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The problem of paedophile priests probably prompted the Pope to vacate the Vatican

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/11/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,900 times Debate No: 30134
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Former member of the Hitler Youth [1] and apologist for paedophile homosexual priests: Pope Benedict XVI; today stepped down as leader of the Catholic Church amid a storm of controversy relating to the sexual misconduct of his clergy.

Of course, the Pope couldn't come out and blatantly admit he was hounded out of office by his failure to adequately address the institutionalised paedophilia in the Catholic Church, instead he blamed his advancing years and merely hinted at the problem of priests queering up choirboys by saying "in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith...after having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths...are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry." {2}

The official line is that the Pope walked out on his job on account of his age and this debate will, therefore, rest on the balance of probability that that is, indeed, the genuine reason and for His Holiness' resignation and not the problem with paedophile priests which I hereby assert.

Thank you.



Previous note on character assassination

As in this debate Pro will attempt to cast doubt on the reasons given by His Holiness to justify his decision to step down from the Papacy and retire to a life of prayer and contemplation it is no surprise that he begins his argument with an attempt at character assassination. He does this in his introduction of pope Benedict as a "former member of the Hitler Youth and apologist for paedophile homosexual priests". I am quite sure people will on average know which Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church as in spite of there being another 15 Vicars of Christ who share his same name, they are conveniently numbered in order to avoid confusion, and all but the current one are dead and thus unable to resign. As such I am forced to assume this is meant to color the reader's perception of the present pope.

Really, I could simply leave it at that, as this is non-essential. I am compelled by love of truth to make a small mention of the truth of the matter.

Hitler's Youth: The pope was indeed a member of Hitler's Youth, but his does not reflect upon his own ideology, as membership was mandatory from 1939 for all German Youth(1). In spite of his forced membership, young Josef Ratzinger refused to attend meetings, and his family were known to be against the regime(2). This is such a generally accepted fact (apart from those who wish to continue to use the smear quite apart from the facts) that the Jewish Anti-Defamation League welcomed his ascension to the throne of St. Peter(3) and have since defended him from those who would call him a Nazi(4).
Apologist for pedophile priests: This accusation is not even sourced, as it is impossible to find a single occasion in which the Holy Father has defended the pedophile homosexual priests. He modified cannon law in order to make defrocking of those guilty of abuse quicker, as well as establishing rules prohibiting the entry of homosexuals into seminaries (a measure for which he has taken more than a bit of heat). As there is no source or foundation for those accusations they should be considered void lest evidence be shown for them.

Previous statements by His Holiness on the matter

Now, having dispelled the attempts to cast doubt upon the Pope's word through false ad hominem attacks, let us see what he has said on the matter in the past. In the book-length interview given to Peter Sewald, The Light of the World(5), the pope is asked about the possibility of a papal resignation. He answers “If a Pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.” He also mentions that this must not be done in response to a crisis, but in a time of relative tranquility. When the danger is great one must not run away". This excited much speculation in its day as to the future plans of the Pope to eventually resign. We see today that that speculation was more than founded.

Current situation

So the question gets down to this: is the situation so critical now as to make it unlikely that the pope consider this an appropriately "tranquil" time in which to take this decision or is he going back on his own criteria? Well, let's compare the situation now to those that have come before.

This papacy has been marked by many different attacks and controversies: the Regensburg address (6), the lifting of the excommunication on bishop Williamson (7), tensions with the Anglican Communion following Anglicanorum Coetibus (8), the NYTimes reports on the Murphy case (9) and others. Today, the nearest scandal chronologically is the Vatileaks case, in which the personal butler to His Holiness was found guilty of taking documents and sentenced to prison, although he later received the Pope´s pardon (10). We are not, therefore, in a time in which the Church is under as much fire as before. Rather, from the perspective of the Church herself, we are in an exceptionally positive time. World Youth Day in Madrid gave the church an impulse, the Synod for the New Evangelization set the bases for the future of the Church and the Year of Faith under way is a marvellous step in that direction. The news comes as such a great surprise even to his own closest collaborators (11) specifically because there has been no pressure to speak of for his resignation (other than the usual nutters who ask him to be tried by the International Criminal Court) and the rumors of his resignation had largely subsided. This decision, therefore, was likely taken with no connection to those crisis situations.

