Why Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, became the first pope to be cited for crimes against humanity.
Gawthrop (The Rice Queen Diaries, 2005, etc.) focuses on the complaint before the International Criminal Court to explore the deeper roots of the crisis within the Catholic Church. The author shows how resurgent opposition to discussions of reform initiated during the pontificate of John XXIII—e.g., birth control, abortion, ordaining female priests—provided the ground under which the now-exposed coverups of priestly rape and sexual abuse could take root. Because Ratzinger's rise within the church’s hierarchy spans 30 of the 50 years that have elapsed since John XXIII's reign, Gawthrop forcefully establishes that he had the power to stop the abuse. The author traces the origins of the coverup back to 1962, when John XXIII commissioned the policy document Crimen Sollicitationis. Key in this was the maintenance of “pontifical secrecy…the utmost confidentiality…permanent silence.” There were no provisions for investigation, no acknowledgment of crime and no suggestion about turning offenders over for prosecution by the criminal authorities. As head of the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith, Ratzinger continued this policy and ensured that all cases were referred to him personally. Detailing specific cases where Ratzinger intervened and how he affected their outcomes through stalling, delay and other means, Gawthrop shows how the succession of investigations and the arrogant responses of the hierarchy contributed to bring things to a head. The author also thoroughly documents the broader context of the hierarchy's theological and political commitment to overturn the legacy of Vatican II.
An eye-opening account of corruption and secrecy.