Photo of Christopher Hitchens
Our favorite atheist Christopher Hitchens' is attacking Pope Benedict XVI over at slate.com with this article: "Tear Down That Wall."
Hitchens criticizes secret oaths and Benedict's global pastoral "secrecy policy" when he served as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The anti-Catholics make much of this so-called "secrecy oath" enforced by Ratzinger. Here's what it entails. If a bishop or priest hears a confession about child abuse, he can never speak of it. Period. This is the Catholic Faith. It concerns the absolute silence and seal of the confessional. This silenc refers to the sacrosanct aspect of the sacrament of penance. Ratzinger reminded bishops and priests to keep confessions sacred and silent. This is one issue.
The second issue is that bishops have reassigned pedophiles after the latter abused other human beings. Thus is bad. Evil. Understandably, the psychology of the past decades argued in favor of therapy and transformation of the offenders. Now we know that pedophilia isn't something so easily shaken. I grant that false notions of psychotherapy reduce culpability, but the Church should follow the criteria of Saint Paul regarding clergy - not that of pop-psychology. Clearly, any man who abuses the order of priest in order to injure other people (sexually or otherwise) should not be allowed to exercise the ministry of Christ. Such a man is a wolf - not a shepherd.
Regarding the first issue (keeping sins mentioned in confession secret), I defend the Church 100%. What is said in confession can't be made public and can't be used in courts of law. On the second issue (reassigning known sexual offenders to pastoral assignments), I'm not sympathetic in the least. As a father of five beautiful and precious children, I would be madder than hell if a priest used the pretenses of spiritual intimacy to touch or abuse my child. I would be even more hurt if the priest had a known record of it and had been reassigned to my parish. If a priest abuses someone, he should be removed straight away. Forgiveness? Yes. Re-established to a place of intimacy and trust. Never.
Anyway, back to Hitchens. Hitchens, as per usual, is being sinister by blurring the distinction between secrecy in the confessional and other abuses, such as reassignement. The result is that stories like his confuse the public and make it look as if there has been a systematic procedure of lying and cover-ups from the Holy Father all the way down to the parishes.
I'm even more saddened that many of my Protestant friends trust Hitchens and the New York Times in their reporting of the story.
I'm surprised that Christians and conservatives will trust the New York Times (& other liberal rags) on the Catholic Church coverage, but decry the liberal media when it says something negative about Sarah Palin. Since when do we expect a unbiased journalism from the media outlets?
Let's pray for the Holy Church. Let's pray for Pope Benedict. Let's be honest about the details.
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