In Defense of the Pope


Having criticized particular Catholic cardinals for blaming everything–including the Church’s sex scandal–on “the Jews”, let me now come to the defense of the Pope and of the Church itself on this issue.  To begin with, this is an extraordinarily complex problem, because the Church has at least five important traditions that make it difficult to move quickly and aggressively in response to complaints of abuse.

The first tradition involves confidentiality, particularly not exclusively the confidentiality of the priest with regard to the penitent.  But there is also a wider spread tradition of confidentiality within the Church hierarchy itself.

Second, there is the tradition of forgiveness.  Those of us outside the Church often think, perhaps, that the Church goes too far in forgiving.  I was shocked when the previous Pope immediately forgave the man who tried to assassinate him.  But this episode and other demonstrate that the tradition of forgiveness is all too real.

Third, there is the tradition of the Church regarding itself as a state.  The Vatican is, after all, a nation state.  The Catholic Church is not big on the separation of church and state, as are various Protestant denominations.  The Catholic Church, like Orthodox Judaism, believes that matters affecting the faithful should generally be dealt within the church, without recourse to secular authorities.

Fourth, the Vatican prides itself on moving slowly and in seeing the time frame of life quite differently than the quick pace at which secular societies respond to the crisis of the day.

Fifth, the Catholic Church has long had a tradition of internal due process.  Cannon Law provides for scrupulous methods of proof.  The concept of the “devil’s advocate” derives from the Church’s effort to be certain that every “t” is crossed and every “I” is dotted, even when it comes to selecting saints.

None of these explanations completely justify the long inaction of the Church in coming to grips with a serious problem.  But they do help to explain how good people could have allowed bad things to happen for so long a period of time.  Nor is the Catholic Church the only institution that has faced problems of sexual abuse.  Every hierarchical body, especially but not exclusively religious ones, has faced similar problems, though perhaps on not so large a scale.

The problem of hierarchical sex abuse has only recently emerged from the shadows.  Singling out the Catholic Church, and for stereotyping all priests  is simply wrong.

Pope Benedict, both before he became Pope and since, has done a great deal to confront the issue.  He changed the policy that kept allegations of abuse within the authority of local bishops, and he acknowledged that the local option had encouraged shifting abusive priests from parish to parish, thereby hiding their sins from potential new victims.  He also met with abuse victims and recognized their victimization.  Nor has he tried, as other members of the Vatican hierarchy have, to publicly blame the problem on “the Jews”, “the media,” and others.

It is obvious that despite Pope Benedict’s good efforts, more must be done, and not only by the Catholic Church but by all institutions that have experienced hierarchical sexual exploitation.  They must create structures that assure prompt reporting, a zero tolerance policy and quick action, so long as these processes are consistent with due process and fairness, not only to alleged victims but to the accused as well.  It’s easy to forget, in the face of real victims with real complaints, that there have also been false accusations as well.  Processes must be put in place that distinguish true complaints from false ones.

Most important, this tragedy should not be used as an excuse to attack a large and revered institution that does much good throughout the world.  Blame must be placed with precision and praise should be given with precision as well.  The eleventh Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Stereotype, must never be forgotten.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/poptoy poptoy

    LuckyJon- If you are not a Catholic then Hush. As a Catholic I do know that the Church is doing everything it can to stop all of this. It will take time. And yes it should not have happened. GOD bless us all.

    • http://www.yuksel.org Edip Yuksel

      The sex-abuse problem is caused by a menmade rule, which is ironically missing from this useless article: celibacy rule. The rule contradicts the lives of many Biblical prophets and saints, and most importantly contradicts the divine law in human nature.

      So, by adopting celibacy (and many other ridiculous rules, which is another issue), the Catholic Church condemned itself to become what it is: a dirty closet. Dershowitz is an opportunist who is trying to find stupid excuses for a major tragedy and travesty to send a powerful institution with about a billion sheep the following message: "You may hire me to defend you."

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/poptoy poptoy

        No reply needed. You have to have accuracy to reply. There was none given.

      • Kevin in El Paso

        I suppose you have something intelligent to say about the fact that the vast majority of child sex abusers are married men, most of whom have no connection with the Catholic Church? Your local authorities and taxing entities all have a conflicting interest to insure that you are in the dark as to how many children are sexually abused in your public schools and headstart, and state-funded child care providers.Stop being stupid and wasting all your time hating the Catholic Church. You really need to worry about Islamist jihadists, who probably agree with you about cleircal celibacy…

    • christine

      poptoy: One does not need to be Catholic to comment on the crimes within the Catholic church. We are talking about the rape of children, and the protecting of the abusers by the church hierarchy. This is not a Catholic issue, it is a human issue. If you believe that the church is "doing everything it can to stop this," you are not educated on the facts. The church is STILL putting their image above doing the right thing. The church STILL blames everyone and everything else for their crimes. Please come out of your defensive posture and open your eyes. God has nothing to do with this.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/southwood southwood

      poptoy, shame on you, are you trying to censor people ? Your "church" would love to gag the media because the truth is coming out. . Your "church" is rotten with corruption because it corrupted the gospel. Its days are numbered. But there is hope for Romanists, i.e. leave the RC system, seek the truth in the bible and attend a TRUE Christian church.

      • Sid Lakan

        Southwood, from which planet are you? Does your planet even have a name? The Church founded by Jesus on Peter the Rock, whose cornerstone is Jesus Himself, will never be prevailed upon by any kind of attacks orchestrated by Satan. You counsel us to seek the truth in the Bible born from the Traditions of the new people of God (who composed the One, Holy , Roman Catholic Church), and yet you yourself do not know how to read it. So, read and read and read the Bible again and again and again, until you really become educated of the Truth and be convinced that the REAL, TRUE CHRISTIAN CHURCH is the the ONE, HOLY, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/southwood southwood

          Sid, I am from this planet as you know. Jesus did not found a corrupt, vicious persecuting church that has strayed so far from his teaching that it became a "synagogue of Satan". So the attacks by Satan surely prevailed." By their fruits shall ye know them". I have read the bible about 11 times or more end to end without additions like the Apocrypha and have used brilliant commentaries like Matthew Henry and Matthew Poole. All this in addition to listening to hundreds of sermons and expositions. It is you who needs to read it, friend, and to meditate on it until it is well understood. Your "church" is the great apostate church foretold by the apostle Paul whose sign would be "forbidding to marry". Aaah, Sid, you are blind, blind, blind. I will pray for you.

          • Rick

            Dear southwood, let us beleive in what we want, and we will pray for you too

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/southwood southwood

            I don't need the prayers of people who support a paedophile protecting pope.

  • persikas

    I usually agree with what's written here but please ..child sex abuse .
    Don't make any excuses

    • mikeb

      The question isn't whether the Catholic Church at large bears responsbility for child abuse cases, it is whether the pope himself, as Cardinal Ratzinger, bears personal responsibility for child abuse case mishandling. The question, further, and more accurately, is whether the New York Times is dredging through old stories and piecing together a fabricated story of Ratzinger being personally responsible for the mishandling of cases.

    • Dwight

      No one is making excuses. Your comment is like so many others: you are so looking for the bad that you miss the truth of the matter entirely. Where in this post does Dershowitz make one single excuse for sexual abuse of a child?

    • TotallyCatholic

      Oh please. Do you really see him EXCUSING the abuse of children? Hello?? Take another look. He is EXPLAINING the process in the Church's handling of the matter. Everyone else is blaming the Church with 2010 20/20 hindsight. Do you think the Church expected this problem when it occurred and had a system in place to deal with it back then? (At the time, popular psychology thought these degenerates could be rehabilitated, by the way). NOW the Church is in the process of cleaning house – led strongly in fact by Pope Benedict. The Church barely has any CURRENT cases, which CANNOT be said for society at large where child sex abuse is EXPLODING. Do you know that there were SIX TIMES the number of abuse cases in the decade of the 90's alone in America's public schools?! Where is that getting attention or resolution?? Seems we should put our efforts into combating this disgusting atrocity WHEREVER it is occurring right NOW, and stop persecuting a Church that has recognized its mistakes, and made every effort to prevent them in the future. 96% of our priests are now, and always have been GOOD HOLY MEN.

    • Alessandro

      NO ONE, including Mr. Dershowitz, is excusing child abuse. No one in their right mind would do that. But it would be nice to see the media exercise consistency in their approach to this vile behavior. Why doesn't the media probe the sex abuse cases in the public schools as tenaciously as they have those that occurred in the Church? If they were so concerned about the safety of children, they would certainly do so. Pope Benedict is doing all in his power to purify the Church. Instead of attacking him for mistakes made in the past, why not thank him? And then move on to exposing this crime in public schools and other secular institutions!

