The Big Ideas of 2008

Holy Betrayal

Pope Benedict's silence on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is a betrayal to both justice and Jesus.

Dear Mr. Josef Ratzinger:

You are the Pope now and according to La Civilta Cattolica you are the "upholder of justice, and the protector of the oppressed."

As leader of your institution, what you are doing to bring the serial molesters in your churches to justice? What are you doing to protect their victims?

What justice will you impose on Marcial Maciel Degollado offered his young seminarians absolution for their youthful sins, and claimed to possess a papal dispensation for his sordid sex games? His victims wrote to you and begged you to act. What comfort will you offer them?

Your silence betrays them and betrays Jesus, who said, "Be as a child."

What justice will you recommend for the 63 pedophile priests and Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua and John Krol in Philadelphia? What justice for those under your direction who covered up the crimes, and moved the molesters from parish to parish, to stalk new victims?

When Cardinal Bernard Law could not longer hide the pedophiles in his Boston archdiocese, you anointed him as archpriest at St. Mary Major Basilica in the Vatican. Is this your justice? What would dear Mary say? What will you do for the wounded casualties?

How will you compensate the victims of the Rev. Bruce Ritter in New York, military chaplain Robert Peebles in Texas, Archbishop Juliusz Paetz in Poland, Bishop Franziskus Eisenbach in Germany, and victims of sodomy rings run by the Christian Brothers in Canada and Australia?

Mr. Ratzinger, your flock awaits divine justice. You said you talked to God and he told you that people shouldn't wear condoms when having sex. What did he say about your priests, bishops and Cardinals who have abused millions of innocents worldwide? Did God suggest recompense to the casualties? What justice for the perpetrators? What justice for those who covered up the crimes? What justice for you, who sits at the head of this ring of institutionalized child abuse?

You haven't said a word to comfort these victims, and your silence erodes the faith of your flock. Can you imagine the embarrassment to your faithful priests whose vocation is devastated? Will you apologize to the honest Catholics whose religion has been mocked? Can you see how these crimes tarnish the name of Jesus for all Christian believers? Are you not aware of the horror of every single human whose sense of common decency is shattered by these crimes?

Humanity longs for a spirituality of justice and common decency. Jesus healed people, shared food, comforted the poor and gave hope to society's outcasts. This is spirituality in practice. Justice here and now. This is the spirituality of Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Buddha and Aung San Suu Kyi. What can you offer the suffering of this world that truly honors the example of Jesus?

42 comments on the article “Holy Betrayal”

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The discussion, while necessary is both heartbreaking and frustrating. The Holy Father is one of God's greatest instruments for unholding justice. The cries of anguish of these victims breaks my heart. But the posts that put down Christianity the Church of God are also quite sad. Do not reject Christ and his church because of the sins of these priests. People use these awful sins as a excuse for pushing a God they already reject even further away. It is so sad to me that people think Catholics justify these actions when we do not. Gos is a righteous judge and He will make all this pain and suffering right, that is my firm hope. These preists are sinners but then again so I am. Let she who is without sins cast the first stone.

R Seguin

Unfortunately, the one papal resolulion to come out of this scandal is to ban young gay men with a sincere and holy vocation from entering the priesthood, as if they are the ones to

Justin Bakker

I must say that this article is exceptional! The way you take on this subject is far different from those who point fingers. Instead you pose a question and await the answer while still bringing a sense of responsibility at the hands of the pope. I am an atheist who was raised in a Catholic home and have seen the good and bad of catholicism. Most believers are inherently good and do not take things literally. It is the people who do speak in literal terms that are dangerous. I believe Pope Benedict is one such person. If rape is condoned in the bible and then taken into literal context in the physical world it does not surprise me the Pope remains silent on this subject.

It truly is a shame that not all people can be sensible and see this as the crime it is.


This is an unfair letter. Every effort has been done in the United States to punish the guilty and to handle them to justice.

Barry McD

Every organization has a certain percentage of problematic associates. To constantly bash and drag the Catholic Church through the media mud is tantamount to simply trying to sully a brand, like Coke or McDonalds. Perhaps you're a hater of this belief system? And you have a personal axe to grind?

2ndly, virtually all these abuses occured more than 40 years ago, yet they are served up in the media with headlines that scream as if they were happening today.

What does the Pope of today have to do with things that happened 40 years ago? The church is the people it is not the architecture. What do they have to do with things that happened 40 years ago?

Your tripe is just offensive hate speech cloaked as genuine concern.


One can also mention and remember the thousands of Native Amercian children in Quebec who were torn away from their families and systematically abused by the priests, who ran the boarding schools that the children were forced to attend. Their wounds have to yet healed and the Church has for long ignored their suffering.

Mike Smith

The Catholic Church, as well as the entire Christian religion, is so out of touch with reality it's not funny. No wonder I went atheist.


i have always been scared to live up to something that was man made speaking about god and this is why. If someone told me i spoke to god and he told me to do this i wouldn't be able to believe that person. how can a man made object tell you what to do? this is sick. no one should take advantage of ANYONE because god told them they could. It's complete bullshit.


Did you send it to anyone in the church, especially the pope, or just print it in Adbusters, something I doubt the vatican subscribes to.


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