CALLING the behaviour shameful, sinful, and much more frequent than the Vatican was comfortable with, Pope Benedict XVI vowed this week to bring widespread paedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church down to a more manageable level.
Addressing thousands gathered at St Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday, the pontiff offered his “most humble apologies” to abuse victims, and pledged to reduce the total number of molestations by 60 percent over the next five years. He said:
This is absolutely unacceptable. It seems a weakening of faith in God has prevented our priests from exercising moderation when sexually abusing helpless minors. And let me remind our clergy of the holy vows they all took when they entered the priesthood. They should know that they’re only allowed one small child every other month.
Ratzinger’s statement that he was deeply disappointed to learn that the number of children sexually abused by priests was almost 10 times above the allowable limit clearly outlined in church doctrine was reported by the satirical magazine, The Onion. And true to form, this chuckle-inducing Onion piece is well worth reading in full.
It says, for example:
â€¢ That the Holy Father, admitting for the first time in public that the over-indulgent touching of “tender, tender young flesh” had become a full-blown crisis, vowed to implement new reforms to bring the paedophilia rate back down to five children per 1,000 clergy.
â€¢ That Vatican spokesperson Rev Federico Lombardi said:
The truth is there will always be a little bit of molestation – it’s simply unavoidable. But the fact that young boys have gotten much more attractive over the past few decades is no excuse for the blatant defiance of church limits that have been in place for centuries.
The majority of priests don’t want to molest kids at all. But for those who do, we must make sure they’re doing it at a reasonable rate.
â€¢ That specially trained cardinals will make unannounced visits to inspect and observe random churches in order to ensure they are not going beyond diocese-wide molestation caps. The inspector-cardinals will grade each parish based on long, private interviews with altar boys in darkened church basements, and careful observation of priests’ sexual activity.
These senior officials will also have the authority to enforce harsh punishments for any clergy member violating his allotment of paedophilia.
Explaining the Vatican’s new “Three Strikes, You’re Out Rule”, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, Giovanni Battista Re, said:
If a priest goes even one child over the limit, there will be hell to pay. After the third offense, the offending priest will immediately be moved to another parish.
â€¢ And that, as a “goodwill measure,” all churches will also be required to display a sign next to the altar showing the number of days since the last molestation.