  • Lee Poteet

    St Paul in both Timothy and Titus requires married clergy and not 'celibates.' It is the essentially non-Catholic and non Christian tradition of an unmarried clergy, men who still have sexual desires but no real outlet for same that has caused this scandal and it has been going on for well over a thousand years. The pope himself is involved and except for the forgiveness of the Bush state department would be sitting in a Texas jail. Papists don't like to hear such things but then what have they done to end the problem. The Pope, the cardinals and the bishops should be arrested and tried for having created and continued the problem.

    And, yes, that might end the Roman church, but real Catholic Christianity would continue.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/poptoy poptoy

      The Roman Catholic Church has no end. It will never end. Celibacy is there for a reason. Check it out.

    • Kevin in El Paso

      More self-delusion. Paul was not married. How then could he require marraige? Wheer he specified that bishops must be husbands of one wife, he was enforcing Christ’s words with regard to monogamous marriage.
      I will invite you, as I did the other psychopath, to explain from your “priestly celibacy did it” fantasy perspective, exactly how it is that so many non-Catholic married men, so many practicing homosexuals, and so many others who don’t fit within your silly argument, have come to sexually abuse (some serially, as have some few priests) chidren and teens? You seem to hate Jesus’ own Church because of its moral teachings, but you then despise it for not enforcing them rigidly enough. Make up your mind…

    • TotallyCatholic

      Correction Lee: St. Paul specifically suggests marriage for those who are NOT ABLE to serve the Lord otherwise b/c of their passions, inclinations, calling. Serving the Lord through chaste celibacy is in St. Paul's opinion, the highest and best calling. Check out 1 Corinthians 7: 32-35. "The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs…." and 1 Cor 7: 8 "To the unmarried….it is well for them to remain single as I do." He (St. Paul) was a bishop, and there is strong evidence in the earliest days of the Church that those who became clergy and were married then practiced celibacy within their marriage. Avoid the temptation to take small pieces of the Bible out of context. Read the early Church Fathers, particularly St. Ingatius of Antioch, and be surprised how truly Catholic the Church has always been. Identical teachings today.

    • TotallyCatholic

      Celibacy is not the problem, but a beautiful gift and offering to God. A period of laxity in seminary selection criteria was the problem. A small percentage (4%) of men were ordained who never should have made it into the seminaries. Human error will be with us as long as we're human. On the whole, the Catholic Church has survived 2000+ years with matters of Doctrine completely intact. The protection of the Holy Spirit promised by Christ.

    • Mamma Lisa

      St. Paul would disagree with you, dear. He said it was higher and better to remain unmarried. The Church just took him at his word and asked for higher standards from her priests. Maybe you should actually read the scriptures. His letter to Timothy was talking about deacons…already married deacons.
      By the way, this has nothing to do with the scandals. In my protestant days, we had two adulterous ministers (one a serial adulterer who was moved from church to church to hide his crimes and hush it up) , two pedophiles in one congregation alone (one was a children's minister), and one of our protestant faith communities condoned the mass murder of children in the womb. Hmmm…that plank gets larger, doesn't it? Might want to consider removing it from your anti-Catholic eye before pointing it out in ours. I came home to Rome because of the teachings and the history of the faith. Sure, we have had our share of saints and sinners in the last 2000 years just like everyone else…in fact, we'll even take you, Mr. Poteet if you can bring yourself to admit that you are a sinner like the rest of us.

    • dan

      Pls read 1Cor7 in entirety, taking nothing out of context.

      Or try Jesus’ words in Matthew 19, verse 12: “. . . some because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept this.”

      And yes, even if the corruption reaches all the way to the temporal top of the Church, God will preserve her. The church is filled with sinnners, unfortuantely. But — and I make no excuse for the faults being discussed here — if the church were only for those who are sinless and not hypocrites, it would be empty.

      God bless.

    • filioque

      Paul did not require married clergy. In Timothy and Titus, he directed that clergy be "married but once." In other words, if a priest was widowed, he was not to remarry. In the Eastern tradition today, a married man can become a priest, but a priest may not marry.

    • Michael

      Hi Lee

      What about Paul's clear advocacy of celibacy for those who would do God's work in his letter to the Conrithians. And what about Jesus Himself saying that some are called to be "eunichs" for God's Kingdom. Check out SNAP Baptists and read about all the good reformation pastors who have abused kids. Christians have to be very careful in quoting Scripture to pommel those with whom they have doctrinal disagreements.

    • Joseph

      It is quite obvious that all the petitioning priests and bishops were unanimous in their request that this man had to be defrocked. Ratzinger's reply – and the inordinate amount of time it took for his office to finally answer – seems disturbing in hindsight, but the follow up letter by Father Mockel states: "It seems they might be encouraging us to send some additional information and recommendation to them in order to impel the process."

      Quite clearly, this man was never suited for the priesthood and should never have been ordained, per the statements of those who attested to this fact. His character pointed to a disaster in the making. He was driven by ego and adolescent behaviour, irresponsible, immature, disobedient – in short, he showed every indication that he was sexually maladjusted and his desire to work with children eventually set off an alarm in the minds of the priests working alongside him as ministers. He neglected his duty to minister to the sick, to counsel families – all his attention was focused on his work with youngsters. There is a legitimate need for youthful counselors, but this man was obviously not suited to the task. His victims were overwhelmingly young boys and adolescents, but one or two females were also victimized. His character profile corresponds to the profile of child molesters., but it is extremely difficult to ferret these people out due to the clandestine dark urges that impel their behaviour.

      It is hard to guess what the Vatican was thinking when they received these letters. It seems that he was kept out of commission after being charged and released by the authorities. I ask: WHY did the courts release this man? Yet, the fact is that this MAN was laicized! The Church is always slow to act on all petitions. In common with our secular courts, ecclesiastical courts must have detailed documentation submitted to them prior to defrocking a priest, and this is what the Vatican was requesting. Like any other court, all charges must be fully documented, and the Vatican was requesting all the pertinent documentation associated with this case.

      Note that the offender later – take note all you people who think that dissolution of the celibacy rule is the answer to such problems – he later MARRIED and fell right back in with his old behaviour patterns! His marriage meant nothing. It did not solve the problem. In fact, he was a bisexual, sex-driven individual who also molested young girls! By the way, both St. Paul and Jesus Himself counseled celibacy for those interested in pursuing a spiritual ministry.

      • Nancy

        Excellent!! Very thorough and well versed. Thank you.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/usnlt76 usnlt76

      Lee, the idea that men who have normal sexual desires without "real" outlet will somehow turn to sexual encounters with young boys is absurd. This does not explain the many, many cases of married men abusing children, often their own. Sexual predation of minors is both a display of power and an outlet for abnormal and disordered sexual desires. Not normal ones. When I was in the military I often went long periods of time barely seeing a woman, and I can tell you that it did not make other men or children attractive to me. There is absolutely no proof that men with normal sexual desires will turn to sex with children by some unstoppable force as an outlet.

      And your comment about arresting the Pope pretty much destroys your credibility. That's like arresting Obama for a crime that Jimmy Carter allegedly committed in office. Get real.

    • Larry M.

      Let us not forget who really "created" the problem. All of us are in a daily spiritual battle, Let us also not forget that this is "The year of the priest". Guess who us under attack more than most of us. Satan attacks the shepherds in order to get to the sheep. I can tell by your post that you like to attack the pope, cardinals, and bishops, but do you pray for them also?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bbarnat bbarnat

      St. Paul himself encouraged that, when possible, the single person should strive to remain single, for the sake of the serving the Lord without reservation. Celibacy might mean that one needs to master certain natural urges, but it does not cause deviant desires. The overwhelming majority of child sex abuse cases in the world are caused by "non-celibate" people, i.e., family, relatives, teachers, etc. Within the Church, the overwhelming majority of these sex abuse cases, (engaged in by an overwhelming minority of priests), are homosexual, post-pubescent sexual encounters- this is a fact. Getting married won't solve that problem. What's needed is better scrutiny of the candidates who feel called to enter a very sacred profession, one that's filled with a majority of selfless, God-serving men: the Priesthood.

