The great Catholic cover-up

By Christopher HitchensSlate contributor (Republished with the permission of Slate and the author.) On March 10, the chief exorcist of … Continued

By Christopher Hitchens
Slate contributor

(Republished with the permission of Slate and the author.)

On March 10, the chief exorcist of the Vatican, the Rev. Gabriele Amorth (who has held this demanding post for 25 years), was quoted as saying that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican,” and that “when one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ in the holy rooms, it is all true–including these latest stories of violence and pedophilia.” This can perhaps be taken as confirmation that something horrible has indeed been going on in the holy precincts, though most inquiries show it to have a perfectly good material explanation.

Concerning the most recent revelations about the steady complicity of the Vatican in the ongoing–indeed endless–scandal of child rape, a few days later a spokesman for the Holy See made a concession in the guise of a denial. It was clear, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, that an attempt was being made “to find elements to involve the Holy Father personally in issues of abuse.” He stupidly went on to say that “those efforts have failed.”

He was wrong twice. In the first place, nobody has had to strive to find such evidence: It has surfaced, as it was bound to do. In the second place, this extension of the awful scandal to the topmost level of the Roman Catholic Church is a process that has only just begun. Yet it became in a sense inevitable when the College of Cardinals elected, as the vicar of Christ on Earth, the man chiefly responsible for the original cover-up. (One of the sanctified voters in that “election” was Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, a man who had already found the jurisdiction of Massachusetts a bit too warm for his liking.)

There are two separate but related matters here: First, the individual responsibility of the pope in one instance of this moral nightmare and, second, his more general and institutional responsibility for the wider lawbreaking and for the shame and disgrace that goes with it. The first story is easily told, and it is not denied by anybody. In 1979, an 11-year-old German boy identified as Wilfried F. was taken on a vacation trip to the mountains by a priest. After that, he was administered alcohol, locked in his bedroom, stripped naked, and forced to suck the penis of his confessor. (Why do we limit ourselves to calling this sort of thing “abuse”?) The offending cleric was transferred from Essen to Munich for “therapy” by a decision of then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, and assurances were given that he would no longer have children in his care. But it took no time for Ratzinger’s deputy, Vicar General Gerhard Gruber, to return him to “pastoral” work, where he soon enough resumed his career of sexual assault.

It is, of course, claimed, and it will no doubt later be partially un-claimed, that Ratzinger himself knew nothing of this second outrage. I quote, here, from the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a former employee of the Vatican Embassy in Washington and an early critic of the Catholic Church’s sloth in responding to child-rape allegations. “Nonsense,” he says. “Pope Benedict is a micromanager. He’s the old style. Anything like that would necessarily have been brought to his attention. Tell the vicar general to find a better line. What he’s trying to do, obviously, is protect the pope.”

This is common or garden stuff, very familiar to American and Australian and Irish Catholics whose children’s rape and torture, and the cover-up of same by the tactic of moving rapists and torturers from parish to parish, has been painstakingly and comprehensively exposed. It’s on a level with the recent belated admission by the pope’s brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, that while he knew nothing about sexual assault at the choir school he ran between 1964 and 1994, now that he remembers it, he is sorry for his practice of slapping the boys around.

Very much more serious is the role of Joseph Ratzinger, before the church decided to make him supreme leader, in obstructing justice on a global scale. After his promotion to cardinal, he was put in charge of the so-called “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (formerly known as the Inquisition). In 2001, Pope John Paul II placed this department in charge of the investigation of child rape and torture by Catholic priests. In May of that year, Ratzinger issued a confidential letter to every bishop. In it, he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church’s own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated “in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … and everyone … is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.” (My italics). Nobody has yet been excommunicated for the rape and torture of children, but exposing the offense could get you into serious trouble. And this is the church that warns us against moral relativism! (See, for more on this appalling document, two reports in the London Observer of April 24, 2005, by Jamie Doward.)

Not content with shielding its own priests from the law, Ratzinger’s office even wrote its own private statute of limitations. The church’s jurisdiction, claimed Ratzinger, “begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age” and then lasts for 10 more years. Daniel Shea, the attorney for two victims who sued Ratzinger and a church in Texas, correctly describes that latter stipulation as an obstruction of justice. “You can’t investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10, the priest will get away with it.”

The next item on this grisly docket will be the revival of the long-standing allegations against the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the ultra-reactionary Legion of Christ, in which sexual assault seems to have been almost part of the liturgy. Senior ex-members of this secretive order found their complaints ignored and overridden by Ratzinger during the 1990s, if only because Father Maciel had been praised by the then-Pope John Paul II as an “efficacious guide to youth.” And now behold the harvest of this long campaign of obfuscation. The Roman Catholic Church is headed by a mediocre Bavarian bureaucrat once tasked with the concealment of the foulest iniquity, whose ineptitude in that job now shows him to us as a man personally and professionally responsible for enabling a filthy wave of crime. Ratzinger himself may be banal, but his whole career has the stench of evil–a clinging and systematic evil that is beyond the power of exorcism to dispel. What is needed is not medieval incantation but the application of justice–and speedily at that.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the Roger S. Mertz media fellow at the Hoover Institution.

  • DaveHarris

    It’s interesting that although sexual abuse is not limited to the Catholic church (google Protestant Youth Ministers), it does seem to have been institutionalized there to a marked degree. The obvious reason is the requirement for celibacy, and more generally the refusal to acknowledge the normalcy of sexual activity in human life. Within this context, it’s easy to see how covering up the inevitable transgressions would be the normal institutional way of handling this. Of course, there is a conflict with lay society, which regards pedaphilia as more than just a peccadillo.It isn’t surprising that the Pope is involved in this. Given the widespread nature of the abuse and the Church’s attitude toward it, how could he not be involved? It’s up to individual Catholics to decide if they want to continue believing that these are ‘holy men’. I have made my decision, and am no longer a Catholic.

  • austininc4

    Now we know the reason the Catholic Church is so Anti-Abortion.This is so PATHETIC that for Decades the Church has been covering up the Rape of CHILDREN, and doing nothing to stop it.These aren’t Men and Women of GOD, not even close.And the SAD thing about of this is, this isn’t only happening in the Catholic Church, it’s happening in other Churches as well, covering up this HIDEOUS CRIME.I can see this being the down fall of the Catholic Church, and it should be.

  • trblmkr1

    Self-loathing gay Muslim men enter al-Qaida. Self-loathing gay Catholic men enter the priesthood.

  • drzimmern1

    A minister-of-the-gospel moved from Canada to the Islands where I was stationed, and immediately offered “pastoral counseling”. Suspicious,I investigated his background, and found a lengthy history of child molestation. My efforts to stop him were only partially successful because he was aided by churchmen, other pediophiles and those who refused to believe such a handsome man could be wrong. The Catholic church has much to answer for.

  • usapdx

    RCC must have a new pope and as well a Vatican Councel III to turn the RCC around or it’s Europe and North American membership will vote with their feet.

  • pgr88

    By his own definition provided above, Hitchens both gave and took “abuse” from his fellow Marxist travellers at University, on pretty much a daily basis.

  • tojby_2000

    It seems “Suffer the children to come unto me” has been misunderstood for centuries.

  • gershwin2009

    I grew up in 80s Mexico, went to a catholic school. At some point, we had a visitor, a very clean-cut priest (much better dressed than our local priest, drove a black Grand Marquis with a driver!). He was recruiting young boys (age 9-12) for the minor seminar. I really wanted to go there but, fortunately, my parents opposed it in the strongest of the terms which created a very bitter confrontation between said priest and my mom.That priest belonged to the Legion of Christ and, now, I’m horrified to read the news from Mexico City about sexual abuse in said organization.Thank god for my parents to confront this individual and to stop me from going to this “minor seminar”.And, now, thank god I’m an atheist! Not ever going back to any of those churches; I rather go to hell when I die; fortunately there is no hell other than the one we humans create ourselves in our own planet.

  • jackrickdc

    Let’s see, one priest out of 1000 is alleged to be involved in a sex scandal thirty years ago in a diocese once admistered by the Pope and he is blamed for a “cover up” and tarnished with “the stench of evil.” This article is an excellent example of institutionalized and irrational anti-catholicism. Why does the Post publish such lurid tabloid journalism?

  • bpai_99

    If the Roman Catholic Church was any normal organization, every church would at least have the following sign posted at all entrances:

  • doom_of_cthulhu

    I think it’s hugely naive to think that this is a solely recent phenomenon. The Church has hidden its sins behind a veil of secrecy from the very beginning. Look at the number of victims that have been brave enough to step forward, take a large percentage of that number to represent those who have chosen to remain hidden, and extrapolate that back through the thousand years of church domination. THAT alone should be reason enough to walk away from these churches and their corrupted practices.

  • linguine33

    Of course it is known that this is not a recent phenomenon. For example, it is documented in the book “Fallen Order” by Karen Liebreich; she describes such abuse occurring back in the 17th century, how cardinals and bishops covered it up to protect an influential abuser, and how Pope Innocent X appointed a known child abuser to be in charge of an order dedicated to the education of children.

  • Carl_Goss

    As a teenager, I went to a Salesian school in the late 1950s. I found it curious at the time, to read instances of St. John Bosco (founder of the Salesians) quite openly professing his love for a young girlish-looking boy by the name of Dominic Savio. What was this all about, I used to wonder. The attraction seemed to me at the time to be homo-erotic. And John Bosco to be something of a pedofile. Both were contrary to RC teaching. Of course, back then, if you were RC, you never accused any clergyman of anything remotely sexual. Nowadays, it’s pretty clear that most RC clergymen were (and are) repressed homosexuals and some of them were (and are) pedofiles. Or pedofile wanna-bes. So it’s not unusual there is this problem of child abuse among the RC clergy; I mean let’s face it, why would a man go into such a profession in the first place? Gaining access to young men and boys might be a major consideration.

  • ZZim

    Wowsers. This article and most of the posters here are absolutely consumed with hatred. What a vile article and what vile poster these people are. It seems strange to me that the Post allows this kind of hatred to be published in their pages.That makes me nervous.

  • treeman2

    As one who attended a high school seminary pre-Vatican II, I had several classmates who later came out of the closet, heard many rumors about other students, and was the target of an attempted seduction. I think many teenage Catholic boys of that era who had no interest in girls took that as a sign that they had a vocation to the priesthood. Such guys found the all-male atmosphere of the seminary congenial but most didn’t act on their impulses until later in life, unfortunately often with disastrous consequences.

  • roedel74

    Since the Catholic Church is rapidly being relegated to “third world” countries, the authorities need to be much more diligent and vigilent about sexual child abuse by priests. Europe and North America have the institutional resources to discover and report such abuse, but that’s not the case everywhere. As more priests flee to Latin/South America, Africa and Asia we must take care that the number of abuse victims in those areas does not explode.

  • Skowronek

    Did you read the article from 2005?Appalling is too meager a word.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    Well, Zzim, what you are seeing is an example of a once dominant name but now merely a formerly “once dominant name” since the industry itself is declining faster than you can say Washington Post.So WaPo needs to sell advertising space–and fast! Hate and fear result in a lot more clicks than love and happiness. Fear, especially, sells! Sad really.

  • donnolo

    Q: What’s the difference between Toyota and the Catholic church?A: Toyota does recalls.

  • Listening2

    An ugly, article like this allows every sicko to post their hatred toward the Catholic Church. Child abusers in the church as a very small percentage, but to read this and other articles, one would get the impression that it is rampant everywhere in the church. So much for sensationalism and yellow journalism.

  • delusional1

    Hitchens should write fiction. He makes this stuff up to fit his hatred of the church. “It is, of course, claimed, and it will no doubt later be partially un-claimed, that Ratzinger himself knew nothing of this second outrage.” Regarding Maciel, he writes “Senior ex-members of this secretive order found their complaints ignored and overridden by Ratzinger during the 1990s,”

  • fishcrow

    At least Hitchens admits it’s a “moral nightmare.” Something can only be absolutely morally right or wrong if there is an absolute authority; he implicitly admits the existence of God, something he disingenuously denies.Without God, morals devolve into relativism, and you can no longer call something absolutely wrong. Without that God, all the complaints about right or wrong are dead.

  • Skowronek

    For further reading on this topic, please consult the following pontifical documents: — Holy Office, “Crimen Sollicitationis,” instruction of March 16, 1962; — John Paul II, “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela,” apostolic letter promulgating the “Normae de Gravioribus Delictis,” April 30, 2001; and — Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “Epistula de Delictis Gravioribus,” May 18, 2001.

  • Skowronek

    “But at least the Catholics have strengthened protections against abuses by gay priests during the past two decades.”Hmm. In light of all the media reports on the successful lawsuits of the litigants, did they really have much of a choice BUT to do something differently? Not that I agree with their conclusion: excommunication is worse than a civil trial and possible jail time.Not all of the priests accused were men preying upon boys–girls were sexually abused too. But that doesn’t seem to generate the same sort of outrage or notice. Gay does not equal pedophile. Pedophile = pedophile.

  • mburix

    It is interesting that a lot of posters accuse Hitchens of blind hatred for the Catholic church, yet they fail to explain or defend the orders directly given by Ratzinger. Why? Because it is easier to attack the messenger than to defend the indefensible… Pointing out that it is only a small percentage of priests who were involved in abuse doesn’t help your case. Unless of course you believe that the police should stop investigating rape cases because after all, it only happens to a small percentage of the population. No my friends, the Catholic church has dirt on its hands in a big way. And so does the Pope, btw. You may not like Hitchens but you better provide some better

  • Skowronek

    Snippet from an AP article, today:”DUBLIN — Ireland’s senior Roman Catholic, Cardinal Sean Brady, said Monday he would not resign despite admitting he helped the church collect evidence against a child-molesting priest – and never told police about the crimes. Brady, as a priest and Vatican-trained canon lawyer in 1975, said he interviewed two children about the abuse they suffered at the hands of the Rev. Brendan Smyth. He said both children were required to sign oaths promising not to tell anyone outside the church of their allegations.”

  • hcandide

    Austininc4 is on the right track.

  • ZZim

    It is interesting that a lot of posters accuse Hitchens of blind hatred for the Catholic church, yet they fail to explain or defend the orders directly given by Ratzinger. Why? Because it is easier to attack the messenger than to defend the indefensible… Posted by: mburix=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Sure, dude, and next time you’re sitting on the bus with your kids and someone regales you with a monologue regarding how the Jews are plotting to get rich and enslave the human race, etc. you can discuss in detail with them why it’s not true. Alternatively, you can ignore the hate-filled ranter and point out to your children that this is the sort of bile that one should neither listen to nor respond to.Someone’s whipping up a frenzied campaign of hatred and hysteria against Pope Whatsisname and it’s obvious that it has a tiny kernel of truth that has been vastly blown out of proportion. It kind of reminds me of the Red Scare back in the 50’s. There really were a few Communists in Hollywood, so there was a kernel of truth, just like there are a few pedophiles hiding within the ranks of the Catholic priesthood. But the hystericalism of people like Hitchens is uncalled for and would be downright silly it weren’t so vicious.

  • pgr88

    It’s very ironic how strident homosexuals and athiests (ie. Hitchens) attack the Church exactly for those acts committed by those in the Church who are homosexuals and lacking in faith. Shouldn’t Hitches be praising these pederast homosexuals? Their agenda and his seem to match exactly.

  • Skowronek

    “just like there are a few pedophiles hiding within the ranks of the Catholic priesthood.”Okay. So why doesn’t the Catholic Church turn them in to the civil authorities and if convicted, excommunicate them? If someone comes forward and accuses a priest, or nun, or layperson of sexual assault–why does it get dealt with in-house and not required to also be reported to the police? Why is excommunication, or parish shuffling, determined to be a fitting punishment rather than jail time?

  • terencef100

    Hitchens, of course, has made a nice profit from his books over the years distilling his prejudice against Catholics in general and believers of any faith in general. So hardly an objective author.That said, there’s no denying that Catholic clergy committed crimes, just as other groups within society did and they should be held accountable in court, just as any other person accused of a crime should be.People must realize, however, that the allegations that Hitchens prattles on about happened years ago – and that now the Catholic Church has some of the most stringent child protection policies in the world. But, hey, don’t let reality get in the way of a good story.

  • Itzajob

    It seems to me it’s a question of tone.If Mr. Hitchens had made his point objectively (“these crimes took place, they were covered up as follows, and the Church should do X, Y and Z to make things right”), it might well have been persuasive. But instead, the main point of this rabidly written screed seems to have been the spewing of venom, not the rational discussion of a problem. And so he’s rendered his own argument eminently dismissible.As a former Catholic, believe me, I feel no particular need to defend the Church. But as always, I call these shots as I see them.

  • buckminsterj

    FISHCROW: “Without God, morals devolve into relativism, and you can no longer call something absolutely wrong. Without that God, all the complaints about right or wrong are dead.”According to this logic, your god could up and decide, what the hell, it’s now virtuous to rape children – and because he (or whatever) is the ultimate arbiter of morality, we would then be compelled to follow the lead of so many priests. Please.If there is a god (not likely), and he is both ominpotent and benevolent (theodicy?), then he is NOT subject to an independent standard of morality, in which case your absolutist notions of right and wrong are actually no more than divine caprice (and should be rejected as such). If god, on the other hand, IS subject to an independent standard of morality, then he is superfluous to our conceptions of right and wrong. In either case, we don’t need your god.

  • judy64

    Why aren’t these clergy subject to the law? These are cases of assault and rape. How can church officials hide these accusations without being liable themselves?

  • jyhume

    to buckminsterj –Bingo.

  • Skowronek

    “People must realize, however, that the allegations that Hitchens prattles on about happened years ago – and that now the Catholic Church has some of the most stringent child protection policies in the world. But, hey, don’t let reality get in the way of a good story.”But here’s the rub. The RCC didn’t disclose this, others did. They didn’t LEAD the way, they were dragged in that direction once the accusations were made, the court cases were won (by the victims) and the money started flowing outwards. It became a less safe place to BE a pedophile, so it’s likely they aren’t as many with those inclinations entering or staying. Not now. Not when it’s becoming apparent that it won’t be hushed up, or “treated” in-house, that a perpetrator will be turned over to the law and the courts. So, if there are fewer sexual abuses of children within the church, that’s good. But it’s not because they were forthright about what was happening and aggressive or proactive in seeing that the perpetrators were tried in court and if convicted, sent to jail.In other words, the RCC didn’t lead; the RCC was pushed.

  • irkulyen

    It is time to disband the Catholic Church and to negate and rescind all sovereignty of the Vatican. It is time to see the church for what it is: a two thousand year old criminal enterprise, with the corruption, power, wealth and influence that dwarfs that of the Mafia and every drug cartel that has ever existed. It has forfeited all moral authority. Please, no more new popes to underwrite and enable further crimes against children.Pope Ratzinger has confirmed the actual existence of a burning Hell, ruled over by an actual Satan. He should therefore be most fearful, for he will going there very soon.

  • Skowronek

    Another snippet from the AP article regarding the mess in Ireland:”Brady said it was the responsibility of his diocesan bishop, as well as the leader of Smyth’s separate Catholic order of priests, to tell police. But he said the church didn’t do this because of “a culture of silence about this, a culture of secrecy.” “Yes, I knew that these were crimes,” Brady said. “But I did not feel that it was my responsibility to denounce the actions of Brendan Smyth to the police. Now I know with hindsight that I should have done more, but I thought at the time I was doing what I was required to do.” I fail to understand why in the world it was ever the policy to NOT have the police investigate these crimes. In addition, why aren’t priests convicted of pedophilia, particularly within their job, automatically excommunicated? That’s what happens to those who perform abortions (if Catholic), but not to those who rape children? Even if the child becomes impregnated the rapist isn’t automatically excommunicated (the case of the 9 yo in Brazil). It makes no sense to me.But that’s why I’m a second-generation RC. Recovering Catholic.

  • Cthulhu3

    While I agree with Mr. Hitchens’ moral outrage, it is hard to distinguish from his vitriolic tone if he is merely following a consistent ethical line–i.e., he gets this enraged about every instance of child abuse and cover-up anywhere in the world–or if he is using this a springboard against the Catholic Church. Methinks it is the later, and while we might excuse him for his hair-trigger opportunism, we cannot conclude that this is a uniquely Catholic problem. Studies have shown that is most often family members that cover up their child abuse: wives, siblings, grandparents. There is a natural, if problematic, human tendency to protect one’s own no matter what moral wrong that they have committed. That’s not an excuse, just an observation.I think the Church should turn the harsh light of day on itself, but it should go both ways. If a priest hears something in the confessional that is gravely immoral and illegal, why should he not report that person to the police?

  • Cthulhu3

    DaveHarris writes: “It’s up to individual Catholics to decide if they want to continue believing that these are ‘holy men’. I have made my decision, and am no longer a Catholic.”I am sorry, DaveHarris, but your comment struck me a laughably naive. What institution or organization, religious or otherwise, can you join that doesn’t have problems such as moral corruption, immoral people, etc.? I mean, do you vet your employer, your employees, your family, your Rotary Club, your Youth Sports League, etc. to see if any and everyone are always acting on the moral up and up? If you set the bar that high, you might as well check out of the human race!The celibacy issue is not “obvious”. If celibacy lent itself to increase incidence of pedophilia, then the general population which is 99.99999% NOT CELIBATE would have a lower incidence of pedophilia. Statistics show that that is not the case. Presumably, given your logic, the normalcy of sexually active, non-celibate people would prevent or limit the incidence of pedophilia among that population. It does not according to modern sociological studies.

  • Skowronek

    “If a priest hears something in the confessional that is gravely immoral and illegal, why should he not report that person to the police?” Good question. I think if someone confesses a crime to anyone then they know full well that they’re risking police investigation. It’s like leaving a message on someone’s voice mail–at that point, you can’t say you didn’t know you were being recorded if it’s used against you in a court of law. Best not to do the deed; second-best not to talk about it. As it stands, all you have to do is go wandering into a confessional and know that you can describe it to your heart’s delight and get away with murder. Literally, in some cases.

  • ZZim

    In other words, the RCC didn’t lead; the RCC was pushed. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-So what?

  • garoth

    The charges that are made here are troubling – especially that the Pope, while head of the “Congregation,” would suggest excommunicating reporters of abuse. I suspect that, given the vitrol of the report, we should take some of it with a grain of salt, but it is all, nevertheless, troubling. The fact that this is a faith institution does not relieve the Catholic church from its duty to report accusations of rape. At least in this country, pastors and priests are required reporters. Concealment of an accusation should be a punishable offense. The church may do its in-house investigation – and probably should; but this does not recuse it from its responsibility to report it to civil authorities. I am troubled also, however, at the continued identification of homosexuals with these crimes. Poeple of homosexual orientation are no more likely to commit pederasty than heterosexuals. Pedophiles may be homosexual or heterosexual – to confuse the issue only helps to conceal the crimes, help hide the criminals, and further victimize the victims.

  • buckminsterj

    Cthulhu3: “While I agree with Mr. Hitchens’ moral outrage, it is hard to distinguish from his vitriolic tone if he is merely following a consistent ethical line–i.e., he gets this enraged about every instance of child abuse and cover-up anywhere in the world–or if he is using this a springboard against the Catholic Church. Methinks it is the later, and while we might excuse him for his hair-trigger opportunism, we cannot conclude that this is a uniquely Catholic problem.”Actually, if you read Hitchens’ body of work, he is equally vitriolic in addressing all that he perceives (most often accurately) as vicious and irrational. In fact, with Hitchens, it almost ceases to be vitriol simply because it is so consistent. He does not deny his pomposity or indignation, but he cannot be accused of failing to apply his views equally.

  • emonty

    DAVEHARRIS saysI have long felt that such men WERE NOT holy. I have made my decision, and I am still Catholic. If good people leave, who will be left?I felt that both Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton were not moral in all of their choices, but I did not renounce my status as an American because our leadership is not always representative of the people.

  • mburix

    ZZIM wrote:Someone’s whipping up a frenzied campaign of hatred and hysteria against Pope Whatsisname and it’s obvious that it has a tiny kernel of truth that has been vastly blown out of proportion. It kind of reminds me of the Red Scare back in the 50’s. There really were a few Communists in Hollywood, so there was a kernel of truth, just like there are a few pedophiles hiding within the ranks of the Catholic priesthood.——————————————-You don’t get it, do you? It’s not about the fact that there are pedophiles within the Catholic church… It’s about the mounting evidence that the Catholic church worries about it’s reputation a whole lot more than about the fate of raped children. The mere suggestion that these kinds of “issues” should be dealt with internally and not reported to law enforcement is mind boggling. The fact that this problem has been growing and hunting the Catholic church for many years now tells you that this is a global, institutionalized problem. This does in no way mean that everything about the Catholic church is bad. But pretending that this is no big deal will play right into the hands of the Hitchens of this world.

  • SUMB44

    Perhaps what is needed here is a grand inquisition to purge sexual deviancy from the Church. Canon law is equipped to do that, all that is needed is a leader with a spine.

  • chatard

    Let’s see, we get 35 atheists in a row to write the “On Faith” column, then Franklin Graham gets a chance, then another 35 atheists, then a communist catholic, then another 35 atheists, then a Bhuddist, then 35 more atheists, then Franklin Graham gets another chance. About right.

  • jerkhoff

    CTHULHU3, get your head out of the stand. The Catholic Church, AS AN INSTITUTION, has miserably failed generations of children by aiding, abetting, and covering up sexual abuse by priests. Your lame excuse that “everybody does it” is simply sickening. The moral hypocrisy of an institution which holds itself up as a paragon of virtue, while creating an institutionalized culture of rape and betrayal of children, simply pours further salt on an open wound. Now we know that the Pope himself is a man who instructed his archbishops to obstruct justice and allow these evil perpetrators to walk free. This is a betrayal of everything the Church stands for. I sincerely hope there is a God so that these men can rot in hell for eternity…

  • jamshark70

    I think it’s important to be careful to distinguish between the global leadership of the Church and the spiritual sustenance that many find in Catholicism (in spite of the Vatican’s numerous failings).Church “leadership” has become a political body, conflating survival of the institution with God’s will. That results in petty, cowardly and doomed-to-fail attempts to forestall revelations that would damage the Church’s reputation in the short term, while overlooking the simple fact that the best way to preserve a good reputation is first, not to screw up in the first place and second, to be honest about the damage and repair it as much as possible, without guile or deceit.I feel for today’s practicing Catholics. It must be awfully hard to love Mother Church.

  • jerkhoff

    Sure, Chathard, this is all about a bunch of atheists who are inventing a fake controversy to defame the Catholic Church. And all of those children in Ireland and Germany were just making everything up, right? At least the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland had the decency to be ashamed of their history of institutionalized abuse of children.I was raised as a Catholic in the Boston area. I know several of these accused pedophiles (and at least one convicted pedophile) who were part of my parish’s leadership in the 1970s and 80s. I believe that at least one of my siblings was sexually abused by a priest. The Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law, was run out of town on a rail because of his cover-up of these abuses. And where did this criminal end up? As part of the top leadership in the Vatican. That tells you everything you need to know about the Vatican’s position on sexual abuse of children by priests.

