If you are concerned/interested in Vatican politics, & the unresolved sexual violence, that is transgenerational in the Church, these excerpts may interest you.

Queer Atheist .

Headline: Pope Francis forced me out, says Benedict’s papal aide

The private secretary of Benedict XVI has revealed that he was in effect sacked as head of the papal household amid tensions between the former pope and his successor.

Supporters of Francis fear the revelation, in a book due to be published on Thursday, could be the opening salvo from his conservative opponents following the Pope Emeritus’s death.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who was appointed in 2012 before Benedict resigned, said he clashed with Francis over a book to which the former pope contributed and which appeared to pre-judge the teaching on priestly celibacy of his successor. “You remain prefect, but from tomorrow don’t come to work,” Gänswein quotes Francis as telling him.

According to Gänswein, Benedict made an ironic comment on the development, telling his private secretary: “It seems Pope Francis doesn’t trust me any more and wants you to act as my custodian.

“That’s right . . . but am I a custodian or a prison guard?” the archbishop writes that he replied to Benedict.

The book, Nothing but the truth: My life beside Benedict XVI, is part of a media blitz by the man who worked as secretary and carer for Benedict for almost 20 years.

It also includes an interview with the German Catholic weekly Tagespost, published on the day of Benedict’s death. In it Gänswein, 66, said Francis’s restrictions on the Latin mass had “broken the heart” of his predecessor. He also gave a TV interview on the circumstances surrounding Benedict’s 2013 resignation, which was broadcast on Thursday to coincide with his funeral.



Headline: ‘Benedict XVI did not understand the place of excessive power in the sexual abuse crisis’

Sub-headline: Benedict XVI was one of the first architects of the Vatican response to the problem of sexual violence in the Church, but he never realized the systemic character of those dysfunctions, according to an analysis by theologian Marie-Jo Thiel

The death of Benedict XVI marks the beginning of the discussion on his legacy for the Church and the world. A respected intellectual, he left many writings, strong decisions – including the eminently modern decision to renounce the papacy – as well as several position statements, some of which may have been ambiguous. Those adopted in the area of the sexual violence crisis marked a point of no return.

In his interviews with Peter Seewald (Benedict XVI, une vie, Benedict XVI, a Life), Benedict XVI himself recalled the Vatican guidelines that he helped establish, first as prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith (between 1981 and 2005), and then as Pope. It must be said that the position of prefect placed him at the forefront in terms of awareness of the systemic sexual violence crisis. However, he never used the adjective “systemic,” and he probably never understood – like most of the prelates of the Curia – the implications of such a recognition.

International affairs were piling up on his desk at the time, and John Paul II began to mention pedophilia in his “Letter to the Bishops of the United States” and then in his “Message to the Irish Bishops.” But the Pope considered, no doubt like the prefect, that there existed a “crisis of deeply rooted sexual morality, but also of human relationships.” The Pope emeritus would clearly make this point in a letter published in April 2019 in which he blamed pedophilia on the sexual revolution of May ’68 and the ensuing evolution of post-conciliar theology, without addressing structural issues.

Did the report published by a Bavarian law firm in January 2022 pointing out the failings of Joseph Ratzinger as Archbishop of Munich-Freising (1977-1982) make him doubt his way of managing this crisis? The future pope was said to have made – like all the other archbishops of that diocese – “bad decisions” in four cases of clerical sexual abusers. Three weeks later, on February 8, he published a letter in a very personal style in which he asked for forgiveness for the errors committed during his pontificate.



Headline: ‘Sexual violence’ or ‘abuse?’ The Church’s debate over words

Sub-headline: The growing number of scandals has led to a semantic controversy over how best to refer to them.

Many French Catholics imagined that the issue of sexual violence would be resolved after the report of the independent commission on sexual abuse in the Church (CIASE) in 2021, but nothing seems to have been resolved.

On the contrary, it is as if the dams have burst in France, but also elsewhere, as new scandals emerge every week. In Tarbes, an abbot was banned from practicing on Monday, December 19, by Pope Francis and dismissed from the clerical state, and the courts have opened an investigation for rape. In French Guiana, the bishop emeritus of Cayenne, Emmanuel Lafont, is, according to La Croix, banned from all pastoral activity by the Vatican for alleged acts of “moral harassment” and “aggravated breach of trust.” In Slovenia, a Jesuit painter revered by the Catholic community, Marko Rupnik, was accused of “sexual violence” against several women in the context of confession. In November, the French community learned that Cardinal Michel Sentier behaved “reprehensibly” towards a young woman, who was a minor at the time.

