. . . Peculiar only if you believe (like so many combox warriors) that Benedict XVI spent most of his time as cardinal and pope covering for pedophile priests, and doing everything he could to prevent them from being brought to justice. I know this is old news, but old news has a way of persisting, and the older it gets, the more people believe it, whether it's true or not. Just the other day, some hit and run commenter here made the standard comment:
[T]he practice of protecting pedophiles was a formal written policy of the church. It came directly from then-Cardinal Ratzinger and was backed by a threat of excommunication.
Did he, now?
Remember, that story is from 2005. Now, via Wheat and Weeds (an underappreciated blog if ever there was one), let's read this post from 2010, in which Steven Kellmeyer drills down into the actual numbers of abuse victims in the Church, and finds what even moderately informed people already know: that your children are and always have been safer with priests than with teachers, safer with priests than with Muslim imams, far safer with priests than with the male population as a whole.
But here's the fascinating part. Kellmeyer reprints a chart from the John Jay Report on annual totals of accused priests and incidents of sexual abuse reported by year, from 1950 to 2005:
Horrible numbers. But look at the shape of that chart. Kellmeyer says:
Do you notice anything interesting? Do you see how that red line (number of cases) and that blue line (number of priests committing abuse) both begin a REALLY rapid descent? Well, if you look closely at the year when that rapid fall begins, that year would be 1981 - two years after John Paul II is elected Pope and the same year Ratzinger is picked to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Even though the CDF won't streamline the process and gain sole jurisdiction over abuse cases until 2001, the chart shows that the minute Ratzinger became the head of CDF, someone, somewhere started shutting these abusive priests down. By 1995, most of the rat holes had been closed.
The press didn't pick up on what was going on until AFTER Ratzinger or one of his confreres had already finished most of the work.
Awfully strange behavior for a fellow who was so devoted to hiding and protecting pedophiles. Did the Church hang back until the press held its feet to the fire? Clearly not. As soon as he had the authroity, Benedict worked strenuously to rid the Church of the horrible scourge of sexual abuse; and the parishes who were guilty of shuffling offenders around were working in contradiction of his policies.
It's hard to argue with numbers. It's much easier to say, "Boo, Catholics! Priests, yuck! Ratzinger, guity!" But folks who do that are lazy or ignorant at best, or at worst, something far worse: they are telling children who are exploited and abused by imams, protestant ministers, rabbis, librarians, pediatricians, swimming coaches, and Starbucks supervisors, "Your suffering isn't useful to me. Get back to me when you've been molested by a priest. Now that's a story."