Immaculate Conception: A Decent Porn Video Title

This sounds like the sort of non-apology apology people give when they don't really feel responsible for any wrongdoing but know they are expected to apologize anyway:

Benedict said the sexual abuse of children by priests has caused a "deep shame" and called it "gravely immoral behavior."

"Many of you have spoken to me of the enormous pain that your communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed ... their obligations," he told the bishops.

Responding to the situation has not been easy and was sometimes very badly handled, the pope admitted.

"It is vitally important that the vulnerable are always shielded from souls who would cause harm," he said.

Mistakes were made, he says in passive voice. It's the reverse of an "I was just following orders" excuse: some subordinates in our organization enganged in wrongdoing; the subsidiary groups responsible for oversight had great difficulty responding to the situation and handled things very badly - sometimes. But this responsibility sort of tapers off as it flows up the organizational hierarchy, and by the time it reaches me, I can only lament the actions of others, not speak apologetically on behalf of the organization as a whole, despite being the leader of it.

To be fair, I haven't and do not plan to read the Pope's remarks in the original; all of my critical comments are based solely on second-hand media summary. So it's possible that this article just did a really poor job paraphrasing the Pope's speech.

Here's something I find even more disturbing about the speech: Immediately after pseudo-apologizing for child molestation, the Pope transitioned into... wait for it... wait for it...

"What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?" he asked.

Benedict urged the media and entertainment industry to take part in a "moral renewal."

Some might call this misdirection. I call it chutzpah.

Update: This LA Times account is a little more favorable, emphasizing "unflinching acknowledgment that the crisis was mishandled by church officials." Still, even this account falls short of a full apology - an apology that acknowledges not just isolated failures on the part of subordinates in the hierarchy, but a complete admission of institutional guilt for the organization as a whole. And it just so happens that this article mentions a victims group with exactly the same criticism:

His remarks won praise from his audience, but one victims group said they fell short. [...] Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said the pope ignored what the group maintains was a systematic practice by many senior clergy of stonewalling police and investigators to protect abusive priests.

This second article is also an even more damning indication of misdirection, rationalization, and chutzpah, by connecting the two topics of child molestation and media/social permissiveness as causally linked:

Benedict suggested that the crisis has occurred at a time when society devalues human dignity and distorts the role of sexuality through pornography and violence.

Well, no wonder all those priests molested little boys: secular, libertine society and media made them do it! Don't dare blame the sexual repression caused by celibacy and gender segregation; it's your fault we molested your kids, society, not ours.

Share this

Original Text

The Pope's original remarks can be found here.

Immaculate Conception

The funny thing is that you will be hard-pressed to find a Catholic, much less a Protestant, who can explain the doctrine of the immaculate conception properly.