There is nothing, therefore, in the current situation that justifies considering it more probable that the resignation of the current Pope from the throne of Saint Peter is due to the scandals those who employ character assassination as the foundation for arguments enjoy citing rather than the reasons he himself cited.


Debate Round No. 1


With many thanks to TrasguTravieso for accepting this challenge, I hardly think that legitimate references to the Pope's personal history and past record as pontiff can be considered a "character assassination", especially when his background may have a bearing on why he quit.

And let's not forget, by the way, that the pontiff's departure is almost unprecedented: the last time a pope resigned was almost 600 years ago, when Pope Gregory XII was coerced to step down amid a civil war in the Roman Catholic Church known as the Great Western Schism. [1]

Let's put that in perspective: in the same year the last pope resigned, 1415, King Henry V of England defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt, Christopher Columbus had yet to sail for the Americas, Inca rule had not yet begun in Peru, southern Spain was under Muslim rule and the Pacific Ocean was yet to be named the "Pacific Ocean", in other words, a very, very long time ago and this makes the current Pope's decision to resign was absolutely momentous - and it cannot be reasonably explained away by claims of frailty of mind or body because all his predecessors would have suffered deteriorating mental or physical health prior to their deaths while they were still in office.

So, did the Pope's membership of the youth wing of the Nazi party have any bearing on his career in the Church?

Membership of the Hitler Youth may have been mandatory, but that is not to say the future Pope was not an enthusiastic member or didn"t embrace the Nazi doctrines with open arms. You see, just like Hitler, Pope Benedict is a conservative hardliner whose beliefs, like Hitler's, are based on bigotry and prejudice, and like just the Nazi Fuehrer, the Pope despises the Jews - as he illustrated in 2009 when he overruled the excommunication of the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, as my opponent noted. [2]

Also in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI officially signed the order to begin the beatification process of Pope Pius XII, who served from 1939 to 1958 and who many Jews believe turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. [2]

Furthermore, his anti-Semitic views have not made him popular with Jewish people: in an article entitled "The Pope was Not a Friend of the Jews" published this week on the Israel National News website the author noted that "...the Pope resorted to anti-Jewish theology when he said that 'I have seen with anguish the situation of the refugees who like the Holy Family were obliged to leave their houses,' which recalls the Gospel of Matthew (2,13): 'Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.... Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him". [3]

But the Pope doesn't just hate the Jews, he also reviles Muslims, and famously quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things. [4]

Also, like his old Nazi boss, the Pope is a raging homophobe and when he came to power the pontiff lost no time in denouncing gays and accusing them of "manipulating nature" and "destroying the very essence of the human creature". [5]

However, this is the point where the Pope's modus operandi departs from Hitler's because in there was no place for homosexuals in Nazi Germany [6] but the Pope made sure that gay men received the protection of the Catholic Church - not all gay men, obviously - just gay Catholic Priests who had abused their position of trust and access to children to sexually molest young boys.

There are thousands of child sex abuse cases involving catholic Priests worldwide but, instead of denouncing the clergy concerned and handing over any evidence to the police, the Pope either denied the abuse had taken place or tried to buy the victims' silence as this report illustrates:

"Denef, 64, from the Baltic coast of north Germany, was abused as a boy by his local priest for six years. In 2003, Denef took his case to the bishop of Magdeburg. He was offered EUR25,000 in return for a signed pledge of silence about what he suffered as a six-year-old boy. He then raised the issue with the Vatican and received a letter that said Pope John Paul II would pray for him so that Denef could forgive his molester." [7]

I contend that it was the mishandling of the sex abuse scandal that led to the Pope's resignation for the following reasons:

Firstly, I suspect the vast majority of Catholics are appalled by the rape and sexual molestation of children, no matter who the perpetrator of these crimes might be, and they would expect Priests suspected of such crimes to be brought to justice, not sheltered from prosecution by the Church.

Secondly, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual behaviour is sinful [8] and I suspect that most Catholics would argue that those Catholic priests who engaged in homosexual acts, consensual or otherwise, should not have been given support and protection from prosecution by the Pope.

