Shocking as these statements may be, there is a clear chain of evidence that backs them up. Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, bears a unique personal responsibility for the entire mess.
Moreover, his responsibility has nothing at all to do with his current position as Supreme Pontiff. His actions forty years ago helped set the stage of the crisis in the first place. And it was his efforts to begin to undo the effects of those actions twenty years later that will inevitably cause the scandals to end.
Outrageous? Impossible? Crazy? Consider the following historical items and connect the dots yourself. It all hinges on the fact that the Inquisition (now called the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" or CDF) has been running the coverup since the counter-Reformation a fact that has recently been acknowledged by a leading expert, Fr. Tom Doyle.
Much more information on how the cover-up worked and why it failed is revealed including a n explanded version of this timeline may be found in in my book, Sons of Perdition.
Serious questions to consider that are raised by this information include:
- Why has Pope Benedict revived the cover-up?
- What gives the Church the right to deal with cases privately?
- What's now being done about current abuse cases?
- Are predatory priests being quietly defrocked, ejected back into civil society, with no record or tracking as sex offenders?
- Or are they being transferred once again to avoid exposure and allowed to continue to prey in distant locations?
There were few clergy abuse scandals for hundreds of years simply because clergy sexual abuse was covered up at first by the Inquisition and later by the secret system it had created.
- 1478 The Spanish Inquisition is founded by Ferdinand and Isabella. Run and jealously guarded by the crown, its prime focus is mainly on protecting the state from divisions caused by converted Jews and Moslems, as well as heresy and clergy misconduct.
- 1542 The Roman Inquisition is revived by Pope Paul III in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. From the beginning, the Roman version is mainly concerned with intellectual dangers to the Church at large, such as Lutheranism and modern science as well as clerical discipline. It publishes the Index of Forbidden Books, and remains to this day (although under a different name) as it began: the most powerful department of the Vatican.
- 1559 Pope Pius IV authorizes the Spanish Inquisition to actively seek out and punish priests who seduce women through misuse of the sacrament of Confession, known as "solicitation in the confessional."
- April 15, 1561 The pope, pleased by its success, extends its sexual jurisdiction over all Spanish dominions. The recently revived papally-run Roman Inquisition is given similar broad powers.
- The crime of solicition is first published as one that must be denounced to the Inquisition under penalty of excommunication. This causes such a sensation in Spain that the scribes are overwhelmed by the number of women complaining. It would be quietly removed from the list, even while later popes extended the powers and jurisdiction of the Inquisition over clergy sex cases.
- Around 1565, the confessional booth is invented in Milan by St. Charles Borromeo, as a screen between two chairs. The idea is to prevent sexual contact between priests and penitents. Within half a century, the Vatican would order them installed in every church in the world.
- 1622 Pope Gregory XV decrees that priests are still obliged to individually inform pentitents of their duty to inform on sexually predatory clergy, but the whole process becomes cloaked in secrecy. In areas where no Inquisition is active, bishops are empowered to set up their own secret tribunals and inflict the most extreme punishments.
- 1646 The Piarists, a highly successful order teaching poor boys across Italy, is abolished by the pope for child sexual abuse. Founded by the patron saint of Catholic education, St. José Calasanz, the order had been taken over by a pedophile ring, and finally busted by the Roman Inquisition. The order will be quietly revived later, but these scandals are successfully concealed until the opening of the Inquistion's own archives at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
- 1820 The Spanish Inquisition is abolished by decree. Archives show its continual intervention in clergy sex cases until the very end.
- 1836 "Maria Monk," an alleged escapee from a Canadian convent, is the first to break silence about sexual and other abuse in nunneries. She is nearly universally reviled and disbelieved.
- 1867 American historian Henry Charles Lea publishes a three-volume study on celibacy in the Catholic Church which reveals the long and often futile struggle to impose chastity on clerics, including the involvement of the Inquistion, and is largely ignored.
- 1880 Personal friend of Lincoln and former American priest, Charles Chiniquy, bitterly complains of the current ongoing dangers and results of solicitation in The Priest, The Woman, and the Confessional.
- 1908 The now-Universal Roman Inquisition is renamed the "Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office" and given authority across the globe.
