Pope Benedict and the Legion of Christ


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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16 Responses

  1. Avatar steve says:

    Maybe, though I find it troubling that he refused the money he was offered, then essentially waited so long to do anything. That makes me think that he saw his first responsibility was to the hierarchy of the Church rather than to its principles and its people. His very refusal suggests he knew what was going on, or had suspicions.


  2. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    I hope you’re right E.D.Report

  3. Avatar Lyle says:

    Of course the church has waves of corruption and reform. Think of the Borgia Popes and the like, and then the reaction when the church came close to falling apart during the period of the Napoleanic wars.Report

  4. Avatar Econwatcher says:

    Mr. Kain, I think you’re spot on. While I often admire what Andrew Sullivan writes, I think he has been reading the emerging evidence about the abuse scandal and Benedict’s role in a slanted and unfair way.

    Benedict took decisive action against Maciel immediately after he became pope. Wouldn’t this suggest that he wanted to do so before, but didn’t have the power to get it done? More and more evidence suggests this is the case. Jason Berry’s article certainly supports it: It shows how cynically and skillfully Maciel and his minions curried favor with (and sometimes just plain corrupted) cardinals, JP II’s closest aide, and even JP II himself. It also shows that Cardinal Ratzinger rebuffed similar efforts directed at him.

    But Sullivan interprets all of this evidence as meaning that Cardinal Ratzinger knew what was happening and chose to do nothing until he became pope. Is that fair? Doesn’t that ignore a rather huge factor? Isn’t the Catholic Church known for its complete centralization of ultimate authority in the hands of the pope? If JP II did not want Maciel deposed on his watch, it simply wasn’t going to happen.

    Sullivan feels personally hurt and insulted by Benedict’s position on gay issues, and I understand and sympathize. But I think he’s letting that skew his judgment of Benedict’s record on abuse. At least from what we’re seeing so far, Benedict looks good, and JP II’s reputation looks to be headed for a fall.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    I’m wondering if you still feel this way after the latest AP story, suggesting Ratzinger resisted defrocking a known abuser for “the good of the universal church.”

    Does a day, and a new news story, make a difference?Report

  6. Avatar Rufus says:

    You know, E.D., I’m in the middle on this one. I’m not ready to extend the benefit of the doubt to the Pope on this one because I suspect it’s not over yet. Also, I understand how the Church views sin and I suspect that it hurt them on this issue.

    That said, the hyperbole is, indeed, getting to be off-putting and reactionary. We talk a lot around here about how extreme and ideological Americans are getting to be, and I think we usually have the Tea Party in the back of our minds. But when I hear people saying the Catholic Church is “a criminal enterprise” that needs to be shut down by the state, (i.e. http://trueslant.com/matttaibbi/2010/03/27/the-catholic-church-is-a-criminal-enterprise/), it’s hard for me not to think they’re just another sort of ideological extremist.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Matt Taibbi wrote something unfounded and over the top? Wow, thus thing really is getting out of hand.Report

      • Avatar Rufus says:

        @Michael Drew, I’m not really familiar with him. Wikipedia says he’s an investigative reporter for Rolling Stone, but I haven’t read RS for twenty years now. What was funny about the true/slant piece is that he’s saying, “OMG! We need to use the RICO statutes! The Catholic Church is a criminal enterprise!”, and I actually found that piece because another True/Slant blogger linked to it as some sort of supporting evidence for her claim that “OMG! The Catholic Church is a criminal enterprise!” I wanted to leave a comment about needing to calm down and wait and see how this thing shakes out; but I figured it would be a bit like walking into a Tea Party rally and saying, “okay, let’s wait until we have all the facts about ACORN before jumping to conclusions”.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      @Rufus, I ended up writing a really pissy post on that Taibbi post over at True/Slant and was chided by the editors for it, actually. So you inadvertently got me in trouble, damnit. Which is something I used to be better at than I am now, so it’s nice to have some practice…Report

  7. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    The NCR piece shows Maciel and the Vatican entangled in a web of bribery, lies, and cover-ups. What else is new? When has the Vatican not been entangled in webs of bribery, lies, and cover-ups?

    The NCR piece details the so-called decisive action taken by Ratzinger, once he became Pope:

    Two years later, as Benedict, he approved the order that Maciel abandon ministry for a “life of penitence and prayer.” Maciel had “more than 20 but less than 100 victims,” an unnamed Vatican official told NCR’s John Allen at the time.

    The congregation cited Maciel’s age in opting against a full trial.

    This is how one wages an “unseen war” against a Catholic culture that justifies child-rape as the “weakness of the flesh?” He got slammed with a “life of penitence and prayer!” That will send a strong message to all the other child rapists out there in Catholic priestland that their “weakness of the flesh” will not be tolerated any longer. Who could stand a “life of penitence and prayer”after all?

    Plus, I’m sure that the “more than twenty but less than a hundred” of Maciel’s victims will find closure is such punishment.

    As for me, I can’t see any reason at all why he shouldn’t have been tried and convicted as a child rapist and sent to prison for it, where he would have experienced the victim side of the rapist/victim dyad. Of course, nothing would have prevented him from living out his years in prison in penitence and prayer, even if forced to eat shit (literally) every day, as he should have been. That would just give his “penitence and prayer” more of a thrill, I don’t know.Report