Pope Benedict in his red Prada loafers (photo: migul via Flickr)

A front page New York Times story reports the still unfolding horrors of pedophile priests and Church coverups. The story now includes the Pope himself, for at least the period in which Cardinal Ratzinger was the head of the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the group nominally responsible for dealing with such crimes.

It’s now clear that during Cardinal Ratzinger’s reign, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith served several functions all essential to corrupt purposes. It served to cover up and excuse criminal behavior, issuing opinions excusing, concealing or condoning criminal activities of priests who abused thousands of children.

It sanctioned and oversaw a secret trial system whose primary purpose was not to protect the children or inform the public but instead to make certain the church would be protected and the public would never learn of the priests’ crimes or the Church’s complicity.

And it provided an official, theological framework within which its blatant obstruction of justice could function while still claiming a moral foundation.

Where have we seen this before? Well, how about Dick Cheney and his faithful legal cardinals overseeing John Yoo and fellow priests in the Department of Justification, as they wrote unprincipled and legally bogus opinions sanctioning war crimes already or about to be committed by the Administration and its torture regime.

How about the secret military prisons, and the bogus military tribunals, whose procedures, remoteness and secrecy were initially designed to make sure the public never discovered the kidnapping, rendition and torture regime that defined and masqueraded as a “war on terror.” How about the current Administration’s insistence that all of this remain secret, that no one be prosecuted? That we not even ask who was responsible for doing this in our names?

There is nothing new about political leaders, whether Popes or Presidents, telling us that the rule of law should not apply to them or to those they direct when they are engaged in the defense of the faith or the homeland. The logic and rhetoric are always the same.

And that’s because the mindset is exactly the same, the arguments they make to justify their corruption are the same, and the self-protecting pleas that we should forget, forgive, only look forward and never hold anyone accountable are exactly the same.

A just civil society depends on public trials and legal accountability for criminal behavior. Our wise Founders understood this. Our current leaders, whether Popes or Presidents, don’t seem to get it, and now they’ve made themselves complicit in evil.

More:
NYT: Vatican declined to defrock U.S. priest who abused boys
NYT Editorial: The Pope and the Pedaphilia Scandal

A front page New York Times story reports the still unfolding horrors of pedophile priests and Church coverups. The story now includes the Pope himself, for at least the period in which Cardinal Ratzinger was the head of the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the group nominally responsible for dealing with such crimes.

It’s now clear that during Cardinal Ratzinger’s reign, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith served several functions all essential to corrupt purposes. It served to cover up and excuse criminal behavior, issuing opinions excusing, concealing or condoning criminal activities of priests who abused thousands of children.

It sanctioned and oversaw a secret trial system whose primary purpose was not to protect the children or inform the public but instead to make certain the church would be protected and the public would never learn of the priests’ crimes or the Church’s complicity.

And it provided an official, theological framework within which its blatant obstruction of justice could function while still claiming a moral foundation.

Where have we seen this before? Well, how about Dick Cheney and his faithful legal cardinals overseeing John Yoo and fellow priests in the Department of Justification, as they wrote unprincipled and legally bogus opinions sanctioning war crimes already or about to be committed by the Administration and its torture regime.

How about the secret military prisons, and the bogus military tribunals, whose procedures, remoteness and secrecy were initially designed to make sure the public never discovered the kidnapping, rendition and torture regime that defined and masqueraded as a "war on terror." How about the current Administration’s insistence that all of this remain secret, that no one be prosecuted? That we not even ask who was responsible for doing this in our names?

There is nothing new about political leaders, whether Popes or Presidents, telling us that the rule of law should not apply to them or to those they direct when they are engaged in the defense of the faith or the homeland. The logic and rhetoric are always the same.

And that’s because the mindset is exactly the same, the arguments they make to justify their corruption are the same, and the self-protecting pleas that we should forget, forgive, only look forward and never hold anyone accountable are exactly the same.

A just civil society depends on public trials and legal accountability for criminal behavior. Our wise Founders understood this. Our current leaders, whether Popes or Presidents, don’t seem to get it, and now they’ve made themselves complicit in evil.

More:
NYT: Vatican declined to defrock U.S. priest who abused boys
NYT Editorial: The Pope and the Pedaphilia Scandal

Scarecrow

Scarecrow

John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley