Robes and furr’d gowns hide all

Hitchens doesn’t altogether see things the way Damian Thompson does.

On March 10, the chief exorcist of the Vatican, the Rev. Gabriele Amorth (who has held this demanding post for 25 years), was quoted as saying that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican,” and that “when one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ in the holy rooms, it is all true—including these latest stories of violence and pedophilia.” This can perhaps be taken as confirmation that something horrible has indeed been going on in the holy precincts, though most inquiries show it to have a perfectly good material explanation.

I had the same thought when I saw the exorcist piece. The Devil is at work inside the Vatican; yes isn’t he just.

Very much more serious is the role of Joseph Ratzinger, before the church decided to make him supreme leader, in obstructing justice on a global scale. After his promotion to cardinal, he was put in charge of the so-called “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (formerly known as the Inquisition). In 2001, Pope John Paul II placed this department in charge of the investigation of child rape and torture by Catholic priests. In May of that year, Ratzinger issued a confidential letter to every bishop. In it, he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture.

Yet now that the Murphy Report has been published that same Ratzinger has told us that he ‘shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by the Irish people.’ He never shared it before; he didn’t share it when he issued that confidential letter to all the bishops; he shares it only now, when he and the Vatican can no longer hide the truth. There’s devilish for you – the flaming gall to pretend to share feelings that you ignored for year after year.

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