    • Alessandro

      Your comment lacks both knowledge of the scriptures and common sense. First, in 1 Cor. 7, St. Paul clearly teaches the superiority of the celibate state to the married state: "I say to the unmarried, and to the widows it is good for them if they so continue, even as I." Even Jesus spoke admirably of celibacy "for the sake of the kingdom": "There are eunuchs who have made themselves such for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake. He who can take it, let him take it." (Matthew 19:12) So your assertion that an unmarried clergy comes from a non-Christian tradition is wrong. The scriptures themselves refute that.
      Second, the men who have abused children suffer from a disordered sexual drive, i.e., pediphilia, a sexual desire for children. Eliminating celibacy for priests will not cure that and the notion of providing them with a sexual "outlet" by doing so would change nothing. They would still be attracted to children. How do you explain the fact that even married men, including Protestant clergy, have also abused children sexually? Your argument falls apart here.

    • robert c

      another absurd statement from one of the unknowing leftists who have no real concept of history, law, or canon law. 1st of all trying to indict a pontiff is illegal in itself and certainly uncalled for even in the international arena. The church pre-dates all existing states and has more state stature than any existing government. Secondly, There would be greater cause to arrest and indict Barack Obama under human rights violations for his vote and vociferous support of partial birth abortions than it would be to even accuse Benedict under either civil or canon law. What is the greater crime. Abortion is certainly not legal internationally. Finally, celibacy is not the root cause of the problem. However the church's past practice of allowing pre-high school males into the seminary certainly is. Celibacy is an individual's choice. However, that is not a choice that should be undertaken by 14 year old introverted boys who have usually been pressured into the seminary by devoted, doting mothers. Such a life decison made before one is even aware, let alone admitted, to on'es sexuality is a bad practice.

    • CPilenza

      Spoken like a true "Bible Christian: the equivalent of the modern day Pharisee. Wonderful when you can use the written word to judge your fellow man instead of LISTENING to Jesus (not necessarily Paul) about the value of love and not bringing accusations. How quickly they forget the woman caught in adultery (another sex crime for that age) and Jesus's reaction. Roman Catholics do not think pedophilia is acceptable, but that it simply should be stopped. The argument that men are doing this because of a lack of sexual outlet is spurious. Pedophiles are a different breed entirely. (period) The fact that there are a few who find themselves in the church as priests simply indicates that a stronger screening process would be more useful both in terms of entrants into the clergy and periodic check ups on fitness. But let's be honest, Guys like you don't want to see that, because you're so sure your brand of Christianity is "right" that all others must be destroyed or brought down by the forces of evil that may infect us in our Church. Stop hating or Jesus will not recognize you on that last day! I love you, brother! Peace be with you.

  • smithwinstonoceania

    Thank you Mr.Dershowitz for providing clarity and reason. I'm very happy that you came around and renounced the left, which after all, was influential in shaping the thinking of some in the church to allow certain accomodations and changes in the way the church would screen those entering the seminaries. The result was the infiltration of the church from within, by many who were by no means Christian believers, but predators and agents hoping to bring the church down. Those believing in the reality of the spirit of evil, Satan, alive and well on the Earth, should pay close attention.

  • Kevin

    While I understand trying to take care of your own house, so to speak, the Church did not do that well at all. There is no excuse for covering up sexual abuse of anyone. The Church did not deal as they should have, but I honestly feel they are correcting the problem. It is a human problem, just look around. Yes, the Church should set a higher standard, but we are all still sinning people. There is sexual abuse in ALL institutions, in fact, a higher % in others, but it is just so much more fun to go after the Catholic Church, ESP the Pope. This will all come out in the wash, because the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church.

    • Kevin in El Paso

      As He has promised! Amen!

    • Joseph

      Note what one media source writes about the disposition of this case:

      California church officials wrote to Ratzinger at least three times to check on the status of Kiesle's case and Cummins discussed the case with officials during a Vatican visit, according to correspondence obtained by AP. At one point, a Vatican official wrote to say the file may have been lost and suggested resubmitting materials.

      As Kiesle's fate was being weighed in Rome, the priest returned to suburban Pinole to volunteer as a youth minister at St. Joseph Church. He was eventually defrocked in 1987.

      Kiesle, who married after leaving the priesthood, was arrested and charged in 2002 with 13 counts of child molestation from the 1970s. All but two were thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law extending the statute of limitations.

      He pleaded no contest in 2004 to a felony for molesting a young girl in his Truckee home in 1995 and was sentenced to six years in state prison.

      Now 63 and a registered sex offender, Kiesle lives in a Walnut Creek gated community, according to his address listed on the Megan's Law sex registry. An AP reporter was turned away when attempting to reach him. William Gagen, an attorney who represented Kiesle in 2002, has not returned repeated calls seeking comment.

      Moreover, the process to defrock Kiesle was not hindered by Ratzinger, but by his predecessor, according to one observer. –

      Cummins said the years of back-and-forth with the Vatican tested the diocese's patience but it was typical of the time.

      "These things were slow and their idea of thoroughness was a little more than ours. We were in a situation that was hands on, with personal reaction," he said.

      Only the Vatican can approve removing someone from the priesthood, whether it is requested by the priest or his superiors. At the time of Kiesle's petition, a variety of Vatican offices handled them. In 2001, Ratzinger required all cases involving abuse claims to go through his office, streamlining the process.

      Cummins said he believed Ratzinger was following what was the practice of the time, and "that the Pope John Paul was slowing these things down."

      Now, most importantly –

      In the November 1985 letter, Ratzinger says the arguments for removing Kiesle were of "grave significance" but such actions required very careful review and more time. Lena, the Vatican attorney, said Ratzinger's instruction to offer Kiesle "paternal care" was a way of telling the bishop he was responsible for keeping Kiesle out of trouble. Lena said Kiesle was not accused of any child abuse in the 5 1/2 years it took for the Vatican to act on the laicization.

      So my assumptions were correct. The Vatican required detailed documentation before defrocking Kiesle, but opted to keep him at arm's length under supervision until that process could be completed – and the strategy was successful because there were no accusations of any further abuse during the period when his case was decided. Obviously, if the case was being covered-up,. he never would have been defrocked at all. Yet these facts will not stop the usual suspects from pursuing their hypocritical agenda. If the Vatican does not act as expeditiously as they deem fit, they are condemned. When the Bishops and priests all complain that the man should have been defrocked, and submitted written statements so attesting, critics ignore them. When the Church keeps the accused at arm's length under supervision, that too is ignored, along with the fact that no one was molested during this period of 'house arrest.' And neither does the fact of his excommunication from the ministry mean one thing to a villain pursuing an agenda. If one has a gripe over how this man's case was handled, address your concerns to the secular courts that released him in the first place. In either event, Kiesle is responsible for his own sins and criminal offenses – not the Church. My hope is that some good will come out of such cases in the future, in that the Church will act more expeditiously in removing them, but as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The Vatican has already taken steps to ensure that prospective seminarians are more thoroughly scrutinized before being accepted as candidates for the priesthood.

  • Guest

    Let's discussed the union-protected child-molesters.

    There are more government-union public school teachers molesting child than there are Catholic priests!

    Here in NYC the government-union public school teachers get to freely molest the children while receiving complete protection from prosecution plus retaining all their benefits and pay.

    Mr.Dershowitz, are you going to continue allowing your public school teacher friends protected by your government-union friends to rape and molest your own neighbors children?

    When will you stand up and protect the children from the child-molestations committed by the multitude of government-union public school teachers who can only teach the children how to 'safely' shove a fist up another derriere?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/poptoy poptoy

      Verry well said thank you.

  • Stephen Sacks

    Mr. Dershowitz, along with your second reason – tradition of forgiveness – an even bigger problem is the Church's inability to distinguish between gradation of sin. This flaw allows the church to forgive murderers as easily as office supplies thieves – with or without the blessings of the survivors of the victims, or the owners of the offices.

    In spite of the protestations and denials, I ain't buying. I think the Vatican has painted itself into a corner here by not being honest.

    In their hearts of hearts I think they simply don't believe that 'celibate' men having sexual flirtations and dalliances with some young boys in their charge is that big of a deal.

    It's systemic. Anecdotally, as a young teenager I attended two church Affiliated middle / high schools – one run by Catholic priests, the other by the very same Christian Brothers fraternity which has now been shuttered in Ireland for many generations of not only sex with the students, but some really hideous physical abuse by hundreds of extremely twisted, sadomasochistic Brothers. At both schools, within in weeks of arriving the other kids advised which Brothers or Priests to steer clear of – it was an open secret – common knowledge. And the kids all knew which boys had acquiesced.

    In later life I have gotten to know people on six continents, and granted it's anecdotal, but many friends globally had very similar experiences.

    I don't think much pedophilia takes place – i.e., not too much preying on prepubescent six-year- olds, but sexual dalliances between gay Priests / Brothers and young teen boys in their charge has been common throughout these institutions for generations – and a lot of guilt-ridden closeted religious gay men join the priesthood.

