Responding to a swelling tide of outrage at the rapes and other sexual abuses perpetrated by many thousands of his pedophile priests, Pope Benedict XVI said at a Vatican mass on April 15, 2010:
Now, under attack from the world which talks to us of our sins, we can see that being able to do penance is a grace and we see how necessary it is to do penance and thus recognize what is wrong in our lives.
Evidently the pope found it too distasteful to explicitly detail the nature of those sins or to admit his own personal decades-long role in enforcing his church’s official Crimen Sollicitationis policy. The Crimen Sollicitationis policy instructed the Catholic hierarchy about how to deal with pedophile priests in Canada, the United States, Ireland, Germany, Italy—where ever in the world the Catholic Church operates. The policy’s main thrust was an effort to protect the Catholic Church’s reputation by covering up and protecting pedophile priests by moving them to new areas whenever a sexual abuse scandal erupted. Keeping victims quiet was also part of that policy. This was accomplished by using a variety of means including excommunication threats and hush money. You can get more information about this by watching a remarkably well-produced BBC documentary called Sex Crimes and the Vatican. Please note, however, that this documentary will both enlighten and disgust you at the same time: http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/passionateeyeshowcase/
Proverbs 28:13 says:
He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy (NKJV).
It is interesting to note that the Pope called Catholics to do penance rather than calling on them to repentance. “Penance” means according to dictionary.com: 1) punishment undergone in token of penitence for sin; 2) penitential discipline imposed by church authority; 3) a sacrament, as in the Roman Catholic Church, consisting in a confession of sin, made with sorrow and with the intention of amendment, followed by the forgiveness of the sin.
But, according to Harper’s Bible Dictionary “repentance” is a word “covering several biblical ideas that range from regret to changing one’s mind or behavior so as to bring about a moral or ethical conversion.” I think the pope and the rest of the Catholic hierarchy could use a dose of real, heart-felt repentance and ethical conversion rather than merely saying a few dozen extra “Hail Marys” or wearing an itchy hair-shirt or doing without red meat for a month.
Is the Catholic Church’s insistence on making its priests take vows of celibacy at the root of their pedophila plague? More than a few people think so. The Catholic Encyclopedia’s online article on “Celebacy of the Clergy” (at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03481a.htm ) seeks to defend their doctrine. Yet even there they have to admit:
We do not find in the New Testament any indication of celibacy being made compulsory either upon the Apostles or those whom they ordained…
What I find amazing in reading their article is that while they know the original Church of God NEVER required celibacy of ANY or ALL of their bishops/elders and deacons, they—the Roman Catholic Church—think they can use human reason to create allegories or inferences that give them the authority to do the opposite of unambiguously clear Scripture! The Pope feels free to add doctrines and teachings that are, in many respects, burdens—big burdens—to those who follow him.
Matthew 23:4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. 5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.
Of course, when Jesus gave the above description, he was referring to the scribes and Pharisees who were the principal leaders interpreting the Old Covenant Scriptures for the Jewish community in Judea. Jesus regularly took them to task for adding all sorts of do’s and don’ts to the written Word of God. Some of them grew to hate Jesus because he was calling them to repentance and to return to the simplicity of the divine intent expressed by the Holy Scriptures.
We know, historically, that the scribes and Pharisees developed and codified their “Oral Law,” which was a complex set of scriptural interpretations, rules, and regulations, that were eventually called the Talmud. This Oral Law or Talmud was intended to be a fence around the written Word of God in order to lead the people of God to more perfectly obey God from the Pharisaical point of view. The Roman Catholic Church has done a similar thing with their Canon Law by adding, for example, a vow of chastity that was never presented as obligatory by the Bible. Isn’t this vow like most of the Catholic Canon Law an unbearable religious “burden” loaded onto the straining backs of both people and priests? Why even the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article admits that the obligatory vow of chastity required for ordination is a “burden”—“You ought anxiously to consider again and again what sort of a burden this is which you are taking upon you.”
It is also interesting to note in context of Matthew 23:5 that the Catholic hierarchy like the ancient Pharisees love their showy religious garb and grand religious processions. Hasn’t the hide-bound, starch-skirted Catholic hierarchy just morphed into the modern gentile equivalent of Jesus’ former unrepentant, myopic, pharisaical opponents?
1 Timothy 4:2-5 NLT 2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead. 3 They will say it is wrong to be married… 4 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. 5 For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.
When God created the first man, He said it was not good for the man to be alone (cf. Genesis 2:18). So, God created the woman and the marriage covenant also in the Beginning. And the LORD God also said that this was very good. Indeed, He blessed their sexuality and reproduction (cf. Genesis 1:28)!
Any person who wants to approach the throne of the living God must be repentant instead of proud, covering up his sins. And, such a person must be prepared to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God instead of substituting human reason for Holy Scripture. This is an essential point for any person or organization that truly wants to be Christian in fact and not just in name.