Even the worst prisoners regard child-rapists as the lowest of the low. Popes? Not so much

Andrew Sullivan writes, at his new site, about the upcoming release of Mea Maxima Culpa. It is an astounding piece, and I encourage you to go read it in full.

 I’ve watched it twice. It is both an inspiring testament to faith and truth – as well as a devastating indictment of pride, power, and lies. The former come from four boys who attended St John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee in the 1970s. The latter comes from the Vatican and everyone in its power structure then and ever since. It really is a story about how the real church finally stood up to a hierarchy that has betrayed us and committed crimes of such gravity and magnitude they beggar belief.

He goes on to detail what the moie is about and the horrors it exposes…the systematic rape of children, by priests of the church since the at least the early 1940s.

The systematic rape of children was then obviously not a function of some kind of major cultural shift in the 1960s and 1970s, although that era might have sent a permissive signal to the global network of child rapists the Vatican was already hiding and enabling. It has been a core problem with the “celibate” priesthood in the US for decades, and every single bishop and every single Pope knew it. Fitzgerald personally met with Pope Paul VI to try and get him to act. Yes, the good folks in the church tried to do something as early as the 1950s and were stopped in their tracks … by the Vatican. The number of souls violated by child-rape in the coming decades would not have happened if all the Popes since Paul VI had acted with more moral sense than most maximum security murderers. (Even the worst prisoners regard child-rapists as the lowest of the low. Popes? Not so much). We’re not talking about priests who are drunks, or priests who fall in love, or break their vows in fallible, victimless ways; we’re talking here about priests committing one of the most heinous felonies imaginable: the systematic rape of children using the authority of the Church as cover.

The current Pope and the last Pope knew all about it: 

John Paul II emphatically cannot be somehow removed from this picture. He personally protected one of the worst offenders, Marcial Maciel, who was a serial rapist, drug trafficker, bigamist and rapist of his own son. In fact, John Paul II elevated Maciel to the highest honors of the church – backed by the theocon wing of the American church, from Richard John Neuhaus to Bill Bennett and Mary Ann Glendon. They all adamantly denied that Maciel was anything but a living saint – and he was never prosecuted, merely allowed a gentle retirement from running his order, The Legion of Christ, which continues.

Joseph Ratzinger, when he was Archbishop of Munich, personally signed off on sending a priest to therapy, after that priest had raped several children, never notified the police, never told the parents of the children at the parish the priest was then assigned to, and because of this negligence, was, in my view, complicit in the rape of several more children before the priest was finally caught, arrested and sent to jail. Let me repeat that: the current Pope enabled and abetted the rape of children – and his only way out was to blame a lower official, who subsequently said he’d been pressured. More than that, no one else in the church knows more about this long record of child-rape than Ratzinger. From 2001 onwards, all cases of child rape or abuse were ordered to be sent to his personal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. And all of it had to be kept completely hidden from the outside world.

The current Pope has always known, and in fact been front and centre in the cover ups and denials.

Sullivan’s last few paragraphs are powerful:

If those of us are asked why we still believe in the salvation of Christ in the Catholic community, in the midst of all this, we do not have a good answer. All we can say is that we are, in some ways, trying to live in a parallel church, finding those many, many good priests who have been unfairly tarred by the pedophile brush, and living by one simple moral standard that the Pope himself does not agree with and has not done: if you find out someone is raping children, you call the cops.

And finally he calls for the silence to end, and for the prosecution of the Pope and the ridding of the Church of their pedo priests:

What is unforgettable about this documentary is that the loudest voices come from the most vulnerable of all – deaf children who are now deaf adults. The loudest voices were those who could not speak. If I have hope for my church – and I sincerely believe Jesus will never finally abandon us, however corrupt and sinful we become – it is because of this fact. The power of the powerless is what helped stop this mass violation of the souls of children. The change came not from the top, which remains foully corrupted, but from the very margins of the margins: the consciences and courage of those who could not hear evil until it was upon them, but who were surrounded by it. And spoke up. As children. And, then, as adults.

When will the rest of us do the same? When will we Catholics insist in the prosecution of this Pope and this hierarchy for what can only be called – given its duration and gravity and sheer scale – a crime against humanity. When will we lose the deference to a clerical elite that has become its own self-perpetuating clique of sexual dysfunction, that has lost even the most basic moral authority, that even now refuses to hold itself to account.


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  • MarkF

    Andrei and Lucia Maria will, I suspect be very conspicuous by their absence in commenting here!

