If You Care About Children, These Would Be the Worst and ‘Least Worst’ Popes

Chicago-based advocacy group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) is keeping a close eye on the upcoming conclave, hoping for a Pope who will responsibly address the problem of priestly sexual abuse and the ensuing cover-ups, with due focus on protecting the victims instead of protecting the Church.

To that end, they’ve taken a close look at the papabili and released a list of those who they think would be disastrous for Catholic children… and who would be “least worst”.

Perhaps tellingly, they could only find three candidates they liked amongst the numerous candidates and only two actual Cardinals. (Their third candidate, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, hasn’t yet risen to the position of Cardinal, but would still technically be eligible for the papacy according to church rules. In reality, however, the last non-Cardinal to become pope was elected in 1378.) That means that, from the standpoint of childhood sexual abuse, their hopes rest primarily on Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Philippines and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Austria.

Tagle notably called for a pro-active approach to sexual abuse, which would simultaneously minimize scandal and keep children safe from repeat offenders. He has deplored accusations that the media is being anti-Catholic when it reports on such scandals, insisting that the Church should be prepared for fair scrutiny just like any other institution that might cover up or conceal abuses.

Schönborn has faced disciplinary action for his willingness to publicly criticize Catholic officials who conceal abusers. Specifically, he criticized Cardinal Angelo Sodano for blocking investigations into the crimes of a (now-deceased) Austrian Cardinal, and for dismissing accusations of abuse as “petty gossip.” His reputation as a liberal thinker makes him an unlikely candidate in a conclave stuffed with conservative appointees by Popes Benedict and John Paul II.

Unfortunately, most of the likely candidates appear on SNAP’s “Dirty Dozen” list, and with good reason:

Spokesmen at the Vatican shrug off the list; the cardinals are under no obligation to take the laity’s opinions into consideration when voting. One of Timothy Dolan’s own spokesmen added that SNAP has “little to no credibility” within magisterial circles.

That’s probably true, but it’s deeply unfortunate. Once again, the Vatican shows its unwillingness to listen to those most affected by the self-interested way it wields its power.

About Sara Lin Wilde

Sara Lin Wilde is a recovering Catholic (and cat-holic, for that matter - all typographical errors are the responsibility of her feline friends). She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she is working on writing a novel that she really, really hopes can actually get published.

  • http://twitter.com/chemikhazi Jeiel Aranal

    Cardinal Tagle is just as bad, he wants to keep legal action out of it when handling sexual abuse, because “it just adds to the pain”. http://youtu.be/iDHzK8Rtwfw?t=10m38s

  • Rain

    Tina Fey for pope (and Tonight Show host.)

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      I really hope they elect her, but they have this thing about women. To use their latin phrase, “Omenway reaay ckyiay.” However, I have check their rule book and there is nothing that specifically states that the next pope must be human. I recommend that they elect a Santa Cruz giant tortoise. I think it would be a perfect fit. The cash strapped Vatican can make a little extra money, by charging a small fee to ride the pope around the church. And for the next 170 years or so, the main dogma coming from the church will be that carrots are tasty.

      • Artor

        Anyone with that Latin phrase in their dogma must be a pig!

      • Rain

        The Vatican could charge for rides on the popemobile, which would be the Pope. The Pope would be a pope and a popemobile. He would be his own popemobile. These are the perks of being a turtle pope.

        • Pepe

          That’s almost like the holy trinity, except not quite!

        • bewilderbeast

          Favorite popemobile quote: Nothing says “Faith in God” like three inches of bullet-proof glass.

      • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

        The requirement in the current apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis that the pope-elect assent to the job would appear to effectively require a human.

        And contrariwise, the only other requirement Universi Dominici Gregis besides accepting the job is a two-thirds vote of the conclave. It’s explicit that non-Bishops can be elected; there’s also precedent for non-Cardinals, as well, though few of either and none recent. Though a non-priest would be without historical precedent, it’s generally accepted that the cardinals can compromise on any baptized Christian male. However… there does not appear to be a prohibition in Universi Dominici Gregis on a woman being raised.

        Contrariwise, given that more than half of the Cardinals were appointed by the rather conservative Benny#16, the election of any woman by two-thirds the cardinals would seem to require divine intervention or an orbital mind control laser satellite.

        • Claude

          Wait a minute. What about the apologetics that any priest presiding over Mass in persona Christi has to be male because:

          1) Jesus was male;
          2) the apostles were male;
          3) the priestly line of Melchizedek was male.

