The media’s campaign to smear Pope Benedict XVI continues

I have been asked, in a typically off-topic fashion, by our pro-abortion terrorist friend Operation CounterStrike, to address the recent slanders against Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI.

Here’s a summary statement by the Vatican press secretary:

In a note read on Vatican Radio on Saturday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it was “evident that in recent days there are those who have tried, with a certain aggressive tenacity, in Regensburg and in Munich, to find elements to involve the Holy Father personally in issues of abuse.” He added, “It is clear that those efforts have failed.”

It started when the media and government focused on the Regensburg-Domspatzen choir and boarding school, where Monsigneur Georg Ratzinger, the Holy Father’s older brother, was choirmaster for 30 years. Msgr. Ratzinger has not been charged with any kind of sexual misconduct. He has been asked to testify–and has agreed to do so–in any potential prosecutions (note that they aren’t even prosecuting anyone yet!), but says he knew of no abuse.

Then, as usually happens in these witch hunts (look at the ambiguous and limbic proceedings surrounding Fr. Christopher Buckner of Virginia!), the definition of “abuse” was stretched to the limit, so that Fr. Ratzinger has himself been accused of abuse for boxing kids in the ear!

Now, my own feelings on corporal punishment are mixed, especially as a matter of default disciplinary practice, but as Andy Griffith would say, “Come awwn!” Speaking of Andy Griffith, I guess we need to bring him up on charges for advocating child abuse on the air, since there are several references to belts and switches on The Andy Griffith Show. And don’t forget those horribly offensive Laura Ingalls Wilder books!!

Now, idiots who have no idea how Church hierarchy works, are trying to implicate then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger in the case of one Fr. Peter Hullermann, who was merely reassigned rather than disciplined in an abuse allegation while Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich. Gerhard Gruber, who was the vicar general at the time, claims full responsibility, but enemies of the Pope find that hard to believe.

You know, I was no fan of Bernard Cardinal Law, but I always felt the attacks against him were unfounded, as well. An archbishop, particularly a Cardinal Archbishop, has many responsibilities. Any given cardinal serves on various Vatican commissions, travels around the world, gives talks, etc. Cardinal George is also president of the USCCB–do you think he spends much time governing the diocese of Chicago?

This is why archbishops usually have auxiliary bishops, not to mention parochial vicars and others.

The enemies of the Church want to perceive a vast conspiracy of child molestors covering each others’ backs. If they are talking about the Legion of Christ or the Jesuits, or even certain Archdioceses, they’re not going to get much dispute in these quarters. However, that is not always the case . The overweening problem is one of downplaying complaints, the old problem of clericalism (like I was talking about in my recent post on censorship and the downside of the Index of Forbidden Books).

So, there’s an accusation against a priest. Diocesan bureaucrat says, “Oh, just another disgruntled parishioner making something up” (that does happen, you know!). If he’s just trying to brush it under the carpet, do you think he’s going to go running to the archbishop and talk about it?

No; he’s just going to reassign the priest and be done with it.

In any case, any reputable news agency is recognizing that, whatever mistakes he may have made in the past–mostly in regard to his own stated view at one point that these cases were overblown and largely the result of a media campaign against the Church–the Pope has done an outstanding job of dealing with the situation as it has come to greater light over the past 8 years.

When public school principals stop winking at guidance counselors who summon scantily clad thirteen year olds for lengthy “counseling” sessions on a daily basis, or teachers who openly fondle students in the hallways, maybe the secular world will have some room to talk.

53 responses to “The media’s campaign to smear Pope Benedict XVI continues

  1. It has always been my opinion that people who wait for the accused to be either dead or in a place of power to accuse them, throw great doubt on whether the abuse ever happened to begin with.

    Especially when it comes to judging the morality of 1960 by the morality of 2010. Who grew up in the 1970s and WASN’T abused by authority figures, now that the expanded definition of abuse is “words or actions intended to cause pain or hurt feelings” (yes, this is actually the definition of abuse written into LAW in Oregon today- yell at your kid and get charged with child abuse).