    Now, it is possible that this Pope has been oblivious to the practice, but he would be a rarity if this were the case. Whether he knew or not is almost immaterial. What he must have known is that the church has a bad habit of recycling Priests who have sex with young men. Almost without fail, when one of these cases comes to light, it turns out that for years these men have been protected by the church, relocated, and once again been put in positions where they had easy access to young men.

    Ironically, at both schools I attended in 'the colonies', Priests and Brothers would randomly arrive midterm to begin teaching, 'transferred' sixe and ten thousand miles from other countries to the far reaches of globe. In looking back, it's clear that these imports ended up being particularly twisted and often had a more voracious appetite for the student body than most of their local colleagues.

    The world has changed. Secular Leftists now get really mad when religious men have sex with youngsters in their charge. (The irony is not lost that these same people think Polanski should be freed because he makes great movies). The Church could argue that on balance they do far more good for the downtrodden than almost any other organization on earth – and that in this context the potential sacrifice of te mental and psychological stability of a few young men seems like a fair trade for the hundreds of millions who find solace and comfort in the institution, but they don't have the guts to float that idea.

    Given the general facts and history, maybe there is no way for the church to resolve this man / boy sex conundrum that they seem to have to revisit every year or so, other than to lay low in the hopes that it will blow over, but trotting out some mouthpiece to announce to the world from St. Peter's Basilica on Good Friday that accusing the' victimized' Pope and therefore de facto the 'victimized' Church of complicity in these scandals, is akin to murdering them like the Six Million Jews gassed for being Jewish is a little daft – not to mention incoherent – to say the least.

    The Pope is the boss. He should either fess up to stumbling through his organization oblivious to the 'codes of honor' and skeletons in the closets, in which case he might not be the best manager and steward for the organization, or he should acknowledge where the buck stops, but mounting a 'legal' defense to a moral conundrum borders on farcical.

    • Clarity

      Am product of Catholic schools (some well-regarded ones-taught me to think critically, analyticaly & objectively) -,,, kindergarten through high school.

      In only one instance in all that time did I witness what you alluide to as much more common & prominent behavior. And this was high school … and every kid knew what the deal was ,,,, it was rather harmless … laughable.. Now am not going to challenge any survey that is not ideologically driven or funded by trial lawyers (am attorney myself – unlike lay folks or 'journalists' I understand & see through alot of what the trial bar does to 'shape' opinion in their favor .. for settlements or verdicts ….)

      Do believe there is a cabal or tradition within the Church where homosexuals became a subculture if you will prior very recent period of allowed open gay behaviior – say from 1980s on really. My guesstimate is that this might ential between 10- 30% of the population depending on how this took root, where, for what local/specific reasons. But in some respects this reflects what was goinng on in society outside as a whole.
      .

      • Clarity

        … continuing … As to pedophilia … think this is more restricted than made out … as I said ,,, in all my years in school ,,, and kids know what is going on …. only saw clear evidence of this once..

        Most of us are not 'expert' enough on this but I would be very leery of deferring to some 'trial' attorney for 'factual' presentation … to often that is an exercise where an ideological mask is adopted for a specific monetary outcome. … and this is not to excuse or argue against damages either here … just being a little more cynical about all the 'hoopla' when one peels away some of the gauze of 'outrage'.

    • Neal

      Excellent historical essay. When the nuns ran the primary and secondary schools here in America, they always cajoled and incouraged the weirdest, goofiest, and the most oddball students toward the priesthood. You know, the ones that spent a little too long in the shower after gym class.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/poptoy poptoy

        Pitiful argument. do more research.

    • JustSaying…

      Conspiracy theory. Admitted anecdotal evidence. Bombastic verbosity. Try the FACTS – if you can shed your judgmental anti-Catholic bias.

  • persikas

    You're using the same kind of logic and evasion that you usually accuse the muslims of for defending the indefensible –
    You're right about the muslims -why the difference for the catholic church ?

  • Clarity

    Lots of confusion it seems ….

    fairly sure the issue of Roman Catholic (versus other 'Rites' within the Church like Egyptian Coptic Christians, Syria, Uniates, etc) celibacy, harks back to around 7th or 8th Century. It was a major reform move at the time to eliminate what had been & become statist nepotism. By eliminating any legal potential for Church leaders to sire children, you eliminated all possibilities for nepotism re power, authority or economic influence. Remember in the Dark Ages, it was the Church which maintained any sense of organizational integrity or stability – a practical monopoly becuase there was no other alternative – this was where Western knowledge & thought persevered in the barbarian onslaught.. Especially important were abbeys which essentially become the local or regional free/controlled market exchange mechanism for agriculture and other goods.

    So in its day, this was a major & to be applauded 'step'.

    • http://michigansilverback.com RichardLKentEsq

      Close, sir, but not quite. While your explanation of the Reforms of the 8th century are correct, your discussion of 'nepotism' is completely incorrect.

      The word "Nepot" means NEPHEW. The Curia of the Church, particularly in the period of the Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and the 18th Century, was made up largely of the "nepots" (nephews) of reigning Popes and Cardinals. The idea being that, within the hierarchy, you could trust your blood relations better than you could anyone else. Eventually that practice was curtailed, too, so that today, the Pope may appoint one (and ONLY one) member of his family to the hierarchy.

      • ByzantineDominican

        Celibacy as required dates to the eleventh century, and only in the Roman Rite.

        Celibacy as a tradition predates the Roman Empire's legalization of Christianity. There are canons from the Council of Nicea dealing with the situation. Indeed, one can make the case that celibacy has apostolic origins. Certainly, one can point to Christ and St. Paul as celibates.

        As for the attempt to link celibacy with pedophilia, it doesn't hold water. The largest number of abuse cases occur within families and schools, where celibacy is not an issue.

  • Clarity

    … the preceding said ….

    … I think a legitimate argument can be made that the facts & circumstances that justified this during a time of societal collapse to preclude nepotism, a form of Rule Against Perpetuities, has faded away. It is largely tradition … but some deference ought be given to the the theological argumentation to support the celibacy rule … but the practical reasons for celibacy to preclude nepotism is long gone

  • poetcomic1

    Last year there were six (6) confirmed cases of underage sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and all its American institutions. (65 million Catholics in America). Cases are for the most part ten twenty thirty years old. The bottom line is INSURANCE. Catholic youth facilities are not charged higher rates for insurance against this type of suit than Jewish, Protestant or secular private schools and they could and would be by the insurers if there was more of a threat.

    Lawyers make millions. They find a real abuser priest then investigate to find lists of all youths who ever had contact with him over decades. They contact them and ask if anything 'inappropriate' ever happened with Father X (broadly hinting that if they can just 'remember' something it can be worth big bucks). Maybe that's how 19 abused boys turns into 200 abused boys.

    • robert c

      Certainly true. I had one aquaintence admit to me that he allowed a shark attorney to prosecute his case even though he not only consensually agreed to the encounter, but he initiated it. But since it put hundreds of thousands in his pocket he played the game.

  • LuckyJon

    Dear Al– There is an old saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me! But to fool you five different ways– boy are you gullable! Don't you know when you have heard a snow job? You must be truely, truely stupid! Truely!

    • ronny

      I disagree with you on two points.

      First of all, it's "truly" not "truely".

      Second, he isn't gullible, he's just loves to show off how clever he is. I realized this second point when I saw him in a debate with Noam Chomsky, he was trying to convince the crowd that it made sense to partition Israel into a bunch of tiny indefensible pieces. They say "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." But that saying is only true if the person in question is sane. A guy who can say, even as a joke, that he wished he could have defended Hitler, is not someone anyone should ever pay attention to.

      As far as this issue is concerned, anyone with honesty can see the truth of the matter. These apologies coming from both the Church and Dershowitz are pure garbage. Indeed, G-d bless us, and may He bless His enemies who falsely speak in his name as well.

    • JustSaying…

      Seems to me the "truely" smart would know how to spell "truly".

      Read through some of the POSITIVE posts below, and become truly enlightened.

    • RickA

      LuckyJon, when you decide to call someone "truely stupid," please try your best to at least spell correctly. In this instance, it isn't the author who is TRULY stupid. Probably explains your views on the church, too.

  • http://www.yuksel.org Edip Yuksel

    The sex-abuse problem is caused by a menmade rule, which is ironically missing from this useless article: celibacy rule. The rule contradicts the lives of many Biblical prophets and saints, and most importantly contradicts the divine law in human nature.

