From an interview with Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the Vatican’s highly respected former prosecutor of child sex abuse cases:

In 2004, Maciel celebrated his 60th anniversary of priestly ordination at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. All the Roman Curia went, bishops and cardinals included. The only one to stay home was Ratzinger, then the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In fact, he knew well who he was dealing with, so much so that a month later, he officially moved forward a Vatican investigation of him. It caused him enormous suffering because he was well aware of how much esteem Maciel enjoyed in the Roman Curia. However, he went against the tide for love of the truth . . . .

The policy of Ratzinger was to purify the church from its filth, but also to use mercy. He was always aware, like St. Paul, that the people of God hold a treasure in vessels of clay. The strongest image he tried to refer to was a vision of St. Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th-century German mystic and naturalist. She saw a beautiful woman whose clothing was ripped and torn on account of priests and their sins. That woman is the Catholic church, muddied by the sins of priests but still beautiful despite it all, desirable, and a place whoever errs can always start over, in other words a place of mercy.

Articles by Matthew Schmitz

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