Dear Pope Benedict XVI,
I read about your 2010 end-of-year speech on CBSnews today and feel a burning need to reply both for myself, and on behalf of the very many similarly thinking people.
I am proud to be a secularist and an atheist, and amongst other things I stand against:
- child pornography;
- drug abuse;
- sexual tourism;
- psychological destruction of children;
- paedophilia; and
- moral relativism.
I also stand against the Catholic Church's dealing with criminal child sexual abuse perpetrated by its priests, as you yourself described in your speech, by which you and your church have:
- 'treated' rather than punished criminal abusers;
- considered paedophilia to be a social norm;
- refused to accept child sexual abuse as a crime, despite its widespread legal status as such;
- illegally refused to report crimes to police;
- denied that such crimes are an absolute evil;
- promoted moral relativism;
- blamed the crimes of priests on society, or the 1970s;
I call on you to change your approach to dealing with this criminal activity by:
- recognising the sexual abuse of children as a serious criminal offence;
- recognising that your church has been complicit in concealing and protecting criminals, many of whom have then gone on to commit further such crimes;
- apologising unambiguously for such crimes committed by your church's priests, and the protection of those criminals by your church;
- insisting that allegations of crime are reported to police authorities;
- cooperating fully with the police in criminal investigations;
- reforming your church's culture of secrecy which provides freedom for criminals to commit crime with impunity;
- recognising that justice and help for victims of crime is more important than protecting criminals;
- recognising that bishops and others who knowingly covered up criminal abuse were complicit in those crimes;
- defrocking all priests guilty of criminal abuse, and all those who were or are complicit in protecting them;
I recognise that this last point may apply to your own time in church office before or during your tenure as Pope, and that defrocking a Pope may not be possible within your church. If this is the case, then I urge you to bring your tenure as Pope to an end at your earliest opportunity, using whatever methods are available to you. This will perhaps bring the opportunity for wholesale reform of your church, the prevention of further criminal activity and fuller justice for your church's victims.
I abhor your blaming the criminal activity committed by your church, and its priests, on wider society and in doing so trying to absolve yourself and your church from responsibility. That is the refuge of the lowest scoundrel and deserving of harsh judgement by all moral and right thinking people, whether they be religious, agnostic or atheist.
In the name of all the little children who have so cruelly been abused while under the care of your church, and its priests, I urge you to pray for the strength to take the difficult but right decisions.