“VATICAN CITY – At a solemn Good Friday service, Pope Benedict XVI's personal preacher likened the tide of allegations that the pontiff has covered up sex abuse cases to the ‘more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism’ . . . . Victims say Benedict — both as a former archbishop of Munich and later as a Vatican cardinal directing the Holy See's policy on handling abuse cases — was part of a culture of cover-up and confidentiality basically devised to protect church hierarchy.”
Associated Press, Friday April 2, 2010
Dear Pope Benedict,
I am a father of a different sort. Our faithful wander with me where I go, Holy Father. These followers trust that I believe in the good over evil embodied by Jesus; they believe that I have been chosen among them to pick up his path and portray those simple miracles that form the ever living, unquestionable grace of our lives. I am seen as protection by those of faith, Holy Father, a wall between their souls and the ache of surviving, and a window into the glory of heaven that awaits them. But, Holy Father, there is a boy - a child really - one I’ve baptized and on whose tongue I first laid the body of your son and, God help me, that boy’s body is in my hands now. This morning we are hidden in the half light of a sacristy and he is withering under the wickedness of my touch, unsure as to the meaning of the smiling wine-stained lips and teeth that I will use to talk my way into his body and eat out the center of his soul. Oh, Holy Father, you let me appear to this child and then you hid me behind the smoke of dogma and commanded that our flock look away into the mirrors of faith arranged to hypnotize them into immaculate acceptance. So I am not just a monster, Holy Father, I am your monster concealed in a dark closet filled with sacred vestments. I am the blemish of your fingerprints creeping up the sides of our chaste silver chalices. I am the shepherd you have put in charge of our innocents, untying my hood to reveal the dripping fangs of a wolf. Even our God is begging you to stop me, Holy Father, because even He knows I cannot be changed with His love and that I will never be able to look at a child and see one of His lambs, only a lamb for slaughter, because. . .
I am a married man, Pope Benedict. I epitomize the suit and tie, Catholic propriety of a rock-solid husband ribboned into the heart-shaped bows of his wife’s love . . . and her love alone. I shave myself clean each Sunday morning to prowl the nave of our church for those younger married men who need counseling to understand what paradise has in store if they can deny their sexual urges outside of marriage and the making of babies for God. If ever there was a man who could prove that holy men should marry, Dear Pope Benedict, I am that man. If ever a man could make the case that our priests are better and more stable within the sexual boundaries of a woman’s love - that our children are safer in the care of a man given safely to the warmth of intercourse - that man is I. Except that I am not that man, Pope Benedict. Despite being wedded to a good woman, I am a sinner’s sinner, a heinous criminal with short eyes and a deep longing to possess the bodies and minds of young boys. This will only end when the good of our church find me out and I am staked to the walls of a prison. So stop me if you can, Dear Pope, but don’t – as some might say – believe that the marriage of your priests will be the panacea of your church’s downfall. You can bludgeon the College of Cardinals into ordaining that priests might marry; you can allow thousands of those rectified devotees to jump the sanctified bones of each and every bride of Christ, and still it will make no difference to me or to them. Married or not, we who prey, will prey still. So put your hands together and pray for us sinners Dear Pope Benedict and after you pray get up off your knees and do something to stop us and to show that . . .
I am a German Jew. Do not believe that I had a hand in killing your Christ, Joseph Ratzinger, and I will refuse to believe that you had any part in killing six million of my brothers and sisters. And while we are not believing, Dear Joseph, here is something else that I ask you also not to believe. Do not believe for an instant that the persecution you endure today for turning your back on millions of children will ever be anything like the persecution and slaughter of my people – those people of God who share the same Holy Spirit as those children of God you have forsaken. With God as my witness, Joseph Ratziner, I will spit at your slippered feet if ever again I hear your chosen preacher stand to defend you in the sacred pulpits of the Vatican on the cusp of our holy days by comparing you to the victims of those rabid Arian animals. You are not a thug, Joseph, and you are not a Nazi. But you are also not a child burning in an oven, nor are you a dying wife forced by jackals to bury her own husband in the mud of Auschwitz, nor a man chocking to death on gas simply because the Star of David over the door of his butcher shop was a threat to your conquest of the earth. You with your soft bed and your body guards, Joseph Ratzinger, with your elegant meals brought into you on china and your princely attendants brushing aside every crumb of discomfort, you will never be the same as these men, woman and children who suffered the unspeakable tortures of a Fatherland celebrating the insanity of its final solution. I am a witness to the past, Heir Joseph, and I stand for all people, for all children, and . . .
I am a 50 year old man living in the homespun fields of Pennsylvania. I will live and die and be buried in this countryside, Your Holiness, and I will consider my life complete because of it. I am the great grandson of a Polish pilgrim who came to this new land as a true believer in Jesus, proudly praying his Latin out loud in guttural vowels at the masses, baptisms, marriages and funerals of those of us for whom he turned the fields and brought his baskets to the table. My religion runs deep, Your Holiness. It goes back to those days as a Catholic school boy when our sisters and mothers superior taught us catechism beside white streaked green slate and abacuses that were as binary as the good and bad of God and Satan. And abuses were as common as colds back then, Holy Father, with those discouraged, under loved women banging wooden rulers against our temples and bodily lifting us from our seats to fling us black and blue into coat rooms and baskets of trash. But these abuses might have been acceptable as a price to pay for a decent school, if not for what was done to me by those other holy fathers that you and your predecessors let swing unhinged in the basements and backrooms and confessionals of those schools and churches that were supposed to be our sanctuaries. Tonight I am drinking in dark tavern, Holy Father, wrestling with your ignorance as I try not to throw out our baby Jesus with the dirty bathwater of our holy mother church. That priest that touched me and bled dry my youth is dead now and – even though there are still times that I need this whiskey to take the edge off the knives of memory in my mind - I have nearly made my peace with his filth and with the lies he told at seminary in order to corner me over and over again. But the liquor in this bottle will not really save any of us, Holy Father and so here is my prayer for you - I pray that someday every child who was ever used to gratify the urges of a deviant army of god will get to hear your confession. I pray that God gives you the wisdom and the strength to enter that dark box and tell us all how you have sinned and how you will do all in your earthly powers to guaranteed that this kind of harm will never befall any of us again. And then I will absolve you Holy Father, because, after all, you are just a man, imperfect and deserving of forgiveness , and because . . .
I am God your father sitting in judgment over you, my Son Joseph, and if you believe in me then believe it when I tell you that I am watching you and that we are waiting for you to stop thinking about how you will protect your church and start thinking about how you will protect those children who you will someday soon need to fill it. Because I love you and all my children, Joseph, and I am waiting . . .
For ever and ever, amen.