Friday, March 19, 2010

By a most cruel irony... would normally be a particularly happy and pleasant day for Pope Benedict, because it is St Joseph's Day, his name-day. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he used to invite others who shared his name and thus his feast-day to join him in a trip out into the countryside for a walk and a meal...

Today the media storm is roaring around the Vatican, and Pope Benedict - who as Archbishop, Cardinal and Pope has never been implicated in any of the ghastly sex-abuse horrors or their cover-ups - is having to hold steady and face all things with courage. The attempts to drag his name into the stories that are dominating headlines across Europe have been sordid but so far haven't managed to achieve their aim of fatal damage. In one instance his assistance in sending for therapy a priest - who had been removed from active duty in another diocese - was undermined when the vicar-general of Munich, without informing Archbishop Ratzinger, later assigned the man to parish work and thus to opportunities to commit vile offences against other children. And that's all. His record at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was one of efficiency and dedication in tackling these cases - would that others in episcopal authority had done as much.

We would do well to emulate the Pope's example and hold steady. But we also need to pray - and to tell the truth when the media roaring allows us to do so, which will be the case over the next weeks and months...


Alistair Scott said...

Dear Aunty Joanna,

I'm intrigued by the way you describe what's currently happening with regard to the revelations of widespread child sexual abuse by Catholic priests as a 'media storm'. You make it sounds as though, somehow, it is the media that are creating all the fuss. And the Pope should 'stand firm'.

Have you read the Ryan Report?

It is available online at:

Please do so ... at least a bit of it. It makes blood-chilling reading. And please don't forget this happened to disadvantaged children who have had little or no redress from His Holiness.

Anonymous said...

As a former evangelical it was common to hear ignorant and sometimes angry people make all sorts of remarks about the Catholic Church. In the early 20th Century Catholics in America were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan; the beat goes on and on and on. Now, as a Catholic convert I am attacked spiritually because I have come into the fulness of the faith. So, as nasty as the media attacks are, it is another assault employed by an unseen enemy that places obstacles as often as possible on the path of Christian unity. I can't fathom the number of attacks our Holy Father has endured, but I see him as an example of fortitude, humility and incredible charity; me, I struggle with remaining charitable when I hear or read such attacks.

Jim said...

I have just discovered your blog and I find it sickening.

I was abused as child in a Catholic school. Not sexually, but physically. As a child of primary school age I was terrorised by some of the nuns who taught me. It didn't take much to bring down physical and violent verbal abuse from them. They mocked my clothes (my parents were not rich) and told me I was useless. As a result I hated and feared school and it was a long, long time before I realised the importance and value of education.

The evil is not in the fact that there are abusers in the Catholic Church. That can happen anywhere.

The evil is in the fact that those in power covered up what was going on, failed to imform the police, simply shifted the wrongdoers around so they could continue their dreadful ways. They ignored the plight of helpless children. And that is also evil.

How well I know the feeling of impotence and despair when I told of what was happening to me and no one listened.

How much worse must it have been for those poor children in Irish institutions. My heart goes out to them.

And all you can write about is that the poor Pope can't enjoy his Saint's day because of those nasty newspapers.

Shame on you.

Julie said...

Jim, I sympathize with you. Many unsuitable people were in the religious orders and also secular positions of power and children suffered (myself included). However, you miss the point. The media is speading falsehoods about the Pope. Surely you agree that is not appropriate. It is vastly important that the TRUTH come out in these matters and not be muddied by agendas and witch hunts.

Jim said...

I don't believe that I am missing the point Julie.

The point is not that some of the nuns who taught me were bitter, twisted and cruel. People like that can be found anywhere, in and out of the church.

The point was that those who were in authority actively covered up what was going on. And that is as evil as the abuse itself.

My sufferings were insignificant compared to the abuse perpetrated on other children in the Catholic educational system. But when those poor children tried to complain - as some of them did - they were ignored, threatened or bought off. I know what it feels like. I tried to tell people what was happening to me and was ignored. The culture of deference and secrecy is horribly deeply embedded in the Catholic Church.

Now it is breaking down. There is increasing documentary evidence that the Pope, when he was in a position to do something about this abuse, was a part of the terrible cover-up. There is no escaping the truth.

I guess Aunty Joanna has always had 'nice' things happen to her in the church. I have scanned her blog and I can find nowhere where she springs to the defence of the thousands upon thousands of poor children who suffered with the same fervour she springs to the defence of the Dear Holy Father. Maybe she can put me to rights on this.

It seems to me that she wears such rosy-tinted spectacles she can't see a thing.

My one blessing (if you can call it that) is those some of those nuns who taught me showed me a face of the Catholic Church which is now being revealed world-wide. Ultimately that glimpse freed me.