          Therefore how could a woman be made Pope!

          • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

            Because the Pope rules as absolute monarch over the Church.

            Chronologically, Universi Dominici Gregis comes out after Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, and thus supercedes if the issue arises; legally, the former’s status as Apostolic Constitution is more binding than the latter’s status as Apostolic Letter; theologically, while Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is an exercise of the ordinary magisterium, such ordinary magisterium arguably could be exercised by a Cardinal Conclave acting under the authority of the Apostolic Constitution; and pragmatically, if you’ve 77 of 115 cardinals saying “we certainly can ordain a woman — because we just made one Bishop of Rome”, if becomes difficult to find any group with standing to raise the canon law dispute. (A schism is guaranteed, of course.)

            It still comes down to divine intervention or an orbital mind control laser satellite being an implicit pre-requisite for the 2/3 vote — but only implicit, not explicit.

            • Claude

              Excellent, thank you! Surely the Obama administration has an extra orbital mind control laser floating around. It would be only fair considering the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ crusade against Obama during the election season.

              Sorry, Cardinal Dolan, after all that shilling for the Vatican you are still too young to be Pope!

      • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

        Actually we the pope does not have the authority to change the rules on homosexuality, abortion, ordaining women, and contraception. At least that is what Benedict XVI said. You see Peter and the subsequent popes was given the keys to the house this doesn’t allow him to change the locks rearrange the furniture and borrow against it. The popes are stewards so they have the keys, not the deed.

        • bewilderbeast

          Hey!! What good is being infallible if you’re going to come with rules?

  • cipher

    I understand Turkson has also spoken approvingly of death sentences for homosexuality in Africa.

    They’ll elect another conservative ideologue. That institution will continue to become increasingly detached from reality and irrelevant to the West, and will continue to find its chief constituents among the desperately poor of the Third World.

    • Claude

      You are right. By the way, I was accused of being a “cultural despiser” by a Catholic blogger for pointing out the exodus from the Catholic Church in the US and Europe.

      • cipher

        I’m sure you were. One can do nothing worse to a person of faith than force him/her to confront objective reality. They will never forgive you for it.

        • Claude

          Well…liberal Christians appear to be quite comfortable confronting objective reality. They are fighting a heroic struggle to promote a Christianity compatible with science and modernity, and since believers are going to believe, I’d think liberal Christians have a better chance of success than anyone of defeating the Biblical literalist menace.

          The Catholic Church is hidebound not by literalism but by its preposterous infallibility doctrine. At some point the Church’s supreme interest of self-preservation will kick in and perhaps it will adjust, though I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime. Then again, I never expected a black man to become president of the US in my lifetime, either.

          • cipher

            I’d think liberal Christians have a better chance of success than anyone of defeating the Biblical literalist menace.

            The fundies hate them more than they hate us. They can dismiss nonbelievers as ignorant (we aren’t, but they tell themselves we are). The liberal Christians are committed to the theology but are interpreting its foundations in a kinder, more inclusive way – and that the fundies cannot forgive.

            I’ve seen the same thing among ultra-Orthodox Jews. They dismiss liberal and secular Jews as being merely ignorant of the tradition, but by and large they despise the Modern Orthodox.

            I imagine it’s much the same among radical Muslims. Fundamentalists are tiresomely predictable.

            • Claude

              You’re right, hard-core fundies are hopeless. But many atheists and liberal Christians are former fundies, so these ongoing efforts to change the culture are important. Christians and atheists share a lot of common ground, actually; what difference does it make to me if, for example, a Christian argues that denying gay people equal rights is a sin, as long we both agree that gays should not be second-class citizens and should be allowed to marry? Or that making the planet uninhabitable would be unpleasing to God, as long as we agree that we must confront the peril of climate change? Ultimately we are all concerned with morality and justice in our different ways, and the important thing, it seems to me, is marginalizing the literalist fanatics who pose an outright menace to civilization.

              • cipher

                My point is that the liberals are no more capable of “defeating the the Biblical literalist menace” than we are.

                • Claude

                  I’m not convinced it’s futile. There is movement at the margins, and the effects multiply. Justice movements like gay equality and civil rights (about ten years between the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Act) crystallized the efforts of both private and state actors slogging away during times when gay marriage or the end of Jim Crow seemed liked a pipe dream. To take another example, movement conservatism developed rapidly after Reagan due to dogged efforts at persuasion and coalition-building that resulted, among other things, in the cynical co-optation of religious fundamentalists. In the cause of driving creationism and other degrading influences out of the schools, reinforcing the wall between church and state, gay equality, preservation of reproductive rights, environmentalism, and so on, there’s no need even to be cynical. We have plenty of natural allies among religionists.

