Pope Benedict XVI may have died a month ago, but is reaching beyond the grave to shade Pope Francis, according to The Telegraph.
“In a blistering attack on the state of the Catholic Church under his successor’s papacy, Benedict, who died on Dec 31 at the age of 95, said that the vocational training of the next generation of priests is on the verge of ‘collapse.'”
He also said gay “clubs” operate openly in Catholic seminaries, the institutions that prepare men for the priesthood, and that some bishops allow trainee priests to watch pornographic films as an outlet for their sexual urges.
“Benedict gave instructions that the book, ‘What Christianity Is,’ should be published after his death. It is one of a handful of recent books by conservative Vatican figures which have poured scorn on the decade-old papacy of Francis, who was elected after his predecessor’s historic resignation in 2013,” The Telegraph said.
“The existence of ‘homosexual clubs’ is particularly prevalent in the US, Benedict said in his book, adding: ‘In several seminaries, homosexual clubs operate more or less openly.'”
Benedict also claimed his books were targeted as being “dangerously traditionalist” by more liberal elements in the Church.
“In not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books are considered unworthy for the priesthood. My books are concealed as dangerous literature and are read only in hiding.”
In October, Pope Francis spoke out against church members watching porn, including nuns. “He made the remarks in October, saying that indulging in porn is a danger to the soul and a way of succumbing to the malign influence of ‘the devil.'”
The first child sex scandal in the Catholic church took place in AD153, long before there was a “gay culture” or Jewish journalists for bishops to blame it on. By the 1960s, the problem had become so dire that a cleric responsible for the care of “erring” priests wrote to the Vatican suggesting that it acquire a Caribbean island to put them on.
What has made a bad situation worse, as the eminent QC Geoffrey Robertson argues in this coolly devastating inquiry, is canon law – the church’s own arcane, highly secretive legal system, which deals with alleged child abusers in a dismayingly mild manner rather than handing them over to the police. Its “penalties” for raping children include such draconian measures as warnings, rebukes, extra prayers, counselling and a few months on retreat. It is even possible to interpret canon law as claiming that a valid defence for paedophile offences is paedophilia. Since child abusers are supposedly incapable of controlling their sexual urges, this can be used in their defence. It is rather like pleading not guilty to stealing from Tesco’s on the grounds that one is a shoplifter. One blindingly simple reason for the huge amount of child abuse in the Catholic church (on one estimate, up to 9% of clerics are implicated) is that the perpetrators know they will almost certainly get away with it.
For almost a quarter of a century, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man who is now Pope, was in supreme command of this parallel system of justice – a system deliberately hidden from the public, police and parliaments and run, so Robertson maintains, in defiance of international law. Those who imagine that the Vatican has recently agreed to cooperate with the police, he points out, have simply fallen for one of its cynical public relations exercises. In the so-called “New Norms” published by Pope Benedict this year, there is still no instruction to report suspected offenders to the civil authorities, and attempting to ordain a woman is deemed to be as serious an offence as sodomising a child. There have, however, been some changes: victims of child abuse are now allowed to report the matter up to the age of 38 rather than 28. If you happen to be 39, that’s just tough luck. As Robertson wryly comments, Jesus declares that child molesters deserve to be drowned in the depths of the sea, not hidden in the depths of the Holy See.
How can Ratzinger get away with it? One mightily important reason, examined in detail in this book, is because he is supposedly a head of state. The Vatican describes itself on its website as an “absolute monarchy”, which means that the Pope is immune from being sued or prosecuted. It also means that as the only body in the world with “non-member state” status at the UN, the Catholic church has a global platform for pursuing its goals of diminishing women, demonising homosexuals, obstructing the use of condoms to prevent Aids and refusing to allow abortion even to save the life of the mother. For these purposes, it is sometimes to be found in unholy alliance with states such as Libya and Iran. Neither is it slow to use veiled threats of excommunication to bend Catholic politicians throughout the world to its will. If Pope Benedict were to air some of his troglodytic views with full public force, Robertson suggests, the Home Office would have been forced to refuse him entry into Britain.
In fact, he argues, the Vatican’s claim to statehood is bogus. It dates from a treaty established between Mussolini and the Holy See, which Robertson believes has no basis in international law. The Vatican has no permanent population, which is a legal requirement of being a state. In fact, since almost all its inhabitants are celibate, it cannot propagate citizens at all other than by unfortunate accident. It is not really a territory, has no jurisdiction over crimes committed in its precincts and depends for all its essential services on the neighbouring nation of Italy. Nor does it field a team in the World Cup, surely the most convincing sign of its phoniness.
“Petty gossip” is how the Pope has described irrefutable evidence of serious crimes. His time as the Vatican official in charge of overseeing priestly discipline was the period when, in Robertson’s furiously eloquent words, “tens of thousands of children were bewitched, buggered and bewildered by Catholic priests whilst [Ratzinger’s] attention was fixated on ‘evil’ homosexuals, sinful divorcees, deviate liberation theologians, planners of families and wearers of condoms”.
