Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Patricia Miller Asks Important Question: "What Does It Mean for the Church That the Last Three Heads of the CDF Have Been Implicated in Covering up Sexual Abuse?"

Recommended: Patricia Miller's latest essay at Religion Dispatches, in which she continues to note the connections between the brutal attack on theologians regarded as dissidents under the previous two popes, and the cover-up of clerical sexual abuse of minors by the top leaders of the Catholic church. As she notes, the former head of the diocesan lay council in Regensburg has stated that the current head of the Vatican's watchdog agency, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Müller, "systematically" covered up clerical sexual abuse cases when he was archbishop of Regensburg. As Patti notes, Pope Benedict's brother Rev. Georg Ratzinger was choirmaster of the Regensburg cathedral boys' choir, about which allegations of abuse of choirboys over many years are now surfacing.

As Patti also points out, this makes the third director of CDF in a row now to be accused of having protected priests sexually abusing minors. She concludes with two very important questions:

What does it mean for the church that the last three heads of the CDF have been implicated in covering up sexual abuse at a time when Pope Francis has promised transparency on the issue? The tribunal that Pope Francis created last June to judge cases of bishop inaction or cover-up of abuse is housed in the CDF. 
And what does it mean for the sex-related doctrine guarded so ferociously by the CDF, doctrine on everything from birth control to women priests to marriage, that  has been overseen for the past 35 years by a succession of men whose vigorous defense of doctrinal orthodoxy may be directly proportionate to their need to deny the reality of sexual deviance within the church? 

I say that Patti Miller "continues" to note connections between the way the CDF savaged theologians regarded as dissident under previous popes, and the cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by priests, because, as I noted over a week ago, in a recent essay, she draws a direct line to connect the ferocity of the reaction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope John Paul II's orthodoxy watchdog as head of the CDF, who became Pope Benedict XVI, against progressive theologians, and the abuse cover-up in the Catholic church. As I also noted, she concludes that essay by arguing that "until the Vatican acknowledges the extent to which progressives were scapegoated to mask the church's own unresolved incongruences regarding sex, asking it to police anyone on abuse may be wishful thinking."

I think Patricia Miller is absolutely correct about this, and I think those who want to present the current pope as a breath of fresh air who is all about reforming the Catholic church should take a long, hard look at the fact that the tribunal he has created to judge cases of bishop cover-up of abuse is housed in the CDF. Just saying.

The photo of Patti Miller is from her Twitter page.

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