        • bewilderbeast

          Religions know its MUCH easier to fool a person than to get them to admit they’ve been fooled.

    • C Peterson

      I understand Turkson has also spoken approvingly of death sentences for homosexuality in Africa.
      Well, the Catholic Church has historically loved killing people. It’s a big bummer for them that the civilized world has largely eliminated the death penalty. It’s got to be every Pope’s wet dream to exert strong political control in more uncivilized places (the U.S. or Africa) where they can still see people put to death.

      Goody, goody!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592610300 Greg Gauthier

    Well, this is precisely what you would expect from a gaggle of self-hating, self-denying old men. The last dying remnants of an ancient empire that breathed its last real breath in 1806, these people live in an alternate-reality bubble in which they really believe the entire world is sitting on pins and needles waiting for them to name the new Dear Leader.

    The naming of the new pope has about as much import to my life, as the naming of the next Moose Lodge chairman in some small town in Idaho.

    Yet, bizarrely, there are media outlets in the west that act as if they actually ARE waiting on pins and needles, like any of the rest of us give a shit. Why? The more time we spend with our eyes pointed at them, the more false value they gain.

    • Artor

      I personally don’t give a rat’s ass who will succeed Rat’z-assinger as Pope, but much of my extended family is Catholic, and I have friends & people in my community who still are. They will be affected by the new Pope, and through them, me. I don’t want to see my friends pissed on by the people they look up to. Ideally, I hope they’ll open their eyes and ditch the Church entirely, but for their sake, I hope they have an actual, decent person at the head of their club. I’m not holding my breath though. I expect the new Pope will be at least as evil as Pope Palpatine.

      • Sindigo

        I think that’s a laudable attitude toward your nearest and dearest. Personally, I hope the next pope is at least as bad as the last so as to hasten the church’s demise even further.

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

      If you don’t care than why did you reply?

      • bewilderbeast

        I bet he just wanted to write Rat’z-assinger.

  • SeekerLancer

    From what I’ve be been hearing Angelo Scola seems like the most likely, not that any of the other candidates are much better.

    Ultimately if anyone is hoping this will be a chance for the Catholic church to move forward into this still relatively new millennium, they’re going to be disappointed.

    But it doesn’t really matter, Catholics are one of the strangest groups of Christians, almost like the Jewish in their ability to be either staunchly conservative and fundamentalist or so disinterested that they can only be defined as “culturally Catholic.” The problem being that the ones on the extreme right end of the spectrum use the numbers that count the Catholics that don’t necessarily believe in the same things they do when they push forward their political agendas.

    I haven’t been to a church in around five years now and they probably still count me as a believer when they want to brag about their influence.

    • Marco Conti

      I left the Church when I was 9. I am 53 now. Yet I am sure they still count me in their statistics. At least with the Mormons you have an address you can write to. With the Catholics, who do you ask? Is there even a process?

      • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

        You cannot be unbaptized. However you can renounce your faith

        • bewilderbeast

          Um. you CAN be unbaptized. Just say it, then believe it. Like religions do. Hell, START a religion, there’s money to be made.

  • http://www.facebook.com/abb3w Arthur Byrne

    While the last non-cardinal to be appointed pope was 1378, the last resignation was 1415; so, it’s not like they haven’t lately dusted off some neglected precedents from that era.

    On the other hand, it was that appointment that arguably led to the schism, for which the resignation was effectively required as part of the fix; so the cardinals might not be so keen on bringing in a wild card.

  • C Peterson

    “Least worst” is a lovely construction- a technical language error that conveys so much more meaning than any equivalent legal construction I can imagine. And so absolutely appropriate in this context!

