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Vatican's crusade for scapegoat
Sat, 10 Apr 2010 18:05:39 GMT
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By Zhila Dastmalchi

The latest round of allegations of sexual abuse is no longer a question of moral and financial damage to the Roman Catholic Church, but more an issue of what may shape out of the growing anger against the Catholic hierarchy.

Would there rise from amidst the ranks a cry to dethrone the Pope? Would the crisis see the end of priestly celibacy or secrecy laws?

The Church, while patiently planning its moves, continues to remain unconcerned with what has sent tidal waves of anti-Vatican rage in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Norway and France.

During the Easter Holiday, Pope Benedict XVI ignored a golden chance to apologize to the victims, and did not even try to win back disillusioned followers by finally addressing the issue.

But why the inflexible refusal to acknowledge the crisis, when he has apologized to Australian and US victims in the past? Could it be that this is the first time he has personally been dragged into the scandal?

In his German home state of Bavaria, he was mysteriously kept in the dark about the abuses that went on in his diocese.

Later, as the head of a Vatican office handling priestly misconduct before ascending to the papacy, he helped create and encourage a system of secrecy that invariably protects pedophile priest from prosecution.

Through his insistence on "therapy," priests either suspected of pedophilia or found guilty of it were embraced by a diocese in another country or town.

But now he is asking the faithful — the only group worth acknowledging in the unquestioning Catholic sense — to remember Jesus' teaching of turning the other cheek and trusting in he "who judges justly."

Now unkind critics would laugh at such mundane tactics, but this is a veiled portrayal of how the Church has decided to act on sexual abuse allegations; slow and steady wins the race.

Ignoring abuse complaints for the past three decades or making elaborate botches of secret investigations, the Church seems to have patiently waited for the statue of limitation on many of the cases to pass.

But that is not the only policy employed. On Friday, the Vatican sent a reminder, just so we would not forget that aside from religion, the Roman Catholic Church also plays politics.

Vatican cardinals are now saying that enemies of the Pope are behind the sex abuse row, in retaliation to his controversial policies, including his opposition to abortion.

The concept is simple yet ingenious; drawing on the same abstract "enemy" that has helped many politicians weather an unpleasant scandal.

Nonetheless, there have already been calls for the pontiff's resignation and the Pope's protégé and likely successor, Austria's Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, has daringly linked the sexual abuse crisis to celibacy — a practice popularized and required of the clergy from the Middle Ages.

As the world watches, the devout and the skeptical, nothing is more alarming than the persistence of the existing inertia in taking action against this and future scandals.
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