Not going to do too big a thing on this, as I'm getting the sense that mainstream fascination with the anachronistic Catholic pagentry in the choosing of a new Pope will soon fade. Let me merely say that, my Catholic upbringing aside, the new Pope Benedict XVI (aka Joseph Ratzinger) is not a man who's beliefs I've ever greatly agreed with as long as I've known about him. He is, and has been for a long time, a hardline traditionalist in a Church that could use a lot less of those at this point. Still he's now the Big Cheese and to the degree that you're inclined to care what he has to say I suppose he deserves a clean slate.
Oh, but just one thing (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan on this one)...
THE pressing issue for the Catholic Church is, will continue and SHOULD continue to be their as of yet still grotesquely innadequate response to the clergy sex abuse crisis. What has the new Pope previously had to say about this issue? Read on...
"I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offences among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower... One comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the church,"
For those of us who don't speak B.S. fluently, he means that the scandal is all just a creation of that eeeeeeeeevil secular/liberal American media boogeyman. Didn't see THAT ONE coming, eh? Prediction: Unless there's another big flare-up of accusations, justice will continue to not be served for the hundreds of rape victims of priests, American Catholics will continue to drift further and further away from the Mother Church (a schism, perhaps?), and organized religion in the West will continue it's inexorable slide toward irrelevance.
I've said this before, but perhaps not here: There should be a worldwide, U.S.-led full-scale criminal investigation into the entire Roman Catholic Church on this matter. EVERY priest found guilty of abuse should be in jail. EVERY Cardinal or official who knowingly covered up the abuse and moved them around to new victim-rich environments (I'm looking at YOU Bernard Law) should be in jail. EVERY Vatican official who is found to have known about the coverups and did not immediately report it to a superior or a law-enforcement agency should be (at least) arrested. If the Pope himself (including the new Pope, who was a high-ranking and highly-involved Vatican official before his ascension yesterday) is found to have known about it and participated in ANY WAY in the coverups, even in passing, then yes, he should be arrested and possibly even imprisoned for doing so. No one is above the law, "infallible" or not.
I know that some say that a criminal investigation into the upper echelon's of the Church must not take place because it could cripple the institution. To them I say: Understood, but disregarded. It would be justice, plain and simple, to "cripple" the financial status of the entire Church if that was what was required to bring justice to ONE abuse victim... and there are THOUSANDS. To ALL politicians with the power and place to do so, I deeply implore you: Do not let this scandal "die" with the last Pope. Many offenders are still in the Church, and still being protected. Don't go soft on this. Show them that no one gets away with hurting our children, no matter how big their castle, how oppulent their throne or which God they claim to speak for. Get on this, get the people responsible, get it done, and let justice at last be served.
The world has now not only the duty to save children from predators, but also the opportunity to perhaps save the Church from itself.
But then, thats just my opinion.