VATICAN CITY—Calling the behavior shameful, sinful, and much more frequent than the Vatican was comfortable with, Pope Benedict XVI vowed this week to bring the widespread pedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church down to a more manageable level.
Addressing thousands gathered at St. Peter's Square on Easter Sunday, the pontiff offered his "most humble apologies" to abuse victims, and pledged to reduce the total number of molestations by 60 percent over the next five years.
"This is absolutely unacceptable," Pope Benedict said. "It seems a weakening of faith in God has prevented our priests from exercising moderation when sexually abusing helpless minors."
"And let me remind our clergy of the holy vows they all took when they entered the priesthood," he continued. "They should know that they're only allowed one small child every other month."
The pope said he was deeply disappointed to learn that the number of children sexually abused by priests was almost 10 times beyond the allowable limit clearly outlined in church doctrine. Admitting for the first time in public that the overindulgent touching of "tender, tender young flesh" had become a full-blown crisis, the Holy Father vowed to implement new reforms to bring the pedophilia rate back down to five children per 1,000 clergy.
"The truth is there will always be a little bit of molestation—it's simply unavoidable," Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said. "But the fact that young boys have gotten much more attractive over the past few decades is no excuse for the blatant defiance of church limits that have been in place for centuries."
I have to admit, satirizing a matter of such sensitivity and personal human horror may be treading a fine ethical line. However, when the Vatican and Pope take the defensive and choose to reference an epidemic of sexual and physical abuse on children as "petty gossip," or claim a worldwide media conspiracy against the Pope - I think the sacred lines of sympathy, empathy, and victim respect have already been shredded - by the Vatican, not the public. A professor of mine once said (and I'm sure he ripped it off from someone), "There is no one so honest as the Satirist." I have found this to be quite true through my years since, and right now, concerning this specific matter, I think we need (and the victims and faithful Catholics deserve) some brutal honesty and action.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Pope Benedict XVI explains which types of slow, deliberate touching the church deems inappropriate.