  2. If the charges against Law are unfounded, why is he hiding in Vatican City?

    And we’re not talking about boxing ears. We’re talking about transferring a serial-molester so he could continue molesting.

    • First, what “charges”? There were no legal charges against Law himself. And Law admitted on the stand that–the real cause of this crisis–he listened to psychologists’ advice. Law is not “hiding out” in Rome; he’s being hidden in Rome as an embarrassment, and he was an embarrassment long before this.

      Law is a typical liberal American bishop; only unlike Mahony and others, he had the decency to step down.

  3. And issuing a letter to bishops threatening to excommunicate anyone who cooperated with any outside investigation of child-molesting by priests.

    • The letter was pertaining to media investigations, not legal investigations.
      And what do you *CARE*?? You don’t believe in Natural Law, so nothing is wrong, according to your worldview. You think it’s OK to kill innocent babies. You think people have the rights to engage in any kind of sexual perversions they want, so why is this such a big deal to you??

      • Not with kids! CONSENTING ADULTS have a right to engage in whatever sexual practices they want.

        And unborn babies killed by abortion-on-demand are NOT innocent. They are guilty of outstaying their welcome inside another person’s body.

      • By what standard do you think it’s wrong with kids?

        I don’t understand. You claim to not believe in objective moral standards, then you arbitrarily make up your own.

        And what about consenting teenagers? Are consenting teenagers allowed to have sex? Because according to you sexual revolution types, they are, and most of the victims in these cases were teenagers.

  4. Details here:


    • The Times is not exactly unbiased when it comes to reporting on the Roman Catholic Church. Having said that, quoting from the article, here’s the Pope’s “Crime”:

      “The priest was sent from Essen to Munich for therapy in 1980 when he was accused of forcing an 11-year-old boy to perform oral sex. The archdiocese confirmed that the Pope, who was then a cardinal, had approved a decision to accommodate the priest in a rectory while the therapy took place.”

      I think you’re forgetting that in 1980, according to the DSM-III, this was in fact the proper choice for treatment of a child abuser. The theory was that one had to learn to face their temptations head on, and learn to deny those temptations, rather than avoid them.

      • Exactly, Ted. As Fr. Groeschel (speaking as a psychologist himself) said many times in 2002-2003, and Cardinal Law said in testimony, they were *following the guidelines of the psychologists*, which, from a Catholic perspective, should be an indictment of its own, that they were following an approach based upon psychology rather than spirituality.

  5. So your answer to the fact that the pope has a history of covering up child-molesting priests is, first you say “It’s all a conspiracy” (let me guess, it’s the Masons) and then you attack my ethics. Very telling. And, not a word about the children!

    We’re not talking about my ethics, nor yours. We’re talking about the ethics of the man you claim is God’s representative on Earth.

    • First, there’s no history. *One* event which he was not directly involved in does not make a history.

      I didn’t ask you about your personal behavior. I asked you about your *ethics*, as in your ethical theory. By your own admission, you’re judging the Pope. By what standard???

    • 1. One event is not a history, it’s an outlier and perhaps a mistake that was learned from
      2. It’s not the man that Catholics put their faith in, it is the office and the job as instituted by Christ who is God and who guaranteed that “The gates of hell shall not prevail”.
      3. The Pope at least *has* an ethical standard that is objective and external to himself. This is more than any atheist can claim (or indeed, most Protestants).

  6. Part of the problem was, during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s when psychologists thought pedophilia was curable, their cure lined up quite well with Catholic Spiritual teachings on how to cure an addiction to a given sin: Go on a personal retreat, concentrate on your sin, realize God has already forgiven you, then come back and get back to work.

    The fact that this approach is entirely ineffective , whether from either a psychological or spiritual point of view, with respect to pedophila, seemed at the time to be entirely beside the point.

    Still waiting for Counterstrike to tell us exactly what changes when for him to draw a line in the sand between pedophilia and other “using another human being for sexual pleasure without intending to cause a pregnancy” perversions.