    • Haven’t seen her for ages. Good on her.

  • ConwayCaptain

    It is just not the sodomising of boys that the RC has covered up. It is the systematic beating of women who had illegitamite children or who didnt fit into society who were sent to the nunneries and workhouses in Ireland and were treated cruelly.
    It is the way that RC teaching niuns/brothers treated children in school using the strap and the ruler across the knuckles.
    It is the way that the whole dysfunctional way that that rotten edifice runs. The Money Laundering through the Vatican Bank, the harbouring of Nazi war criminals after WW 2 and sending them to S America.
    The place need to be cleaned out like the Augean Stables. It cannot be cleansed whilst the incumbent Cardinals, Archbishops etc are in place.

    • Alex

      Probably betraying my families’ nominal Protestant background, but after centuries and centuries of dissolute behaviour on the RC Church’s part, one does wonder whether the Church is salvageable at all.

      If it were a ordinary corporation, it would have crashed by now and the senior management would have resigned and most likely have faced criminal charges.

      Most Catholics would say that this should happen to a corporation.

      Similarly Catholics would demand investigations, sackings, resignations, criminal charges if this behaviour had occurred in CYPFS.

      However, the pernicious doctrines of Papal infallibility, that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and that the Church alone can grant absolution, seem to emotionally blackmail Catholics into not demanding similar levels of accountability from the Pope and the Church hierarchy.

      In my view, at the very least, the Pope should resign. I don’t think we should stop until this happens.

      But this would be a superficial response. There needs to be another Reformation. The Catholic Church needs to reform its outdated approach to sex, and its governance. Lay Catholics should get over the Church’s propaganda against Protestants, and start taking inspiration from the mainstream Protestant churches that have brought transparency, some democracy and lay and female involvement into the Church governance.

    • Jeremy

      And re the Nazi connection. Hitler was a Catholic. his govt was elected by the final votes of the Catholic party in the Reichstag. His first formal treaty was with the Vatican. And the if you are curious read his first speech in the Reichstag as Chancellor.

  • Random66

    I feel physically moved as I read this. Words fail me, I can’t express the disgust and anger I feel towards those who committ such heinous acts on defenceless children and even worse those who knew and said nothing. I hope the current Catholic church topples and falls and reveals the dark lies that man has made it to be and it is my fervent prayer that Christ’s real church will survive and stand strong and rise up from the rubble for His glory’s sake – Amen.

    • Andrei

      A paedophile caught in a nationwide operation offered to pay a man $500 to experience ”sexual gratification” with the man’s 18-month-old son, according to a police summary.

      The paedophile, Aaron Ellmers, 41, appeared in Hastings District Court this morning and pleaded guilty to a raft of child sex offences that the Crown has described amongst the country’s worst.

      One of the offences involved Ellmers travelling to Christchurch where a father had offered his 18-month-old boy to him for $500.

      The father was arrested and is facing charges related to the incident. He has name suppression.

      How about you feel sick about this?

      • Random66

        I actually did read that and yes any sane person would feel sick about this. While evil is prevalent everywhere and in some instances even expected, I personally am always more disappointed and disgusted to hear when it is found amongst those who profess to follow Christ’s teachings. You have to wonder how understanding he will be on judgement day towards those who deliberately hide their foul deeds under the cloak of the church and his anger must know no bounds when such deeds are done in his name.

      • So your answer to the shameful behaviour of the Catholic Church from the top down, from the Pope to the priests, either enabling or participating in child sex abuse is….but but they did it too…fuck you are one sick individual Andrei.

        • Andrei

          No Whale, I am merely pointing out that this particular story is ancient history, dealt with many years ago – in fact it bankrupted the diocese and that other bad things have happened to good people since then and continue to happen

          • Goldie

            Andrei – it is not ancient history. Nor was it “dealt with” – the monsters who commited these crime were protected. The people who enabled and protected child rapists are currently in charge of the Catholic church.
            That your first response is to defend the Catholic heirarchy with barefaced lies (rather than show sympathy for the victims and remorse for being associated with such a corrupt heirarchy) shows that you are a seriously warped person.
            Like WhaleOil says – you are one sick individual Andrei.

  • Andrei

    The gleeful recycling of an ancient scandal by a homosexual activist with an axe to grind is not very interesting Whale

    Something horrible that happened more forty years ago, the perpetrator being dead now for over 15 years and in a city on the other side of the world, that you have never even probably visited Whaleoil.

