Mark Segal: Disgraced pope in exile

With the announcement that the Pope will resign on February 28th, what is the next step for the Vatican?

With the announcement that the Pope will resign on February 28th, what is the next step for the Vatican?

Before we answer that, we should address all those conspiracy theorists out there who think Pope Benedict's exit is being forced, or part of a Vatican plot.  Over the years there have been numerous intrigues at the Vatican, but this story is too juicy without the need for cloak and dagger.  

Here we have a disgraced Pope resigning.  To make the point, where does a disgraced pope go to live in exile?  Florida?  Don't think so.  His dwelling will likely be somewhere in the Vatican, as his own prisoner.  

This Pope leaves in disgrace not because of his religion, but because he is the single person in the Vatican who has been personally in charge of the vast Vatican cover up of child abuse for the last decade.  Before he was Pope he served as Director of the Vatican office of the Doctrine of the Faith.  About 800 years ago that office was called the Inquisition and it killed, imprisoned and tortured anyone who did not accept its authority and religion. The abused children of today are the victims of a continued Inquisition.  And the cover up directed by then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, sought to protect one of the largest harborers of child molesters in the world.

Catholicism is an honorable religion. Its ideals of following the teachings of Christ are a way to bring progress and peace to the world. It is only the bureaucratic cover-up by Pope Benedict that has shamed an honorable church and religion.  

Any cover up needs a scapegoat and this pope and his lieutenants used the LGBT community as a punching bag.  It's like a magician.  Do one thing, but misdirect the audience so their attention is shifted away from what that thing is. It wasn't just the LGBT community that they used their hate on. They tried attacking those attempting to stop the spread of HIV/Aids in Africa, which brought rebuke from France and Belgium's parliaments. They attacked women and then they attacked American nuns. And when you attack nuns, you're on the wrong track, for they really are doing God's work.

This is an opportunity for the church.  These scandals have cost the church and its faithful some of the cornerstones of its community service, their schools.  Those schools, once considered a place for a great education, particularly in large urban areas, have been closing at a rapid rate due to two issues.  Firstly, families do not wish to be a part of a scandalous church. This leads to dwindling student enrollment. Secondly, schools are damaged by the cost to the church to defend archdioceses across the nation.

That second part is no little item.  How much has it cost the church?  Literally billions, that's billions with a capital “B” of dollars.  Rather than continually defer, they should admit their guilt and move on, saving the schools and needed funds to do the good work the church has done in the past.  

The church feels it needs to restore its tarnished honor.  You do so by first apologizing to the children and families you've harmed, apologize for all the communities you've spewed hate towards, and become once again a church that preaches love, community involvement and help for the downtrodden.  The next Pope has the opportunity to reach out to women, reach out and solve issues with nuns, and even find common ground with the LGBT community.  We never expect the Catholic Church to accept marriage equality, but what about non-discrimination?  With one billion members it is in everyone's interest to support the church in its time of challenge and offer to meet them halfway.  It's a challenge, but I for one believe it can be accomplished.  

It's an honorable religion that deserves an honorable Pontiff.