    So, by adopting celibacy (and many other ridiculous rules, which is another issue), the Catholic Church condemned itself to become what it is: a dirty closet. Dershowitz is an opportunist who is trying to find stupid excuses for a major tragedy and travesty to send a powerful institution with about a billion sheep the following message: "You may hire me to defend you."

    • dan

      Pls see replies to LeePoteet above re: celibacy. By the way, you're not suggesting celibacy is a cure for child molestation, are you?

      God bless.

    • Guest

      Yeah, all those celibate swimming coaches! Why can't they marry?

    • Dwight

      I am quickly tiring of these completely ignorant and negative opinions about the celibacy rule. Please do your research, people. It's becoming infantile…

    • Jim

      Yet, explain why there are married men who are guilty of sexually abusing minors. Actually, statistically more sex abusers are married than vowed celibates. It's a foolish argument to try to connect celibacy to pedophilia or a proclivity towards sexual abuse of minors.

      • http://www.yuksel.org Edip Yuksel

        If it is not celibacy rule, then let's try Trinity. What about "confession sessions" in which some men (that is MALES), wearing funny hats and cloths, listen to the most intimate stories of their sheep. This might create pretext to get involved in sexual and emotional issues and then forgiveness might extend to physical healing (!) through sexual contact.

        There must be something wrong in that Catholic Church and we are trying to pinpoint the culprit. Celibacy rule appeared to be the variable and the common sense suspect. Now, I offer the confession practice. What do you think?

        • Giancarlo

          Why does this website continuously let E. Yuksel post? Take a few weeks, read (and stop just posting BS) and then come up with a coherent post

          • robert c

            let him mumble away. Its obvious he has no idea what he is talking about.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

    It has long been a question in my mind, do the popes actually honor the word of God, much less the word for their lord; their savior? Jesus ostensibly said:

    "…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

    Speaking to and about the Jews (the "lost sheep of the house of Israel"), Jesus' brethren, he said:

    "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

    'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?

    'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

    "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

  • GBullough

    An interesting, legalistic argument that entirely fails in considering the human dimensions.

    While yes, all five of the aforementioned traditions exist, the author fails to note that ALL of them can be used by bad men in cynical ways to promote their personal agendas.

    Victims are told to "forgive" so they'll shut up and go away.

    "Confidentiality" is used to gag victims "for their own good." Right. And to keep the press from getting at the truth. Witness Apb. Lori's recent trip to the SCOTUS.

    This is exactly what happened here. All five of those traditions were abused in order to protect the Church from 'scandal' and to support abusive brother priests at the expense of children and vulnerable adults.

    Why could that happen? Because there is truly no system of checks and balances in the Church of Rome. Oh, you may wax poetic about Canon Law, but again there is really no check nor balance.

    • robert c

      There were no checks and balances in civil law either, even in this country. martha Coakley, who ran for US senate in Massachusetts, declined to prosecute cases of abuse while a DA. Bad men with cycnical agendas can promote whatever they want in all areas of human endeavor, and do. Stop singling out the Catholic church. Barack Obama voted to support partial birth abortions. Who will hold him accountable?

  • GBullough

    As a canon lawyer friend of mine says "Canon law is whatever the bishops want it to be to suit their purposes at the time." There are no juries, really; just judges and those judges all have the same interest — the Church's— as their charter. To quote a despotic king of France: "La loi — c'est moi!"

    • Kevin in El Paso

      This can be , and has been, said to describe every form of law and jurisprudence in the history of man. And there is the rub; although the Church is the mystical body of Christ on earth, it is also an institution filled with humans.

      In the two posts of your that I bothered to read, you have said nothing meaningful; nothing that might promote a result better than has been achieved. Presumably, given your implied “the Church is fundamentally wrong” stance, what then, is fundamentally right within your experience?

    • dan

      You've got a canon lawyer friend, too? How convenient. What's his name?

    • robert c

      Go cry on Nancy Pelosi's shoulders about abuse of power. You'll get smacked with her purse, or worse.

  • Dave

    This is all a part of an immense spiritual war which has been waged by Satan since Eden. The priest scandal was a "direct hit" in the engine room of the biggest Christian church on earth. While there are many guilty who should be punished, the desired effect is to have the entire Catholic Church scorned and attacked from all sides. I at least applaud Alan for remembering that there are thousands of good and faithful priests out there who are innocent and continue to try to spread the Word. If you are shaken by what is happening now, just wait until Satan really gets things rolling in this world.

  • Dot

    Why don't you all look in your own back yards and stop thinking that you are without sin, because when you stand in front of God you will be answering your own sins not the Churchs sins or any other human beings sins, or do you think you are without sin????

    • Grace

      Way to go!!!!!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

      My main issue with the Vatican is its anti-Israel, pro-Muslim, pro-jihad policies.

      It's like Pope Benedict's savior said, "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/poptoy poptoy

    WJ where in the world do get the idea that this POPE is against the Jews. He is not against the Jews and he surely does not want to give anything to the Muslims. I hope you are not saying this because he is German. My goodness…..I don't know a Catholic alive that is Anti-Jew. We are not taught to hate Jews. The Jewish people will always prevail. Please admit that Obama is not your friend. I promise you that BIBI Net…knows it. Please I ask you to get off the back of this POPE. GODS blessings to you and all of the People of Israel.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

      Obama, like his mentor (Rev. Jeremiah Wright) is a dedicated anti-Semite in my opinion, notwithstanding these 'court Jews' (men like Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, who would sell out their own people) serving him in his administration. It does not matter poptoy, whether it be Pope Benedict XVI, George W. Bush or Alan Dershowitz; anyone who supports the establishment of a Muslim-terror state in Israel, is not on my ("our") side. They are siding with Israel's enemies. Pope Benedict, being a theologian, is especially guilty in my view. He of all men should know better than to support such a wicked plan as dividing God's land, whom He (God) gave to His people Israel, in perpetuity. How can this pope support such an enormity?

  • man from uncle

    Just some food for thought.
    After reading all of these comments, it is obvious to me that some people have a hatred for the Church which JESUS FOUNDED and others have love for it. It's the story of the ages, isn't it? There is always a polarization, a line in the sand…was Mary Magdalen guilty of adultery…yes, did Jesus condemn her…NO. We need to come together a s the people of God and support the Church of God…our Church, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The term "Devil" or "Diavolos" in Greek, means accuser or one who seperates. This is what he does. God unites…the Devil seperates. Look at us, can we come together or does something or someone (Daivolos) bar the way?
    Just some food for thought.
    Cheers.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

      MFU, of course there is room for "repentance" and reconciliation. But if the woman found in the act of adultery is unrepentant and continues in her adulterous ways, where is the repentance? The same holds true with any Jew, any Christian, any pope, any minister, any priest, etc. No man is perfect. No man is without sin.

      The question is, do we learn from our sins and make an effort to not repeat them?. We all know serving in the Hitler Youth was mandatory for young men his age. Yet there were those brave young people (The White Rose for example) who resisted the Nazis at the cost of their lives. How much more the future Vicar of Christ? God's viceroy on earth? Nonetheless, most are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and yet (and yet) he will take God's land, divide it and give it to Israel's (Jesus') enemies. What is this MFU? How can you say that I despise what Jesus founded when I defend what Jesus founded? Jesus was a Jew; an Israelite.

  • marie Jalsevac

    The whole truth on the matter of abuse by Catholic priest is the fact that the teaching has been neglectful to follow the example of Jesus Christ who was filled with love for everyone he met, including love for women.
    He was an Example of a Spirit of Love, without restriction, accept to remain pure' but still find total satidfaction.
    The church must go back to teaching that we are not just have human bodies but also are intergrated with the spirit of God., which makes us not just animal, but must make us like angels in heaven.
    If priest were filled with this kind of love they would not try to seek it elsewhere.

    Marie Jalsevac

    • Grace

      How can you judge something when you don't know what you're talking about!

  • Carolyn

    Thank you Alan for your insight. Abuse of children, boys and girls is rampant in the world and the catholic church has been no exception. The good I can see from this horrendous situation is that the filth will be expelled from the church and stringent guidlines will be implemented. If these sexual predator problems are not also addressed in other institutions, secular and religious, this problem will continue. Eventually the church will be trusted and more wise, so that once again families can turn to the church for shelter and protection for their children. This will take time, and further sacrifice to make amends and corrections for these terrible actions. The abuse of innocent children and teens in our care is an abomination before God, I am sure that the church will have to be scrubbed clean to once again to be a sparkling diamond on a hill. There is the weakness of the human, the hatred from many, but the church will go on and may be smaller in number, but hopefully more holy in the world, as it already is holy outside of the world.