  • NYCGirl2

    Why does everyone keep harping on about pedophile priests being homosexual? My high school priest was *cough* ‘sent away’ (ie to another school) for molesting 3 GIRLS. I think you’ll find that it’s not just boys that are/ were abused. The Catholic church’s handling of these scandals is an absolute disgrace. No wonder people are turning to other Christian churches in droves.

  • coloradodog

    ZZIM wrote:Someone’s whipping up a frenzied campaign of hatred and hysteria against Pope Whatsisname and it’s obvious that it has a tiny kernel of truth that has been vastly blown out of proportion. More evidence that Catholics and others can not see nor smell the stench of the Elephant in the Basilica. There is documented evidence of this problem in the Clergy and, even worse, documented evidence of a cover up.How can it call itself “Christ’s Church” and not only look the other way but be criminally complicit in these crimes?I forgive the priest that molested me and have accepted the fact that I am not God’s deputy to judge and condemn him, but I will never be silent overlooking these atrocities committed in the name of Christ while pompous old men in pointy hats pretend it never happened or is not happening and hide other offenders.

  • Itzajob

    Here in New York, there’s been an ongoing scandal over pedophilia in the Orthodox Jewish community. Young victims commit suicide with some regularity, and the offending rabbis flee to Israel, which will not extradite them.So why do so many posters here seem to believe this problem is a uniquely Catholic one? You can’t address this or any other problem effectively if you’re blinded by bias.

  • NYCGirl2

    So why do so many posters here seem to believe this problem is a uniquely Catholic one? You can’t address this or any other problem effectively if you’re blinded by bias.Could it be because this column is about abuse in the Catholic church? Just sayin’I think everyone here is pretty smart and knows that pedophilia exists in other places. But this column, and the responses to it, are in regards to the Catholic church.

  • fabricmaven1

    I was raised in a devout Catholic family. When my father would knock the crap out of my mother for some percieved wrong doing he would got to confession in an alcholic haze on Saturday evening and devoutly receive communion the next morning because he had been forgiven. When my mother went to the pastor and asked for guidance about my fathers physical brutality he asked her what she was doing to make him so angry. He suggested that she pray and clean up her act. In other words go home and shut up. The Catholic Church will some day be put out of business because of its narcissism. They believe they know the divine truth and women and children will always suffer at their hand. I had an uncle who was a priest. He died about ten years ago. In his whole career he could not keep his hands off of women. He was a serial womanizer yet his Bishop constantly moved him to another diocese in New Jersey only to prey again until his retirement where he was taken care of until he died. The hipocrasy of the Catholic Church is undeniable. I’m glad that the Pope can finally be connected to the harm they do. Someday humanity will wake up and realize that we will never progress far from the cave door until we put Religious leaders in their place and trust our own inherent goodness.

  • eabgarnet

    Child abuse is a society-wide problem, not confined to any one religious denomination.As others have noted, Protestant denominations have been affected by child abuse. Where’s that same level of outrage that’s been for the catholic church?

  • Itzajob

    NYCGirl2, I beg to disagree. Most of the posts here (including Mr. Hitchens’) have not been about pedophilia in the Catholic Church. They’ve been about hatred of the Catholic Church generally. The nominal subject could have been NYC parking rules for religious holidays, and we’d have gotten much the same vitriolic reaction from many of these folks.

  • j2hess

    “…something horrible has indeed been going on in the holy precincts, though most inquiries show it to have a perfectly good material explanation.”Wrong, Mr Hitchens.Yes, you can give an account of events and who was complicit in what, but this is exposition, not explanation. How was it that the Church and its leadership have become corrupted? Why do they place protecting the institution above serving the children of God? Why has the secular salvation of the Church become more important that the eternal salvation of the Body of Christ, such that the former has replaced the latter in their thoughts and vision of their mission.It’s simple: “The Devil made me do it!” (with grateful acknowledgment to Flip Wilson.) An evil force wants to bring the Church low in the eyes of it’s members and the world.Or – Jesus warned us, without explicity invoking the devil. “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven.” To become rich, one ususally has to pursue riches steadily and persistently, to place them before so much else. It is too easy for one to come to love the status and power money brings. The bishops and cardinals are generally men who have pursued preferment and love their offices. And it is always easier to complain of the mote in our neighbor’s eye while missing the plank in our own, to condemn insufficiently obedient politicians serving in secular office for not enforcing church doctorine.In other words, no devil is necessary beyond the devil of our own (fallen) natures. But with the swing to the right, the Church Fathers are more anxious to discipline others than to question their own rigid certainties.

  • margito

    All of you who doubt this culture of pedophilia in our catholic church are not listening to the many children who lived through the abuse. I used to be a longtime catholic, leader of the altar servers, teaching cathecism etc. But after I saw with my own eyes what happened here in our own small town, no more!! We had 3 confirmed childmolesters as priests while my boys served as altarboys. The priest who invited them to the altar service was quietly removed from on day to the next. I found out later that a boy accused him of molestation and as was customs at the time the priest was quietly moved to the next town, where he continued to molest. It took years before he was finally kicked out of the ministry. I was so lucky that I was a very involved mother and my kids were ok. They used to complain that they did not like Father Rudi because he hugged them too much!!! I of course never had any idea that this priest had been moved because of molestation charges. All was hushed up till years later. No more. It makes me sick, when I think of the damage mother church has visited on so many.

  • barferio

    Just love it when you hear these people defending their church by claiming that other churches do it too. And why aren’t we paying any attention to them?Do you mean instead of paying attention to your church? Do you mean we aren’t allowed to notice what your church has done if we don’t also notice other churches doing it?Pay attention you, don’t you see that this is just what you’re doing?In fact, the motivation behind this kind of defense is what has motivated the catholic leadership to hide this mess in the way it has.You people are diseased, period. If you aren’t actively participating in this pederasty, you are actively defending it.

  • tsarken13

    Whatever one thinks of Christopher Hitchens, or the tone of his searing indictment of the Catholic hierarchy, the fact remains that child abuse (or rape) has been rampant in the past by Catholic Church officials (and, of course, other religious denominations as well), as has been the effort to cover it up. At best, those bishops involved or responsible by virtue of their position have sacrificed truth and compassion and concern for the victims for public relations expediency, i.e. lying for the sake of the Church. There is really no other way to explain the overwhelming evidence. At worst, they are willing co-conspirators and accomplices to sin and evil.With apologies to Mr. Hitchens, may God have mercy on their souls.

  • Robe2

    It is interesting that Church leaders want to apologize and “move on” when this issue is raised.However, for many catholics we all know elderly women and men, mostly women, who divorced and cannot “go to Communion” for years upon years, even decades. Until their former spouse dies, and then they are “aceepted back” into the Church.If this very strong penatly is applied to lay women and men who had an unfortunate marriage when they were young, and they divorced for whatever reason, then the Church leaders cannot merely apologize and “move on.” The lay people could not “apologize and move on.”If the Pope wants to be a “true moral” leader, he should step down and leave the seat of Peter vacant for 5 years.Let the Secretary of State run the Vatican. No big parades, no world wide trips. Just maintain the office until the Pope can return, after his penance.He sould go away to a monastery and pray for foregiveness for the entire Church. No big meetings, no foreign ambassadors etc.Then after 5 years, he can return to Rome. That would be a “fair” penalty.(And by the way, punish the little old ladies for 5 years of no communion, and then let them have the peace of mind of the Euchrist.)

  • Robe2

    It is interesting that Church leaders want to apologize and “move on” when this issue is raised.However, for many catholics we all know elderly women and men, mostly women, who divorced and cannot “go to Communion” for years upon years, even decades. Until their former spouse dies, and then they are “aceepted back” into the Church.If this very strong penatly is applied to lay women and men who had an unfortunate marriage when they were young, and they divorced for whatever reason, then the Church leaders cannot merely apologize and “move on.” The lay people could not “apologize and move on.”If the Pope wants to be a “true moral” leader, he should step down and leave the seat of Peter vacant for 5 years.Let the Secretary of State run the Vatican. No big parades, no world wide trips. Just maintain the office until the Pope can return, after his penance.He sould go away to a monastery and pray for foregiveness for the entire Church. No big meetings, no foreign ambassadors etc.Then after 5 years, he can return to Rome. That would be a “fair” penalty.(And by the way, punish the little old ladies for 5 years of no communion, and then let them have the peace of mind of the Euchrist.)

  • Itzajob

    Barferio, speak for yourself. It’s not my Church. I’m not Catholic. But if we substituted “Orthodox Jew” for “Catholic” throughout most of these posts, there would be a nationwide outcry against the anti-Semitism of WaPo readers. Why is blind religious hatred any less offensive when it’s directed against Catholics?

  • terencef100

    Tsarken13,I look forward to you posting empirical evidence of this “fact”.

  • Itzajob

    P.S. In case anyone hasn’t read my earlier comment, there has been a longstanding pedophilia scandal of similar magnitude among the Orthodox Jewish religious establishment in New York.But I sincerely doubt that many of the people posting here would have unleased the same kind of vitriol against Orthodox Jews as they have against Catholics, because there seems to be a taboo against attacking Judaism, while attacking Catholicism seems to be downright fashionable.

