Waking up this morning, I noticed a difference in the lead phrases reporting on the Munich archdiocese’s report on sex abuse and its cover-up 1945-2019. In secular media, headlines zeroed in on a period in the middle of those years, 1977-1982. Cardinal Ratzinger, in other words. In Catholic news outlets and blogs, nothing of the pope emeritus in headlines and relatively less verbiage about it in the reporting.
Catholics are likely not surprised. We know the era of the last century was a nervous one for many prelates. Institutional preservation was very high on the list. A misunderstanding of predators who, in many places, groomed not only victims, but also allies in the upper hierarchy. As long as bishops considered this an aberration of sexual sin, it was something that could be forgiven, treated, and moved on. That it was a systemic sickness, embedded in the hierarchy and its way of doing business? Unthinkable.
I’m sure that the 1980 Archbishop of Munich thought the same. The spread of the sickness was unthinkable, so it didn’t enter his mind.
For the rest of us, a steady drip, drip, drip of new on this front. I think a lot of Catholics would wish it would just go away. Doesn’t seem likely.