Can he be brought to book for this? As a widespread and systematic practice, clerical sexual abuse could be considered a crime against humanity, such crimes not being confined to times of war; and though Ratzinger may claim immunity as a head of state, he is also a German citizen. The book comes to no firm conclusion here, but the possibility of convicting the supreme pontiff of aiding and abetting the international crime of systemic child abuse seems not out of the question. The Vatican, in any case, is unlikely to escape such a fate by arguing, as it has done already, that the relations between the Pope and his bishops are of such unfathomable theological complexity that no mere human court could ever hope to grasp them.
This is a book that combines moral passion with steely forensic precision, enlivened with the odd flash of dry wit. With admirable judiciousness, it even finds it in its heart to praise the charitable work of the Catholic church, as well as reminding us that paedophiles (whom Robertson has defended in court) can be kindly men. It is one of the most formidable demolition jobs one could imagine on a man who has done more to discredit the cause of religion than Rasputin and Pat Robertson put together.
‘He labelled us disordered in our nature and evil in our love’
By Neil Fetherstonhaugh
A gay Irish priest has spoken out about the late Pope Benedict XVI and the “devastating consequences of his teachings”.
Bernárd Lynch published a letter via We Are Church Ireland in which he said Benedict had a “hostility” to LGBTQ+ people and “most significantly to those living and dying with HIV/AIDS”.
Pope Benedict XVI was head of the Catholic Church from April 19, 2005 until he became the first pope to resign in 600 years, on February 28, 2013.
Benedict died on Saturday, December 31, aged 95.
Ahead of his burial yesterday, Fr Lynch, who is known for his work with the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV/AIDS, said Benedict, at the height of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, “forced our communities out of Catholic Church property all over the world”.
“He labelled us disordered in our nature and evil in our love,” Lynch said of a letter Benedict wrote in October 1986 when he was known as Cardinal Ratzinger.
That letter was “misleadingly titled” The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, and was published with the blessing of then-pope John Paul II, Lynch said.
He said the letter led to people with HIV being “blamed by the church for their disease” and as a result “many ‘good Catholics’ took their own lives”.
Lynch said such actions had wider impacts on those advocating for legal work and housing protection for people living with HIV/AIDS who were told their efforts “would be met with violence”, he said.
Lynch said it ultimately led to violent attacks and also came as justification for Christian families that were rejecting their “dying gay sons”.
The church’s strict policy against condoms “caused untold numbers of deaths and vast needless suffering” too, he said.
“After what I can only call the soul murder of so many sisters and brothers, I pray Benedict rests in the arms of our loving and forgiving God.”
In the letter, he also condemned Benedict for “his irresponsible way of dealing with the sexual abuse crisis ravaging the church”, among other issues.
Lynch has previously spoken out against Benedict who, as pope, visited the UK in September 2010
Lynch joined a number speakers at a protest at Hyde Park Corner, in London, against the state funding of the trip, as well as Benedict’s teachings on homosexuality, abortion and contraception.
Fr. Bernárd Lynch was born in Ennis, Co Clare in 1947 and was ordained a priest in 1971. He went on to dedicate his life to advocating for the LGBTQ+ community in New York and London.
He rose to prominence during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and worked with communities directly affected by the crisis.
Lynch, who is now 75, also successfully campaigned for the introduction of non-discriminatory legislation in New York following the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic.
Lynch became the first Catholic priest in the world to have a civil partnership in 2006. He later married his long-term boyfriend Billy Desmond in 2017 following Ireland’s vote to legalise same-sex marriage in 2015.
They say you should never speak ill of the dead, but we may need to make an exception for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I don’t presume to judge the state of his soul when he met his maker. But in the mostly positive coverage of this complicated man and his troubled papacy, I fear we will forget all the damage he did to so many Catholics over the course of his long career.
This is not about vengeance. It’s an attempt to stop a Benedict cult before it begins. During his more than four decades at the Vatican, Benedict had a profound impact on the American Catholic church, long dominated by conservative prelates appointed by him and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. These American bishops placed their allegiance in Benedict even after he stunned the world by retiring in 2013, a step one Vatican critic called the “only great reform” of his papacy. At his death, these anti-abortion warriors and hardliners remain, in thought, word and deed, Benedict’s Mini-Mes.
How did the late pope harm Catholics? Let me count the ways.
Nicknamed “God’s Rottweiler” for his zeal in 24 years at the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose roots date back to the Inquisition, he not only opposed the ordination of women to the priesthood but claimed the ban could never be lifted.
As pope, he fired an Australian bishop for merely suggesting that ordaining women might to be a good way to address the shortage of male priests.
His church not only didn’t give more power to women; it actively tried to suppress them.
In 2012, his Vatican chastised U.S. nuns for being influenced by “radical feminism,” and for purportedly straying from U.S. bishops’ positions on homosexuality and women’s ordination. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious was placed under the supervision of three conservative American bishops for its “serious doctrinal problems.”
For someone so in love with law and order, Benedict should have tackled the church’s sexual abuse crisis with more zeal and thoroughness. Yes, as pope, he did expel scores of priests, but that was a half-measure. Indeed, when he served as the church’s doctrinal cop, he reportedly advised Catholic bishops across the globe that abuse cases could be kept secret and not reported to law enforcement.