  • Gus Snarp

    I keep having this fantasy that in an unprecedented occurrence the Cardinals will open the doors on the Conclave without having released any smoke from the chimney. they will gather before the throngs in St. Peter’s square and stand shoulder to shoulder, and one by one step to the microphone, each repeating the previous Cardinal’s speech in their own native tongue:

    In light of Benedict’s unprecedented resignation, we have concluded that more unprecedented action is needed. We recognize that what we teach is entirely out of step with a good an just life in light of modern knowledge. That it conflicts with science and encourages the more devout followers to come further into conflict with science on their own. That it is responsible for countless deaths, particularly in Africa, but around the world. That it is keeping millions, if not billions. from experiencing a deep, fulfilling relationship recognized by society and government as a lifelong commitment, that it keeps women form positions of power and prestige within its own ranks, and therefore promotes sexism throughout society, and that its greedy, power hungry, secretive, and frankly, bizarre nature has led to scandals involving gay priests that simply should not have been scandals, and pedophiles who were covered up for instead of being duly prosecuted and prevented from harming more children. In light of all of this, we will not be electing a new Pope. Instead we will begin the process of converting the Vatican into a non profit museum and educational facility, with full and open access to the archives, determining how much of the Church’s wealth should be put on display or into trust to support the museum and how much returned to the Church’s victims, and dissolving the Roman Catholic Church.

    Just what helps me get to sleep happy at night. A guy can dream, right?

    • bewilderbeast

      Wow! What a fantastic dream. I love it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

    If you have a canonical question than go ahead and ask me. If you would like to spew hate about the Catholic Church than go ahead. We don’t care. We were around before you and will be around after you.

    • bewilderbeast

      “We were around before you” – actually not. The church tells lots of lies. That’s one of them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

        I’m sorry I didn’t know that you were 2000 years old

        • bewilderbeast

          Actually I (and all homo sapiens) am 200 000 yrs old – 50 000yrs as fully modern man. My DNA proves it (and there’s no special DNA for “christian” or “catholic”, I’m afraid! So sorry! – you’re the same as me. Bugger, innit?).

          • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

            I absolutely agree with you when it comes to evolution. Evolution is a means of gods creation. Just because you recognize a means of your creation does not explain who created you. For example just because you see cross hatching in a painting does not mean that there was no painter

            • Drakk

              This would make so much sense if paintings reproduced on their own with heritable differences between successive generations.

              But they don’t, so this is as utterly incoherent as the rest of religion.

              • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

                You seem to have ignored the miracles that I have links to above

        • TheBlackCat13

          It doesn’t mean that anyone created you.

    • pagansister

      Seriously —what has improved in 2000 years——2000 years of all male church inbreeding hasn’t helped the women’s equality in the church, allowed male priests to marry, and it still claims that eating one’s savior isn’t cannibalism, and last but not least—-molesting children isn’t new unfortunately I suspect is still happening. Being around for 2000 years isn’t always something to brag about—roaches have been around that long! Maybe a new pope will be able to bring about positive change—-first he needs to clean up the child abuse mess, toss the bastards out of the church and into a secular jail, then perhaps start the process of allowing women priests and married priests. Since some convert priests from other faiths are already married, why can’t the celibacy rule be changed. The church already has married priests! As to the magic Jesus conversion? Who knows? Unfortunately since a lot if not most of the current Cardinals were appointed by the last 2 conservative popes—reform hardly seems likely. so bragging about the 2000 years and still around after some posters? Big deal. Like I said, roaches have been around that long.

      • pagansister

        One more thing—the church needs to stop the nonsense that condoms are harmful and don’t stop AIDS! Unwanted pregnancies? Yes. Am glad some women in the Catholic Church use their brains and use ABC.

      • pagansister

        OOPS! the above was also for Paul G.

      • pagansister

        Jeeze! The 2 below are for Paul!!!!

    • pagansister

      I apologize for the replies to myself Paul G. —hit the wrong reply spot!

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

    How do atheist account for the people still walking around today that were healed by padre pio, stigmata, Marian apparitions, and Eucharistic miracles in the Catholic Church?

    • Drakk

      I prayed and then I found my car keys, PRAYER WORKS!!!11

      • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

        Fine avoid the question

        • Drakk

          The question assumes those things actually happened. Try again, and this time explain what you’ve seen, not what you believe happened.

          • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm

            There is a substantial amount of data on these miracles. One link is above. Scientists have done a great amount of testing on this women and she should be blind by all measures of science.

        • TheBlackCat13

          Can you provide the original scientists’ analysis? All I can find are fan sites, I can’t find the original analyses or diagnoses anywhere. The closes I have been able to find is some medical sites with some rough translations that suggest she has not been completely healed, and that conditions like hers partially reversing, although rare, is not unique. But I can’t find anything specific, not to mention specific an unbiased.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.grimm.14 Paul Grimm
  • Tim Baber

    http://www.bhmversusmengele.tumblr.com says it all. I hope you take it to every corner and throw it away if it is not true.


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