Yes, he's the top-god man (it's a man's world in there and no mistake!).
I am wondering why so few postings on the web point out that the Pope is a staunch believer in hellfire and eternal damnation. Doesn't that damn him as an unintelligent obscurantist? I have suggested that, since he has visited Britain (still mainly a home of common sense) he should get his imaginary God's permission for a papal tour of (imaginary) hell to give benediction to the imaginary burning souls... he could stay there and minister to them and keep his nose out of the world which does not concern him...
I have documented the facts about the Pope's beliefs and his authoritarian exclusivity against all who are not Catholics from the fold of the righteous etc. You may like to take a look at this on my latest blog: Will Pope Benedict go to hell?.
"He must have forgotten all those priestly reports that crossed his desk when he was "Prefect of The Congregation of The Doctrine of The Faith" for nearly 20 years, the timespan of which corresponds with the vast majority of sexual abuse cases that are just coming to light now."
That's certainly more accurate but it doesn't support the point you are trying to make. In his role as prefect of the CDF he had no authority over how to handle sexual abuse cases whatsoever; in fact he was not informed of these matters: it was something that was handled at the level of the (often incompetent) bishops. Ratzinger's only involvement with these problem priests (like Kiesle or Hullerman) were if they (i) had already been reported to the authorities and (ii) had to be defrocked (relieved from priestly vows) for one reason or another.
But he had no authority over sexual abuse cases until 2001, the year Ratzinger's efforts to change that finally succeeded (despite Pope John Paul's opposition) and these abuse cases could no longer be downplayed or ignored by incompetent bishops.
So why does Ratzinger get such a bad rap on this subject, exactly? As far as I can tell he's the only one who has tried to do something about preventing the cover-up of these abuse cases.
Probably because he is dealing with it so callously. Referring to irish abuse scandal, referred to it as "gossip". Standing firmly behind the idea that the church can deal with these criminal acts themselves, and to involve the actual police would be (at least here in america) a breach of freedom of religion. Gleefully(this is conjecture) using diplomatic immunity as head of state to prevent any allegations from dirtying his nice red shoes. The fact that during his time as Prefect, the proceedings were increasingly secretive, made more difficult to make a claim, foot dragging on actually dealing with the problem, and other general tom foolery.
He is no longer preventing any sort of coverup because of all these cases out in the news, with who knows how many more hidden away. You cannot cover up what is revealed. You can only distort. If he really and honestly wanted to make headway with this issue, then he can. Really easily too.
"If someone acuses you of raping them, no counciling. Criminal trial. Jury. Witnesses. Evidence." - shit the pope has never said
"The fact that during his time as Prefect, the proceedings were increasingly secretive, made more difficult to make a claim, foot dragging on actually dealing with the problem, and other general tom foolery."
You've got that wrong again: for the largest part of his time as prefect he had no authority on these matters at all, and he only got it in 2001 after much lobbying. Once he finally got that authority, what was one of the first things he did? That's right: he instituted a policy which ordered bishops and priests to always get the authorities involved (see the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela).
So what are you expecting him to make headway on? He has done exactly that. I'll grant you that he sucks at PR big time though: it's probably for that reason that many people still think that priests are not required by Vatican law to inform the authorities. Thanks to Ratzinger, they now are.
Well done sir. You have bested me in showing that the pope is not the only guilty party in this whole affair. He's just the biggest cog in the machine.
Alright, final clarification. The pope is not allowed to be shocked. He is not allowed to be the disingenuous little old man he plays out to be. The reason we rail on the pope is because HE KNEW. Even if he didn't have the power, even if he had to lobby until the end of his prefecture to look into these crimes, HE STILL KNEW. And to know, but not speak up, even in an unofficial venue, even if it means losing out on all the pretty dress-up and cracker time...that is a failing and a weakness that cannot be abided. He knew, and did nothing but complain. I'm complaining now, but since I'm not a high ranking official in the catholic church, no one cares. Think of the storm that would have occured. No "saving face", no "protecting the church's reputation", none of that. All cards on the table. That would have been the avenue. Standing up for what's right, and not what's expected. You know, do the hero thing. The martyr thing (catholics are into that, right?) The fact that he waited until NOW to say something. There's my reason for spitting hate. The utter disregard for these children. There's more hate. The setting up of a neat new system to deal with a problem that shouldn't even be there in the first place. Words instead of actions. Because, as noted by the scandal in progress, just because you say something, or write it down, or tell people they have to follow it...well, doesn't mean they will.
Well, first of all, kudos to you for actually adapting your position in the face of counter-argument. It shows character to be able to do that. I've debated this subject too many times already and it's refreshing to see something else than stubborn insistence.
I sort of see your point in saying that he didn't raise public outrage over this. Then again, Ratzinger didn't know anything more about bishops shuffling kids around than anybody else. Remember, the Bishops that were doing this were doing so secretly; the only cases Ratzinger in the CDF got to see were the ones that had already been reported to the authorities.
What he actually did was engage the problem at the root: fight to take the authority for these cases away from the Bishops and into the CDF, where he could finally set Norms for all bishops worldwide to deal with these matters decently.
So again, why are you saying that he knew but didn't do anything? Yes, he knew that the bishops could engage in cover-ups. And so he stopped that. The idea that he should have simply started waving his hands in the air is actually rather silly. It makes perfect sense that he tried solving this from within the organisation itself: that's what had to happen anyway.
It all comes down to words. To me, it is not enough. Not enough to come up with programs and processes to make it easier for this type of abuse to come to light. What would have been enough for me is a whistleblower type action. Actually putting himself on the line for what is right. He was a high up in the church! He could have gone to the media (which is never that great an idea, but whatever gets the word out). He could have gone to any number of outlets to raise the flag then. When he started getting all his nice reforms back on 01, he could have raged then. When any hint of malaction on the part of his church came about, he could have raised his voice. Then, instead of now.
Now what we're watching is damage control. And that is making the original problem worse. It does lead to people like me knee-jerking at the head of the problem. But you are correct, we are dealing with a hydra. One head doesn't control the other. But at the same time...these people are supposed to be moral paragons. And not only are they rapists, they are also enablers by keeping silent.
Okay, that's a fine criticism. Personally I can sort of understand why someone who has been in the Church for decades doesn't simply break all ties and start waving his hands in the air about what an evil organisation it is, but instead immediately goes to work on solving these matters from the inside out. And he did so quite quickly; whether it could have gone faster if he first raised havoc about it I don't know but I'm guessing it wouldn't have made too much of a difference.
The really surreal thing about the outrage to Ratzinger to me is that while, yes, Ratzinger kept quiet in terms of public outcry, he was quietly making a massive difference and making sure this couldn't happen again. And the attempts to keep pinning the cover-ups on Ratzinger completely exculpates the actual creeps and criminals: the Bishops who did know the full extent of the problem and actively participated. These people have been relatively safe from the witch-hunt because all the attention went to the one man who was able to stop them from continuining these practices. That seems totally irrational to me.