Sure, something that only happens once in 700 years is kind of newsworthy, I suppose, but on the day old Joe Ratzinger (AKA the ex-Pope) took his helicopter ride up to that lavish lakeshore retreat for the Catholic hierarchy, I thought I was watching the O.J. Simpson slow police chase all over again, with endless repetitions of much the same pictures and tiresome commentary as “news” chatterers tried to fill the air with diversions from the fact that the only news they had to share was “he’s leaving.”
If they’d given it some thought, however, they might have done a little reporting on the fact that Mr. Ratzinger was a major player in the cover-up of sex crimes that has changed the “brand” of the Catholic Church, staining the bright robes and shiny rings. Or they might have delved into the mounds of money the bishops and cardinals enjoy, with their ornate and expensive costumery—the gold-embroidered chasubles, and the golden chalices—all purchased with money siphoned from poor people who are desperate for the hope the church peddles, while far too many of these “spiritual leaders” are diddling boys behind the sacristy.
Much of that money washing into the Vatican comes from blighted places in Latin America and in Africa where, far too often, the Catholic Church is in league with the oligarchs who are riding on the backs of the poor and ignorant. Ignorance has always been an aid to church recruitment and retention. The poor peasants of Europe built the great cathedrals with their sweat, then marveled at the majesty of stained glass windows as though those windows had materialized by miracle.
Bitter criticism of the excesses of the church has a history nearly as old as the church itself, and sexual scandals are nothing new. In the 1930s and 40s, the church played footsie with the Nazis in Germany and the fascists in Italy and Spain, abandoning those people who filled their pews and their coffers to lend its imprimatur to thugs and murderers, turning a blind eye to the genocide they tacitly endorsed.
Ex-pope Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth. He grew up to take his place in the Catholic Church, where one of his cardinal contributions was to shelter pedophiles. Now he’s off, one step ahead of the law, to a cushy retirement in that big boy’s club in Vatican City.
Speaking for myself, I won’t be contributing to his retirement package anytime soon.