The Pope was drawn directly into the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal last night as news emerged of his part in a decision to send a paedophile priest for therapy. The cleric went on to reoffend and was convicted of child abuse but continues to work as a priest in Upper Bavaria.
The priest was sent from Essen to Munich for therapy in 1980 when he was accused of forcing an 11-year-old boy to perform oral sex. The archdiocese confirmed that the Pope, who was then a cardinal, had approved a decision to accommodate the priest in a rectory while the therapy took place.
The priest, identified only as H, was subsequently convicted of sexually abusing minors after he was moved to pastoral work in nearby Grafing. In 1986 he was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence and fined DM 4,000 (£1,800 today). There have been no formal charges against him since.
So, just as a thought experiment, let's imagine what would happen if a school district administrator learned, thirty years ago, that a teacher was sexually abusing students. This administrator doesn't call the police. He doesn't call parents. He doesn't even fire the teacher. Instead, he has the school district pay for therapy, then quietly reassigns the teacher to another school, where the teacher goes on to abuse more students.
How is this any different? How much longer can this institution last in light of the neverending evidence of constant sexual abuse of children—protected by the highest officials of the church?
Even faith has its limits.