Alexander Stille in The New Yorker yesterday, commenting on the disclosure by a German lawyer that 231 boys were abused in the Regensburg cathedral choir over several decades, with beatings, food deprivation, and rape — a choir directed by Pope Benedict XVI's brother Georg Ratzinger from 1964 to 1994:
[Joseph] Ratzinger [later, Benedict XVI] understood better than most, if late, that priestly abuse was the negation of everything the Church was supposed to stand for. But, for much of his career, his focus and priorities were elsewhere. During most of his tenure, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was too busy disciplining anyone who dared step out of line with Church teachings on personal sexuality and family planning to bother with the thousands of priests molesting children. In 2009, a nun named Margaret McBride sat on the ethics committee of a San Diego hospital that had to decide the case of a pregnant woman whose doctors believed that she (and her fetus) would die if they did not terminate her pregnancy. The committee voted to allow an abortion, and the woman’s life was saved. Almost immediately, McBride’s bishop informed her of her excommunication. It took multiple decades and thousands of cases of predatory behavior to begin defrocking priests, but not much more than twenty-four hours to excommunicate a nun trying to save a human life. In 2011, also under Pope Benedict, the Vatican lifted its excommunication of McBride.
It took multiple decades and thousands of cases of predatory behavior to begin defrocking priests, but not much more than twenty-four hours to excommunicate a nun trying to save a human life: this says a lot, doesn't it?
The photograph of Pope Benedict and his brother Georg Ratzinger is from Stille's article, which notes that it's by Vincenzo Pinto, AFP/Getty.