Monday, 25 February 2013

These are the men who will choose the next pope

Who will replace this man?
Photo by Kancelaria Prezydenta RP
I went and started digging on the backgrounds of the men who will vote for the next Pope. It's pretty horrifying, particularly in light of the Catholic child abuse scandal. While many of the Cardinals seem like decent people, some of them are absolutely horrifying and the large number of men who've protected pedophiles is disgraceful. I've tried to be fair in choosing some to call out, but virtually no one who has an interest in this matter could call me fair. I'm likely either too harsh or too lenient. I've elected to leave out some of the controversies and focus on the more serious ones. The fact that there are this many disgraceful men choosing the next Pope is heartbreaking.

Note that I've only listed clear controversies. Some have contraversies that were harder to verify and others have probably skeletons that are hard to dig up. I've also skipped some mention of Cardinals who support controversial figures.

It's important to note that there are some very, very decent men in the Catholic Church. In particular, I should point out Cardinal Wuerl, whose famous "zero tolerance" policy for child abuse and stance on putting victims first should be applauded. Don't let this list lead you to believe that all Catholic priests are criminals. Instead, ask yourself "why does the church tolerate this sort of behavior?"

  1. Cardinal Roger Mahoney. Fought hard for years to keep word of pedophile priests from the public. Urged at least one priest to not seek counseling over fears that the counselor would tell the police. Widespread controversy over his insistence upon traveling to Rome and voting for the new Pope.
  2. Cardinal Godfried Danneels. Protected pedophile priests and urged at least one victim to remain silent.
  3. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. Cardinal Re has defended the Vatican's decision to excommunicate two doctors who performed an abortion on a 9 year old who was abused by her step father.
  4. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. He's a very disgusting piece of work. Amongst his many charming comments, he blames homosexuality for priest's pedophilia.
  5. Cardinal Sean Brady. Irish Cardinal knowingly withheld information from police regarding a list of children who were being raped by a priest. Widespread controversy over his insistence upon traveling to Rome and voting for the new Pope.
  6. Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Was instrumental in paying pedophiles $20,000 each to leave the church quietly rather than turning them over to police.
  7. Cardinal William Levada. Has repeatedly denied that there is a pedophilia problem in the church and allegedly shielded a pedophile for nine years, leading to the bankruptcy of the Portland diocese (PDF).
  8. Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez. Has referred to gay people as "maricón" (Spanish word for "fag") and  claimed Mexico's Supreme Court was bribed to uphold same-sex marriage laws. He also suggests that women's clothing may be to blame for rapes.
  9. Cardinal Polycarp Pengo. Refers to homosexuality as one of the most heinous sins on earth.
  10. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. Compares homosexuality to incest and pedophilia.
  11. Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez. Refers to gay marriage as a "comedy" and calls its supporters hypocrites and degenerates.
  12. Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi. Has upset some by refusing to condemn Hezbollah and appearing to support their right to arm themselves.
  13. Cardinal Joachim Meisner. A German who created a political firestorm by using a Nazi-Era term to describe art. (Truth be told, this could have been a completely innocent and unfortunate term caused by speaking off the cuff)

This list is almost 10% of the men who will choose the next Pope. Note that I've not listed any of the financial scandals and I'm sure I've missed (and possibly mislabeled) some of the scandals involved.

And remember that the Pope they're replacing is Cardinal Ratzinger, the man responsible for enforcing the Crimen Sollicitationis, a secret order from the Catholic church to impose absolute secrecy for sex crimes committed by priests.


  1. I know very little about catholic culture, but one reason off the top of my head why they might tolerate this sort of behavior is a sort of sense of familial loyalty. If your brother, sister, son, or daughter did something quite immoral, presumably the cops are not the first place you would turn. Instead you would (perhaps) try to help them in a supportive way, which prison is not. It would be much harder to prevent them from doing it again, because that kind of supportive help requires more trust than prevention can allow.

  2. Anonymous is likely not far off. The concept that pedophiles could not be reformed is, given Church timelines, a fairly recent psychological discovery. The old policies absolutely predate this discovery.

    So, given that there was a widespread (at least among Church hierarchy if not everywhere) belief that pedophiles could be saved and reformed, the desire to forgive (central to the Catholic Church as it's one of the seven sacraments) seems eminently reasonable and civilised.

    The Church has come to realise and recognise how misguided this effort is _as it related to pedophilia_. In general, I expect the Church to still be among the first to forgive sins, just that it will not do so privately anymore for this particular one. However, for most sins, I would expect it to still prefer the confidentiality and absolute secrecy of the confessional. And I, for one, don't see an issue with that.

  3. I agree with everyone here. Pædophilia is a problem in the church, but if you think of human psychology and how we are tools of biology, one can arrive at a fairly compassionate place for these priests-cum-cardinals.

    Look: people need sex. And the Catholic institution creates a conflict of interests between your religion and something greater and grander than you: biology and evolution.

    Additionally, some people get into the seminary (sounds a lot like semen and foreshadowing to me) because they're struggling with awkward sexual feelings/motivations. Instead of dealing with it head on, they hide behind a robe, funny hats, and a culture of supposed asexuality. Anyone with any measurable problems knows this is not the way to deal with your issues.

    You then put all these crazy, sexless men together and expect something good to come out of it because some invisible force of Good is supposed to be looking after them? Yeah, sorry, that's not really going to work, now, is it?

    You then have the science of in-group/out-group whereby people within the tribe inherently protect one another and try to help one another. Add on top of that insecurity and job security issues, and you have the perfect, rational explanation for a systemic issue such as this.

    I feel sorry for all the people involved here: those who have been molested, those who are homosexual and feel that they can't act on it, those who are pædophiles and should never act on it but are encouraged by these coverup activities, and those who have the right intentions in getting involved in the Church only to have it (sorry) tainted by these sorts of activities and systems.

    This is a grand systemic failure, and I'm starting to see it over and over. Old systems collect activities that promote both their worst and best attributes, recycle them, and make all their cultural traits stronger and more distinctive.

    I feel fortunate that I gave up on religion long ago as an institution. I'm leery of institutions because of these sorts of behaviors that happen on the super-human level...

    Best wishes to everyone. Be well.