The discontent of many of the world's 1.18 Catholics with the manner in which the Pope covered up the homosexual abuse of children will, no doubt, have been communicated up through the Bishops to the Cardinals and the Pope will have reached the conclusion, quite rightly, that he had lost the respect of his followers.

Finally, the Pope's handling of the paedophile priest scandal, first denying there was a problem then being forced to make a humiliating apology for it, has made the Catholic Church the subject of ridicule and derision around the world and, as a result, the Pope's position would have become untenable.

Because the internal business of the Catholic Church is shrouded in secrecy (and, as my opponent noted, because people like Paolo Gabriele who attempt to expose the corruption that is understood to pervade throughout the Vatican are prosecuted), we may never know whether the Cardinals coerced Pope Benedict XVI to resign, just as Pope Gregory XII was in 1415, or whether the pontiff decided himself that it was in the best interests of the Church to stand down, but it is highly probable that the problem of paedophile priests prompted the Pope to vacate the Vatican.

Thank you.



As my opponent seems to think defamation of character is paramount for his argument, I will begin by addressing his montage of Benedict XVI related anti-catholic vitriol.


Benedict XVI is a Nazi: Except he's not (1) unless of course he is cunningly hiding his Nazism behind a firm condemnation of it and his visits of synagogues on holocaust memorial day, no doubt to celebrate(2). In any case, I would be surprised if this obvious Nazi really pulled a quick one on the ADL, for them to praise him so highly.

He lifted the excommunication on Williamson: Let´s be a bit clearer on this, he lifted the excommunication on the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X. They had been excommunicated, not because Williamson holds to historical revisionism, but because in accepting ordination without papal permission they incurred automatic excommunication until such a time as they recognized papal supremacy.(3) They did, and the excommunication was lifted. This was not a reflection on what he thought about all the views held by each of those bishops, but a reality in cannon law. In spite of this he mentioned in his aforementioned interview with Peter Sewald, that had he been aware of the declarations by Williamson, he would have probably set his case apart from that of the other three bishops. The lifting of the excommunication, incidentally, does not mean they have been rehabilitated in the Church. Williamson, as well as the other SSPXX members have no canonical status in the Church and are suspended a divinis (they do not have ecclesiastical permission for their ministry).(4)

He signed the order to begin the beatification process of Blessed pope Pius XII who is thought to have ignored the holocaust:Actually, he declared him venerable, he is already blessed, but Bl. Pope Pius XII is hardly guilty of what the uninformed accuse him of, and no serious historian will hold to these accusations. In fact, the Nazis considered abrogating the concordat upon the election of Pacelli (5) the man behind Mit Brennender Sorge (6).

Anti-Jewish theology (like talking about the bible and such): It is so patently ridiculous to hold that remembering the biblical episode in which the Holy Family (Jews, mind you) were forced to flee Israel due to the massacre by Herod of the innocents (also Jews) that it really deserves no further comment.

Benedict VI also hates Muslims: Which is why he was the first pope to visit a Muslim holy site and opened intense and unprecedented religious dialogue with leading Muslim intellectuals. (7)

But, Regensburg!: (8) Seriously. Read it. It would do you well. No anti-Muslim rhetoric, simply a scholarly speech on how violence has no legitimate roll in religion.

Benedict XVI hates the gays: In spite of being instrumental in writing the following in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: (9) See paragraphs 2357-2359.

He says homosexuality is against natural law as per Church teaching (gasp): Homophobia is, by most people, defined as the hatred of homosexuals due to their sexual orientation, not the belief that homosexuality is sinful. One can, and the Church indeed does, separate sin from sinner.

The Pope is the paladin of the pedophiles

Benedict XVI protected homosexual pedophile priests:This is quite simply a lie. As Cardinal Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he was the most active in addressing these cases. On his ascension to the papacy, he reformed cannon law in order to make it simpler to defrock priests and to make it a canonical offense not to immediately put those accused of these crime in the hands of the judicial system.(10) He also pressured several bishops into stepping down in those cases in which they had been less than up to par in their handling of the crisis in their diocese.

