Marc Maron used to do a brilliant bit on stage about starting every day with a set of affirmations, one of which was, “It’s everyone’s fault but mine.” Pope Palpatine, errr Benedict, seems to have picked up on this strategy. In his annual address to Catholic cardinals and bishops, he actually wants to blame the church’s problems on moral relativism.
We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society.
What society, exactly, treats child pornography as normal? The pope is living in a fantasy world. In the real world, the investigation and punishment of child pornography has increased enormously over the last few decades. Governments around the world spend enormous resources on its interdiction and punishment, as they should. The penalties for it have gone up and up in the United States in particular.
In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children.
Again, by whom? I’m sure there was some obscure academic somewhere who made such a vile claim, but so what? This notion that pedophilia has somehow been mainstreamed in society and that there is some movement to treat it as legitimate is simply a lie. No such movement exists in the real world, it is limited solely to groups on the extreme fringe, like NAMBLA. The pope seems to be inventing an alternate reality that does not exist in order to justify.
Here’s the reality: Governments around the world today take pedophilia and child molestation far more seriously than they ever have before. That’s why we’ve seen laws passed that require anyone in a position of authority over children — teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, etc — to report any evidence of such abuse to law enforcement on penalty of punishment if they fail to do so.
There is only one institution in the entire world that has firmly resisted such laws and refused to comply with them — the Catholic Church. And it was Benedict himself, as Cardinal Ratzinger, who ordered all cardinals and bishops not to cooperate with the police when a priest was caught molesting children but to treat it as an internal church matter.
The only one showing any moral relativism on this issue is you, Mr. Ratzinger. The rest of the world has left you far behind on this moral question.