Dear Pope Benedict,
There's no nice way of saying this, Joe, but you have become the Ken Lay of Catholicism. And whilst Ken managed to avoid punishment by dying before he was sentenced – you'll not be so lucky. If I remember the rules right – you will be damned for all eternity and consigned to the fires of hell.
If you keep looking the other way.
I was raised Catholic but I haven't been to a mass in decades. And I have to own to being at odds with the hard positions Catholicism takes on most issues: abortion, divorce, homosexuality, hell … to name a few. The World has moved on – and you need to as well. We no longer live in tents and closed societies where behaviour is policed by the community and wrong-doers are dealt with according to a parochial and patriarchal system of law. Men are also no longer able to treat women as their possessions, to trade in children, to murder whoever they choose and call it war (though, granted, that particular envelope is constantly being pushed).
We hold ourselves to higher standards now. Man-made standards. And not those of an omnipresent being whose earthly representatives will not tolerate two people of the same sex being in love, but who seem to be absolutely fine with child pornography and molestation.
I know many Catholics who are deeply ashamed of the “ass in the air” position you have taken on the child abuse that has been happening. I went to Catholic schools and I know not every priest indulges in these unspeakable acts. But the good men, the ones who truly believe they have a responsibility to their congregations, these men are being tarred by the same despicable and filthy brush as the men you are currently hiding behind your papal habit.
Joseph: your misguided loyalty is killing the Church.
And as for Belgium last week – have you learned nothing since April? Officers of the Church are not immune to public scrutiny. You are not above the law. A friend of a friend, responding to the press reports of the raid in Leuven referred to the Catholic Church as a “Disgusting Institution”. I found that shocking. I know too many good, decent, generous and caring Catholics to render them all perverts. You must give them their dignity and their faith back.
Take advice from people who have dealt with war-crime tribunals and convene your own. Because this is war. You are fighting for the survival of the Church you lead. Be transparent in your process. Apologise, accept responsibility. Deal with the fall-out. See this as an opportunity to breathe new life, modernise, let go of the archaic.
While there is still time.
If you need any help, let me know. I have some fresh, innovative ideas that will help move a re-invention right along. But, first, you need stop pretending this is not happening. If you can't – resign. Because, right now, it's time for you to step up or step out.
As the nuns always told me: what doesn't kill, makes you stronger. And they should know.