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Religion Last Updated: Apr 5th, 2010 - 01:33:04

How Christian is the pope, really?
By Mary Shaw
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Apr 5, 2010, 00:16

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The independent and foreign press have written much in the past about the current pope�s ongoing cover-ups of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Now the American mainstream media are finally catching on. But it�s long overdue. So below is a history.

Back in 2001, when we still knew him as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the British press leaked a confidential letter from Ratzinger to all Catholic bishops ordering that �the church�s investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret,� and asserting �the church�s right to hold its inquiries behind closed doors and keep the evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the victims reached adulthood.� In other words, keep it all under wraps until the statutes of limitations expire. Clearly, he was not on the side of the victims. How Christian is that, really?

In 2002, he discounted the whole issue, referring to the media coverage of clergy sex abuse as a plot to discredit the church. Again, clearly he was not on the side of the victims. How Christian is that, really?

In 2005, after he had assumed the papal throne, he asked then-President George W. Bush to grant him immunity from prosecution for covering up clergy sex abuse allegations in a Texas diocese. Equally disgustingly, Bush complied. Clearly neither man was on the side of the victims. How Christian is that, really?

And now, with the news of several clergy sex scandals (and alleged cover-ups) unfolding across Europe, the American mainstream media are finally shining a light on this problem. So now, with all the additional scrutiny, will those responsible be held accountable?

When I was a child in Catholic school, I was taught that the pope is Jesus�s representative on earth. But, if you ask the famous question �What would Jesus do?� the answer would surely not involve the cover-up of pedophilia.

Child sexual abuse is a crime, and the pope knows it. Covering up a crime is also a crime in itself.

However, it appears that the pope will get away with it all. As Reuters reports, �Pope Benedict, accused by victims� lawyers of being ultimately responsible for a cover-up of sexual abuse of children by priests, cannot be called to testify at any trial because he has immunity as a head of state, a top Vatican legal official said on Thursday.�

And, unlike George W. Bush, who I hope will someday be prosecuted for his war crimes, the pope retains his title -- and therefore his diplomatic immunity -- for life.

And so, despite the harm his actions have caused to so many abused children, it appears that justice will never be fully served.

How Christian is that, really?

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author�s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail:

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