“Frank, sit down. What can I do for you?”
“Well Millstone, old friend, you are acknowledged as the greatest oracle in the Western world. I come to you for some free advice. What would you do to solve the difficulties facing Pope Benedict today?”
“Frank, I’ve never accepted the old bromide that the buck stops here and by that, I mean at the Pope’s door. In an organization of over a billion people there’s room for a lot of people to share the guilt.” Millstone said.
“What do you see as the problem?” I asked.
“The Pope is over-kind. Over-kindness is his weakness, but it’s also his charism. In large organizations, people who act up and embarrass the company are fired! There’s a bit of smoke, but there’s considerable approval for that approach.”
“I’ll buy that,” I said.
“But, Frank, the Pope does not have that luxury. His is a religion that says love your neighbour and be good to people who persecute you. We’re talking about pedophile priests who give horrible witness to the Catholic church. Even businesses find it difficult to fire people who are part of the family tree and this is what the Pope’s problem is.”
I said, “But being family doesn’t mean that you can blatantly ignore the Ten Commandments.”
“Frank, may I remind you what Jesus said when he was asked by one of the apostles ‘How many times should you forgive my enemy? Seven times?’ Jesus replied: ‘No, not seven times – seven times 70 times.’ This is the over-kindness that Pope Benedict is practising and he’s willing to walk that extra mile.”
“But,” I said, “the abusive priest must be genuinely repentant and make amends for his sins.”
“Yes, that’s true, but sticking to Jesus’s teaching now is much more difficult to achieve when we are advised by many medical authorities that pedophile priests are incorrigible and incurable.”
“It’s a quandary,” I admitted.
“The Pope looks at the feasibility of dismissing a 38-year-old sexually offending priest in Oakland, Ca. who was considered ‘young.’ Another concern was for the ‘good of the universal church.’ The Pope also wanted the bishop there to provide the offending priest with ‘as much paternal care as possible.’”
“What finally happened to him?” I asked.
Millstone said: “He was removed from the priesthood in 1987 and sent to prison for six years in 2004. The former priest, now 63, lives in a gated community in California. At least six victims reached a settlement in 2006 with the Oakland diocese for molesting them as children.”
“Millstone, could the Pope be charged?”
“No,” Millstone replied. “What crime did he commit? Over-kindness is not a crime. The Pope’s motives were commendable. There has been no evidence of malice on his part. Making poor judgments is not a criminal offence. If it were so, half the largest firms in Canada and the U.S.A. would be in court acknowledging their ideas that bombed – to list a few: Edsel, the Tucker auto, the Arrow jet aircraft.”
“Is Pope Benedict to blame for the sexual abuse problems we’re facing?”
“No. Pope Benedict has only been pope for five years, so why is the media reaching back to blame him for the pedophile priests in 1963?”
I asked: “Has Pope Benedict ever denounced pedophile priests?”
Millstone said: “I’ve read recently that he has hit out at pedophile priests. Shortly before becoming Pope Benedict in 2005, he denounced “filth” in the church. In a letter to Irish Catholics, in March of this year, he said that priests and religious workers guilty of child abuse ‘must answer for their crimes.’ This hardly sounds like a wimping out statement. He’s acting like a stern parent trying to correct a child, but still exhibiting love for the child.”
I asked, “Why didn’t the people who knew about these pedophile priests offences call the police?”
“All organizations, big and small, don’t want to admit that they’ve goofed and the less people that know about it, the better. Everybody should stop and look in the mirror and tell themselves with a straight face that they’ve never goofed or fouled up sometime in their past. Remember that oldie: ‘A clear conscience is often the result a bad memory.’”
Someday, when the history of the era is written, Pope Benedict, also known as Pope Over-Kind, will get a fairer treatment than he’s gotten from the secular media.