Friday, 10 September 2010

'How I changed my mind about the Pope'

A fascinating article in the Catholic Herald by Mark Dowd, offering a preview of what he discovers while making 'The Trials of a Pope', to be broadcast Wednesday 15th at 7pm on BBC2. On clerical sex abuse Dowd says:
"...In our BBC film we do our best to take account of how fair it really is to single our Pope Benedict for special criticism. The man I approached to help me evaluate all this was John Allen, the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and a man described as having a “maddening objectivity” by the online Catholic magazine Godspy. In a Catholic world of tribal rivalries, Allen is trusted by most to get it right and to be fair. That is why his Vatican contacts are the envy of most members of the fourth estate.

Allen’s take is principally that the bottle is overwhelmingly more full than empty. The Pope has met the victims of abuse on several occasions, made numerous apologies and embraced a zero-tolerance policy for clergy found guilty of abuse. The statute of limitations has recently been extended to 20 years to allow abuse cases to be pursued with greater ease, placing the Catholic Church ahead of many civil authorities in this respect. Moreover, it was the Pope, shortly after his accession, who moved to isolate Fr Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionnaires of Christ, after years of mounting evidence of abuse and corruption, evidence which culminated in a Vatican investigation into his movement. None of this happened under Pope John Paul II and many have suggested that the then Cardinal Ratzinger would have taken action earlier, but supporters of Maciel acted to block any initiatives. But it is clear this is not a man in denial."