Devotion to the Virgin Mary …

… and to naked boys.

and to naked boys.

The rot went all the way to the top. J2P2 – soon to be beatified – protected child molesters when even Cardinal Ratzinger wanted them investigated. But child molesting never ranked anywhere near liberation theology on Ratzo’s list of unforgiveable sins.

Damn it, why is there never a Martin Luther around when you really need one?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

16 thoughts on “Devotion to the Virgin Mary …”

  1. Genocide clearly doesn't rank anywhere near non-disclosure of material facts in securities offering memos on SEC Chair Mary Schapiro's list of unforgiveable crimes. After all, if you're an investment bank with questionable dealings then you can expect a big fat civil suit from the SEC but if you're the ruling regime in the Sudan then the SEC doesn't lift a finger against you. I have a hard time explaining why Ms. Schapiro has so much influence with President Obama on other matters but lacks the clout to have more aggressive action taken in Darfur.

    And please, don't try to refute this with facts about Ms. Schaprio's "jurisdiction" or "scope of responsibilities" and the "timeline of when crimes took place vs. when Ms. Schapiro held her position." That context screws up a perfectly juicy narrative.

  2. Plan A to abuse allegations: Deny.

    Plan B: Point the fingers at others ("The Church is no worse than other institutions.")

    Plan C: Talk incessantly about how the Church has changed.

    Plan D: Change the subject completely.

    Plan E: ???? Start talking in tongues?

  3. Mark, I am very glad to read your comments comparing the Church leadership's outrage at the liberation theologists and their covering up pedophilia. I am also glad to see your attack on Elie Weisel, as I have really begun to understand why Chomsky and others have been so angry with him over the years. Better late than never for me, I guess…

  4. D*mn, SD, this is rich, even for you.

    I would point out that neither Ratzinger nor JPII stoped the Permian Extinction;

    that's just as relevant.

  5. Barry,

    The argument is frequently made by opponents of the Pope that he spent a lot of time pursuing dissident theologians and less time pursuing abusing priests. This is held up as evidence that he somehow thinks that holding to certain ideas is worse than sexually abusing minors.

    The problem with this argument is that then Cardinal Ratzinger had a specific job heading a specific dicastry (The CDF) within the Vatican from the early 1980s until he was elected to the papacy. And the CDF's primary mission is to clarify Catholic doctrine. The CDF had limited canonical involvement in certain types of abuse cases prior to 2001, and more extensive involvement after 2001 (note that before and after 2001 the primary responsibility for all abuse cases sits with the local dioscece). In other words, it was his job to identify and correct theologians who taught things contrary to the Catholic faith, and it was not his job to police every abuse allegation the world over, at least not before 2001.

    So yes, saying that the Pope is a bad man because he devoted more of his attention to rooting out dissident theologians than to pursuing abuse cases is exactly like saying Mary Schapiro is a bad woman because she spends more of her time rooting out financial fraud than pursuing third world genocide.

  6. Is the SEC in charge of pursuing genocide murderers? I did not know that.

    The issue with liberation theologians was that the Church abandoned and delegitimized these theologians, who risked their lives (and some lost them) ministering to the values Jesus taught. Yet, when faced with pedophilia in their midst, they protected, covered up and promoted these pedophiles.

    If you want to make logical arguments based upon analogies, it would help to know what you are talking about. The SEC is not in charge of the Darfur situation. They do oversee what goes on with financial markets.

  7. Note that it also bears repeating that much of this confusion is driven by the fact that the Catholic Church aspires to unified theology but somewhat decentralized administrative governance. Matters of discipline (like dealing with mis-behavior on the part of Church officials of all types) are largely left to local bishops, with some allowance for appeals to Rome and for involvement by Rome in especially serious matters. But matters of doctrine, the "faith which was once for all delivered to the Saints," are not left to local bishops.

    Modern society, which is used to seeing the corporation (whether for-profit or not-for-profit) and the nation state as the only possible models of organizational "design," has a hard time dealing with this. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or Catholic Charities of Omaha or Providence College are corporations which can be understood in much the same way that we understand The NAACP or The United Way of Baltimore or Duke University. But the Catholic Church isn't, at least not in any way that matters.

