Shortly after he ascended the papal chair, Pope Benedict XVI declared that one of his goals was to re-Christianize a secular Europe. If anyone has had the know-how for the project, it is surely he. But it looks like it’s going to be a long haul. After chastising the American bishops for their irresponsible handling of sexual abuse cases among the clergy in 2008, he has to tackle the scandal here. First in Ireland, then Holland, then Austria, and now in the pope’s homeland of Germany, the storm has broken out anew. It is only a question of time when charges against clergy will be brought forward in another country. Benedict responded firmly in Ireland, and has begun to do so in Germany. The church has enacted a thorough investigation. Sexual abuse of young people is most reprehensible, as is its cover-up, the pope has declared. He is “thoroughly ashamed” of what has happened in both countries.
From the outset Benedict XVI has been a tough cop on dealing with sex offenders in the priestly office. The case against Archbishop Sean Brady of Ireland—not for sex offense, but for cover up—is particularly damning. Do not expect Benedict to encourage his tenure in office. Though some want to pin blame on the pope himself for knowingly keeping sinning priests in office, finding hard evidence for that charge is unlikely.