Bearing False Witness: The Pope Commits Perjury
Over the past several weeks the evidence of institutionalized rape within the Catholic church has sent the world into a dizzying state of almost-disbelief. Harsh truths have been tempered by long standing suspicions, fueled by stories whispered, but never allowed to be spoken.
As the global media illuminates the shadowy world of the Vatican, emboldened victims continue to step forward demanding justice. The evidence continues to mount and the mantle of blame begins to cloak the entire hierarchy of the Church. The lives of tens of thousands of children, abused by Priests, Nuns and Bishops, have been silently cast away, forming a mountain of atrocities burdened under the full weight of the Vatican. There have been so many cases that many seem to be suffering from a sensory overload, unable to comprehend the scale of these crimes.
It has become exceedingly clear that the current Pope, Benedict XVI, was directly involved in the cover-up. As early as 1985 Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, was personally aware of specific cases where children were being victimized by pedophiles under his authority. In each of these cases he operated under a doctrine that protected the Church and the perpetrators of these heinous crimes while abandoning the defenseless victims to the hell that had been created for them.
Since the exposure of the Vatican as an enabler and co-conspirator, the Pope has communicated, both directly and through his agents, a qualified remorse that reflects more disdain for the scandal than for the scandalous criminal abuses of the Church. On March 21, 2010, a Papal letter to Irish victims was the first of several communications from the Vatican that made it clear that the Church was attempting to present itself as a co-victim. Subsequent statements portrayed the Pope as an innocent in these matters. It was suggested that the reality of such scandalous behaviors by the clergy was a revelation to the Pope, and that he was working diligently to increase his learning curve on these matters.
Despite the posture of innocence, sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is by no means a new or modern issue. For almost 2000 years, rape and abuse have been rampant throughout the institution. As a Cardinal, charged with overseeing disciplinary policy and procedure for the Church, Joseph Ratzinger would have been implicitly aware of this. Presenting him as a veritable neophyte, struggling to comprehend the crisis, is a disingenuous misrepresentation.
Historically, the Vatican has been able to control the flow of information regarding its crimes and misdeeds. The influence it wielded politically assured it immunity from local prosecution, and its financial power and political capital assured it amnesty with the elite and ruling classes. The advent of democratic societies, armed with independent media, brought about the first threat to the age old fortress of silence. The development of personal and social media has further eroded, and now altogether dismantled, the structure of secrecy that for so long housed an egregious reality.
As the flood of information continues, the Pope and the Vatican have altered their tact from deflection to defensiveness. The original attempt to identify itself as a victim has been replaced with an aggressive agenda of attacking its critics and those whom it has harmed. The truth of the churches actions have been dismissed as “petty rumors” as the Pontiff adopts an air of defiance, claiming he will “not be intimidated” by those whose only goal is to attack the Catholic faith.
At first the Church tried to play the victim of its own crimes. Throughout the scandal the church has worked to hide the fact that the Pope and the administration had any knowledge of, or involvement in, the crimes. Now, the Catholic Church and the Vatican aggressively postures itself as victimized by those who have exposed it and want it to be accountable for its crimes. The reactions and responses resemble those found in any abusive relationship. From denial of responsibility for the abuse; to the deception required to hide culpability; to an aggressive attack against those who expose the abuse. The behavioral pattern seems obvious.
As the magnitude of the scandal and the Vatican’s involvement becomes increasingly clear, many struggle with feelings of disillusionment and betrayal. Denial and disbelief become sanctuaries from the painful reality, and the urge to defend something loved and depended on for so long is overwhelming. An intimate spiritual relationship has been exploited. Trust has been given and malice returned, and the wounds have been salted with denial and self-righteous outrage.
The healing process, which has yet to begin, will be long and difficult. The wounds are deep and have become infected with deception. In order to progress, the wounds must be debrided. They must be completely cleaned out, so that healing can occur. The true nature of the problem must be revealed and analyzed. There is no other choice. The Vatican has attempted a band-aid where surgery is required.
The Pope’s failure has been attributed to his lack of perfection in administration while claiming infallibility in spiritual matters. It is claimed that Joseph Ratzinger, CEO, may have erred while Pope Benedict XVI remained infallible on spiritual matters. While lost paperwork may be accounted for with this reasoning, bearing false witness is not. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Pope has committed perjury.
The Pope’s signature is on documents discussing information to which he has denied being privy, and his involvement has been discovered in situations of which he has claimed ignorance. The evidence is damning, and the Pope’s reaction only compounds the problem. The only way this can be resolved is through full disclosure. Tens of thousands of children have been abused and the Catholic Church has aided and abetted these felonies. The time for putting a ‘spin’ on things is over. It is time for the Catholic Church to change its age-old policy of self protection and do what is right. It is time for Pope Benedict XVI to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; because regardless, the truth is coming out.
The credibility of the Church has already been devastated and the future of the institution may not survive full disclosure. Benedict XVI must not exacerbate that fate by waging war on the truth. The truth remains unassailable and only the victims will be harmed by his denials. If there was ever a time for the Pope to act with grace, this is it. The continued suffering of the innocent must not be allowed in order to protect the pride of the Catholic Church and the perjury of the Pope.