    • Ted, but that’s what I see as the problem: Catholic spirituality aligned itself with the psychological and/or Protestant approach. There was a time when conquering a sin was not just “go on a retreat, realize you’re already forgiven, and get back to work,” but “engage in acts of mortification to counterbalance the temptation.” There was a time when penances assigned in the confessional actually meant something.

      As four OCS, he won’t reply. He can never directly reply when I challenge him to present his standards for ethical judgements.

  7. Neither can you! That is, you cannot give a foundation for your standards of ethics, except for a foundation based on a silly fantasy (god).

    • Actually, MOST of the moral part of Canon Law, when you dig into it, is trial-and-error, not God based. “God says do it this way” is an explanation for children, not adults. Most of the morals of the Catholic Church are based on what early Christians saw as the excesses and mistakes of Pagan Greece and Pagan Rome (which, BTW, also explains the sexual puritanism- since orgies and homosexual behavior were quite evident in those previous cultures). There is reason behind it all, but most people, like you, never look for the reasons.

  8. In fact, most of our ethical standards have no foundation, and need none.

    “God says do it this way” is not a foundation, because “God” is just your imaginary friend.

    • God is not an “imaginary friend.” For someone who has the intellectual capacity of a thirteen year old, you’re awfully condescending. Again, as far as I’m concerned, your atheism is a silly fantasy, and a complete defiance of human reason (reason is not the same thing as empiricism).

      Actually, “God says do it this way” is not the basis of our ethical standards. The Natural Law is about more than just divine revelation, but the Natural Law does imply a Natural Lawgiver.

      My point is that you have no grounds for making any ethical judgements, unless you have an ethical philosophy, and you refuse to offer one other than petulant insults.

      If positivism is your only basis, then positive works on my side as much as it does yours, if not moreso.

      • Pardon me. I will modify my statement to read: you have no well-founded basis for ethical judgement because you attempt to base it on TWO silly fantasies: a god about which anything can be known, and “natural law”.

        An unfounded ethics is better than one founded on wrong ideas.

      • If there is no natural law, then there is no well-founded basis for ethical judgement, because that’s what the Natural Law *is*.

      • No, you’re wrong again. Saying that moral law is man-made (as Kant says, man “gives himself the moral law”) is not the same as saying there is no difference between moral law and the law of the land.

        Then you say all universal moral laws are “by definition” Natural Laws. Well ok but that definition doesn’t mean they are given by Nature (nor by anything supernatural); it’s just another way of saying man is natural so all man-made things are also natural. The Eiffel Tower is natural too, in that sense. That’s a degenerate definition which includes everything!

        Laws, including moral laws and, separately, actual laws of the land, can both be made by humans.

        To say “Ancient Romans could not have owned slaves because humans cannot be property” is meaningless. Ancient Romans DID own slaves.

        It’s a matter of knowing when you have to stop asking “why”. In physics, it turns out where the electron is exactly and how fast it’s going exactly are questions you cannot ask. If you could ask them, electrons would radiate out their energy and spiral into the atomic nuclei and matter would only exist for a very tiny fraction of a second. In philosophy, the question you have to stop asking at some point is “why”, “what’s the foundation of this or that”. Again, Wittgenstein (that is, late Wittgenstein as in PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS, not early Wittgenstein as in TRACTATUS.) The consequences of continuing to ask the question too insistantly are not as drastic as the decay of atoms but they include working yourself into a frenzy, writing meaningless dissertations based on a shared fantasy, and (sometimes) entrusting your children to pedophilic cults like the Koresh people.

      • Aha! “It’s a matter of knowing when you have to stop asking ‘why’.”!!!
        That’s convenient, isn’t it? And doesn’t that prove exactly the point I’ve been making all along: that atheists and agnostics are intellectual lightweights who are afraid to ask “why”???

      • No, we are intellectual HUMANWEIGHTS who know when to stop repeating the same question over and over again.

      • You’re cowards and hypocrites, actually. You say on the one hand that we believers want “easy answers” then you accuse of us “asking too many questions.” Which one is it???

      • First, you need to actually show intelligence- you’ve yet to in this discussion…..

      • And yet, if you keep asking why, there’s usually a reason. Sometimes a very good one. Usually buried far deeper than most mere philosophers are willing to go.

