The growing Catholic sex abuse scandals in Germany – Pope Benedict’s homeland – and the Netherlands are making headlines all over the world, just as the Vatican had started to emerge from the furor over abuse of children in Ireland, Australia, America and elsewhere. The German story has a personal link to the pontiff: some of the accusers had belonged to a choir led by Benedict’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, for 30 years.
So far, coverage has floated three theories for the ongoing allegations of pedophilia and physical abuse. As usual, some are questioning the Catholic Church’s celibacy mandate for clergy (except for Eastern Catholics and married converts). The Holy See’s own daily newspaper has a story about whether the dearth of women in church governance plays a role, positing that the “veil of masculine secrecy” contributes to cover-ups. And several exorcists are debating whether the Devil has infiltrated the Vatican.
As my former colleague Gary Stern notes over at Blogging Religiously, these are dark days for Pope Benedict – and some fear that it’s just the beginning.