  • YEAL9

    I doubt the Catholic Church survives much longer considering the constant barrage of sexual abuse cases around the globe and the obvious flaws and errors in the theology and history of Catholicism and Christianity in general.A thorough review of the abuse situation has been posted at:It is suggested everyone reads this review to see at least what the USA Catholic Church has or is doing about the situation.An excerpt:”Prevention effortsIn response to perceived deficiencies in canonical and secular law, both ecclesiastical and civil authorities have implemented procedures and laws to prevent sexual abuse of minors by clergy and to report and punish it if and when it occurs. In 2002, the USCCB adopted a policy for responding to allegations of sexual abuse. The USCCB characterized this policy as being “zero tolerance”.[74][75] Catholic News Service reported that, by 2008, the U.S. church had “trained 5.8 million children to recognize and report abuse. It had run criminal checks on 1.53 million volunteers and employees, 162,700 educators, 51,000 clerics and 4,955 candidates for ordination. It had trained 1.8 million clergy, employees and volunteers in creating a safe environment for children.”[76]The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) perceived a lack of adequate procedures for the prevention of sexual abuse of minors, the reporting of allegations of such abuse and the handling of those reports. In June 2002, the USCCB moved to address these deficiencies by promulgating a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that pledged the Catholic Church in the U.S. to providing a “safe environment” for all children in Church-sponsored activities. The thrust of the charter was the adoption of a “zero tolerance” policy for sexual abuse.[74][75] The Charter instituted reforms to prevent future abuse by requiring background checks for Church employees.[9] The Charter requires dioceses faced with an allegation to alert the authorities, conduct an investigation and remove the accused from duty.[9][77] A Dallas Morning News article claimed nearly two-thirds of the bishops attending had themselves at one point covered for sexually abusive priests.[78]“

  • coloradodog

    Trying to get Catholics to see, hear and read the truth about these problems in their clergy is like the proverbial “pis__ng up a rope.” They deny, snivel and make lame adolescent excuses like “others do it, too”It’s their right to believe what they want including that their young sons (and sometimes daughters) are safe alone with their “celibate” priests. The sad part is that US law allows this sexual terrorism to continue for fear of Papal bullying. It time DA’s in the US do their job and prosecute these criminals who are illegally and shamelessly

  • Secular

    The sad part is that US law allows this sexual terrorism to continue for fear of Papal bullying. It time DA’s in the US do their job and prosecute these criminals who are illegally and shamelesslyPosted by: coloradodog I second this motion wholeheartedly. I go further and ask the Attorney General of Massachusetts to issue an indictment and arrest warrant for the “POND SCUM” and “a sorry excuse for a human being” Mr. Bernard Law. Lets see if his benefactor the other corrupt incorrigible monster Mr. Joseph Ratzinger would get in the way of extraditing the “pond scum”.Or is there anything as the citizens of USA if we can execute a citizens arrest of this #$@hole.

  • willemkraal

    what else to expect from this popi who in his youth ran proudly with the hitler jugend!! more proof that religion poisons all that touch it! this popi needs to remove his drag outfits , his miter and hi-heels und return to deutschland!!

  • revbookburn

    Great article. Anyone who is still considering putting more money in the collection plate or encouraging these child-molesting mullahs from the dark ages to make public policy in a democracy….please look in the mirror and say I MUST NO LONGER BE AN ENABLER FOR PEDOPHILES!

  • marty12341

    THE POPES SHRUGGED…

  • Matthew_DC

    RE: The Pope’s slapping brotherI was paddled in school in the 70s. Can I start a physical abuse claim now? Mind you, they were secularists who paddled me, but it’s the principle. Why did people in the 70s think it was OK to hit kids? I don’t get it.

  • nolib1

    The Washington Post is extremely anti-Catholic running an article from the EXTREME left-wing SLATE? Talk about lack of balance. Yes the church has a problem with some of the post-Vatican II mostly homosexual child sexual abuse.The Church is wrong (obviously). Anyone proven to have sexually abused a child should be sentenced to life in prison (or worse). This is a scourge not only on the church but society as well (has the Post heard of NAMBLA who supported Kevin Jennings – President Obama’s Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug FreeSchools at the U.S. Department of Education appointee?).Selective reporting. The Poet motto ‘We hide you decide’.

  • SilverSpringer1

    Regardless of the merits of your arguments — and I am taking no position on that — it is churlish, not to say outright mean, of you to publish this on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. Couldn’t you just let Irish-Americans celebrate in peace and hold your column for a few more days? By the way, I am not Catholic, just count Irish people among my friends.

  • cornbread_r2

    It’s all well and good to argue that the RCC, or any other religious institution, is neither better nor worse than any other religious institution in both prevalence and response to child abuse. Just don’t also claim to be intimately and directly guided by a divine Holy Spirit unless you can point to specific evidence where that’s made some discernible difference in the last 2000 years — differences that couldn’t also be attributed to simple, secular human advancement.

  • YEAL9

    Back to the topic:Ex-Catholic Julia Sweeney’s monologue “Letting Go Of God” will be the final nail in the coffin of religious/Catholc belief and is and will continue to be more effective than any book or blog column on anti-Catholicism, atheism or secularism. Buy the DVD or watch it on Showtime. Check your cable listings. from http://www.amazon.comEligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.

  • DwightCollins

    I would not give up my faith because of the actions of gays in the Pristhood…

  • mtbunker

    My cousin is a long term priest. I went to a Jesuit University. I was baptised. I am now an atheist. A female cousin on the other side of the family was fondled by her priest in Ohio when she was nine. He was replaced. Two years later, the priest who replaced him had oral sex with a 12 year old boy. He was replaced. The local Catholic Church here in my area of Long Island has changed Priests 2x in the past 11 years due to sexual improprieties. This in addition to all of the background chatter you read on the subject – I can objectively say that this “faith” draws the pedophiles in worldwide society. This all comes from the top, well almost….

  • alexindc108

    What’s more hellish than being raped by your own priest? It’s pretty ironic that this big ole house of god has such fiendish, satanic activities going on inside it. God’s will be done? Who’s more pathetic? The Vatican? Or all the people who continue to give their money to the Vatican? But clearly, God does need your money so he can afford all that therapy. And this is definitely a pre-existing condition…so good luck getting any sympathy from AHIP, God.

  • jameschirico

    The largest mistake by Christian theology is the thought that human free will can always overcome Darwinian sexual pleasure. Humans are the only mammal I can think of that still retains sexual urges during pregnancy. Until 1900 the larger your family, the better off you became with another set of hands to do the chores. The majority of people believing in Christ also practice contraception. Some pedophiles become priests for the easy access to supplant their deviant urges. The need for priests has made them turn a blind eye to a problem easily addressed by psychological testing in seminary schools. Celibacy was invented to gain the lands of Lords (the only priests) instead of their children. While the Vatican has acknowledged evolution, it still has not recognized sex for the pleasure of it instead of pro-creation. When it does, it can properly address the pedophile problem.

  • kinkysr

    Is this “article” a movie treatment or a book proposal from Hitchens?

  • buckminsterj

    ITZAJOB: “Barferio, speak for yourself. It’s not my Church. I’m not Catholic. But if we substituted “Orthodox Jew” for “Catholic” throughout most of these posts, there would be a nationwide outcry against the anti-Semitism of WaPo readers. Why is blind religious hatred any less offensive when it’s directed against Catholics?”The hatred is not blind – in this case, it stems from a very definite source: an institutional effort on the part of the RCC to cover up child rape. Why do Orthodox Jews escape that vitriol here? First of all, I have no doubt that Hitchens and most of the posters here would decry sexual abuse within that sect just as vehemently, were it the subject at hand. But it is not. And why? Simply because Orthodox Jews don’t weild such enormous political and social influenece around the world, so the problem is not as pervasive. And though Orthodox Jews surely presume moral superiority and chosen-ness, as most believers do, they are far less capable of imposing their capricious moral code on the public at large.The RCC, on the other hand, believes itself to be the world’s moral police – particularly where sex is involved – so when it attempts to cover up instances of pedophilia within its preiesthood (to say nothing of the church’s other abuses), people will take note and respond with appropriate vitriol.

  • justadadsc

    This article is a joke…Hitchens is an avowed Catholic basher trying to sell his next book. And it seems like most of the folks posting here are more than willing to take the bait as it allows them to feel better about themselves, how smart they are and how they would run things if THEY were the Pope. Did anyone here even read what Rev Amorth said? Funny how no one seems to call out this part of his statement: “But, he added, he sees no evil in the Vatican today: “I just see good people in the Vatican. People of prayer, holy people, I don’t see any evil.” Mistakes were and will always be made by the fallible humans that try to to the will of God and follow his teachings. The RCC has focused on its mistakes and shortcomings of the past like no other institution on this planet. Much as it has for the past 2000 years. Sorry folks, but it is simply not going away and all I can say is “Thank be to God”.

  • ZZim

    The largest mistake by Christian theology is the thought that human free will can always overcome Darwinian sexual pleasure. Posted by: jameschiricoActually, James, Christian theology says the exact opposite, that we are all sinful by nature and that we will always fall short. I believe Jesus phrased it “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”So, your topic sentence being the exact opposite of correct, I have to assume that reading the rest of your paragraph is pointless. And probably any other posts you might write in the future.

