Speaking of the influence of Satan in and around the Vatican (see the New Oxford Note "The Smoke of Satan in the Vatican?" in this issue), have you noticed the wickedly impeccable timing of the world press's latest piling-on of Pope Benedict XVI? The headlines are screaming: "Abuse Scandal in Germany Edges Closer to Pope" (New York Times, Mar. 12), "Pope Knew Priest Was Paedophile but Allowed Him to Continue with Ministry" (London Times, Mar. 14), "Allegations in Germany Raise Questions of What Pope Knew and When" (National Catholic Reporter, Mar. 19).
The story behind the headlines is certainly distressing: Could this Pope, who has spoken out publicly against clerical sexual abuse more often than any of his predecessors, be guilty of assigning predator priests to parish work while he served as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982? But the story behind the story is one with which Catholics are all too familiar: Slanted reporting aimed at heaping shame and disgrace upon the Church. There are many people in the world who would like nothing more than to see this Pope brought down yes, even professing members of the Catholic Church.
What strikes us as peculiar is that these headlines have displaced other ecclesial developments that should be making news, in particular the early success of Benedict's blockbuster apostolic constitution. Released last November, Anglicanorum Coetibus created a new canonical structure that allows large groups of Anglicans to enter into "full visible communion" with the Catholic Church while "preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony" that are "consistent with the Catholic faith." At a time when several Anglican prelates and their congregations are discerning whether to accept Benedict's generous offer bam! along come new revelations of past incidents of Catholic clerical sexual abuse of minors in Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany, as well as intimations that the Pope himself might somehow be complicit.
The news that has been submerged by these salacious scandals includes the formal request sent to the Vatican by the House of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church under the terms established by Anglicanorum Coetibus. Along with the Traditional Anglican Communion, which boasts some 400,000 members, the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, and the Anglo-Catholic group Forward in Faith Australia have each made similar formal requests for full communion. And this is only the beginning.
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