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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hans Küng enters the fray

Oh. My. God.The man who got Ratzinger his job at Tübingen and later became his colleague and (strangely beloved) nemesis now speaks in an essay in the National Catholic Register. It isn't pretty. Küng is as brilliant as Ratzinger, with the added advantage of being more socially aware, since he isn't a black box theologian. But brevity has never been one of his strengths. So read the whole thing, since he's a terrific writer, whether or not you share in his conclusions. I'll just quote a bit from his fourth question. Which, of course, has to have four subquestions.

Is it not time for Pope Benedict XVI himself to acknowledge his share of responsibility, instead of whining about a campaign against his person? No other person in the Church has had to deal with so many cases of abuse crossing his desk. Here some reminders:
• In his eight years as a professor of theology in Regensburg, in close contact with his brother Georg, the capellmeister of the Regensburger Domspatzen, Ratzinger can hardly have been ignorant about what went on in the choir and its boarding--school. This was much more than an occasional slap in the face, there are charges of serious physical violence and even sexual abuse.

• In his five years as Archbishop of Munich, repeated cases of sexual abuse at least by one priest transferred to his Archdiocese have come to light. His loyal Vicar General, my classmate Gerhard Gruber, has taken full responsibility for the handling of this case, but that is hardly an excuse for the Archbishop, who is ultimately responsible for the administration of his diocese.

• In his 24 years as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, from around the world, all cases of grave sexual offences by clerics had to be reported, under strictest secrecy ("secretum pontificum"), to his curial office, which was exclusively responsible for dealing with them. Ratzinger himself, in a letter on "grave sexual crimes" addressed to all the bishops under the date of 18 May, 2001, warned the bishops, under threat of ecclesiastical punishment, to observe "papal secrecy" in such cases.

• In his five years as Pope, Benedict XVI has done nothing to change this practice with all its fateful consequences.
Honesty demands that Joseph Ratzinger himself, the man who for decades has been principally responsible for the worldwide cover-up, at last pronounce his own "mea culpa". 

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