  • jamshark70

    Nolib1: This is misleading.”This is a scourge not only on the church but society as well (has the Post heard of NAMBLA who supported Kevin Jennings – President Obama’s Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug FreeSchools at the U.S. Department of Education appointee?).”None of the mainstream gay/lesbian rights organizations endorse NAMBLA’s position. NAMBLA exists but it is not welcome in the gay/lesbian community as a whole. Kevin Jennings does not pander to NAMBLA to get their support – he can’t prevent NAMBLA from offering its support to him, but he is not actively seeking it.And then there’s the really clueless Dwightcollins:”this is an example of what happens when you place gays in position of authority over children…You do understand that the vast majority of gay men have NO sexual interest in children? Don’t you?Your daughter is in more danger from a heterosexual child abuser than your son is from a gay man.

  • scoogy

    If all the pedophiles of the world had come together to create a perfect occupation for themselves, they couldn’t have done a better job than the Catholic Church has done. Just imagine… not only do you not have to be married, you aren’t even allowed to marry. The Church places you into the community in a position of great trust, and has you counsel kids, train them, even hear their confessions. If you spend a lot of time with the boys, that’s only natural, since you have to train them as acolytes. They even call you “Father!” If you are around one particular boy a lot, it’s said “isn’t it nice that Father So-and-so has taken an interest in this boy.I’m not saying the Church did this deliberately. It was done in ignorance of the possible consequences. But they did nothing to change these policies, or to police their clergy; instead they tried to hide these abuses, and to move priests to other towns, where they could do it all over again. They are still hiding these offenses. In light of this, it is hard to see the Catholic Church as a friend of the people. A pox on the people would be more accurate.

  • ZZim

    … Catholics and others can not see nor smell the stench of the Elephant in the Basilica. There is documented evidence of this problem in the Clergy and, even worse, documented evidence of a cover up.=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Well, Colorado, I’m sorry to hear that your first sexual experience didn’t work out. But I think that even you have to realize that you are incapable of objectively judging this issue, since you have intense emotions connected to it.I on the other hand, am a neutral observer and I think this whole “story” is a bunch of crap. It’s an anti-Catholic propaganda campaign whipped up with the intention of reducing the Church’s influence in public life, politics and morality.None of the people conducting this campaign care one iota about you and the abuse you have (allegedly) suffered. You mean nothing to them. What people like Hitchens care about is damaging the Church enough to reduce its influence.

  • ZZim

    In other words, the RCC didn’t lead; the RCC was pushed.=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Perhaps you are not considering that churches are Human organizations designed by Humans, staffed by Humans and run by Humans. That’s how bureaucracies are.So all I see you doing here is you calling the RCC a bureaucracy. Which it is, by the way. So it appears to me that your argument is that “bureaucracies are incapable of moral leadership.”I consider that an entirely legitimate position Skow. Probably accurate too.

  • buckminsterj

    JUSTADADSC: “The RCC has focused on its mistakes and shortcomings of the past like no other institution on this planet.”Occasional moral hypocrisy and myopia may indeed be considered “shortcomings” – and they are common enough in religion as a whole. Widespread child rape and a deliberate cover-up, however, are not shortcomings – they are egregious crimes. Yes, the RCC may “focus on its mistakes” but, as demonstrated in this post, only insofar as the church can then find a way to squirm out of culpability. If you think Hitchens’ misstates the facts, provide evidence, not your indignation.

  • ZZim

    I doubt the Catholic Church survives much longer considering the constant barrage of sexual abuse cases around the globe and the obvious flaws and errors in the theology and history of Catholicism and Christianity in general.Posted by: YEAL9 Yeal, the Catholic Church has been around for 2,000 years. Over the centuries it has survived much more severe forms of oppression than the current leftist media campaign. Predicting the imminent demise of the Church is about as stupid as predicting the imminent demise of the United States or Capitalism.The current round of attacks will fade away as well and the Catholic Church and Catholics will simply proceed as always. The vast majority of Catholics have little or no interest in people like Hitchens.

  • Skowronek

    justadadsc wrote:The RCC has focused on its mistakes and shortcomings of the past like no other institution on this planet. I’m not impressed, in light of this statement.”The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church’s own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated “in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … and everyone … is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.” =================================”Well, Colorado, I’m sorry to hear that your first sexual experience didn’t work out. But I think that even you have to realize that you are incapable of objectively judging this issue, since you have intense emotions connected to it.”You don’t suppose that a rape victim would have a great deal more insight into the issue (rape) than someone who has not been raped, would you? That’s what it is after all; non-consensual sex–worse still, with a child.

  • eaglehawkaroundsince1937

    Does no one posting get the real point or problem? Take a young boy, put him in the sem at 12 years old, teach him that sex is tabo with girls, make him take an oath not to think sex with girls, that such thoughts will condem you to hell and expect him to grow up somewhat normal. His hormones heated up about drives him crazy plus he knowing he can never have a wife. This is a most unnatural act and practice of the Catholic church. Men in prison will turn to other men for there sexual outlet what would make a priest any different. As a young boy I was taught this Catholic teaching. I thought wet dreams were from the devil. Oh how evil I thought, rather enjoyed them tho.

  • ZZim

    Widespread child rape and a deliberate cover-up, however, are not shortcomings – they are egregious crimes. Posted by: buckminsterj=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Buck, the incidence of pedophilia in the Church hierarchy is the same as that in the general population. So is the incidence of other sexual deviancies like homosexuality. You can’t get rid of the problem unless you stop hiring Humans to work for you, so the problem itself will never go away. The Church handled it badly in the past and has instituted reforms to handle it better in the future. This change mirrors the changes that society in general has taken to recognize this problem, bring it out of the shadows, and handle it better. Pedophilia has always been with us and it always will be. What matters is how we handle it future tense.

  • spidermean2

    Catholicism is NOT Christianity and the Bible can prove it.The title “Holy Father” is reserved only to God. It is blasphemous to call a person as “Holy Father”.God has no mother. Even Jesus said in disgust, “Who is my mother?” He also stated that “before Abraham was Iam”.Only God can make saints. People who are born again are saints. No church or pope has the power to declare a person to be a saint. It’s blasphemous. These people has no idea what it is like to be born-again.The list goes on. You shall know them by their fruits and as we can see, the fruits are rotten.

  • ZZim

    Zzim wrote:You don’t suppose that a rape victim would have a great deal more insight into the issue (rape) than someone who has not been raped, would you? That’s what it is after all; non-consensual sex–worse still, with a child. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=I am certain that they would have much more insight into how it feels to be raped. Ask yourself this, would it be wise or foolish if Congress passed a law that the judge in rape cases should be replaced by the alleged victim who would then be responsible for adjudicating guilt and assigning a penalty?It would be profoundly stupid and unjust and you know it.

  • buckminsterj

    ZZIM: “The incidence of pedophilia in the Church hierarchy is the same as that in the general population. So is the incidence of other sexual deviancies like homosexuality.”Comparing homosexuality to pedophilia? Come on. One involves consensual sex; the other, coercion by an authority figure of a child unable to consent. And it is precisely the priests’ presumed authority that renders their pedophilia especially heinous. If the RCC abandons its claims to righteousness and its attempts to impose Catholic views on the rest of us, then we can lump its misdeeds in with those of everyone else. The sexual abuse is bad enough – the hypocrisy is unpardonable. And that’s why the RCC is a legitimate target.

  • Schaum

    Spidermean2 is now SPIDERNEUTERED!Given three simple algebra problems to solve,Spiderneutered proved he has no understanding of mathematics by his inability to solve any of the problems until I gave him the formulas to use. He claimed as unsolvable a problem which thread-member Arminius had no problem in solving. Then we discovered that Spiderneutered is not an engineer (what a surprise that was!) but a student! DanielInTheLionsDen then exposed Spiderneutered’s lack of even rudimentary knowledge of Euler; he further showed that Spiderneutered copied, and ALTERED, to suit his own purposes, a definition from Wikipidia. Thread-member Barferio exposed Spiderneutered’s confusion of sexual reproduction with self-replication, and also repeatedly asked Spiderneutered questions about meiosis, which of course Spiderneutered could not answer because he knows even less about science than he does about math. Spiderneutered highlighted his ignorance of physics by confusing mass with energy – to him, such concepts as ‘acceleration’ and ‘speed of light squared’ are not worth consideration! Additionally, Spiderneutered further illustrated his incompetence in mathematics with the astonishingly stupid claim that “x=x+1″ doesn’t work in math! And of course there are the lingering questions about his relationship with his nephew…The combined efforts of members of The Spirited Atheist blog have definitively discredited Spiderneutered as the lying, ignorant, and incompetent fraud we have long known him to be.