    • Martha Dancy

      I agree. I believe that men with homosexual tendencies should not be in the priesthood because being around young men is too much of a temptation to "step out of line." It is like putting an alcoholic in a bar selling drinks. Few would be able to handle the temptation to drink. I think that bishops have been negligent about this in the past and now is the time to protect boys and young attractive men from other men with these weaknesses and tendencies. I believe that after Vatican II, the rules were liberalized too much and there was much ignorance about the ability to rehabilitate sex offenders. We now know they cannot be trusted.

    • http://www.catholicshepherd.org Rick D

      Love your reply C. good job and well put.

    • Ojie stephens

      Hello Carolyn, Thank you for this. I have spent hours trying to say in writing what you have said so well. I'm not sure it can be said any better. As for me, torn to pieces over this though I am, I will remain faithful and pray more sincerely. Interestingly, adult child sex and anything goes as long as it is safe fis being pushed all over the world as evidenced by Planned Parenthood, Kevin Jennings etc. Check out the glsen FISTGATE horror and Planned Parenthood teen wire TAKING CARE DOWN THERE.
      Thank you,
      Ojie

  • man from uncle

    WJ,
    God also says that he will establish His throne and that Israel will NEVER lack a king to sit upon the throne…So where is your (Israel's) king WJ? I know where mine is…He is sitting upon the throne as He promised. He also established an everlasting sacrifice, didn't He??? Where is the Jewish Sacrifice? St. Paul says that we (the Church) are spiritual Israel. The Jews our our big brothers and we should learn from them. So God's prophecies concerning the King and the Sacrifice are truly real and true. They are fulfilled in Jesus and in teh Catholic Church wherein WE have the opportunity to be present at the foot of the cross at every Mass when Jesus' sacrifice is made present for our sake. This is the eternal sacrifice in the temple… The Sacrifice of the MASS.
    Cheers

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

      MFU, this promise is conditional, as are all the promises of blessing God swore to His people. Had Solomon, like his father David, obeyed God and kept His commandments, his kingdom would have been established, like David's kingdom was. But Solomon fell into disobedience. He married foreign women and they caused him to serve their gods, etc.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

      MFU, this promise is conditional, as are all the promises of blessing God swore to His people. Had Solomon, like his father David, obeyed God and kept His commandments, his kingdom would have been established, like David's kingdom was. But Solomon fell into disobedience. He married foreign women and they caused him to serve their gods, etc.

    • pennelop

      All need to Listen to AveMariaradio.net 97% of priest are walking their walk with God

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

        Who is their "God?" If they are not with Israel, the land of Israel, the God of Israel and His people Israel, again I ask you, who the god they are walking with?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/ginjar ginjar

      The Messiah never performed a Mass nor institute any sacraments. He did however insist we keep the Passover.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

    MFU, our king is the Almighty. We do not worship human beings. Even angels of God, we do not worship. God is not a man. When messiah comes (or "returns" as you have it) he will be king over Israel (small "k") like king David, to whom he is compared throughout the Hebrew Bible. He will be a servant of God. Messiah is no way equal to God. He is God's servant. Like the prophet wrote: "And he will delight in the fear of the Lord."

    And another prophet:

    "Then I will set over them (the sons of Israel) one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.

    "And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken.

  • G.T.

    It is always good to put things in perspective and I think that you have definitely helped in clarifying the Catholic Church's position past and present on these matters. This doesn't mean that I agree however on their slowness to resolve these matters once and for all. But thank you for this explanation. Giovanni.

  • BILL

    There is NEVER an excuse for anyone, whether in a position of authority ( such as a priest, teacher, coach, parent or any relative ) or not to abuse or harm a child. Make NO EXCUSES for these pedophiles. They will answer to the SUPREME JUDGE when their time on earth is over and unless they confess their sins before GOD before that time they will spend ETERNITY in Hell. That is written in stone, but until they meet their MAKER they fall under the law here. Protecting them for any reason, whether the Vatican wants to consider themselves a nation or not is wrong, and those that harbor these scumbags will be subject to the same judgement from GOD that HE will place on the abusers themselves. That is basic truth for a faithful Christian or Jew. Forget about the hierarchy or proper channels when it comes to these perverts, it is fact that many of them were sick upon entering seminaries and used the collar to continue their evil ways over the helpless.

  • Jerseyman

    A certain subset of homosexual men is attracted to pubescent and immediately post pubescent youth. This has been true since time immemorial, and will be true until the end of time.
    We, in our PC era, refuse to acknowledge this. So, we mistakenly conflate paedophilia with eubophilia. We can't address and issue we refuse to acknowledge.
    Mix repressed homosexuals driven to the Priesthood and orders through repression, with a culture gone sex mad and constant exposure to opportunity and the inevitable must occur.
    Put these events in the context of an organization representing the highest possible expectation of trust and integrity and one, which Dershowitz points out, posessed of a culture of secrecy and self protectiveness, and you get the current crisis.
    My own late and revered priest, suffered terribly when one of these secret "boy-lovers" was transferred to his parish.
    I am amazed at how we adults, continue to be unable to accept the realities of human sexuality.
    It is quite acceptable to tear at the fabric of the Church, but God forbid we should make realistic appraisal of certain elements of homosexual behaviour.

  • http://frontpagemag.com Truth Detector

    I don't know why the left think they have such clean hands. Barack Obama voted three times for infanticide when a representative of Illinois. The left believes in killing babies before their birth. The left believes in same sex "marriage." The left believes that conservatives don't have the right of free speech. The left believes in controlling others. Hitler, Stalin, Fidel Castro and many other radicals and dictators are exactly like the left. These dictators have enjoyed controlling other. Many of the left have committed the same sins that they condemn others of committing. Yet they talk like they are the paragons of virtue. Such hypocrites!

  • Reneeca

    If I am not mistaken, during the time the Pope was cautionary about removing one priest for pedophile, wasn't it acceptable from the Psychiatric community that this was a mental disease that could be treated? And isn't it true that our schools have more of a percentage of molesters than the 1. something% found in the Church? I believe the Pope has made a good decision in now saying that all priests who are pedophiles must be turned in immediately to the police authorities! These priests are a homosexual problem within the Church which no one is talking about either and has nothing to do with celebrity! The Pope is looking into the seminaries more closely and the training and acceptance of the priests into the Church! These priests are men who have done wrong and have nothing to do with the tenets of the Church or it's teaching in Christ. I feel there is a campaign against ALL Christianity. Today the Catholic church. Tomorrow it may be another Christian faith!

  • Grace

    Thank you Mr. Dershowitz!
    Some of these comments are just ridiculous. People who hate the Catholic Church are coming out of the woodwork. I guess none of these people are religious because they are filled with hate.
    I could defend my church with facts but these people are not reasoning and thinking people so why do it.
    The Catholic Church will survive because it has done so for over 2000 yrs and will continue to do so.

  • Charles R.L. Power

    4) Slowness. Yeah, sure, next time a fire breaks out let's appoint a commission to investigate before telling everyone to get the hell out of the building. Context is everything. Slowness here means more victims. It is obviously inappropriate.

    5) "Internal due process". Church can take all the due process it wants ONCE IT REPORTS CRIMES TO THE CIVIL AUTHORITIES. The tradition of Thomas Becket must be BROKEN.

  • jaatleisure

    Sorry, I'm not buying your argument / excuses / defense.
    the Church's second-most-recent tactic was to blame underlings.
    That just doesn't wash, in an organization which is totally hierarchal,
    top-down, the leader of which is claimed to be infallible.
    I'm Jewish, and shouldn't have a dog in this fight, except that child
    abuse is abhorrent to everyone. And, I live in Boston. 98% of all the
    people I know, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers–are Roman
    Catholic. At least half of them are very, very angry. They are seething.
    And they have been for decades.
    They love their God, they love their religion, but they HATE their church.
    Our Episcopal churches are FULL of Catholics who will never again
    set foot in a Catholic church. The Episcopal liturgy and practice is close enough
    to the Catholic that they feel at home there, mostly.
    In Boston, we had Bernard Law as Cardinal. He was an impressive man,
    very bright, very well spoken, and one of the more learned and intellectual of the
    American Bishops. He was seen as a moral authority, even by non-Catholics.
    And then, when the Boston-area church molestation scandals hit the news, what did this "moral authority" do? HE RAN AWAY. TO THE ESCAPE PROSECUTION. TO ESCAPE THE LAW. He ran to the Vatican, whose sovereign status protects him from extradition [I think]. He can't come back to the states, he'll be prosecuted.
    The church IS capable of reform, but only very, very slowly. It forgave Galileo, but only after 400 years. For doctrinal and institutional reasons, it CAN'T move quickly,
    it is designed to conserve and self-protect itself as an institution.
    The reform can't come quickly enough, for those who have been unfortunate
    to have to watch this over the years. And who have adult friends, who were
    molested in church, as children. And who know survivors of that abuse, who
    have been deeply harmed by it, some of whom have later committed suicide.
    In Hadley, MA, teachers who were aware of teen bullying have been accused of
    standing by, while a young girl was driven to commit suicide. Those teachers were
    the responsible adults in that school, they were in loco parentis. People want to
    hold them accountable. Should there be LESS accountability expected of Priests and Popes ?

