Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Catholics mull removal of Pope over Church Sex Scandal

The once unthinkable idea is fast gaining currency: irked catholics are asking how the Pope may be removed. And those are the deep faithfuls, for less committed catholics are leaving the Church in droves particularly in Europe over an avalanche of sickening reports that not only were priests (over the course of decades) molesting young boys and girls entrusted into their care, the Church authorities having full knowledge of these events did virtually nothing to stop it. This is totally different from the well-reported abuses on Nuns and sisters by their superiors as is extensively reported in the Chicks publications or some home videos in Nigeria.

In the latest case breaking out - in Ireland, the CNN reports that country’s top Catholic cardinal as acknowledging that the church’s response to the abuse had been "hopelessly inadequate." Currently, numerous reports of catholic-based sex abuse are increasing across Europe, including in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. New abuse allegations have surfaced in Brazil, home of the world's largest Catholic population, and indeed, according to the CNN, a recent TV report in that country included a video purportedly showing a priest having sex with a 19-year-old altar boy! According to CNN’s Vatican analyst who is also a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter: "Now we have obvious confirmation that this is a global crisis. Anywhere there is a substantial Catholic population there is the potential for this type of scandal."

But the Pope’s pious and strongly-worded letter to Irish Bishops, which he had hoped would “help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal” in Ireland is being considered as pure hypocrisy. This is in light of fresh revelations (March 26) that even when the Pope himself was an archbishop in Munich, Germany, he condoned similar actions and turned blind eyes to at least one priest who repeatedly molested children under his care – despite strong recommendations which he (Pope Benedict then an archbishop) refused to act upon.

Calling the issue “the biggest church credibility crisis in centuries, if not in the entire history of the church”, the National Catholic Reporter wrote: “it becomes even more difficult to reconcile the strong language of the pope in his letter to Irish bishops and his own conduct while head of a major see…..No longer can the Vatican simply issue papal messages--subject to nearly infinite interpretations and highly nuanced constructions--that are passively "received" by the faithful. No longer can secondary Vatican officials, those who serve the pope, issue statements and expect them to be accepted at face value.” Unprecedented strong words coming from the Church’s own rank!

However, it would seem the Pope is in no immediate danger of being removed. Not only is there no provision for that in the church’s law, far more people seem willing to leave the church themselves rather than require the pope to leave. A case of can’t be more catholic than the pope?

The CNN reports that apart from erosion of membership, the crisis is threatening “to change secular Europe's posture toward the church from shrugging toleration to outright hostility.” However, church experts predict that all these storms are not likely to generate much distress for the church in Africa – where the pope is still considered just a few steps away from being a deity. The CNN report noted that “Nigeria is now home to the world's largest Catholic seminary, while Europe and the United States now depend on wider Africa to supply their priests.”

For a detailed coverage of the sexual abuse stories in the catholic church, check the Boston Globe at

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