The pope denied abuse had taken place and tried to buy the silence of the victims (Denef case in Germany): The pope never denied abuses had taken place, this is simply counter factual. Hence the lack of sources. As to the Danef case, all references to His Holiness Benedict XVI in which he is accused, it is either as a "part of the system"or vaguely as head of the CDF. At no point is there any proof of any knowledge of or involvement in a coverup.

Addendum: Paolo Gabrielle was prosecuted for trying to expose corruption: Paolo Gabrielle took classified documents from the desk of the Head of State and was prosecuted for this crime under Vatican law. If President Obama's personal secretary was to take documents from his desk, photocopy them and send them off to the world, whatever his intentions, he would no doubt also be prosecuted. Paolo Gabriele was a good, if simple, man who was surprised by the political power plays in the curia and was determined to expose them in order to defend the pope, as per his declarations. The pope, due to his close personal affection for his butler, soon pardoned him, and allowed his family to continue living in the Vatican, although without access to official documents for obvious reasons.

Argumentum ex Vitriol

1: Pro suspects most Catholics are appalled by the abuse cases and expect those involved in such crimes ought to be brought to justice
2:a. The Catholic Church teaches homosexual behavior is sinful, and most Catholics would argue those engaged in sinful behavior should not be sheltered by the pope.

b. Discontent of 118b Catholics with the Pope covering up the abuse of children was communicated through the bishops to the cardinals and the pope would have reached the conclusion that he had lost the respect of his followers.
Except, as we have seen, there was no such coverup by the pope, and as most Catholics are not gun-ho about believing every accusation hurled against the Holy Father it is quite doubtful all or most of them are as misinformed as my opponent.

3: The pope's handling of the scandal makes the position of the pope untenable, but Vatican secrecy makes it so we have to read between the lines to find out why an 85 year old man would say he is too weak due to his age to jet about half the world, meet with thousands of people, protect and teach the deposit of faith and govern an international organization. Obviously it is because of the pedophiles.
(See argumentum ad sanity)

Argumentum ad Sanity

Pro makes reference to the historical precedents of papal resignations. We have indeed had popes who lived quite long lives, and as recently as pope Leo XIII have had very long reigns due to this fact. The situation, however, is quite different now than it was up to the 19th and much of the 20th century. Up to now, popes have largely stayed in Rome, and have governed the Church from a distance. Starting in the second half of the 20th century, and particularly with Bl. pope John Paul II (although this was also the case with Paul VI), the pope is expected to have a much more intense agenda. This includes constant trips around the world, meetings with thousands of representatives of different countries, ad limina visits, as well as handle the administration of the largest organization in the world. When Bl. John Paul II fell ill many close to him advised him to abdicate also, but he decided that his illness would be a witness to the sanctity of human life even in illness, the value of the ill and the sacred duty to care for them. Benedict XVI is not sick. He is old. There is another, much more logical conclusion one can reach from his statement that the increasingly rapid changes of the world and the demands of the Petrine Ministry are too taxing for a man who, due to his old age, is increasingly weak: that he is telling the truth.

Anything else requires something of a febrile imagination.



Debate Round No. 2
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Nur-Ab-Sal 5 years ago
I'm actually a pagan Catholic, so I don't count at all.
Posted by TrasguTravieso 5 years ago
Nur-Ab-Sal will be dissapointed he didn't make the cut. I would be more than glad to lend him my .08
Posted by AlwaysMoreThanYou 5 years ago
'The discontent of many of the world's 1.18 Catholics'

I suppose I'm the 1 Catholic. Maybe TrasguTravieso can be the .18.
Posted by Ike-Jin-Park 5 years ago
I would love to debate this but I really lack any knowledge in this field so I dare not to challenge lol. I will definitely vote on this.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Nur-Ab-Sal 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Quite frankly, Con demolished this debate. I'm Catholic, but looking at this objectively, where Pro asserted that the Pope was a homophobic Islamophobic Nazi, Con refuted his evidence *and provided support for the Pope holding the opposite view of Pro's assertions.* All of Pro's evidence concerning the "protection" of pedophile priests were soundly refuted. Great job, Con.
Vote Placed by Muted 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Con sucessfully refuted all of Pro's arguments. By assuming a BoP and fulfilling it, Con went above and beyond requirement to win both sources and arguments.