    • Benedictineacc

      No, the Vatican is not protecting Cardinal Law; he is not even at the Vatican, but rather at Santa Maria Maggiore church in Rome, Italy.

      And unless you can show an actual indictment of Cardinal Law, a warrant for his arrest, or a request from the DA for his extradition back to Massachusetts, then you need to fault the prosecutors and the criminal law. The fact is, Cardinal Law cannot be actually charged with anything because at the time, no laws on the books were actually broken. And if you know of one, then by all means, please let the DA in Massachusetts know about it.

    • Aboona Joe

      RC=Roman Catholic; CC=Counterfeit Catholic. The latter is the TRUE title of the Episcopal "Church".

  • Richard W.

    Every last one of those child molesters should be locked up in maximum security prisons. Then they can be on the receiving end, so to speak. If I were a catholic and a child of mine was molested by a priest, I'd kill the son of a bitch.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

    Pope Pius XII ("Hitler's Pope") feed the Jews (Jesus' people) to the Nazi wolf. Does this pope honor his savior's word? He wants to make this man a saint!

    Now then, does Pope Benedict honor the Almighty's word?

    God told the patriarch, Abraham: "And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed…..Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." (Gen chapter 12)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/poptoy poptoy

      This my friend has nothing to do with the Jews. stick to the topic.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

        What do you mean, stick to the topic? It has everything to do with the Jews. Pope Benedict is cursing Abraham. Pope Benedict is on the side of Israel's jihadist enemy. He will give God's land to God's (and Israel's) enemies. The pope supports the establishment of a Muslim-terror state in the Holy Land; in God's land. God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people by covenant. Pope's savior said, "He who is not with me is against me." Pope Benedict is against his own savior and his savior's people God will curse the pope and his church.

    • http://michigansilverback.com RichardLKentEsq

      Some people are so consumed by past injustices to themselves or their own people that they're AWFULLY willing to return it in kind, and in so doing become precisely what they think they hate. It's sad to watch, really.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

        It's not the past. I am willing to let bygones be bygones but when the past becomes the present, I cannot, I must not, forget the past. We forget our past at our own peril.

    • carmen

      that is a blatant lie, do your research.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

        Who are you addressing? What is a blatant lie?

    • dan

      Gosh, Golda Meier didn't think P12 was "Hitler's Pope." Einstein acknowledged that the Roman Catholic Church was the only one who stood up to the Nazis. In fact, the whole "issue" of P12 being silent was not brought up 'til 1962, when a fictional play called "The Director" was published.

      Check the facts, not the drivel put out by the mass media.

      God bless.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

        I cannot speak to Einstein's motives. From what I've read of Einstein, he was a brilliant scientist but a cowardly Jew. Einstein (may have co-authored; we know he) signed an advertisement in the New York Times equating Menachem Begin and his courageous Irgun fighters — who helped to expel the British occupiers from "Palestine" — to Adolf Hitler, fascists and Nazis. There are those who say this is evidence of a self-loathing Jew.

        Meir's problem was of different sort. Some have speculated, Meir believed Israel needed the support and the backing of a Vatican which held great sway over many Catholic countries, particularly those in central and South America where many Jews reside. In other words, it may have been out of political calculous. If that were the case, it was quite a foolish political move. It earned Israel no respect at the Vatican; only contempt. Vatican did not establish formal relations with Israel until 1993! What was that about?

        • dan

          Pretty wild speculation.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

            Author Susan Zuccotti's "speculation" – of "error rooted in benevolent ignorance" – however is not wild. Neither is it speculative. She, like many other fine authors, is a scholar on the actions, as well as the inaction and the deafening silence of Pope Pius XII before and during the Holocaust, (as Vatican Secretary of State) his concluding the Reichskonkordat with Adolf Hitler, etc.

            His defenders and apologists admit Pius was painfully silent before, during and after Hitler's mass-genocide. Pius loved Germany and the German people. He is aptly called "Hitler's Pope." Pius enabled Hitler and the Nazis to execute unspeakable crimes against the Jews.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/southwood southwood

            I am with you on this, WJ, albeit from a protestant standpoint. Have you read "Hitler's Pope" ? What have they to say about Yad Vashem ? They (the pope's apologists) always try to deny and twist the cold hard truth.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

            Yes. I believe John Cornwell did a magnificent job. Too bad this great author was hounded relentlessly by the Church to the point he made a partial clarification. Cornwell, a Catholic, owed no clarification. His work corresponds with other authors and scholars.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/southwood southwood

            Yes, that was a sad thing for Cornwell to do. There is also David Yallop. He too is a Roman Catholic. He did a big expose of the murder of Pope John Paul I and freemasonry in the Vatican, can't recall the title of the book but I remember reading it many years ago. He recently wrote "The Power and the Glory" exposing the dark side of JPII.

      • hyperbar

        Excellant point! Slight corrections: the play's title was "The Deputy" by Rolf Hochhuth and was produced in 1963 (not 1962). It was widely accepted in anti-Catholic intellectual circles, especially in Germany, because of its message that the pope was the enabler of Hitler, rather than the German people.

    • TotallyCatholic

      Pope Pius XII saved 860,000+ Jewish lives during WWII. His example of faith inspired the Chief Roman Rabbi to convert to Catholicism (look it up). Even the NYT at the time lauded this man's saintly efforts (see archived editorials from 1940's). Germans plotted against him in WWII, and his name was completely smeared in a 1960's German play. The false slander took root and survives to today. Pope Benedict is being slandered and falsely accused also. Live in peace..

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

        How do we know how many lives Pius saved or what his orders were to the episcopate, the Bishops, the diocese throughout Europe? The Vatican archives have been sealed. The chief rabbi of Rome abandoned his own people in time of crisis. Why wouldn't he convert to Catholicism where he sought refuge?

    • robert c

      Bullfeathers. There have been jews who have attested to the intervention of the Vatican in helping them to escape the Nazi's. Pius had the lives and well being of countless clerics and catholics to be concerned with in being cautious about how he approached the issue. He was surrounded by mussolini's minions. Where is your outrage towards the Mufti of Jeruselem who actually helped Eichmann write the final solution? Or are you blindsighted in only one eye?

    • Aboona Joe

      "wild" is the word! "Out of your mind" also comes to mind, as does "majnoon" [kookoo]

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

    "I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.

    "I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God…." (Gen chapter 17)

    Clearly God gave the land of Israel to the Jews, by way of eternal covenant. Yet this pope and his predecessor – even self-professed Christian, George W. Bush; don't know what Obama is — want to give land that God gave to the children of Israel in perpetuity to Israel's enemies.

    I ask the question. Does this pope honor God's word?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/poptoy poptoy

      Hey WJ this Pope is indeed on the side of the Jews. I honestly think everybody knows what the Kenyan is…..a Muslim that is against all Jews. The Jews will always prevail. Thank GOD.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/WildJew WildJew

        How can you say he is on the side of the Jews when he wants to steal our land and give it to our enemies? He is not blessing, but cursing Abraham and his descendants.

  • ana maria phillips

    Several of the people commenting have said that the celibacy rule is at the root of the problem. Really? 4% of priests have been accused of sexual abuse. the number is much, nuch higher in other denominations and religions that allow for married clergy. No where is the sexual abuse problem higher, then in the public school system. The majority of child abusers are not celibate. i don't, then, understand the logic of changing the celibate rule and child abuse.

  • CAK

    This crime is an epidemic in SOCIETY AT LARGE.
    The Amish, The Hasidic , protestant denominations. teachers, counselors, doctors all have cases.. Murdering protestant ministers this past week and in the past.

    The Congressional report from 2007 states:

    5 million children are molested in the US.

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pag… and

    http://stopbaptistpredators.org/index.htm

    Her research backed up Miller's belief that the problem of assaults on students by teachers is many times larger than the scandal involving priests.

