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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Meet Benedict's bishops

Today we meet Walter Mixa. He was heretofore best known for saying the Holocaust had to be looked at in context, since the number of abortions exceeded the number of dead Jews. Mixa is German.

Mixa was a longtime ally of Cardinal Ratzinger. When Ratzinger became Benedict XVI, he moved Mixa to Augsburg, Germany, where he installed him as the bishop in charge. Mixa, it will come as no surprise, was made a bishop by John Paul II.

When news of child sexual abuse reached Rome, both John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger saw it not as a crisis but as a political opportunity. By blaming pedophilia on the increasing social acceptance of homosexuality, they were able to strengthen John Paul II's hand in dealing with the only policy obsession he had, one that was greater even than the removal of Communism from his native Poland: sex.

The primary goals of his nearly 30 year papacy can be neatly summarized.

1) To deify heterosexual marriage. This had a number of benefits. It made the Church more sex-friendly, thus allowing it to compete more effectively against Protestantism and Islam. The condemnation of homosexuality was necessary in order to maintain a competitive playing field with these religions, which are even more patriarchal and dogmatic in sexual matters.

In the end, however, it was simply a policy preference of both John Paul II and Ratzinger. And this obsession with homosexuality and abortion slowly became an obsession of the papacy. Future researchers may thus come to find a greater percentage of repressed homosexuals coming to the priesthood under John Paul than under the previous three popes combined.  This is particularly true given that so many new priest were formed by more conservative organizations that are overly interested in sexuality, such as John Paul II's beloved Legionaries of Christ, whose founder Marcial Maciel has already been accused of repeated child rape, and Opus Dei.

2) A corollary of the obsession with sexuality was an obsession with abortion, never the focus of any papacy until John Paul II.

3) To radically de-emphasize the Church's "social teaching," and to purge its proponents. Liberation theology would be squelched throughout Latin America. John Paul II had to remain loyal to previous popes' teachings on social policy. So whenever it was required, he would say a few words about the poor or against war. But he never put the political power of the Church behind it.

Politicians throughout the democratic world came to understand that John Paul's appointed bishops would criticize them only if they opposed him in matters of human sexuality. Therefore, they understood that loyalty to his primary goal would permit them to engage in war, genocide and the wholesale transfer of government power to the hands of the wealthy.

The most consequential such case in terms of world affairs was, of course, George W. Bush. Although John Paul II did declare his absolute opposition to the war in Iraq, Bush understood perfectly well that what really mattered was his willingness to use the power of the U.S. government to back the Pope's sexual teaching.

Bush would be proved correct, for in 2004, well after the invasion of Iraq that John Paul II claimed to oppose, the president succeeded in having the Pope command Cardinal Ratzinger to write a letter to American bishops demanding the denial of communion to pro-choice politicians. These types of not-so-subtle messages to American Catholics probably determined not only the 2004 election but the 2000 election as well.

4) To free his native Poland of communism and to turn it into the primary laboratory for his sexual policies. No matter how much John Paul's politically interested hagiographers insist that his papal rallies changed Poland forever, there is simply no question that the Soviets could have crushed dissent in Poland. Gorbachev was the single greatest cause of the peaceful liberation not just of Poland but of Europe in its entirety.

5) To aggressively evangelize in the Third World, where lower education levels guaranteed little opposition to his radical agenda. As their proportion in the Church increased, the Pope could legitimately say that his transformation of the Church now represented the majority of Catholics.

Walter Mixa of Augsburg was a loyal soldier in the sexually obsessed battles of John Paul II and his latest benefactor, fellow countryman Benedict XVI. So we shouldn't be surprised that as soon as the allegations of widespread sexual abuse appeared in Germany, the Holocaust-rationalizing bishop would tell Der Spiegel that the sexual revolution, and not the toxic internal policy of the Church, was the cause. This is the standard Church line, one that has been repeated endlessly by everyone from Vatican spokesmen to Russ Douthat of the New York Times.

Mixa, however, was no child of the 1960's. Born in April, 1941, his spiritual formation occurred during the conservative glory days of Pius XII, conservative and true friend of the Vaterland. One could accuse him of being a fascist sympathizer, one would be expected to think, but surely not a pervert.

Today, the other shoe dropped. This report appears in the Times of London, a Rupert Murdoch publication:
One of the Pope's closest conservative allies in Germany, Bishop Walter Mixa, has been accused of brutally beating and flogging children in his care.

The Bishop of Augsburg, 68, denies the claims by five former pupils at a Catholic-run orphanage and care facility. But they will be a source of deep embarrassment and concern in the Vatican: Bishop Mixa is part of a conservative axis in Pope Benedict XVI's native Bavaria that has always backed the pontiff in his most controversial decisions, from criticising the violence of Islam in Regensburg cathedral, to rehabilitating the Holocaust-sceptic Bishop Richard Williamson.

Although there are no accusations of sexual abuse at the home – where the bishop was a visiting priest in the 1970s and 1980s – it is clear that Mr Mixa is in trouble.

"Once he took a wooden cooking spoon and beat me until it broke," sais Markus Tagwerk, now 41, who was in the Catholic home between 1972 and 1982.

"Then he used his hand. He would shout, 'Take this punishment, child of God!' and 'I'll soon drive Satan out of you!'". The beatings were regular and always brutal.

"At least fifty times Mr Mixa pulled down my trousers and beat me on the bottom with a stick, five or six whacks each time," Mr Tagwerk added.

The name Markus Tagwerk is a pseudonym, because the man making the allegations is a teacher.

But others have decided to give their real names and all five accusers have officially notarised their statements.

"It was a terrible blow for me when I saw that Pope Benedict had promoted Mixa to be the Bishop of Augsburg," Hildegard Sedlmair, 48, said.

"He used to rip me out of bed and beat me on the upper arm with a clenched fist."

She and another former pupil, Monika Bernhard, 47, allege that the then priest, backed up by nuns, introduced a "climate of fear".

The blows were always administered in places where the bruising could be hidden – high up on the arm or on the bottom.

One of the victims, a man who is now 44, reports being flogged with a carpet beater, 35 strokes each time.

Angelika Knopf, the pseudonym of a sales assistant in Augsburg, said she was struck as a young teenager ten times with the future bishop's balled fist. "After every punch I fell on to the bed. Mr Mixa demanded that I stand up immediately and would throw another punch," she said.
This is the legacy of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. What the Church's own scribes have to say about their papacies doesn't even matter anymore. Historians will have more than enough evidence to render their verdict.

1 comment :

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