While serving as an archbishop, he may have practiced what he preached. According to a recent report commissioned by the Munich archdiocese, the late pope was implicated in the coverup of four abuse cases, accusations Benedict strongly denied.
In a statement, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests insisted: “Honoring Pope Benedict XVI now is not only wrong. It is shameful.”
Benedict also showed little mercy to gay Catholics. Marianne Duddy-Burke, the head of DignityUSA, which represents LGBTQ Catholics, observed that Benedict’s views and pronouncements “forced our community out of Catholic churches, tore families apart, silenced our supporters, and even cost lives. He refused to recognize even the most basic human rights for LGBTQIA+ people. Many of us experienced the most harsh and blatant religiously justified discrimination of our lives as a result of his policies.”
Whenever the choice was to protect the institutional church and its rigid teachings, or to help his flock, Benedict always chose rigidity. Indeed, his Vatican defended a Brazilian archbishop’s decision to excommunicate the mother of a nine-year-old girl likely raped by her stepfather for seeking termination of the pregnancy. The doctors who deemed the abortion necessary to save the girl’s life were also excommunicated, but not her rapist.
Benedict did replace the archbishop who caused all the controversy, likely because he stirred up so much bad publicity, not because what he did was inhumane.
That precisely defined the problem. Like his predecessor John Paul II, Benedict saw the church as a bulwark against the world. He was consistently more worried about the institution and the purity of doctrine than about the welfare of the people within it.
By resigning but sticking around with a title he made up, pope emeritus, and choosing to dress in papal white, Benedict was like the ever-present brake to Pope Francis’ more progressive instincts, and a constant reminder to conservative Catholics that the authentic papacy (in their view) still burned brightly.
May Benedict now rest in peace — and fade into the past. That may free Pope Francis to make the reforms the church so badly needs.
Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned as head of the Catholic Church in 2013, died on Saturday (31 December) aged 95, the Vatican confirmed in a statement.
As tributes poured in for the Pope Emeritus, LGBTQ+ Catholics recalled how his time in the Vatican marked a dark, painful era for queer people.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of LGBTQ+ Catholic organisation DignityUSA, said Pope Benedict XVI’s words harmed queer people and damaged families.
“The death of any human being is an occasion of sorrow. We pray for Pope Benedict’s soul and express our condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones,” Duddy-Burke said in a statement.
He refused to recognise even the most basic human rights for LGBTQIA+ people.
“However, his death also calls us to reflect honestly on his legacy. Benedict’s leadership in the church, as Pope and before that as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), caused tremendous damage to LGBTQIA+ people and our loved ones.”
She continued: “His words and writings forced our community out of Catholic Churches, tore families apart, silenced our supporters, and even cost lives.
“He refused to recognise even the most basic human rights for LGBTQIA+ people. Many of us experienced the most harsh and blatant religiously justified discrimination of our lives as a result of his policies.”
Pope Benedict XVI labelled queer people ‘objectively disordered’
DignityUSA pointed out that, as leader of the CDF, Pope Benedict XVI was responsible for a 1986 letter which labelled gay men and lesbians as “objectively disordered”.
The same letter said same-sex sexual relationships were “intrinsically evil” and “essentially self-indulgent”.
It is impossible to overstate the damage Pope Benedict’s repeated dehumanising of LGBTQIA+ people has caused.
Furthermore, DignityUSA condemned the former pontiff for banning the distribution of condoms by Catholic health and social services agencies – a move which impacted the spread of HIV.
In 2012 – during his final year as leader of the Catholic Church – he spoke out against same-sex marriage, saying it “destroyed the essence of the human creature”.
He also said allowing same-sex couples to adopt represented an “attack” on the “traditional family”.
“It is impossible to overstate the damage Pope Benedict’s repeated dehumanising of LGBTQIA+ people has caused,” Duddy-Burke added.
“Individuals, families, and whole communities across the globe suffered tragic consequences, many of which are still felt today.
“We pray that the church will use the period of reflection following Pope Benedict’s death to acknowledge that in many cases he used his power in ways that failed to further the gospel message of love, human unity, and the responsibility to care for the marginalised.”
Pope Benedict was a polarising force within the Catholic Church, and he was dubbed “God’s Rottweiler” during his time as pontiff for his careful adherence to traditional interpretations of church doctrine.
One of the biggest challenges he faced when he took over from Pope John Paul II was to tackle various sexual abuse scandals within the church – but he ultimately failed to take appropriate action.
In January 2022, a report found that he failed to take action against priests who abused children during his tenure as archbishop of Munich, even though he knew of allegations against them.
Honouring Pope Benedict XVI now is not only wrong. It is shameful.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an organisation that advocates for survivors, described Pope Benedict XVI as an “abuse enabler” in a press release shortly after news of his death was confirmed.
“Any celebration that marks the life of abuse enablers like Benedict must end,” the group said.
“It is past time for the Vatican to refocus on change: tell the truth about known abusive clergy, protect children and adults, and allow justice to those who have been hurt.
“Honouring Pope Benedict XVI now is not only wrong. It is shameful.”