- 1922 Any knowledge at all of the Holy Office's role in sex crimes is now deemed too scandalous. New rules were written. They have never been released.
- 1947 The Servants of the Paraclete, a religious order dedicated to helping fallen priests, is established with headquarters in Jemez Springs, New Mexico by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald.
- 1954 An American ex-Franciscan, Emmett McGloughlin, in his autobiography first reveals the existence of the Jemez Springs establishment as one "ecclesiastic prison" among others where priests are sent without trial for sexual offenses, alcoholism, and insubordination.
- 1962 Reporting laws that mandate disclosure of sex abuse appear for the first time and McGloughlin publishes another book with a few more details on Jemez Springs. Prophetically, he writes, "The sexual affairs of priests in the U.S. are more closely guarded secrets than the classified details of our national defense."
- On March 16, Cardinal Alberto Ottaviani, the head of the Holy Office, presents Pope John XXIII with Crimen sollicitationis, in English, Instruction on the Manner of Proceeding in Cases of Solicitation (pdf). This is a highly secret document containing instructions for bishops on how to proceed trying cases of sexual abuse and homosexuality among clerics.
- In October, the Second Vatican Council begins.
The secret system was inadvertently broken during the Ecumenical Council. Though it happened as an unintended consequence of trying to protect progressive theologians, Joseph Ratzinger was undoubtedly largely responsible for this.
- Immediately after the Council began, the head of the liberal faction, Cardinal Josef Frings of Belguim, opposes Ottaviani's proposed plan of discussion. Ottaviani boycotts the Council for weeks out of pique, giving liberals the chance to determine their own agenda. Among them is Joseph Ratzinger, one of Frings' trusted theological advisors.
- On November 8, 1963, Frings gives a rousing speech that Ratzinger wrote calling for reform of the Holy Office and its "medieval ways." It is enthusiastically applauded. Pope Paul VI calls Frings that evening to tell him that the reform will go through.
- Heated discussions over celibacy and the clergy also consume the Council. Finally in the Decree on the Life and Ministry of Priests, carefully coded language reveals that 1) priests will no longer be punished for sexual transgressions but treated with "with fraternal charity and magnanimity" and 2) celibacy is not necessary for the priesthood but would still be demanded of Latin-rite priests. This sets the stage for the great clergy exodus.
- On December 7, 1965, the very last day of the Council, the reform of the Holy Office is announced. It will henceforth be called the "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" (CDF). Some secrecy will be ended, priests would be given certain rights of appeal and representation, and the Index of Forbidden Books will be discontinued. Ominously, the CDF is given the power of questioning faith and morals anywhere in the entire Church. Only the Pope retains more power.
It took some time for the "secret system" to break down after Vatican II. It took just as long for Cardinal Ratzinger to fix it.
- June 14, 1967 Finally bowing to pressure, Pope Paul IV issues an encyclical that removes the restrictions of the Holy Office on clergy wishing to leave, and the flight of disgruntled religious begins.
- 1968 Returning to academic life, Ratzinger is traumatized by anticlerical student protesters. His doubts about the direction of the Council grow, and he becomes a reactionary.
- Mid-1970s With few other options available, the Paracletes' Jemez monastery becomes a major center for treating priests with sexual problems, over the objections of founder Fitzgerald, who wanted to imprison them on an island for life. Instead, the order opens up more treatment centers, even halfway houses, and loans priests in treatment out to local communities without warning anyone. At some point, they are advised to destroy most of their files by the bishops, and advised the New Mexico archdiocese to do the same.
- 1981 Pope John Paul II names Ratzinger as Prefect of the CDF. The former protestor is now the "Vatican's enforcer." He begins a highly publicized series of campaigns against liberal causes that have sprung up since the Council and many of his former allies, too, such as Hans Kung and Karl Rahner. National bishops councils established by the Council are also opposed as threats to papal power.
- 1983 Canon Law (pdf) is revised, complete with a statute of limitations for clergy sex crimes.
- 1984 The first significant modern scandal begins with the exposure of Gilbert Gauthe, a serial child molester in Louisiana. His attorney, Ray Mouton, calls for help. Priests Tom Doyle, then working in the nunciature in Washington, and Michael Peterson, a psychiatrist who had recently founded a treatment center for troubled priests, become involved. Together, they write a proposal for American bishops, The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Responsible Manner, most simply known as The Manual (link). It calls for a "crisis control team" to fly around the country putting out hotspots, with little concern for victims.
