Benedict has a short memory

The previous Pope, Benedict XVI, has written a letter to an atheist Italian mathematician in which he conveniently ignores a piece of his past. One could call it a lie of omission, as the facts are true if Benedict is a separate person from Joseph Ratzinger. in this letter, he denies ever covering up any cases of child abuse.

In a letter to an atheist Italian mathematician, retired Pope Benedict XVI defended his own handling of allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and politely criticized the logician’s total reliance on scientific facts for meaning.

“I never sought to conceal these things,” the pope said of cases of clerical abuse, and lamented the scholar depicting the church as the only place where such “deviation” and “filth” occur.

…the pope said he met “with deep dismay” Odifreddi’s unspecified comments about the clerical abuse scandals.

The pope, who was the first pontiff to meet with abuse victims, had spoken out forcefully against “the filth” in the church, clarified church laws to expedite cases, and mandated bishops’ conferences put in place stringent norms against abuse, among a number of other initiatives.

However, his hands are not as clean as he imagines or pretends they are.

When he was the archbishop of Munich in 1980, the case of Peter Hullermann crossed his desk. Father Hullermann was accused of multiple crimes of abuse. In one case he had taken an 11-year-old boy hiking in the mountains, plied him with drink, locked the door, stripped him and forced him to perform oral sex. Yet Hullermann’s punishment was simply to be moved from Essen to Munich for therapy. Within days, this known sexual predator was given pastoral duties with access to young people – and he promptly abused again. Benedict’s defenders have long insisted those fateful decisions were taken by his deputy. But the crucial documents, when they surfaced, said otherwise.

No less disturbing is the case of the California priest Stephen Kiesle, convicted of tying up and molesting two young boys in a church rectory. His superiors wrote to Rome in 1981, requesting that the abuser be defrocked, warning of “scandal” if he remained. After an initial request for more information, Ratzinger took four years to deliver his reply. It came in Latin – and said his office needed more time to consider the case. No doubt grateful for the delay, Kiesle was able to return to one of his former parishes – in the youth ministry.

It was a similar story with Father Lawrence C Murphy of Wisconsin, tormentor of as many as 200 boys in his care at a special school for the deaf, telling them God wanted him to teach them about sex. Eventually the archbishop of Milwaukee wrote to Rome – to Ratzinger – demanding action. Once again, the future pope failed to answer. Eventually a secret, canonical trial of Murphy began in 1996, ordered by Ratzinger’s deputy. But the trial was halted after the abuser wrote a personal plea to Ratzinger, requesting that he be allowed to “live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood”. He was granted his wish, dying peacefully, buried in his priestly vestments. Those children, deaf and especially vulnerable, never saw justice.

Somehow, Benedict has blocked these actions from his mind, or managed to alter his memory to exclude his own involvement. The best explanation for this type of cognitive dissonance or bias is in the book “Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me” by social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson,

Even so, with all of the documentation on his involvement in covering up the abuse and protecting perpetrators, it seems difficult to understand how he can make such a blatantly false declaration.

He is a leader of the Catholic Church, so I guess that explains it all.

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