    Shakeshaft noted a recent study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded 10,667 young people abuses between 1950 and 2002.
    The national survey conducted for the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 2000 that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee between 1991 and 2000.

    The report itself puts the number of students subject to sexual misconduct by a SCHOOL EMPLOYEES during K-12 at about 4.5 million.

    It's a societal problem.

    • Charles R.L. Power

      You are deflecting attention from the problem, which is not the existence of child molestation. The problem is the Church's sanctimonious, arrogant treatment of reports of child molestation by priests. If the Church acted appropriately on such reports (i.e. turned them over immediately to the civil authorities for investigation), there would be no scandal.

      • robert c

        No he/she isn't. I think that post hit one of the proverbial nails squarely on the head. Again an innitiate in the issue confuses reporting he circumstances to civil authorities, which the church has mandated its local bishops to do for quite some time, with the process of laicization. You know not of what you speak. Moreover the fact that CAK has pointed out justifiably that the issue is endemic in society, all religions, most institutions that deal with youth, is not only salient but incisive. You whack at the church because you want to. You refuse to see the greater problem because you don't want to.

  • Moishe Pupick

    Tu., 04/13/10 common era

    Pope Benedict XVI (a.k.a. Cardinal Ratzinger) headed up the Vatican department that had formerly been known as the department for Propagation of the Faith (nee The Inquisition). I've had lots of Catholic friends in my life, and none of them has been anti-Jewish, in spite of their New Testament's portrayal of Judas. When I learned several years ago that "Judas" means "Jew" in Greek the motivation for the Crusades, Inqusition, pogroms, intifadas, and jihads became clearer to me. Christians who aren't against Jews/Israel ignore or downplay the Judas narrative. May HaShem influence all
    of them to become Noahides, the more, the better and the sooner, the better.

    • Isaiah

      Sorry, Moishe, but there is just too much here that it just plain wrong. First of all, Card. Ratzinger was never the head of the the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide, for short) which is now called the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He was the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Holy Office, which indeed had its origins in the Inquisition.
      As far as the New Testament's portrayal of Judas exposing a radical anti-Semitism in Christianity: there is no doubt that the Christian treatment of Jews throughout history has been abominable, but it is not based on the portrayal of Judas in the gospels: there was another apostle of Jesus named Judas (apparently it was a rather common name), referred to in the gospels. It is based on a misunderstanding of certain lines and actions in the Gospels attributed to Jews, plus any number of particular historical factors at any given time.

      The Greek language had little influence at all on the inception and direction of Crusades (which were directed against Muslims) since they originated in the lands of the Latin Church. Your link from Judas to intifadas and jihad is even more perplexing.

  • Brian

    Thanks for an interesting article, Mr. Dershowitz. I think you have covered some topics that the rest of the press has missed, particularly the issues of forgiveness, the slowness of the Church in ensuring it is moving on the correct path, and the scrupulosity of the Cannon Law.

  • USMCSniper

    Twelve Italian priests were about to be ordained. The final test was for
    them to line up in a straight row, totally nude, in a garden while a sexy,
    beautiful, big breasted, nude model danced before them.

    Each priest had a small bell attached to his weenie, and they were told that
    anyone whose bell rang when she danced in front of them would not be
    ordained because he had not reached a state of spiritual purity.

    The beautiful model danced before the first candidate with no reaction. She
    proceeded down the line with the same response from all the priests until
    she got to the final priest, Carlos. Poor Carlos.

    As she danced, his bell began to ring so loudly that it flew off, clattering
    across the ground and laid to rest in nearby foliage.

    Embarrassed, Carlos quickly scrambled to where the bell came to rest.

    He bent over to pick it up…

    and all the other bells started to ring.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/TurnersinVA TurnersinVA

    I appreciate this article. In the 1970's, unfortunately, the Catholic Church listened to the psychologists and psychiatrists who said that those that abuse children can be "rehabilitated". That info was clearly incorrect.

    Jesus established the Catholic Church 2,000 years ago and there is a direct line of succession from St. Peter, our first Pope, to Pope Benedict XVI. satan wants to bring down our Church – without our priests, there is no Eucharist.

    Show me in the New Testament where there is more that "one church" established. When someone doesn't like something, it appears they simply start a new church. That is not of God, but rather of man. Division is of satan, not God. How many thousands of Christian Churches are there? There is only one Catholic Church. Go to any of them and see the same thing in each mass. Jesus is present in the Eucharist and the other sacraments Jesus left us. Google "Eucharistic miracles". Look at the conversion stories of those ardently opposed to the Catholic Church who tried to prove it wrong, but instead they became Catholics as it was the religion establish by Jesus (Scott Hahn, Tim Staples).

  • Peter

    TumersinVA – is correct. The devil works to destroy what is good. The Catholic Church is good – unfortunately not all priests are. These days it is hard to suppress pedophilia when the whole culture is "free" about homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenders, and so on. When a bunch of people can find the other small percent of those on the internet that say "I raped a child last night and it was wonderful", then more and more say "oh so it is acceptable for me to act this way as well, I am not strange". There is so much sexual perversion these days that it is hard for people to know how to react in response to their feelings. That is why the Ten Commandments are so important.

    Also, before all the liberals show so much hate, you might want to do some research. The safety school czar is certainly a pedophile and his friends are child rapists. He is teaching your children about fisting and other abhorrent acts. The problem is not he Holy Catholic Church. The problem is with society and individuals making inappropriate decisions.

    If everyone followed what the Catholic catechism says about sex, there would be no problems.

  • mikeb

    Hey folks… this and recent stories aren't about child abuse in the RC per se, they are an attempt to pin responsibility on Cardinal Ratzinger himself. Don't let the ugliness of child abuse in the RC — which we are all aware of — obscure what might be a main stream media hit job.

  • Julianne Wiley

    And about that "defrocking" issue: what’s even meant by "defrocking"? It's a term not even used by the Catholic Church — a stupid term, at that, since journalists, having invented it, never define it. If they mean "laicization,” that means the priest is dispensed from his vow of obedience to the Bishop, and celibacy. Thereafter Bishop no longer has any oversight, and the man is now free to live “in the manner of a layman”.

    Thus "defrocking" -as the journalist put it — or "laicization," is the opposite of supervision: it means the man can come and go as he likes, isn’t accountable to anybody, and doesn't even have to leave a forwarding address.

    How exactly this would protect children?

    As if to prove this point, the abusive priest in Oakland, Fr. Kiesle, continued to abuse children after he was "defrocked" and had married.

    The responsibility was in Oakland — not in Rome.

    And note well: it's obvious celibacy didn't cause his criminal drive, and marriage didn't cure it.

  • inj&m

    Finally a balanced assessment.Everyone else wants to attack without evidence or any conception of the church.
    Thank you Mr.Dershowitz

  • Tish

    St. Paul never required married priests. Reread his letters and check it out. The problem isn't celibacy because those who are called have the grace and don't need a sexual outlet. Many people don't need a sexual outlet. The problem is homosexuals (not pedophiles) who infiltrated the church to try to ruin her. The gates of Hell won't prevail.

  • N. Stahl

    "Nor is the Catholic Church the only institution that has faced problems of sexual abuse. Every hierarchical body, especially but not exclusively religious ones, has faced similar problems, though perhaps on not so large a scale." Hello? The Shakeshaft Study of child sexual abuse in U.S. public schools? The findings of the Shakeshaft study make the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church pale by comparison. The only reason more are not aware of the greater risk of sexual abuse public school kids face at the hands of public school staff is that the LSM have actively avoided reporting the findings.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MFM MFM

    God Bless you, Alan Dershowitz, for saying something positive in the midst of this darkness!

  • Charles R.L. Power

    This is ridiculous.

    1) Confidentiality. This applies only to confessions directly from the offending clergy. If a parent is making a complaint about the priest, no confidentiality is owed the priest. I don't think there's a major problem of cases where the only evidence of pedophilia is the priest's confession.

    2) Foregiveness. Pardon me, but in the case cited I believe that the Pope forgave his would-be assassin and then the latter proceeded to the lockup. Being forgiven doesn't mean escaping the consequences of one's action (except, of course, if one is a priest sexually abusing children).

    3) Church as State. Well, I'd like to know that Vatican City takes care of its own sexual abuse cases better than the Church does those outside its temporal jurisdiction, but outside Vatican City this is completely irrelevant.

  • AKUS

    I agree with you, Mr. Dershowitz. This is yet another example of "lawfare" running wold, with threats to arrest the Pope in the UK. I'm Jewish, but this is ridiculous.