Former Catholic Priest on "The Pope’s War" and Clergy's Child Molestation
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As Pope Benedict formally stepped down on Thursday, speculation mounts over who will become the next pope. On Wednesday, Pope Benedict bid an emotional farewell at his last general audience, saying he understood the gravity of his decision to become the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years. The 85-year-old pope cited ill health as the reasons for his departure. Addressing an estimated 150,000 supporters in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict said he is resigning for the good of the church.
POPE BENEDICT XVI: [translated] In these past months, I have felt that my strength has decreased, and I have asked God, earnestly in prayer, to enlighten me and, with His light, make me take the right decision, not for my good, but for the good of the church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its gravity and also its rarity; however, with a profound serenity of spirit. Loving the church also means having the courage to take difficult and anguished choices, always having in mind the good of the church and not oneself.
[in English] I was deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but also around the world. The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God’s will and a deep love of Christ’s church. I will continue to accompany the church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new pope.
AMY GOODMAN: Pope Benedict’s tenure was marked by several scandals, perhaps most notably his handling of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, including allegations he ignored at least one case of abuse while serving as a cardinal. Documents show in 1985, when he was known as Cardinal Ratzinger, he delayed efforts to defrock a priest convicted of molesting children. Meanwhile, last year he oversaw an assessment from the Vatican that found the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States had, quote, "serious doctrinal problems" because it had challenged the church’s teachings on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, among other things. More recently, Italian news sources say an investigation by three cardinals into leaked Vatican documents show rampant corruption in the Vatican ranks.
For more, we go to San Francisco, where we’re joined by Matthew Fox. He’s the author of over two dozen books, most recently, The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved. He’s a former Catholic priest, who was first stopped from teaching liberation theology and creation spirituality by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. Fox was then expelled from the Dominican Order, to which he had belonged for 34 years. He currently serves as an Episcopal priest.
Matthew Fox, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you first respond to the pope stepping down, and the significance?
MATTHEW FOX: Well, thank you, Amy and Juan. I really appreciate your journalism. It means a lot to a lot of us.
Yeah, I think I’ll take the pope at his word here when he says he’s tired. I would be tired, too, if I left as much devastation in my wake as he has, first as inquisitor general under the previous pope. He brought the Inquisition back. And it’s true I was one of the theologians expelled by him, but I list 104 others in my book, and it keeps growing, the list keeps growing. So, that’s how history will remember this man, as bringing the Inquisition back, which is completely contrary to the spirit and the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, which was never to reform the church. So I think he’s stepping down because he can’t take it anymore.