"The biggest problem for the Church on this issue is... that no one is spared. No one." With a trembling voice, a Vatican official admits to elDiario.es that the report prepared by an independent team of lawyers and that has uncovered the involvement of the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, in the cover-up of at least four cases of sexual abuse of minors, has not been received with surprise in the walls of the Holy See.
And it is that the "long road to the abyss", as the German Church has defined the results of the report –one more, in the face of the umpteenth refusal of the Spanish episcopate– that uncovers half a thousand cases of abuse in recent decades in the diocese led by Joseph Ratzinger before he was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is "further proof that practically all the bishops who had pastoral responsibilities up to a decade ago, in one way or another, did not do enough to protect the victims", and yes to protect the priest or religious involved.
Is no one without sin? Very few, say Vatican sources, who stress that the problem does not come so much from pederasty itself, as from the dynamics of cover-up that arose in the institution for decades, and which had its greatest exponent in John Paul II. A Wojtyla who, for years, paid no attention to the allegations of abuse against some of the greatest exponents of the conservative restoration after the opening of the Second Vatican Council and who protected pederasts as famous as the founder of the Legion of Christ, Martial Maciel, whom he came to call "apostle of youth".
And it is that, despite the fact that the accusations against him reached Rome already in 1988 (previously, in 1954, when Pope Pius XII, complaints had already appeared, which finally fell into oblivion), John Paul II did not want to open any file against Maciel. Today, both have died: the founder of the Legion, as the greatest predator of minors in the recent history of the Church; the Polish Pope, as a universal saint.
Maciel's case was not the only one. The leader of the Sodalicio, Luis Figari, also roamed freely for years, as did Theodore McCarrick, one of the most powerful cardinals in the United States and from whom Francis snatched the purple and today is being tried by American courts.
The Legionaries of Christ took more than three decades to recognize the abuses of their founder, protected as in the case of McCarrick by John Paul II and his faithful secretary Stanislaus Dzwisz, who a few months ago was acquitted in an investigation into abuses in Poland that threatened with implicating the Polish Pope himself.
The counterpart, in both cases, was evident: strong funding from Mexico and the United States, and new priestly vocations for the project of involution in the Catholic Church. Rome complied, none set foot in jail. The last example, that of the abuses of Nicola Corradi in the Próvolo Institute of La Plata, declared prescribed by the Justice.
In other cases, such as that of Fernando Karadima, one of the founders of a large part of the Chilean episcopate, and an abuser with impunity for years, they ended up being judged. Others were not so lucky. When the scandal broke out in 2002 over the investigation of the bostonglobe, which revealed thousands of cases of pedophilia and bankrupted half the Catholic Church in the United States, Boston Cardinal Bernard Law he resigned from his position but, instead of facing his responsibilities, he traveled to Rome… and never returned. The Holy See, first with John Paul II and later with Benedict XVI, denied the extradition requests of the North American justice system, and he ended up dying within the Vatican walls.
In fact, Law lived at ease until on March 14, 2013, the day after being elected Pope, Francis found him in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where he had gone to pay homage to the patron saint of Rome. The cardinal had his residence there since John Paul II appointed him, in 2004, archpriest of one of the most important (and richest) temples in the Eternal City. seeing Cardinal Law, Bergoglio's face contorted and he immediately turned away from him. "I don't want him to continue frequenting this Basilica," snapped the Argentine.
Vatican sources defend that Francis is determined to put an end to the scourge of pederasty, but the dynamics of the cover-up seem much more difficult to eradicate in an institution accustomed to washing dirty laundry at home, and accusing the victims, and the media that uncover the horror of the abuses, of "lack of prudence". It is not a thing of the past, but a statement by the Cardinal of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, last Friday, on behalf of the report delivered by The country the Pope and Cardinal Omella.
However, never before has an accusation, with evidence, gone so far. Neither more nor less than against Joseph Ratzinger, who was Pope from 2005 until his resignation in 2013. A Benedict XVI who did begin to investigate Maciel's abuses, which opened the door to the changes in the legislation that Francis is trying to complete, but that he did not know, or did not want to, act with the harshness with which the Argentine pontiff is now doing (by conviction or by force of facts).
The reason, perhaps, could be in what happened between 1977 and 1982, when Ratzinger served as Archbishop of Munich. According to independent research, The now emeritus knew of the existence of cases of sexual abuse of young people and minors committed by members of the German Catholic Church when they happened and had, in at least four of them, reprehensible conduct. Among them, the case of the priest Peter H., who in 1980 was transferred from the bishopric of Essen to that of Munich after being accused of being a pedophile and who in his new destination continued to commit abuses.
Although Ratzinger's secretary has denied the accusations, and the Pope Emeritus has delivered an 82-page response to investigators, they do not lend credibility to Benedict XVI's version. The Vatican, which has shown its "shame" at the data presented, has promised to give an answer once it reads the document. But the following question seems impossible to answer: what will Francisco do if it is shown, as it seems, that his predecessor covered up for pedophile priests? Will Bergoglio dare to condemn the Pope Emeritus? Such a decision, they point out in the Vatican Curia, would be very difficult to take, since it would call into question papal infallibility. "And, above all, because part of the Church would not understand that one Pope condemned another," they tell us. And they add: "If no one really gets rid... could someone get some dossier similar about Bergoglio?" The question, again, remains unanswered.
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