A WitchHunt: Child Abuse and The Pope.
The recent allegations of child abuse against clergy within the Roman Catholic Church has alarmed many individuals the world over. Many persons view the abuse as a betrayal, of the worst kind, by men and women who were entrusted with the innocence of children and no doubt; some of these individuals will never quite be the same having endured years of abuse. Many persons are now seeking someone to blame for not having protected them from the horrors which they endured and understandably so. However, I view with disgust the current campaign which is being waged against Pope Benedict XVI. I want it understood that I in no way support or endorse the heinous crimes perpetuated against these children, but there comes a point where we must not allow the sensationalization of the media and the weight of public opinion to cloud our rationale minds. Lawyers in the United States and Europe are now initiating legal proceedings against the Vatican, naming the Pontiff as defendant for ‘negligence and crimes against humanity’; this is according to the Catholic News Service of America. Some of these lawyers, in the U.K., are now seeking to ascertain whether the Pope can be arrested when he visits the United Kingdom this September, while the Vatican is pleading that the Pope is diplomatically immune from any such attempt at prosecution by virtue of his role as Head of State of Vatican City.
With my limited knowledge of international jurisdiction and sovereign immunity, I wish to question the practicality of hauling the 82 year old Benedict before courts to stand trial for crimes he simply did not commit. This is rubbish and these lawyers should be ashamed of themselves. While it would please the media hype and the gossip to have the Pope sentenced to prison, let us remember that the Church is not a multi national corporation, nor does it operate like any such organization. The Pope has spiritual primacy over the Church, I concede that. However, every Bishop is individually responsible for the Diocese entrusted to him. Maybe it is more practical to subpoena Bishops who have covered up the allegations of abuse, let them answer for their actions, but let us not attack the Pope simply because he heads the church.
Is it that we are now at a point where we are so bent on revenge that we cannot see the attempts of Pope Benedict to make amends? What will prosecuting the Pontiff accomplish? He has come out publicly, in his pastoral letter to The Church of Ireland, condemning the acts of abuse and urging church leaders to refraining from covering up the allegations. He has asked the perpetrators to submit themselves to the law and allow justice to take its course. What more can he do? What more would you have him do? This is a church of some one billion people, he is one man. Let us be rationale and fair. There are many who will be quick to cite the allegation that while a cardinal, he allowed a priest guilty of abuse to continue to serve, but I ask you, is he not human? Is he not fallible? Is he not prone to mistakes, just like the rest of us?
Then there are the calls for his resignation. At a point where the church is deeply wounded and divided and many persons are perhaps now questioning their faith; is it practical for the Pope to resign? What message would that send to Catholics across the world? Now, more than ever, the church needs strong and sustained leadership. Yes, mistakes were made. Yes, crimes were covered. We all want those guilty of these crimes to be brought to justice. Still, we do not support a witch hunt. I urge all my Catholic friends, do not be shaken or moved by the attempts to demonize our Holy Father and our church, remain steadfast in your faith. Finally, my heart goes out to all those who have suffered at the hands of priests and nuns and it is my sincere hope that somehow you will find comfort and peace. We must find a rationale and practical solution to the problem we face. In short, leave the Pope alone.