In 1985, the CDF head took three years to respond to an attempt to bounce a bondage-oriented priest-predator out of the clergy. Another predictable long thread on dotCommonweal over it. The pope just needs to say something believably truthful and do something administratively to begin to end the cover-ups. And get his lieutenants to hush up.
The pope’s defenders are right: Cardinal Ratzinger ran with the pack before his “conversion.” I don’t condemn him any more for it that I would other bishops who diddled while predators conned their way out of trouble. It’s certainly not saintly behavior, and it doesn’t mark him as a exceptional Christian. But if there were more powerful figures in the Church than the head of the CDF, I can’t imagine who they might be. But I’ll take the statement as it is that Cardinal Ratzinger was without power or recourse in the face of more powerful churchmen.
I didn’t see Rita Ferrone’s quote on that thread before, but I’ll repeat it here:
I find it unsatisfactory, as a lay person, that the lay state should be considered a kind of “dumping ground” for priest-criminals — we ALL ought to be held to the standards of Christ, by our baptism. But that’s another discussion.
I would like to explore that other discussion. But I have a suggestion for a “dumping ground.”
One additional reform to reinstate that would be good would be the order of penitents. I agree with Rita. Restoration to the lay state is too good for priest-predators and cooperating bishops. Off to a monastery (the traditional notion of a penitentiary) unless, of course, prison is in the picture.
And if the priest or bishop refuses, then excommunication is a viable option. No subtraction of Holy Orders to arrive back at square one, as it were. Shift the predators and enablers into a different order, proceed from there.