Mary Valle: A huge New York Times piece on the Ratzinger-led Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith’s role in the “sexual abuse scandal” (or, as I like to call it, Pontifigate) by Laurie Goodstein and David M. Halbfinger draws the trail of crumbs ever closer to the Vatican. Indeed, they say “it was Cardinal Ratzinger who might have taken decisive action in the 1990s to prevent the scandal from metastasizing in country after country, growing to such proportions that it now threatens to consume his own papacy.” Hmm. Cancer metaphors? Where have we heard this before? John Dean in the Oval Office, uttering the infamous “cancer on the Presidency” line. We all know how that ended.
Anyway, turns out the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) had had authority over sexual abuse cases since 1922. But, during the 1980s, when the sex abuse cases began to break, the over three dozen staffers had other things to look after: vetting sightings of the BVM*; dealing with divorcin’ Catholics who wanted to remarry, reinstating former priests who had changed their mind, and, most importantly, cracking down on liberation theologists, whose “empower the poor” philosophy was a leetle too close to Marxism for the Vatican’s liking, and of course, discipling a rogue American theologist who taught “that Catholics could dissent from church teachings about abortion, birth control, divorce and homosexuality.” That was important, ’cause Americans wouldn’t do any of those things anyway. Meanwhile, children got raped all over the world, and the reports thereof piled up and gathered dust.
*editor’s note: BVM of course is Blessed Virgin Mary