction to them is, which will be informed by one’s views of inherent institutional responsibility. Sullivan’s and Kain’s views on the matter can perfectly well coexist in that context, from which follows that neither is ultimately right or wrong. That all follows that, apart from canonical procedure that I don’t think the public hast to or should put any stock in, there just aren’t any available definitions or standards of wrongdoing available to use for analysis, except the public law, which in terms of institutional responsibility is far below the standard we would hold, say, a school principle to.Report

      • MarkedMan in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Wow. It’s amazing how much we can differ while agreeing on the same basic facts. I don’t think Ratzinger’s moral culpability is unknowable. There’s really only two choices: he knew what was going on and agreed to it or at least went along with it (total moral fail) or he gave so little thought to such a heinous crime that he didn’t concern himself with these things when they were perpetrated by the priests he was responsible for (total moral fail). From my point of view there is no doubt. He is morally culpable.Report

        • Michael Drew in reply to MarkedMan says:

          I don’t agree that it is quite as simple as you make it, but I don’t think the bar to culpability for this leader is nearly as high as E.D. is making it out to be. We’re not that far apart, but we are a little ways.Report

          • MarkedMan in reply to Michael Drew says:

            What could be exculpatory? That he was in an organization where raping 200 boys was just a bureaucratic inconvenience? That since everyone else in the organization was morally depraved we couldn’t expect him to take any notice of such behavior? The man was made a bishop! He was given the responsibility for these people. I’m truly curious: what complicates this?Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to MarkedMan says:

              You’d have to ask E.D. or perhaps Cardinal Levada. I don’t have this all sorted myself, and I don’t mean to argue that I absolutely know your view is wrong; only that it’s not clear to me it just as open-and-shut as you make it. Saying it’s not clear to me at this juncture is not saying it isn’t, it’s just saying I’ not clear at this point. Also, i do believe there is clear culpability for this figure; I just am not clear how much. My impression is you are saying the full brunt clearly lies with him (perhaps because JPII made it out alive as it were — and to be clear, I do believe Bendict may be experienceing some of what his predecessor should have, but also that institutionally speaking there is nothing wrong with this. Institutional accountability is really the only important thing here, but institutional accountability can only be achieved via certain points of personal responsibility.) So I wouldn’t resist that assessment (full responsibility for Benedict) on that objection (i.e. JPII ought to have shared the burden), but rather I only hesitate because I myself simply don’t understand the facts and how they fit into the relevant structures and processes sufficiently well to make as firm conclusions as you do. But I’m much closer to where you are than E.D. or Mr. Henry (mainly in other threads) are. I’d suggest you engage them rather than me if you’re inclined to further debate on this topic.Report