In his actions on child abuse and Aids, Joseph Ratzinger has colluded in the protection of paedophiles and the deaths of millions of Africans. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Pope John Paul II’s chief enforcer), it was Ratzinger’s job to investigate the child abuse scandal that plagued the Catholic church for decades. And how did he do it? In May 2001 he wrote a confidential letter to Catholic bishops, ordering them not to notify the police – or anyone else – about the allegations, on pain of excommunication. He referred to a previous (confidential) Vatican document that ordered that investigations should be handled "in the most secretive way . . . restrained by a perpetual silence". Excommunication is a joke to me, perhaps to you, but to a Catholic it means exclusion and perhaps hellfire – for trying to protect a child. Well, God is love.
He also waved aside calls to discipline Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican founder of the global Legion of Christ movement. Allegations of child abuse have stalked Maciel since the 1970s. His victims petitioned Ratzinger, only for his secretary to inform them the matter was closed. "One can’t put on trial such a close friend of the Pope as Marcial Maciel," Ratzinger said. Two abuse victims sued him personally for obstruction of justice, but he claimed diplomatic immunity.
Eventually, when the allegations could no longer be denied, Ratzinger apologised, and sent Maciel off "to a life of prayer and penitence". Why not prison? He didn’t say. "It is a great suffering for the church . . . and for me personally," was Ratzinger’s comment about the wider child abuse scandal. Great suffering? I thought to be raped as a child was great suffering. To be exposed as complicit in a cover-up is surely merely . . . embarrassing?
Ratzinger added that he believed the Catholic church had been the victim of a "planned" media campaign. By whom? By gays? By Jews? By Jedi? He instructed that prayers be said in perpetuity for the victims – thanks, I feel better now! – along with a push to ensure that men "with deep-seated homosexual tendencies" do not enter the priesthood, thereby turning all responsibility for the scandal into – the laps of the evil gays!
Ratzinger is also active in the suppression of Liberation Theology, a Latin American movement that insists that social justice is the central purpose of Christianity; that good Catholics should also be political activists who fight for the rights of the slum-living poor. Ratzinger was repelled, and dismissed it as "a fundamental threat to the faith of the Church".
And so to the church’s own holocaust – in Africa. Condoms can protect Africans from Aids. But who can protect them from Ratzinger? The Catholic church has long pursued a no-condoms policy. In El Salvador the church got a law passed, ensuring that condoms were only sold with a warning stating they did not protect the user from Aids. In Kenya, Cardinal Maurice Otunga staged public burnings of condoms. The former Archbishop of Nairobi, Raphael Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki told his flock that condoms, far from protecting them, contribute to the spread of the disease. Well, God is love.
Some local priests in Africa counsel contraception, because they care about their parishioners. But the Vatican, on its Roman cloud, disagrees. Aids, Ratzinger says, "cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems". That is a lie. Not a fantasy, like the virgin birth and all the other magical, mystical nonsense, but a dangerous lie. There are, Your Holiness, more than 12 million Aids orphans in Africa. Twenty-two million Africans have Aids and the UN fears that eventually 90 million could die.
Ratzinger presides over a church that calls homosexuality "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound". Catholic reformers have tried to liberalise this view but Ratzinger slapped them down. In a 1986 letter, he complained that, "Even within the Church, [people] are bringing enormous pressure to bear . . . to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered." He added that homosexuality is "an intrinsic moral evil".
Care to know the suicide statistics for teenage gays, Your Holiness? They are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual fellows. In 1998, a 39-year-old gay man called Alfredo Ormando set fire to himself in St Peter’s Square, in protest at your policies. He died.
Ratzinger is no better on women; he opposes women priests, of course, and demands the criminilisation of abortion even for women who have been raped or are very sick; gin and wire coathangers, anyone? His friend, the theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg, has said that Ratzinger sees the push for female priests as driven by "spokeswomen for radical feminists, especially lesbians".
So this is the man who is coming to lecture us about morality. Welcome, Benedict XVI, Episcopus Romae, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.Don’t tread on the corpses.