After Thursday's angeljacking, yet more post-Papal sentimentality. This flyer tells us that a mere €10 will secure a souvenir coin, commemorating one of "the most important stations in the life of our German Pope." That is, the day he quit.
The faithful here in Bavaria view the former Archbishop of Munich through rose-coloured glasses. Many will admit that their favourite son had a troubled Papacy; few will call him a failed Pope.
Note how the blurbers use the word "station". Does it suggest Ratzinger is being crucified by unbelievers?
Previous popes faced financial fiddles, conspicuously gay priests, and the systemic abuse of children. None of these problems appeared overnight. But what was Benedict's response?
Insiders tell us that the Pope was as shocked and appalled by much priestly behaviour as any reasonable man. A sympathetic BBC Op-Ed reminds us how then-Cardinal Ratzinger led a Good Friday service in which he called out the "filth" afoot, and how it could sink the Church.
As he assumed power, he choked. He went back to what he understood best—theology—and doubled down on it. Stricter adherence to doctrine would cleanse the church. And, indeed, it would. If it mattered.
No clerical criminal resorted to Catholic doctrine to justify his corruption, nor the abuse of children in his care. No misunderstandings, or lack of clarity. Every offender knew, and understood the rules. Besides, the secular world, it could be argued, operates on even stricter doctrine than the church does.
Nope. The Pope needed people skills, not theological rigour. Can you think of a worse place to learn people-skills than the Catholic Church? And the Bavarian Catholic Church, at that. It's a double-whammy.
When the chief clergyman faces a child whose life has been destroyed by treatment at the hands of fellow clergy, perhaps he might stifle the mumbo-jumbo about the how the abusers' contrition trumps everything else, and how it is the obligation of the victim to forgive. Secular courts take contrition into account, too. But they don't let contrition erase the crime.
Confession is good for the soul. So let me confess that I was raised, and confirmed, a Roman Catholic. I am one no more, in part because my Catechism seemed to hate children; it was used in the classroom to justify cruelty, and not love. The current Church hierarchy stands aghast that their actions can be construed as expressing anything but the epitome of love. No amount of theology will correct the fact that the priesthood relies on scripture to tell them what love is, rather than personal experience.
Before you buy a coin for your devout grandmother, think about sending your ten Euros to a victim's charity instead. Surely, a much better way to commemorate Benedict's papacy. Happy Sunday.