  • Mary_Cunningham

    Spidermean,If God had no mother, was Jesus Christ–who had a mother–thus not God?If you do not believe in the divinity of Christ how can you be Christian?Quick: better buy Christopher Hitchin’s latest book (his autobiography) and help him with his wine-purchases…

  • ZZim

    ZZIM: “The incidence of pedophilia in the Church hierarchy is the same as that in the general population. So is the incidence of other sexual deviancies like homosexuality.”Comparing homosexuality to pedophilia? Posted by: buckminsterjI certainly am. Homosexuality is a sexual deviancy. The percentage of gay Catholic priests is the same as the general population. The percentage of pedophile priests is the same as the general population.I’m not morally equating the two activities. I’m pointing out that any large group of Humans like the priesthood (or firefighters or cops or teachers or politicians or blog posters) will inevitably contain a small percentage of sexual deviants. So there will always be pedophile priests, regardless of the policies the Church adopts to control the problem. There will also always be pedophile priests regardless of the policies that the Church adopts in matters unrelated to pedophilia. But THAT is your real concern. You don’t really care about pedophile priests. Your REAL concern is to force the Church to withdraw from publicly advocating its ideology. Hitchens doesn’t care about pedophile priests either. He just hates the Church for advocating policies and morality that he opposes and he wants it to stop.Hence the fact that you and Hitchens support the manufactured furor over this fake scandal.

  • BlaiseP

    @ZZimI think Hitchins is sincere. He comes from a middle class, atheist English background and they don’t get more anti-papist than that. He really hates the Church and in America he’s found his niche. Unfortunately, his niche is not so profitable as previously and he is in need of funds as his latest book (his autobiography) isn’t selling so well. Also, there is a lot more competition in his brand of anti-Catholic vitriol so he has to step it up a notch.Hence a new exhortation to atheists: you need to hate Catholics! The sex scandal–although a bid too old and widely dispersed–will have to be trotted out again, but–hey!–let’s involve that fascist pope Benedict. It’s not true but who cares? There are plenty of newspapers to oblige..especially this one– this riduculous, preposterous pig of a paper–this one is more than happy to give him prime time.Anyway, folks buy his books. Especially that.

  • Skowronek

    fake scandal.Pedophilia isn’t a scandal? Hiding pedophiles from the law as a policy isn’t scandalous? Pedophiles hurt children. Both boys and girls are victimized by pedophiles. To date, most pedophiles (accused, prosecuted and convicted) are male. Doesn’t mean that women are NOT ever pedophiles, just that not as many have been identified and convicted. Homosexuals having consensual sex isn’t the same thing at all, and you know it. What two (or more) consenting ADULTS do in their bedrooms is their business.

  • ZZim

    @ZZimthis riduculous, preposterous pig of a paper… is more than happy to give him prime time.Posted by: BlaisePOh, I get that he is sincere. Many haters are.I don’t get that the Post is giving this guy’s venom a platform, but in all fairness to the WaPo, hating the Catholic Church IS an acceptable form of bigotry amongst the Left. So the decision-makers at the Post really may not perceive Hitchins’ hate-mongering for what it really is. After all, if everyone you know is a Liberal and everyone you know hates the Catholicism, then it just seems like an ordinary thing.

  • BlaiseP

    I think ZZim is merely saying Catholic priests are representative of the general population in which they are found. To the extent that there are pedophiles in the general population, there will be pedophiles among Catholics and in the priesthood. The Jay report (published in 2006) offered a wealth of information on the scandal and found a number of 4% of offending priests during the entire 1950-2002 time period (2001-02 when the scandal first surfaced). Now what’s happening here–which WaPo clearly welcomes –is that the usual angry folk are happily (?) getting really angry (again), and buying Hitchin’s books, and having a good time being angry and Catholic-bashing. There are almost no Catholics here (Zzim is an atheist but, unbelievably, tries to judge fairly) because it’s impossible to dialogue with a raging mob.Newspapers have a long history in precipitating lynch mobs. Hearst’s papers even caused a war (the Spanish-American), and the European tabloids of the times did their bit in causing the disaster that was WWI. Just look at newpapers’ role in the McCarthyism of the early 1950s. This recycled scandal is not all that different. It is amusing though to see atheists, who pride themselves on rationality, leading the mob.

  • buckminsterj

    ZZIM,An international cover-up of child rape is a “fake scandal?” What, then, would constitute an actual scandal?Sure, all influential institutions are made up of “large groups of humans” (very insightful) and yes, humans are fallible (that this notion is fundamental to Christianity seems not to discourage the RCC from ignoring it in practice, however). But please, the idea that simply being a human institution places you above reproach is absolutely asinine. The incidence of pedophilia in the RCC may be no higher than in other populations (I would need to see stats), but the Church’s attempts to deny and dismiss the problem tarnish its claim to being a legitimate moral compass. You have yet to demontrate that the abuses were handled appropriately, while Hitchens presents some startling examples to the contrary. And yes, of course atheists like Hitchens and myself will use the RCC’s stunning hypocrisy to bolster the argument that religion is at best superfluous, at worst vicious. What would you expect? That an attempt to suppress instances of child rape would soften our view of the church?

  • BlaiseP

    Anyway, for the record, I am a practicing Catholic. Like Dwight Collins, I have made my own peace with the Church about the scandal, and it hasn’t shaken my faith. The Church is more than its magnificent buildings, its glorious music, its reformed liturgy and its somewhat compromised hierarchy. The Church is the faith, hope and charity, the deeds and prayers, the love and courage of every Catholic in the world. For a Catholic to say “Well, I hate the Church” is really to say, “well, I hate myself” because he Anyway, I don’t want to further dialogue here, because, what is the point of ‘reasoning’ with bias? (Especially recycled bias.) Can’t be done.

  • BlaiseP

    Must run, but frankly, Skow, I don’t think This scandal was heaven (?) sent so far as you’re concerned. You haven’t even

  • ZZim

    fake scandal.Pedophilia isn’t a scandal? Hiding pedophiles from the law as a policy isn’t scandalous? Pedophiles hurt children. Both boys and girls are victimized by pedophiles. To date, most pedophiles (accused, prosecuted and convicted) are male. Doesn’t mean that women are NOT ever pedophiles, just that not as many have been identified and convicted. Homosexuals having consensual sex isn’t the same thing at all, and you know it. What two (or more) consenting ADULTS do in their bedrooms is their business. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=1 – Uncovering a pedophile in your midst is always a scandal. However, the vast majority of the charges being discussed happened before the 1980’s, when society in general confronted the hidden problem of child abuse. Prior to that time, pedophilia was almost always hushed up and ignored by all organizations in society. For example, schools quietly let teachers go with no public explanation. Those teachers promptly moved out of state and got a new teaching job. When I was a kid there was a creepy neighbor that my Dad banned from the premises without explanation. He was a school teacher and be bounced from school to school (mostly private prep schools, he liked the preppy boys) for 20 years before finally being busted publicly for his activities and going to jail. Should I damn my local school board for this? I think not.Society changes and the Catholic Church, as a culturally conservative institution, has difficulty changing along with it. As a result, it often acts slowly. The scandal isn’t that the Church hasn’t changed (it has), the scandal is that the change happened slowly. But that’s over and done with now, it’s not an ongoing problem.The reason the ongoing furor is a “FAKE SCANDAL” is because the problem has been addressed and fixed. The allegations currently being trumpeted in the media are generally either fake or date back in time many years to when society as a whole failed to act with current-day standards. However, because the past is by definition NOT the current day, I find this not scandalous that they did not use current-day standards.2 – Yes, homosexuality and pedophilia are different sexual deviancies.

  • buckminsterj

    ZZIM: “The problem has been addressed and fixed.”With the promotion of one of its perpetrators to the highest position in the church? Appropriately addressed, indeed.

  • poosky

    I find it an odd defense of the Catholic Church to claim that it is just like any other organization. Isn’t this the Holy Roman Catholic Church, instituted by Jesus Christ and shepherded by Christ’s representative on earth? Where’s all that superior morality we keep hearing about?Sell all you have and give it to the poor and follow Christ.Take the beam out of your own eye before you point to the speck in the eyes of others.Then maybe you can resore your nonexistent moral authority.Until then please be quiet. You shame yourselves.

  • buckminsterj

    And no, your school board was not necessarily to blame for hiring a pedophile teacher. But the other boards that “let him go quietly?” They do share culpapbility – like Ratzinger.

  • BlaiseP

    @PooskyI am going to quote from one of our time’s great philosopher: “From its earliest years the Church has never claimed that its authority derived from its members. It would have never survived had it done so. The idea which most closely corresponds to its identity is the idea of the Church as a mystical entity. It is not empirical, it is unverifiable: it is a question of faith. But essential to its collective identity is the idea of the Church as a charismatic body established by God and deriving its legitimacy directly from divine intervention in human history–an intervention more momentous than any except the act of Creation itself.And the Church as a mystical body owes its unblemished purity and sanctity not to the impeccable moral conduct of its members, but to its divine origin and mission. This is why, for example, St Augustine’s battle against the Donatist heresy was so important[I only hope this doesn’t enrage you further!Best to all,

  • Skowronek

    It’s inevitable that all bishops of the day, including Ratzinger, handled abuse complaints against priests in-house, said the Rev. Fergus O’Donoghue, editor of the Irish Jesuit journal Studies.”The pope was no different to any other bishop at time. The church policy was to keep it all quiet – to help people, but to avoid scandal. Avoiding scandal was a huge issue for the church,” he said. “Of course there was cover-up,” he added. But worse was “the systematic lack of concern for the victims.”

