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Thursday, 16 September 2010

The UK welcomes the Pope

It seems appropriate to welcome the Pope to the UK with a link to this book: The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuses.

The best call to arms about the Pope's visit is this one by angry Johann Hari  - and he has something to be angry about. Here is a snippet and (though it doesn't apply to this I think), let us not forget that Hari does get things hopelessly wrong occasionally, as in 2003 with the Iraq War.

In Germany in the early 1980s, Father Peter Hullermann was moved to a diocese run by Ratzinger. He had already been accused of raping three boys. Ratzinger didn't go to the police, instead Hullermann was referred for "counselling". The psychiatrist who saw him, Werner Huth, told the Church unequivocally that he was "untreatable [and] must never be allowed to work with children again". Yet he kept being moved from parish to parish, even after a sex crime conviction in 1986. He was last accused of sexual abuse in 1998.
In the US in 1985, a group of American bishops wrote to Ratzinger begging him to defrock a priest called Father Stephen Kiesle, who had tied up and molested two young boys in a rectory. Ratzinger refused for years, explaining that he was thinking of the "good of the universal Church" and of the "detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke among the community of Christ's faithful, particularly considering the young age" of the priest involved. He was 38. He went on to rape many more children. Think about what Ratzinger's statement reveals. Ratzinger thinks the "good of the universal Church" – your church – lies not in protecting your children from being raped, but in protecting the rapists from punishment. 

And just to be even-handed, here is a similar article on child abuse in Muslim Madrassas. Tip of the iceberg comes to mind on this one. I'm sure one could easily find the equivalents in other religions, anywhere where the taint of the sacred and infallible leads to secrecy, unaccountability and hypocrisy.

So on the flip side, here is an interview with Joumana Haddad, whose latest book is called I Killed Scheherazade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman.

Joumana Haddad's website is here.

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