“Words matter,” said Louis, a sexagenarian and victim of a pedophile priest who wished to remain anonymous. “We must name. The Church must name and speak out, so that people know exactly what happened to us, and not be content to cast a veil of secrecy,” he said. On Twitter, Marie-Hélène Lafarge, a prominent figure of the Catholic community, expressed her anger publicly in November at what she considered to be a misuse of words. “When we use these kinds of terms or expressions, we deny the victim, we only talk about the aggressor whose point of view is privileged,” she said.



FEB. 8, 2022

Headline: Retired pope asks forgiveness over handling of abuse cases but denies wrongdoing

Retired Pope Benedict XVI asked forgiveness Tuesday for any “grievous faults” in his handling of clergy sex-abuse cases but denied any personal or specific wrongdoing after an independent report criticized his actions in four cases while he was archbishop of Munich, Germany.

Benedict’s lack of a personal apology or admission of guilt immediately riled sex abuse survivors, who said his response reflected the Catholic hierarchy’s “permanent” refusal to accept responsibility for the rape and sodomy of children by priests.

Benedict, 94, was responding to a Jan. 20 report by a German law firm that had been commissioned by Germany’s Catholic Church to look into how cases of sexual abuse were handled in the Munich archdiocese between 1945 and 2019. Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was in charge of the archdiocese from 1977 to 1982.

The report faulted Benedict’s handling of four cases during his time as archbishop, accusing him of misconduct for having failed to restrict the ministry of the priests in the cases even after they had been convicted criminally. The report also faulted his predecessors and successors, estimating that there had been at least 497 abuse victims over the decades and at least 235 suspected perpetrators.

The Vatican on Tuesday released a letter that Benedict wrote in response to the allegations, alongside a more technical reply from his lawyers, who had provided an initial 82-page response to the law firm about his nearly five-year tenure in Munich.

The conclusion of Benedict’s lawyers was resolute: “As an archbishop, Cardinal Ratzinger was not involved in any cover-up of acts of abuse,” they wrote. They criticized the report’s authors for misinterpreting their submission, and asserted that they provided no evidence that Benedict was aware of the criminal history of any of the four priests in question.

Benedict’s response was far more nuanced and spiritual, though he went on at length to thank his legal team before addressing the allegations or the victims of abuse.

“I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church,” Benedict said. “All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate.”

In the letter, Benedict issued what he called a “confession,” though he didn’t confess to any specific fault. He recalled that daily Mass begins with believers confessing their sins and asking forgiveness for their faults and even their “grievous faults.” Benedict noted that, in his meetings with abuse victims while he was pope, “I have seen at first hand the effects of a most grievous fault.

“And I have come to understand that we ourselves are drawn into this grievous fault whenever we neglect it or fail to confront it with the necessary decisiveness and responsibility, as too often happened and continues to happen,” he wrote. “As in those meetings, once again I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my profound shame, my deep sorrow and my heartfelt request for forgiveness.”

His response drew swift criticism from Eckiger Tisch, a group representing German clergy abuse survivors, which said it fit into the church’s “permanent relativizing on matters of abuse — wrongdoing and mistakes took place, but no one takes concrete responsibility.”

Benedict “can’t bring himself simply to state that he is sorry not to have done more to protect the children entrusted to his church,” the group said.

The retired pope’s response will probably complicate efforts by German bishops to try to reestablish credibility with the faithful, whose demands for accountability have only increased after decades of abuse and cover-up.

The leader of the German bishops conference, Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing, previously said that Benedict needed to respond to the report by distancing himself from his lawyers and advisors. “He must talk, and he must override his advisors and essentially say the simple sentence: ’I incurred guilt, I made mistakes and I apologize to those affected,’” Baetzing said.

But in a tweet Tuesday, Baetzing noted only that Benedict had responded.

”I am grateful to him for that and he deserves respect for it,” Baetzing wrote. The tweet didn’t address the substance of Benedict’s response.

The law firm’s report identified four cases in which Ratzinger was accused of misconduct in failing to act against abusers.

Two cases involved priests whose offenses occurred while Ratzinger was archbishop and who were punished by the German legal system but were kept in pastoral roles without any limits on their ministry. A third case involved a cleric who was convicted by a court outside Germany but was put into service in Munich. The fourth case involved a convicted pedophile priest who was allowed to transfer to Munich in 1980 and was later put into ministry. In 1986, that priest received a suspended sentence for molesting a boy.


Queer Atheist

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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