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Why the pope should step down

Andreas Best | Monday, March 29, 2010

“Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,” then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in a letter to Catholic bishops in 2001. At that time he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an institution whose role in handling cases of allegations of child rape by priests has proved to have been one of protecting the perpetrators more than the victims.
After the scandals in the U.S. and Ireland with tens of thousands of abuse cases, the next wave of victims breaking their silence is surfacing now in Germany, Ratzinger’s country of origin. As archbishop of the diocese of Munich and Freising, he was directly involved in a decision to let a priest who had been relocated there after allegations of child abuse to continue working with children and teenagers, even though the priest’s psychiatrist warned the diocese to not let him have unsupervised contact with children.
As it turns out the priest continued to rape children and was found guilty of child abuse in 1986 by a German court. He was not suspended by the Catholic church until the beginning of March of this year.
Given the pope’s direct involvement in the embarassing handling of abuse cases in the past and his position as the leader of an organization that claims to have moral authority, he should weigh accepting personal responsibility and showing compassion for the victims against the desire to cling to the immense power of the papacy.
So far we have not been given any reason to doubt he favors the latter.

Andreas Best
grad student
off campus
March 25