Sex, Money, Power--Corruption at the Vatican




How to speak, respectfully, of the Catholic Church amid the ongoing pedophilia scandals?

Having just watched Netflix series, "The Keepers", involving the murder of a nun who attempts to uncover widespread sexual abuse, I’m deeply disturbed by how systemic the actual corruption is...

Now, for example, on the heals of a damage control summit on clerical sex abuse, we learn that Cardinal George Pell — Vatican treasurer, third most senior Catholic in world, and close adviser to Pope Francis, is found guilty of child sexual assault (rape). What does it mean that the now convicted pedophile Cardinal Pell, like the defrocked Cardinal McCarick before him, were the public faces of combating abuse against minors?‬ ‪How can the Church be trusted to self-regulate, when those investigating sex crimes are the actual predators?!‬

What does it say about the Churche's integrity when criminal priests are relocated and even promoted, to the highest ranks, while the victims are ignored --or worse, intimidated-- by the figure they regard as their moral guardians, and in the words of one victim: "the closest you'll ever get to God."

Below, is a picture of the fallen Cardinal Pell walking side-by-side into court with Gerald Ridsdale, the man later found to be Australia’s worst paedophile priest, in 1993—convicted of sexual abuse and indecent assault charges against 65 children — some as young as four....

How to process all this and still believe in the innocence of the Church?

I've often wondered if celibacy, as Oscar Wilde glibly put it, might not be the (only) sexual perversity. It seems so radical a life choice that it must be only for the very few... The Vatican seems to me a cautionary tale against a spiritual entity having secular power, allowing them to transgress with impunity and justify their immoral cover ups.

In turn, it saddens and frustrates me to listen to how broad and ambiguous Pope Francis' condemnation continues to be of the abuse and abusers. Being the quietly radical soul that he is, one wishes that he would find the moral courage to break the vicious cycle and care more for the guiding values of the faith as well as the victims than the Church's reputation and, sorry to say it, the money coming their way. It is no secret, for example, that the Vatican bank is unclean and often used for money laundering (

I remain wary of throwing out the baby with the bath water -having done this to some extent as an agnostic adolescent - when confronted with the hypocrisy of members of my own faith (Islam). I continue to accompany my wife to church from time to time and believe there's still good everywhere, recognizing that 'The fault is not in our stars, But in ourselves..' Which is to say, I know that the perversity making the headlines does not represent all priests or all Catholics. But, yes, the Church out to be held to a higher standard and such systemic corruption cannot continue to be above the law...

Still, just as I recognize, for example, that something must be rotten in the Muslim community that permits the rise of violent extremism, so I see that there is deep moral rot in the Catholic Church that is in desperate need of purging. It’s all terribly sad, especially that there are so many with an axe to grind with organized religion. My view is that, despite the blasphemous atrocities committed in their name, world religions continue to be an unmatched source of Wisdom, Beauty & Peace--far preferable it to the alternatives: meaningless suffering, despair, anger, arrogance, New Age mish-mash, materialism, doubt, cynicism, nihilism, etc..

But, the more I learn about the corruption of the Vatican, the more shocked and appalled I am by their abuse of power and trust. This documentary, below, is a must see for those who may not be aware of the extent of this problem. (Even John Paul II, whom I once admired, is complicit)

My hope is that the latest scandals will lead to long-overdue and profound soul-searching, justice and reform.
Heaven help us all...


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I completely agree with you here and your thinking is so well-expressed and captures well the unconscionable abuse and corruption as well as the complex moral dilemma we always face when trying to make sense of any organization that has humans in it! Humans when given power seem to always handle it so poorly. And this particular situation is made even more complex by the historical infallibility and huge impact the power of the Catholic church in days past and even in the present.

I get completely disheartened and feel helpless in the face of this corruption that runs so deep, and with human nature that seems to have such weak moral fiber. I then too take the path of trying not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

But with such prevalent abuse and how many lives it has destroyed, do we have the room to give anyone the benefit of the doubt? Is it ok to give Pope Francis some leeway seeing he has taken a revolutionary stance on many controversial issues during his reign thus far and perhaps he is as thoughtful a person as he sometimes seems to be and will use his post to make as much effective change as he can?
That maybe he WILL find a way or many ways to come out with effective change?

This reminds me also about how clear-thinking and enthusiastic Obama was about the changes he hoped to put in place as president but he discovered that "things were a lot different than he thought" (his words) once he was elected. The same with Jimmy Carter back in the 1970s. So many idealistic intentions and he too found that the webs and systems in place are much more complex for a leader than they seem to me from the outside. Sometimes acts that rock the system too much too fast can cause too much destruction (french revolution?).

But again, there is no time to waste with this issue and it seems so simple to come out fully against any and all abuse! I don't know the answers though (and maybe he doesn't yet either ) about who should do the investigating and how it should occur.

Anyway, just a bunch of thoughts that came tumbling forth after reading your post...and not so nearly coherent as yours :-), thanks for your post and the questions it raises!


Bless you, Friend, for your soulful response. Between the Ideal and the reality.... sigh... this is the problem of 'any organization that has humans in it!' as you say.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts, absolutely. Call me naive (and grossly uninformed) but I could not fathom the extent of the Vatican's power or corruption, until I did my latest research...

I know what you mean, too, about the difficulties of one man going up against a (deeply flawed) system, and how much can be achieved and how fast.

After a fairly heated discussion with my wife's religion teacher from school, whom I hold in high regard, I decided to step back a bit & put away my wagging finger.

As you say, "there is no time to waste with this issue and it seems so simple to come out fully against any and all abuse!" But, how and who will do so, God only knows...

Wishing you a safe, restorative, creative weekend, dear Ruth <3


That heated discussion must have been interesting, I would have liked to be a fly on the wall ;-)). When intelligent and thoughtful people debate this kind of deep moral dilemma, all kinds of light can be shed on matters even if they never agree.

Thanks for your response! Watching the snow falling this evening and looking forward to waking up to a fresh 8" and going snowshoeing!


Ah, enjoy the snow. Here, in Sunny Florida, we're beginning to get a taste of Spring -- wafting warm ocean breeze your way :)

Y'know, re: said heated discussion, I regret I may have gone too far, and crossed a boundary in my righteous indignation. Retreating into silence after that outburst, and in this chastened state meditating on Thomas Merton's advice to a young activist:

"You are fed up with words, and I don’t blame you. I am nauseated by them sometimes. I am also, to tell you the truth, nauseated by ideals and with causes.
This sounds like heresy, but I think you will understand what I mean. It is so easy to get engrossed with ideas and slogans and myths that in the end one is left holding the bag, empty, with no trace of meaning left in it."


ah yes I know all too well that righteous indignation and idealism and getting so caught up in them that I forget to connect with the human in front of me. Ironic since no conversation, debate has any real impact unless we are actually connecting with person in front of us! I have done this too.

The good news of course is that this is all about caring and caring deeply - even if a bit wound up out of control - which means that we will always come around again to caring for the individuals (beyond our passion for the cause) and will ultimately reach to connect and understand.

And those are some wise Thomas Merton words.

And thanks for the warm ocean breezes, love those!


Thank you, for your understanding. We've since 'made up' and left on a respectful, compassionate note. People, first. Have a lovely day, Ruth _/|\_


So glad to hear it :-))

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