    And all the while ignoring horrors that are occuring in the here and now and in your very own country.

    Makes a lot of sense


    • Rodger T

      I would be interested to hear why you think people who were raped as children by priests, should just keep their mouths shut?

      And why you don`t/won`t understand the difference between paedophile rings that are busted by the police and the offenders facing the justice system is not comparable to the systematic coverup ,lying and blaming the victim that the catholic church has perpetrated on the children unfortunate to have come within its sphere of influence.

      • Andrei

        I would be interested to hear why you think people who were raped as children by priests, should just keep their mouths shut?

        I didn’t say anything of the sort of course – nothing like it.

        Can you tell me why this particular story is relevant to New Zealand readers Anno Domini 2013?

        • Mitch82

          Because we’re a bit worried that it’ll take until 2030 to start uncovering the abuse that is happening today. If it weren’t, and this were all just historic, then there wouldn’t be such a monumental effort by the Church to hide everything from the public.

          • Alex

            And we await with baited breath, the Pope being taken away for questioning by the Police.

          • Mitch82

            It’s amazing what the wallets of a billion sheep can buy you in legal defence.

        • Rodger T

          When does crime stop being relevant?

    • Ronnie Chow

      You are pathetic.

    • So your answer to the shameful behaviour of the Catholic Church from the top down, from the Pope to the priests, either enabling or participating in child sex abuse is….but but they did it too…fuck you are one sick individual Andrei….as sick as the Catholic Church.

    • Mitch82

      Andrei, you will always – ALWAYS – be free to fuck off and read another blog.


    • A+random+reader

      You are evil Andrei.

      Genuinely evil.

  • Blair Mulholland

    Did he find out who Trig’s real mother is yet?

    • And that is irrelevant to this post, you are better than that Blair.

      • Actually, he’s not. He’s been running true to form.

      • Blair Mulholland

        It’s entirely relevant – Sullivan is a nutcase with no reasoning faculties. This is a man who insists he is a conservative, even though he supports Obama. He insists he is Catholic, even though his theology is completely at odds with it. And now he is insisting the Pope be arrested, even though the Catholic church is not responsible for investigating or prosecuting crimes. He is a moron. It is amazing that someone still pays him to write.
        Catholicism is Christianity for stupid people. If you don’t like what the Papists do then become Orthodox or Protestant.

        • Alex

          Whatever Sullivan’s reasoning in other opinion pieces, this one is entirely sound: if the Pope has been involved in covering up child abuse in this instance, it raises two interesting questions: (1) could the Pope have covered up other instances of child abuse? (and we know that there have been many many instances of child abuse in the Church); and (2) is there the possibility of criminal liability through aiding and abetting a child abuser from escaping justice. You say that the Catholic Church is not be “responsible for investigating or prosecuting crimes”. Well strictly correct regarding the prosecuting matter, but not so regarding the investigating matter — this is the heart of the problem here that the Church doesn’t think it’s under any obligation to do so. It is under an obligation, especially given it knows that clergy who have abused are in a position of trust over their congregations and therefore have the very real risk of offending again. That obligation isn’t unique to the Catholic Church; it’s an obligation owed by all members of the community.

    • fozzie2

      Well it certainly wasn’t Sarah ….

  • Dion

    > When will we Catholics insist in the prosecution of this Pope

    That will never happen because as Andrei and Lucia Maria will tell you, he’s infallible.

    • Andrei

      Lol, you are so clueless

      • Sponge

        So you don’t beleive he is infallible?

        • Andrei


          • Sponge

            well there you go as a fool then…..

  • J.M

    Whale does like to beat up on the Catholic Church. I suspect he is from a Protestant background, and possible sectarianism drives him to condemn the Church for sexual offending which is historic.
    That said, as a Catholic, the various sexual abuse scandals did shake my faith and confidence in the Church, and I attend Church much less frequently now. Several of my father’s cousins were abused as children by a priest.
    I don’t defend any of the Church’s wrongdoing, however it is now of a historic nature.

  • Bloody hell! So much crap in that article by Sullivan. I really wonder if I’m wasting my typing fingers, as I have countered every single one of his assertions that he makes in numerous posts and comments, but it seems I’m banging against a brick wall because everyone many here would prefer to believe that Catholics are evil, that the Pope is the anti-Christ and all priests should be jailed.


    It’s my oldest son’s birthday today, so I have better things to do right now.