The wonderfully persistent Anna Arco of the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, has provided a translation of the defense of Pope Benedict made by Bp. Zollitsch (Pres. of German Bishops Conference) in Die Welt.
Responding to accusations in the German papers such as the Spiegel and Die Zeit that the Pope was maintaining silence vis-à-vis the German abuse scandal, Archbishop Zollitsch wrote an article defending the Pope in Die Welt, yesterday.
Here is [Anna’s] translation [from the original German with my usual…]:
My Pope. Your Pope. These days the Pope has hold forth for many things. Often enough nobody wants to hear him, now he is widely being reproached that he is silent on the subject of the abuse scandals within the Catholic Church in Germany. [And they will continue to refuse to hear him until he says what they have predetermined he ought to say.]
What sorts of things will then be then still demanded from this man tomorrow? That he takes part in round tables? That he thins out the tangle of statutory periods of limitation or claims for compensation?
Everyone formulates his own demands of the Pope just as he needs them. Simple, practical,good. The wonderment on the on-line edition of one German newspaper about why the Pope had not yet made a comment to the terrible events in the school in the Odenwald [a non-Catholic UNESCO school where abuse cases came to light in recent months]proves just how much the ability to judge has lost its orientation.
The fable of the silent Pope often ignores the fact that there is not a Pope for German and not a Pope for Spain. There is only one Pope for the whole world-wide Church. [A good phrase: "fable of the silent Pope". Applied so often to Popes. They have rehearsed it for years especially on Pius XII.]
Accordingly, Benedict XVI must weigh up intelligently when ,where, in which form and to whom he says what. Demands are quickly thrown into the room that the Pope must take a position on the German problem because he is German.
This is as short-sighted as it is superficial. The head of the Catholic Church must find words for the terrible abuse of minors which will be heard in all the world and which will count for everyone even if they are spoken in a certain country.
He has found them. The weight of a word does not grow the number of times it is repeated. This is true in life, in existential thing especially.
I know from my conversation with the Pope, how much he is shaken by the abuse of children through priests, especially in Germany. He has spoken unmistakable spoken about this – as he says himself—“abominable crime”: “Not one of my words could describe the pain and sufferings caused by such abuse. I also cannot frame the damage which arisen in the body of the Church in adequate words.”
During his visit in the United States he challenged us—and that counts for the whole world—to do everything within our power “to advance healing and reconciliation” and to support those who were hurt. [Interesting that he refers to the US visit.]
What should the Pope say that is new? His words have validity and consequences. As bad as the situation in Germany is: What has been said should not be constantly repeated. That which has already been said retains its weight if it is not continuously repeated.
Those who hate the Church will never be satisfied.