  8. mitchel,

    Correct. And prior to 2001, the CDF, which then Cardinal Ratzinger headed, had very limited involvement in sexual abuse cases.

    Which is why Mark's comment, clever as it perhaps seemed to him, is simply unfair.

  9. sd, you don't get it. WE DON'T CARE about the internal structure of your church, or how you handle matters of doctrine. We do care a great deal about whether priests are abusing children. That is a serious secular crime, and your church aided and abetted that secular crime by participating in the cover-up. The Catholic church is an accessory after the fact to child abuse.

  10. Two clergymembers claim Ratzinger supported an investigation into one cardinal, one of the two arguing not based on direct knowledge but on Ratzinger's statements to him. Given the church's history on these issues and desire to protect the pope/itself, I'm not all that confident about the evidence.

  11. It's a very convenient arrangement to have theology enforced from the top down, but discipline against actual misbehavior handled by local officials. Then the top levels of the hierarchy can easily disavow the bad acts and their enablers as the fault of independent actors – – but still maintain total thought control whenever it deems necessary.

    Like Enron spinning off its bad loans into off-books partnerships, but taking the profits.

    Like cult hierarchies everywhere.

  12. I'm not interested in minimizing the scale of the Church's errors.

    But it's interesting to me to look at the human dynamics involved. It is so alien to me that someone would wait to be asked about whether or not a job candidate was a violent predator. If that is the standard, probably all anyone had the guts to tell the Pope was that the guy was caught playing footsie. No wonder it wasn't taken seriously. What exact words were used to describe these incidents? I am guessing they must have been whitewashed indeed. (Again, not minimizing, just wondering how things got so bad.)

    I am so glad I was never taught that priests were anything other than human, though I have met many kind ones. In the end, the Church will be much better for hearing the truth at last. (For billionth time, not saying this will somehow "make it all worthwhile…")

    Oh, and it would be nice if people could leave the Blessed Mother out of this.

  13. sd, Ratzinger was JPII's right-hand man. Just in case you didn't notice, he was made pope after JPII died, which gives – well, not you, but the rest of us – an idea of how involved he was with running the Church. Perhaps not de jure power, but certainly de facto, especially since JPII spent the last decade of his life barely alive, and certainly not running things himself.

  14. Barry,

    Hard as it may be to understand, "right hand man" isn't a job title. Its a value judgement about the degree of influence that a person has, generally made by outsiders with limited knowledge of the dynamics within an organization. It is almost certainly the case that the Vatican Secretary of State and the Pope's personal Secretary have more influence with the Pope than the head of the CDF, as these officials spend vastly more time with the Pope than does the head of a dicastry with limited day-to-day administrative responsibilities.

    We have a popular perception that Cardinal Ratzinger was JPII's most trusted advisor, and we have a lot of information, some of it relatively new, some old, that Ratzinger was not especially influential with JPII on administratrive matters*. So either the popular perception is wrong, or the data is wrong. You're free to believe that the information we have about actual incidents is all "lies lies lies" because it contradicts your pre-conceived notions about the inner workings of the 1980s-ersa Vatican, but that don't make you right.

    The fact that Cardinal Ratzinger was elected to the Papacy after JPII died is completely irrelevant. Was Cardinal Wojtyla John Paul I's "right hand man?" Nope. Was Cardinal Luciani Paul VI's "right hand man." Nope. Was Cardinal Battista John XXIII's "right hand man?" Nope again.

    * Cardinal Ratzinger was clearly very influential with JPII on Doctrinal matters. But so what? Ratzinger is one of the 5 or 6 most influential Catholic theologians of the 20th century (along with von Balthasar, Lubac, Rahner, Congar, etc.) and his thinking was aligned with that of JPII on a vast array of issues. So he was trusted deeply by the Pope on matters of theology. But theology isn't governance, as much as that might confuse the "everything is politics" media.

  15. sd says:


    "Hard as it may be to understand, “right hand man” isn’t a job title. "

    drip, drip, drip,………………………….

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