        A great why question to ask is “why are matrilineal non-western societies also hetrosexual monogamists”? This is a good question because it provides an answer to the prudishness of Christians that does not refer to Christianity as such.

  9. Ted Seeber,

    RE: “Still waiting for Counterstrike to tell us exactly what changes when for him to draw a line in the sand between pedophilia and other “using another human being for sexual pleasure without intending to cause a pregnancy” perversions.”

    I draw the line between CONSENTUAL acts, and UN-CONSENTUAL acts. Acts can be unconsentual EITHER because someone does not consent, OR because someone is not competent to consent (like children).

    • I would argue that except for marriage and procreation, all sexual acts are non-consensual in the extreme, because they are based on a lie. Only till-death-do-us-part heterosexual monogamy is based on real love- love so real that nine months later you have to give it a name because it has produced a child.

  10. You are wrong. Ethical judgement can be founded on a law made by human beings.

    • That’s positivism, and it’s not really ethics; it’s obeying the law. Under that standard, anything not contained in the law explicitly is not a matter of ethics or morals. Plus, laws can be changed. So, if the law defines morality, then if those of us who oppose abortion can successfully change the law, then that changes morality, doesn’t it?

      But if there is an extralegal standard of behavior, that is binding on people regardless of culture or laws, then that standard is a natural law–because that is the definition of Natural Law.

      You make statements all the time that imply such a standard. You say that a woman is not morally obligated to keep an “unwanted” baby, and that the baby, while human, has no right to “trespass” in the mother’s body. This is an ethical statement, not a legal one. This implies a moral standard that is not explicit in our country’s laws.

      Now, you’re talking about how you (rightly) think pedophilia is wrong, but you’re appealing to the “law,” even though you’re applying the civil law of one country to the sovereign leader of another.

      More importantly, you’re judging the Pope based upon such a legal standard, as if that legal standard has the ability to judge the Pope, and, by extension, the Church.

      Therefore, the mere standard of civil law cannot be sufficient, as you are again implying a standard beyond any limits of government borders or Church or whatever.

      You cannot have it both ways. Either there’s an absolute standard of morality or there isn’t.

  11. Re: “either there’s an absolute standard of morality or there’s not”

    Today owning slaves is wrong. In Ancient Rome it was not wrong.

    If by “absolute” you mean, incapable of change as culture changes, then I would agree there is no absolute morality. Sure in Ancient Rome there was no body-self-ownership by slaves, and if you were a pregnant slave your master could order you to grow the pregnancy or get an abortion. But over time, what is “right” has changed. We no longer recognize ownership of ones body by anyone other than onesself.

    • I don’t recognize ownership of one’s body, because I don’t recognize the body as a “thing” that can be owned.

      Slavery is an excellent example of natural law, as Aristotle says that, while it is necessary to have a working class, there are inherent problems with the institution of slavery. And while Catholicism may have recognized that slavery was a “necessary evil” or taken it for granted, the Church has *always* taught, since the time of St. Paul, and through to 19th century America, that slaves had to be accorded basic human dignity.

      • If you don’t recognize ownership of ones body, then do you support forcing people to donate blood? Or, one kidney (which healthy people can easily spare)? That would save lives, and if the people don’t own their bodies, then they have no right to refuse.

        I think you are being less than truthful when you deny owning your body. I think if I tried to take part of your body away from you you’d say “Hey, that’s mine, I own that!” pretty quickly.

      • No, I’m being totally honest; you just don’t comprehend what I’m saying because your anthropology is totally screwed up.

        I *am* my body. My body is not “my” property, because “me” and “my body” are coterminous.

        *If* we can conscript military service–and I don’t think we can, because that goes against the dignity of the human person–then I see no reason why we shouldn’t conscript blood donation.

        Organ donation is quite a different matter, as that involves violation of the integrity of the body (just like tattooing and body piercing violate the integrity of the body).

  12. The idea of universal rights is itself a recent innovation. It’s not “natural” or “absolute” in the sense that you mean.