  • buckminsterj

    BlaiseP,Allow me to extend your unimpeachable logic:”From its earliest years NAMBLA has never claimed that its authority derived from its members. It would have never survived had it done so. The idea which most closely corresponds to its identity is the idea of NAMBLA as a mystical entity. It is not empirical, it is unverifiable: it is a question of faith. But essential to its collective identity is the idea of NAMBLA as a charismatic body established by God and deriving its legitimacy directly from divine intervention in human history–an intervention more momentous than any except the act of Creation itself.”

  • ZZim

    Buck, there is no “international cover-up of child rape”. There really isn’t. Like all other large institutions over the past couple of decades, the Church has come clean and instituted policies designed to minimize the problem (it can never be eliminated) and to properly deal with the perpetrators. That’s not a cover-up.I found this funny: “the idea that simply being a human institution places you above reproach is absolutely asinine.” I agree and I would certainly never make such an asinine argument, nor would I THINK such an asinine argument, although apparently you have. My point was that all large organizations in which adults interact with children are going to have incidences of pedophilia. This is the plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face fact that you are ignoring in your eagerness to condemn the Church so you can vent your spleen at it.I don’t expect haters like you and Hitchens to change your stripes, I’m just pointing out to you (and anyone else interested) the nature of your position. Your primary motivation appears to me to be defamation and degradation of what I consider a positive force in the world and I’m calling you on it.

  • ZZim

    It’s inevitable that all bishops of the day, including Ratzinger, handled abuse complaints against priests in-house, said the Rev. Fergus O’Donoghue, editor of the Irish Jesuit journal Studies.”The pope was no different to any other bishop at time. The church policy was to keep it all quiet – to help people, but to avoid scandal. Avoiding scandal was a huge issue for the church,” he said. “Of course there was cover-up,” he added. But worse was “the systematic lack of concern for the victims.”=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Yup, that’s how everyone handled this issue back then. Society has changed and the Church has changed along with it. In my opinion, it’s better this way.

  • BlaiseP

    Buckj:Where was logic referred to in that quote?

  • ZZim

    There are almost no Catholics here (Zzim is an atheist but, unbelievably, tries to judge fairly) because it’s impossible to dialogue with a raging mob.Posted by: BlaiseP=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Thanks for the compliment, Blaise. This is certainly a toxic environment for a Catholic to venture into. I salute your courage.I don’t consider myself an atheist so much as an agnostic. I think that religion in general is a positive force in the world and should be treated as such. I believe (irrationally, which I feely acknowledge) that someday I will stand before the Throne and be judged. As to Who sits upon said Throne and the standard to which I will be judged… that I do not know, but I’ll keep trying.:-)PS – I don’t expect rational dialogue from the mob, but it’s fun to poke them with sticks. They’re so cute when they rage. Reason and logic seems to especially infuriate them, so I generally poke them with that. Mockery and derision work too, but I try to use it sparingly.

  • BlaiseP

    I am not so sure it’s courage, because I never stay very long & I rarely venture in alone. Still courage is a virtue–one of the four cardinal–the others being wisdom, temperance and,and…wait–justice!Not much of any of those here, tell me, why does a present injustice equal a past injustice? Never could figure that out. Why do we love to sit in judgment on the past? Why do our leaders feel the need toBut that’s cynical. Oh well, I’m off.Best to all

  • buckminsterj

    BlaiseP: “Where was logic referred to in that quote?”Um, there was no logic. That’s the point. Simply claiming divine origins neither confirms one’s righteousness nor excuses one’s transgressions. Anyone can (and usually does) claim God as a supporter. Even NAMBLA.ZZIM: “So there will always be pedophile priests, regardless of the policies the Church adopts to control the problem.”Yes. One of the policies the church “adopted to control the problem,” per Ratzinger, as cited above by Hitchens: “Charges were to be investigated ‘in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … and everyone … is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.’”You’ll excuse me if I have difficulty consigning this policy entirely to the past when participants in the scandal retain high office. And how noble to adopt policies to mitigate pedophilia only when the abuse can no longer possibly be denied! Another example of the Church’s unwillingness to concede a chink in its armor until doing so is downright preposterous (q.v. heliocentrism, evolution). Is it any wonder we criticize an institution (any institution) that so often must be dragged kicking and screaming toward reasonable behavior?

  • buckminsterj

    ZZIM:Your sticks need some sharpening. But I’d rather have the mockery and derision anyway. I’m off for a bit, but I’m anxious to see what you can produce . . .

  • coloradodog

    It’s obvious here from most of the Catholic posters who deny, snivel and make lame excuses for these atrocities that they will never cure their institutionalized perversion.What the rest of us must do is make sure we have strong non-Catholic DA’s who are not afraid of the Bishop to try, convict and imprison these perverts.A VOTE FOR A CATHOLIC POLITICIAN IS A VOTE FOR CONTINUED SEXUAL TERRORISM AGAINST CHILDREN.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Pgr88If you think that it is a trait of gay men that they wish to have sex with boys, then do you also think that it is a trait of straight men that they want to have sex with little girls?In fact, this is a snide and hateful remark, a perfect demonstration of the Catholic homophobia and bigotry. The Catholic Church, and if fact all churches and religions can try all they can to stamp out the existence of gay people, but it is just not going to happen.

  • coloradodog

    No institutionalized problem here, no sirreeee. Others do it, too. It’s only one priest in 1,000. The Nazi Pope and his brother Sergeant Shultz “knooooooow nooooothing!” Meanwhle,RIO DE JANEIRO AP — Brazilian authorities are investigating three priests accused of sexually abusing altar boys after a video allegedly showing one case of abuse was broadcast on television, police and church officials said Tuesday.The case came to light after the SBT network aired a video purportedly showing an 82-year-old priest having sex with a 19-year-old altar boy who worked for him for four years. Other young men appeared on the report saying that they, too, had been abused by Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa.Also under investigation are Monsignor Raimundo Gomes, 52, and Father Edilson Duarte, 43, for allegedly having sexual relations with boys and young men.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Itzajob “Why is blind religious hatred any less offensive when it’s directed against Catholics?”Because the Cathollic Church is a GIGANTIC bully.I am tired of all the bullies of the world feeling picked on because someone has noticed their bulling behavior and asked them to stop.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    I have been trying to read all of the comments but there are too many to read.This phrase “spewing venom” or phrases like it, keep coming up. What a silly thing to say. People who are exasperated with conservative Christian dogma are always accused of “spewing venon” if they speak up against it.The Catholic Church is a mess; like the old Ottoman Empire, it is coming apart at the seams. There won’t be any solution to this mess any time soon.So, why don’t Catholic parents treat Priests like they would any other man that they do not know well, and never, NEVER let their young children or teenagers spend any time alone with them? This does not mean that they think that all Priests are pediphiles, but it is just good parenting sense, to be on the safe side.

  • themervino

    I may be agnostic but if there is a place called hell you will certainly jump to the head of the line to get in for using the fear of God to rape children. These people are true evil. And to all the Catholics out there you should be ashamed of these people. Hijacking your deeply held belief system as a cover for their pedophilia.

  • unpoetaloco

    The only thing the Vatican understands is money. There is no doubt that Church leaders were complicit in the cover-up, if not the crimes themselves. Priests are elevated to the episcopacy because of their willingness to place the primacy of Church authority (money = power)over everything else. Not until Catholics worldwide withhold their money will the Church respond. I am calling on all Catholics, during offering, instead of money, to place in the basket a note that says they will cease tithing.

  • BOBSTERII

    Since this is related to Christain priests who highly allegedely beleive in God and Jesus and mention and praise Jesus every day, I will say that I haven’t seen any cartoonist making any cartoons with Jesus raping kids. And I am glad they weren’t made at all, because it is not Jesus’ fault and it would not be right thing to assault and offend all honest and God fearing Christians and same thing is with Muhamed and God fearing Muslims.

  • ZZim

    You’ll excuse me if I have difficulty consigning this policy entirely to the past when participants in the scandal retain high office. Posted by: buckminsterj=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-The Church is not a totalitarian enterprise, so we can’t expect them to do things like conducting purges, erasing people from photos, etc. The people in mid-level positions back then are still around and are in high level positions now. In the next few years they will die and be replaced by today’s mid-level leaders who were low-level leaders back when all this occurred.Again, you’re railing against Human nature and the natural way that Human organizations work.Also, I understand they’re into this whole “forgiveness” thing. You aren’t, which is fine, I favor the death penalty for pedophiles myself. But I don’t think that purging the priesthood of anyone involved in administrative handling of these cases under the old policies would serve any positive purpose.

  • gpdeady

    I am a Catholic. I am ashamed of my Church. I have been ashamed of my Chuch since Benedict was elecetd Pope. He was a Nazi as a teen ager. Are we surprised by anything a Nazi does?

  • ffield

    Unfortunately in going after Ratzinger/Benedict in this article, Hitchens manages to get virtually all his facts wrong. These well referenced pieces explain. “…it would be unfair to conclude that Mr. Hitchens deliberately distorted and withheld all of this information. One hesitates to attribute his failings to malicious anti-catholic bigotry.

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