We Can't Let the Pope Decide Who's a Criminal
By CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS - SLATE
Added: Sun, 11 Apr 2010 23:00:00 UTC
I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign ... to discredit the church.
On April 10, the New York Times—the apparent center of this "planned campaign"—reprinted a copy of a letter personally signed by Ratzinger in 1985. The letter urged lenience in the case of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, who had tied up and sexually tormented two small boys on church property in California. Kiesle's superiors had written to Ratzinger's office in Rome, beseeching him to remove the criminal from the priesthood. The man who is now his holiness the pope was full of urgent moral advice in response. "The good of the Universal Church," he wrote, should be uppermost in the mind. It should be understood that "particularly regarding the young age" of Father Kiesle, there might be great "detriment" caused "within the community of Christ's faithful" if he were to be removed. The good father was then aged 38. His victims—not that their tender ages of 11 and 13 seem to have mattered—were children. In the ensuing decades, Kiesle went on to ruin the lives of several more children and was finally jailed by the secular authorities on a felony molestation charge in 2004. All this might have been avoided if he had been handed over to justice right away and if the Oakland diocese had called the police rather than written to the office in Rome where it was Ratzinger's job to muffle and suppress such distressing questions.
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