    Same with the idea of owning property.

    • How do you know what I mean by Natural? Natural Law is the law of human nature, what is best in accordance with human dignity, which can be derived from reason but is binding on all people regardless of culture or religion. It is perfectly acceptable for natural law to expand its constraints as we learn more about human nature. “Universal human rights” may be a recent development in natural law theory, but they are still part of natural law theory, as they transcend local cultures and laws, and they have their roots in ancient moral teachings ranging from Buddha to Plato to the Bible.

  13. So getting back to your hypothetical, if you could change USA culture to a pro-life culture, would you then be right? In the context of that culture, of course, other wise you would not have changed it to a pro-life culture. But you’re wrong in OUR culture and there seems very little likelihood of you succeeding in regressing us. People very rarely UN-learn rights and freedoms once they have taken them up. The ways of making people give up their ideas of freedom–holocausts and gulags and so forth–are unavailable today in USA, so far.

    • Holocausts and gulags are not the ways of making people “unlearn” anything, even though you and your Communist friends would more than love to implement them here in the US. Bush laid the groundwork for you, and now Obama’s continuing the job: waterboarding, Patriot Act, outsourcing local police departments to Blackwater. . . . .

      What scares you is that pro-lifers *are* effective at changing minds, which is why you have to construct your absurd arguments to continue to protect your pro-death position. We change minds by presenting the facts. Just as people changed their minds on segregation by learning about the horrors of lynching, and just as people change their minds about various international human rights abuses when they see the pictures, America rejects abortion when America sees abortion.

    • I’d pretty much consider the pro-death culture a regression when it comes to human rights, as killing off the next generation is pretty much an evolutionary dead end no matter how you look at it. A pro-life culture in the United States is almost a certainty in the long run, as current demographics show that only the Baby Boomer generation was ever pro-death, and the vast majority of people under the age of 45 support some form of restriction on abortion.

      • Ted, EVERYone supports SOME restrictions on abortion. Even I do! I believe abortions should be restricted to those patients who want them, and should not be performed, ever, on patients who do not want them.

        Doesn’t make them “pro-life”.

        Americans are squeamish and they feel sowwy for the poor widdle babies, but they will never again tolerate the idea that a normal woman, someone they know, their sisters or mothers or selves, might be forced by government to grow a pregnancy she prefers to abort.

        Free people almost never give up their freedom and become slaves again.

  14. Mind you I’m not saying there is no absolute morality. There may be such a supernatural thing! But if there is, it’s supernatural and nothing can be known about it.

    • Absolute morality is not supernatural; it is natural. That’s why it’s called Natural Law. It can be known just as we know the laws of how atoms work or the best way to grow tomato plants. You must have had a horrible education. And we can know the supernatural when the supernatural addresses us, just as a dog cannot comprehend human intelligence but it can understand that humans exist and understand the instructions we give it.

      • No, morality cannot be known as we know the laws of atomic physics or plant-biology. Why not? Because it is not possible to investigate morality by means of controlled experiments.

        If I say it’s immoral to eat shellfish, and you say it’s immoral to eat beef, there is no way to experimentally or objectively test which of us is right. All we can do is identify gross moral failures like holocausts. That’s not enough to generate the type of understanding we have of atoms and plants.

      • Yes, you can, because it’s a question of what’s best. If health is a good, and beef is unhealthy, than it’s immoral to eat beef. Or else it’s immoral to eat beef in large quantities. That’s natural law.

        If we can prove, biologically or psychologically, that a behavior is best for a well-developed person, then we can know what is best morally.

        Of course, that leads to the question of “what is a well-developed person,” which takes us back to teleology.

        Case in point: there is no way promiscuous sex is “healthy” for a person. It spreads disease. It runs risks of “unwanted” pregnancy.” It is emotionally damaging. We know scientifically that sex produces oxytocyn in both men and women, which is the pair-bonding hormone. We know that the purpose of oxytocin is both to give the person a sense of satisfaction and to create a relationship. “One night stands” abuse that mechanism and impede the person’s ability to develop healthy pair-bonds.

