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March 31, 2007, 10:11PM GMT
Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger) exposed in possible child abuse scandal.
By Krafft Ebing
Cardinal Leopold von Sacher blows the whistle on Pope Benedict XVI under threat of excommunication, claiming that the Pope has been molesting young parishioners for years.
Since 1985, there have been an estimated 1,400 sexual abuse lawsuits launched against Roman Catholic priests in the United States. Allegations were made that numerous priests had sexually abused boys over several decades and that Church leaders had dealt with the abusive priests by relocating them instead of reporting them to civil authorities. A study by the U.S. Bishop's National Review Board found that U.S. sex-abuse related costs totaled $573 million, with $219 million covered by insurance companies. Since 2001, the adjudication of charges of sexual abuse by clergy is no longer within the competence of the local bishop, but is reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. The CDF is best known for its authority over the teaching of Church doctrine, but it also has jurisdiction over other matters, including cases involving the seal of the confessional, clerical sexual misconduct and other matters, in its function as what amounts to a court. In his capacity as Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger penned a controversial letter to all Catholic bishops, declaring that confidential details of Church investigations into accusations made against priests of certain serious ecclesiastical crimes, including sexual abuse, were subject to the pontifical secret and could not, on pain of excommunication, be revealed
When asked about his feelings on the threat of excommunication from the Catholic Church, Cardinal Leopold von Sacher replied, “I can’t face god with a clear conscience knowing what I know today. Ultimately I will have to answer to God and not the church.” The spokesman for Pope Benedict the XVI refused to comment on the matter.
Under the Church's 1983 Code of Canon Law clerical sexual abuse against a minor can be punished with dismissal from the clerical state ("laicization"). Rome's Congregation for Catholic Education issued an official document, the Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders (2005). A response to the overwhelmingly homosexual nature of the abuse cases, the document states that the Church "cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture'". Sacramentum Poenitentiae was an apostolic constitution published by Pope Benedict XIV in 1741. It is a four-page document establishing general notice of the problem of sexual abuse amongst the clergy in the Roman Catholic Church. It was the fifth document in the canon-law book that was used to train all priests between 1918 and 1982. Specifically, the Sacramentum Poenitentiae addresses the soliciting of sex from people, including children, by priests during confession. The document has been cited often in legal battles surrounding the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic clergy, usually as a rebuttal to church officials' claims that they were unaware of the occurrences of abuse.
Anecdotal press reports from anonymous sources also suggest that the incidence of homosexuality in the Roman Catholic priesthood is much higher than in the general population.
Dr Elizabeth Johnson, a former convener of the Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian movement stated, “The ramifications of this debacle, if it is true, are monumental in nature.”
Vatican City is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome. At approximately 44 hectares (108.7 acres), it is the smallest independent nation in the world. Nothing is known, as of yet, if anyone even has the authority within the bounds of the city to prosecute for crimes against children, especially in the unheard of case of the Pope himself being the accused. The Vatican City State has the distinction of having the smallest and oldest regular army in the world, the Swiss Guard. It was founded by Pope Julius II on January 22, 1506, and originally made up of Swiss mercenaries from the Swiss Confederation. They currently number a little over 100 men and are also the personal bodyguards of the Pope himself. The Palatine Guard and the Noble Guard were disbanded during the reign of Pope Paul VI in 1970. The Corpo della Gendarmeria acts as the internal police force. Its full name is Corpo della Gendarmeria dello Stato della Città del Vaticano although it is sometimes still referred to as Vigilanza, which is a shortening of an earlier name. So far it is unknown how far the CDG’s authority stretches in matters such as this.
The walls of the Vatican are crumbling, and this unfortunate circumstance could very well be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.