Sunday, December 5, 2010

Letter Shows that Pope Benedict Tried to Remove Abusers as Early as 1988

I know there are some people out there who think that Pope Benedict XVI is part of the reason for the slow reaction and action taken during the priest sex abuse scandals but those people are wrong or mistaken in their conclusion.  A letter has surfaced which is further evidence that Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, did pretty much everything he could to speed up the process of removing the priests who committed abuse.  Before Cardinal Ratzinger was Pope, he sought as early as 1988 to find quicker ways to permanently remove those priests who raped and molested children but was snubbed.  He wanted to remove pedophile priests but was stonewalled by Canon Law (Church Law). 

From WTOP: "The documentation was included in an article in L'Osservatore Romano explaining an upcoming revision of church law, which was last updated in 1983."  The entire correspondence can be read here.

"The Feb. 19, 1988 letter shows he sought changes far earlier given that his office was already hearing from bishops who were having troubledealing with pedophiles."

"Ratzinger at the time was following laws and rules introduced by his predecessor Pope John Paul II, which largely left punishing such priests in the hands of local bishops, who often decided against conducting church trials because they found them too cumbersome."

"John Paul had also made it tougher to leave the priesthood, hoping to stem the tide of thousands of priests who left in the 1970s to marry.A consequence of that policy was that, as the priest sex abuse scandal arose in the U.S., bishops were no longer able to sidestep the lengthy church trial necessary for so-called laicization."

"Ratzinger's request for faster procedures was rejected by Cardinal Jose Rosalio Castillo Lara, who headed the Vatican commission responsible for implementing the 1983 code."

"In a March 10, 1988 letter to Ratzinger, Castillo Lara said simplifying the procedures "would endanger the fundamental right of defense" of the priest while straying from the church's legal-based system, according to the letter reprinted in L'Osservatore."

The Rev. Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome's Pontifical Holy Cross University, said the 1983 code was problematic both in that it left it largely up to bishops to decide whether to intervene and at the same time discouraged them from taking tough action against abusers.

"What they want to do now is to make a penal law that is applied seriously, that will be more concrete and obligatory" for bishops, he said.

I will continue to keep those who were abused at the hands of priests in my thoughts and prayers.  May God's healing touch come upon them.

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