In my column this week I wrote:
Whether it’ groping by priests or greed on Wall Street — institutions that don’t change in the face of crisis and public indignation will eventually become irrelevant. If history has shown one truism, it is that nothing is too big to fail.
It seems the disintegration of the church is happening faster than I had imagined. Consider the following stories in the past two days:
A German man who says a priest sexually abused him as an altar boy is demanding an apology from Pope Benedict XVI and compensation “even if the church goes bankrupt.”
Wilfried Fesselmann said then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is ultimately to blame for allowing the priest to continue in his pastoral duties.
“It is an insolence that the Catholic Church was only busy with covering-up and moving the priest around for years instead of dismissing him,” Fesselmann said in an interview this week with The Associated Press.
Fesselmann claims a chaplain, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, forced him to sleep with him and practice oral sex when he was an 11-year-old boy in the western city of Essen.
The priest, convicted of tying up and abusing two young boys in a California church rectory, wanted to leave the ministry. But in 1985, four years after the priest and his bishop first asked that he be defrocked, the future Pope Benedict XVI, then a top Vatican official, signed a letter saying that the case needed more time and that “the good of the Universal Church” had to be considered in the final decision, according to church documents released through lawsuits.
What is important to consider is that these are not isolated incidents. The unrelenting faucet of facts keeps dripping and shows no signs of slowing. The more people speak out – the more other victims are emboldened to do so.
The Papacy of Benedict XVI is essentially over. He has lost his moral authority and the trust of Catholics and others worldwide. Each day he remains, the Pope strains the credibility of the Catholic Church and exacerbates the public relations nightmare. If Pope Benedict XVI loves his church, he will step down.
This is the type of disaster that can happen when hard-headed social conservatives run a church. They are so unwilling to compromise, change their ways or accept reality – that they continue to repeat the same devastating mistakes – even as they go through contortions to play the victim or blame others for their own personal failures.
Not even finger pointing at innocent gay people will work this time. The Pope is left swimming on his own in the middle of the ocean without a life-vest. As the sordid and tawdry headlines continue unabated, this most uninspiring pontiff is headed towards inglorious infamy.