Friday, October 01, 2010

A Plan for the Pope

A heated post-mortem on Ratzinger's trip to Britain prompted me to come up with some way that the pope could allay all the criticism of his papacy. The problem is that Ratzinger has yet to apologize for many things personally, so that his mealy mouth mumblings about the faults of others in countries in which he has never set foot are meaningless.

Here are three steps that would silence, or at least subdue, critics:
  1. Release Archbishop Bernard Law (emeritus of Boston and now a Vatican official), and all others like him, who are hiding from prosecutors, investigators and lawsuits behind the sovereign immunity of the Vatican, from charges arising out of their conspiracy to hide or protect the rape of children, as well as to aid Nazis in exile and other criminal elements, and extradite them to countries with jurisdiction over their crimes.
  2. Depose, without retirement pay or any benefits, and hand over to secular authorities every single bishop worldwide who headed or in some way administered a diocese at the time of a rape of even one child by a cleric or employee of the diocese and its associated organizations.
  3. Release all capital of the "Institute for Religious Works" (aka Vatican Bank, aka Mafia and CIA money laundering machine) to pay for the treatment, rehabilitation of, and restitution to victims of conspiracies in which church officials engaged worldwide, ordering all dioceses in the world to do the same, without demanding onerous court processes from claimants (perhaps a simple process of claim arbitration would do).
If Ratzinger did all this without reservations and clever loopholes for friends, a papal apology for the actions of others would not even be necessary. Of course, by the logic of these steps, Ratzinger himself would have to resign from the papacy without retirement benefits, given his tenure as archbishop in Munich.

This would still not allay personal charges against him.

To do that, Ratzinger has to come clean concerning his own personal complicity (albeit minor) for the deeds of the Hitler regime he supported. He has to reconsider the authoritarian, Germany-first worldview he suckled at the Nazi teat as a teenager. He must reject the ill-advised ideas of those German-bishop mentors who had publicly prayed for the success of the F├╝hrer and attempted a postwar whitewash of Germany.

Finally, he ought to apologize and seek to make restitution for his violation of the human rights of those he judged guilty of theological error, without due process, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In brief, the only just and fair outcome for Ratzinger is to be stripped of all status and possessions, to recant and acknowledge his errors and wrongdoing publicly, then live the rest of his natural life in a small cell on bread and water. Perhaps with piped-in recordings of his recanting played in a loop.

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