        Similarly, auto-eroticism is wrong because it does *not* produce oxytocin; it merely produces an endorphin rush (endorphins being the trigger for the oxytocin mechanism). Both sexual climax *and* physical touch of another person are necessary for the full process of biochemical satisfaction. Masturbation creates only an addictive response–the same addictive response triggered by caffeine and cocaine, which also stimulate endorphins. The more the endorphins in the brain are artificially triggered, the harder it is for the brain to produce oxytocin, making it harder to develop both healthy relationships and a proper sense of self-fulfillment.

        This is all scientific fact, and all proving basic moral principles.

    • I believe there is an absolute morality that transcends culture- and it’s scripture is Human DNA, the one scripture that was written directly by God. It’s quite natural and quite a bit can be known from it. For instance, one thing we know is that all human beings need air, water, food, clothing, and shelter to survive from day to day; yet our economic systems seem largely designed to deny certain groups of people those things, either partially or entirely.

      • Ted, DNA was not written by God. And the language of DNA is very limited. It concerns only one thing: which proteins the cell should make, and when. Nothing about morality or immorality in it.

  15. But you can ask “why” forever! WHY, in your view, is there a god? And why is your answer to that question true? And why is your answer to THAT true? And that?

    Eventually the answer is, SHUT UP and stop wasting time. And that answer can be given BEFORE you cite “God” as a reason for one of the previous answers, just as well as after it.

    “God makes it so” is NOT an explanation, it is giving a name (“God”) to the ABSENCE of an explanation.

    • Philosophically speaking, “God” is whatever hits at the maximum level of existence, and any time we reach a “limit,” there is a question of what goes beyond. You use the example of subatomic matter, but the real issue is the universe itself. If the universe is finite, how did it get here? What came before the big bang? If there were no point in answering these questions, there would be no point in theoretical physics.

      The vast majority of human beings want to know “why,” and they place the answer in “God.”

      Listen, due to your admitted lack of philosophical training beyond Wittgenstein, there’s little point in my rehashing all the arguments for God’s existence in a combox post, especially when it’s drifting off-topic to the original thread.

      The point of our present discourse is not how I can justify *my* morals; it’s how you can justify *your* condemnation of the alleged acts of the Holy Father when you deny there’s an absolute moral code.

  16. @Counterstrike- “If I say it’s immoral to eat shellfish, and you say it’s immoral to eat beef, there is no way to experimentally or objectively test which of us is right.”

    Not quite true. You’re talking subgroup morality there- and it turns out, many people of Semitic ancestry have a shellfish allergy to the shellfish that live in the Mediterranean and Sea of Galilee. Likewise, after centuries of vegetarianism the Hindus have lost the ability to digest meat properly (there’s a story I read as a child that Ghandi himself tested this in his teen years- and found out he carried the wrong set of genes the hard way). Actually, with vegetarians, there’s no going back to red meat after as little as 8 years- the ability to digest it atrophies.

    There are reasons for both.

  17. DNA was written by the creative person or process that created the rest of the universe. You may choose not to call that “God”, but that’s because you’re an adolescent-minded idiot who thinks that you have a right to your own body and that abortion is justifiable.

  18. “Abortions should never be performed, ever, on patients who don’t want them”.

    Interesting that you’re against emergency abortions to save the life of an unconscious woman- which oddly enough, by the principle of double effect, is an “allowable evil” and one of the closest things to justifiable that abortion ever gets.

  19. “forcing people to”- not forcing. But depending on the situation, I’m all for giving one kidney or blood to help another human being survive. They don’t like me at Red Cross anymore- when I turned 35, not only did my tolerance level for alcohol disappear, but also apparently my ability to give blood without fainting (not that I mind the fainting, but they say I take up too much bed time). I’m on the match list for kidney and bone marrow transplant though. Give me a close enough genetic match and I’d happily do it.

    In other words, I’d agree we shouldn’t *force* people to do it. But I think we should indoctrinate them at the earliest possible age of understanding that it is a high moral value to give of oneself to save the life of another, and we should hold up such people who do so as heroes.

    And that includes the mothers of our children.

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