The Church is, to say the least, shocked. This year is starting out as a rough one for Catholics. First there was the whole Manti Te'o affair, then Notre Dame got demolistroyed by Alabama in the BCS title game, and now this. What's worse, this new wave of attention is reminding people of the less savory aspects of Pope Benny's tenure rather than fueling speculation over who will be the next GCRE -- the bookmakers reportedly favor an African candidate, but anyone other than an old, white dude is a sucker's bet. This Christopher Hitchens piece from 2010 has been reposted on Slate and provides some insight into the individual and institutional corruption within the Vatican.
Very much more serious is the role of Joseph Ratzinger, before the church decided to make him supreme leader, in obstructing justice on a global scale. After his promotion to cardinal, he was put in charge of the so-called "Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" (formerly known as the Inquisition). In 2001, Pope John Paul II placed this department in charge of the investigation of child rape and torture by Catholic priests. In May of that year, Ratzinger issued a confidential letter to every bishop. In it, he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church's own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated "in the most secretive way ... restrained by a perpetual silence ... and everyone ... is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication." (My italics). Nobody has yet been excommunicated for the rape and torture of children, but exposing the offense could get you into serious trouble. And this is the church that warns us against moral relativism!How best to salute a man whose raison d'être as Pope seemed to be to further entrench the conservative status quo -- not to mention crushing those who challenge the Church, no matter how good their intentions or reasoning -- rather than dealing with the real issues facing the Church? I can think of no better way than in song. Take it away, Tim.