Today’s announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will resign later this month has become a swirling vortex of media conjecture and speculation. Is it because of growing scandals in the United States and Ireland? Is it because the Pope is directly tied to the cover-up of child sexual abuse in the US and elsewhere?
I doubt it.
Yes, there are growing scandals – scandals that show that the cover-up of child sexual abuse goes all the way to the highest levels of the Vatican. Cardinal (in good standing) Roger Mahony, who covered up for dozens of priest predators in Los Angeles, has yet to receive any public rebuke from Rome. It is doubtful that he ever will. Even the slap on the wrist he received from LA Archbishop Jose Gomez has been minimized. Mahony will be able to vote for the new Pope and—in prime “Prince of the Church” fashion—will parade around Rome with this fellow cardinals next month.
But I believe that Benedict’s “resignation for health reasons” is probably the truth. Rumors have been swirling for years that the Pontiff has Alzheimers, and video from recent public appearances show a man in the ravages of declining health. And more videos like that will keep coming.
In the age of YouTube and smartphones, it has become virtually impossible for the Vatican to keep any kind of secret about the Pope’s health. Anytime Pope Benedict steps out in public, adoring fans, tourists and skeptics will record his every move and share it on social media.
Call it the “end of grace.” No longer will the Pope be protected by state and international media, who have shared a “gentleman’s agreement” with the Vatican, ensuring that only flattering and regal images of the Pope are publicly released.
A 19-year-old with a smartphone can do a lot of damage, and the Vatican is working quickly to ensure that never happens.
As far as the sex abuse scandals? My guess is that the cover-up of tens of thousands of cases of child sex abuse worldwide is the furthest thing from the collective Curia’s mind.