What Everyone Really Wants to Know about the Pope's Resignation

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Ben Cohen
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Max Read at Gawker puts it bluntly:

During his eight-year pontificate, Benedict faced a near-constant chorus of calls for his resignation, generally over his handling of sex-abuse cases as a German bishop and as a cardinal. In 1985, he'd signed a letter that prevented a convicted child-molesting priest from being defrocked; in 2001, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he authored a letter asserting the church's right to keep its investigations into sexual abuse confidential. As pope, Benedict met with victims, and apologized repeatedly for the church's coverups and denials, but did little to change the institutional character or response to sex-abuse accusations.

This was Andrew Sullivan last week on HBO's riveting documentary Mea Maxima Culpa that detailed the horrific abuse committed by Father Father Lawrence Murphy who raped over 200 boys:

What this documentary proves beyond any reasonable doubt...is that all of it was known throughout the hierarchy for decades. There is even a network of Church-operated “psychiatric” clinics for serial child rapists that don’t use traditional psychotherapy or report criminals to the cops or sequester the rapists from the public (let alone defrock them). These clinics simply enforce spiritual discipline and then recycle the priests to rape more children....

There is a particularly appropriate ending to the tale of Father Murphy: faced with the possibility of a church trial for a canon law crime which has no statute of limitations – abusing the sacrament of reconciliation by raping children as absolution, he appealed to Pope Benedict XVI himself. And this Pope granted him a reprieve because of failing health. We have the documents to prove all this. Many argue – and it is undeniable – that this Pope has done more than any predecessor to investigate the horror. But he did so only as the abuse stories began to break into the open and his first response was to blame the media.

The media is going to have a field day with this one, so stay tuned for more coverage.