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Benedict Leaves Legacy of Bigotry, Cover-Ups

Benedict Leaves Legacy of Bigotry, Cover-Ups

Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would step down as the leader of the Catholic Church at the end of February, becoming the first pontiff to abdicate since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.

Benedict’s legacy, unfortunately, is dominated by actions he took to curtail the rights of women and LGBT individuals and his deep involvement in the ongoing cover-up of child sexual abuse in the church.

Benedict has shown no interest in moving the church’s view of women into the 20th century. He has pushed for prescribed gender roles, describing moves toward egalitarianism as “a violation of the natural order.” On his watch, the church declared the ordination of female priests as a “more grave crime,” and equated it with child sex abuse.

The Catholic Church has also fought hard against new United States regulations that would provide reproductive health care for all women, even those who work for organizations affiliated with the church, such as schools or hospitals.

The church has also refused to consider any change in its opposition to equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender individuals. In March of 2012, Benedict said that Catholics should oppose same-sex marriage, and defend opposite-sex marriage against “every possible misrepresentation of their true nature.”  Benedict used his Christmas speech later that year to denounce same-sex marriage.

Still, the assault on same-sex marriage pales in comparison to Benedict’s meeting with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga of the Ugandan Parliament, a primary supporter of a bill that would increase punishment for homosexuality, up to and including the death penalty. The pope was reported to have blessed Kadaga during the meeting, though the Vatican later denied that a blessing was given. Still, the meeting seemed to legitimize Kadaga’s proposed pogrom, and suggested that the church viewed fighting LGBT rights as more important than its longstanding opposition to the death penalty.

Meanwhile, the church continues to struggle from the ongoing fallout from its widespread sex abuse scandal, which Benedict has been directly tied to. During his time as a cardinal, Benedict, then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was responsible for dealing with abuse cases. Despite an overwhelming number of cases around the world, and clear and convincing evidence that the church played an active role in covering up evidence of crimes, Benedict has refused to apologize for any failure by himself or the church. This despite the fact that it’s clear Benedict was well aware of the crimes and the cover-up, and took no action against either.

Benedict XVI will be remembered as a pope who refused to modernize, refused to move his church along with the rest of the world. That is defensible, of course — the church exists to teach what it views as fundamental moral truths, after all. But it has contributed to a church whose growth in the US has stagnated, falling below that of population growth as a whole. Indeed, one of every ten Americans is today a former Catholic, a group that, if organized into its own faith, would be the nation’s third-largest religion.

Simply, Benedict XVI chose to keep his church rooted in its views of men and women as radically different, LGBT individuals as sinners and victimized children as less important than the reputation of its priests. His tenure will be remembered as an era in which the Catholic Church eschewed modernity — and modernity began to eschew the Catholic Church.

 

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Image Credit: Marek KoĊ›niowski

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297 comments

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7:56PM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

Not a great legacy.

3:45PM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

Please sign my petition to Pope Francis asking him tp portect children from sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Thank you for caring and taking action.
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/724/506/893/pope-francis-provide-justice-for-innocent-victims-of-preists/

4:23AM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

It is good that he was chosen to leave.

2:24AM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

10:01AM PST on Feb 23, 2013

Popes are nothing. Who needs them? We only need the Bible and our faith. Catholics convince people that they represent Jesus on earth. How? Living in luxury?? Raping kids? Saying who and who won't go to Heaven? It is a politic fraud, it's a lie. Jesus lived in poverty, and he never wanted to give opinions on politics. He said: "my kingdom is not of this world" The Vatican has more luxury than the Palace of Queen Elizabeth. All got with the money of people who think their thyde goes to the poor. Jesus also said: "when you want to pray, go to your room and talk to your Father in Heaven." We don't need any human being to interceed. God knows what is in our heart.

9:51AM PST on Feb 23, 2013

I felt he was a nothing pope.

8:47AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

Shame on him!

6:50AM PST on Feb 19, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

5:47AM PST on Feb 19, 2013

all though i was brought up to go to church/sunday school, not catholic thank goodness, FIRSTLY "IAM NOT A "CHRISTIAN" in the sense of christianity as it is today ~ the whole idea of "the church today/and always has been tasteless" . . a lot of "Christians" today are everything that is not good with the world. The Catholic church is one of the worst. Here you have a Pope who lives in absolute unimaginable splendour, wears Gucci shoes for goodness sake while many many of his followers live in abject poverty. The Pope lives in a palace in his own "Vatican City" surrounded by millions and millions of £s $s worth of paintings/artefacts/ancient books/relics etc etc . . the Pope never actually mixes with any of his followers but keeps a safe distance, has bigoted views of the world/people in general and this is a "man of God" !!!!!!!!! yeah right, i truly do not think so . . . The Catholic church/the Pope truly does not live by its own preachings whatsoever . . it forces people to do what it wants with the threat of endless purgatory which is awful for anyone, what a burden to have to bear. It does not live by the honesty it imposes for "its devout followers", how can it ? when you see/hear that the Pope even refuses to acknowledge his/catholic church's own shortcomings, and there are many many of these not least his refusal to deal with peodifilier amongst its ranks/priests, the barbaric treatment metered out by Nuns/Priests in Catholic children's homes/schools over the y

8:07PM PST on Feb 18, 2013

Rat leaving sinking ship.

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