Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

The trail that doesn't lead to the Vatican

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 05, 2010

For more than a decade, some journalists have been trying to trace the responsibility for the sex-abuse crisis to the Vatican, and preferably to the Pope. They haven't found a connection yet, but they're still trying. At times their efforts would be comical, if they weren't so mean-spirited.

Take for example yesterday's headline stories about the Vatican usher who is suspected of running a homosexual prostitution ring. Does it look bad? Absolutely. Is the story a grave embarrassment to the Holy See? Of course. But even if he was (repeat, "was") one of the "Gentlemen of his Holiness," Angelo Balducci had absolutely no influence on Vatican policies. In one report-- which, I'm happy to say, I can no longer find online-- the suspected pimp was described as a "key aide" to the Pontiff, who helped Benedict XVI organize important events. That's true, I suppose, insofar as the Pope does rely on people to set up chairs before his public audiences and to escort people to their seats; in that sense an usher does help to organize events. But the Pope's relationship with Balducci is like your relationship with the teenager who bags your groceries: you recognize him, may even know his name, but have no idea at all what he's doing with his free time. 

Then today's newspapers bring another embarrassing story, about sexual abuse at the boys choir in Regensburg, Germany. Here the story does come closer to the Holy Father, since his brother was director of that choir-- although it's important to note that there is no evidence that Msgr. Georg Ratzinger had any knowledge of the alleged abuse. The New York Times, which should know better, helpfully added that during the time period in question, the future Pope Benedict was also living in Regensburg, teaching theology at the university there. Right: the future Pope was living in the city in which a crime allegedly occurred. And the New York Times had offices in Manhattan at the time of the 9/11 terrorist strike. So what? 

(An updated version of the New York Times story has removed the reference to the Pope's tenure in Regensburg: a step in the right direction.) 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Universal - Mar. 23, 2010 8:41 PM ET USA

    Storms on the surface... At the bottom of the Sea the Church is rebuilding. And they cannot stop the Holy Spirit working. Because they have no idea where it is working - in families, friendships, new movements, education centers, companies and so on. Especially in the sacraments. All is well. In 5 years you will all see: 2010 was the YEAR of a New Beginning!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 10, 2010 8:27 PM ET USA

    This constant carping from people, especially 'catholics' looks like jusr what it is, Carping. They think by criticizing the Church they will hurt it. They are dealing with Jesus Christ and His Father, who has made the statement that His Church will be still standing at the end of Time. There is a legend about Napolean asking how to eliminate the Catholic Church, and the reply from a Cardinal in the Church said, I don't know, we have been trying for a thousand years to kill it.

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Mar. 10, 2010 12:53 PM ET USA

    I have never been able to figure out why there is so much screaming and protesting about sexual abuse when on the other hand we are to accept homosexuality as a valid life style and there should be no discrimination with regard to sexual orientation. Then, when the homosexual acts out his homosexuality, everyone, the press, etc....becomes apoplectic about it. Isn't this considered "normal" for a homosexual and aren't they simply doing what comes "naturally"? Double standard.

  • Posted by: michaelwilmes - Mar. 08, 2010 5:31 PM ET USA the old saying goes: If you shout a lie long enough and loud enough, someone's gonna believe it....

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Mar. 07, 2010 4:02 AM ET USA

    It would be a shame if it weren't so desperate. It is actually proof of how deranged some people have become in their quest to smear Christianity. "See, he's gay!!" "Isn't that ok with you?" "Uhh, yeah, but..." "So why are you worried about it?" "Well, uhh..." The recent attacks have become foaming-at-the-mouth bad, and do not even make any false pretenses at attacking religion in general. I think it is all very unfortunate.