On Mon­day, Pope Bene­dict XVI announced that he will be resign­ing at the end of Feb­ru­ary. The 84 year old pon­tiff, born Joseph Aloi­sius Ratzinger, will be the first to resign since Pope Gre­gory XII resigned in 1415 and the first to do so vol­un­tar­ily since Pope Celes­tine V in 1294. He has served as Pope since 2005.

Although Bene­dict XVI has cited health con­cerns, there is some spec­u­la­tion that the res­ig­na­tion may be related to the ongo­ing sex­ual abuse scan­dals that have rocked the church in the past decade. Before becom­ing Pope, Car­di­nal Ratzinger was respon­si­ble for order­ing that all reports of sex abuse be chan­neled through his office at the Con­gre­ga­tion of the Doc­trine of Faith which he oper­ated from 2001 to 2005.

The Hol­ly­wood Reporter cites Oscar-winning direc­tor Alex Gib­ney, whose doc­u­men­tary Mea Max­ima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Givney tells the Hol­ly­wood Reporter that there were times when Ratzinger tried to move for­ward and then would revert to pro­tect the institution.

Sur­vivors Net­work of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a 12,000 mem­ber orga­ni­za­tion, has claimed Bene­dict is per­son­ally respon­si­ble for wide­spread abuse within the church because he chose to pro­tect its rep­u­ta­tion over the safety of chil­dren. The Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tional Rights (CCR) filed a case against the pope last year on behalf of SNAP.

Addi­tion­ally, sev­eral Amer­i­can law­suits have been filed against the pope and other high-ranking Holy See offi­cials for sys­tem­at­i­cally con­ceal­ing sex­ual crimes. These sex abuse cases have taken a large finan­cial toll on the Catholic Church. The Arch­dio­cese of Los Ange­les alone had to pay a $660 mil­lion set­tle­ment stem­ming from clergy abuse law­suits. Last week the Los Ange­les Times  reported

Mahoney had agreed to the set­tle­ment six years ago know­ing that if the case, brought by more than 500 plain­tiffs, may have resulted in a trial ver­dict exceed­ing $1 bil­lion. The Los Ange­les set­tle­ment paid out an aver­age of $1.3 per victim.

In the U.S.,

Pope Benedict XVI - Photo courtesy Catholic Church (England and Wales)

Pope Bene­dict XVI — Photo cour­tesy Catholic Church (Eng­land and Wales)

the Catholic sex abuse scan­dal has taken a tremen­dous toll on the church with over $2 bil­lion spent so far on legal set­tle­ments and attor­ney fees, 16,000 vic­tims, mostly teenage boys since 1950, 6,100 accused priests since 1950, and 4,000 cases hav­ing been inves­ti­gated in the past decade.

In addi­tion, there were a num­ber of other issues that Bene­dict had to deal with, includ­ing rumors of prob­lem­atic deal­ings of the IOR bank, polit­i­cal rival­ries between car­di­nals, and a doc­u­ment leak scandal.

Although Bene­dict might bear some respon­si­bil­ity for the way that the sex abuse scan­dal has been han­dled, it is dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend how one indi­vid­ual could han­dle the sheer mag­ni­tude of the alle­ga­tions and finances involved. In fact, it was dur­ing his reign as pope that many of the cases were set­tled and one can only assume that new poli­cies and pro­ce­dures were imple­mented that will pre­vent future abuse cases.




  1. Fabian says:

    If it makes it eas­ier for him to be pros­e­cuted, why resign now?

  2. Kevin Straub says:

    Amaz­ing. All these years I have heard that this was the “man of sin” but now he’s right there with Jones and Wag­goner, teach­ing right­eous­ness by faith!

  3. What if: All the prophe­cies that occurred as being ful­filled way back when…the great earth­quake, the dark­en­ing of the day time and the wound­ing of the papacy were to get another go round at this time. Sure would make an impres­sion on liv­ing per­sons to have these things hap­pen again. After all…there have been greater earth­quakes, and who can say that the signs in the heav­ens can’t hap­pen again? But the big­gie is the wound­ing of the papacy again. And actu­ally that wound would be from peo­ple finally learn­ing the truth. This pope knew about the scan­dal of child abuse. After all all those cases came to him before he was pope. He knew and he did noth­ing as the long line of pre­de­ces­sors didn’t do any­thing about all the abuse and crimes com­mit­ted in the name of The Holy Roman Empire’s church.
    This busi­ness is about a old frail man who once held so much power in his hands. He is becom­ing blind, hard of hear­ing and is prob­a­bly afraid as he faces eternity.

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