- 1985 The Manual is presented to the bishops at their June meeting. It would even be shown to Pope John Paul II. Nothing happens.
- 1992 The scandals first receive extensive national media attention when the notorious James Porter cases surface. His tracks lead to Jemez Springs, which leads to scandals breaking out in New Mexico. By this time, some 1,200 other religious had also passed through their programs.
- American bishops find themselves again frustrated by Rome, which blocks their proposals.
- 1993 Archbishop Robert Sanchez of New Mexico becomes the first high-ranking prelate to fall as his affairs are exposed on CBS' 60 Minutes.
- At World Youth Day in Denver, Pope John Paul II infamously dismisses the crisis as a largely North American affair due to a corrupt secular society.
- Late 1990s Despite the pope's wishful thinking, the crisis becomes truly global. Scandals continue throughout the United States, too many to mention, but also break out across Canada, Ireland, Australia, Austria, even Poland.
- The Servants of the Paraclete scale back their treatment progams in New Mexico. Meanwhile, two priests, a former client and one of their own, are murdered in separate events by men claiming they were abused by them.
- 1997 Ratzinger opens the Inquisition's own secret archives to select scholars, allowing for the rediscovery of the Inquisition's role in the cover-up.
- April 30, 2001 The CDF secretly issues Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, or Safeguarding the Sanctity of the Sacraments (link) under Pope John Paul II's name. This replaces Crimen sollicitationis with a policy even more secret and ruthless than before. All priestly sex crimes are to be placed under the CDF, which usually will authorize the bishops to conduct trials themselves. However, clerical homosexuality is not even mentioned.
- May 18, 2001 Ratzinger quietly adds the cover letter (pdf) for the new policy, making cases "subject to the pontifical secret." In other words, absolute secrecy is imposed on all who know about them under pain of automatic excommunication that only the pope can forgive.
- 2002 American bishops issue the so-called "Dallas Charter" calling for audits and zero tolerance.
- 2002 The scandals reach Boston (again) with John Geoghan and other cases. Cardinal Bernard Law, exposed as a prime enabler of the cover-up, resigns and is compensated with a major post in the Vatican.
- 2003 Crimen sollicitationis is discovered among diocesan legal papers in Boston.
- 2004 Pope John Paul II apologizes for the excesses of the Inquisition and asks for forgiveness.
- The National Review Board issues a report claiming 10,000 child sexual abuse victims of nearly 4,000 Catholic priests just in the United States over the last 50 years, undoubtedly gravely underestimated.
- April 19, 2005 Ratzinger ascends the papal throne as Benedict XVI.
- In June, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops finally gets a toothless version of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People approved.
- 2007 David Yallop, in his critical biography of John Paul II, reports that there are so many referrals for action against priests to the CDF that it takes 18 months just to get a reply.
- 2008 The Vatican reports that for the third year in a row, the number of new cases has gone steadily down, despite record high financial settlements.
Note: more money, but fewer cases, and many more priests being reported to Rome. This is exactly what should be expected if the secret system is once more in place. And Joseph Ratzinger, who helped accidentally dislodge it, is the one largely responsible for doing so.
One can only shudder at what he may accomplish as pope.
The Roman Catholic Church, it seems, is quietly once again dispensing its "justice" privately, unobserved and therefore unchecked and unbalanced. Once again, it asserts its clerical "privileges" that is to say, private laws for the good of the clerical class, not the secular society. And certainly not for the boys and girls, women and men, who are have been or will be, its victims.
Is this at all tolerable in a modern democratic society that upholds one law for all people?
This explains how the Inquisition came to have jurisdiction over clergy sex crimes, and how that was broken and then restored by the man who became pope.
The story of Maria Monk, escaped nun and the first victim to speak out in Victorian times.
Excerpts from The History of Sacerdotal Celibacy within the Christian Church by Henry Charles Lea.
More about Rev. Chiniquy, and his friend, Abraham Lincoln.
Methods, goals, and its sinister legacy
The original article about the special contribution of the "Land of Enchantment" to the scandals.
His cleaned-up testimony analyzed.