Old news this, but I thought I’d vomit up some commentary – as I do, periodically. First, to those of you easily offended, best eff off now. You know what old Peedeel can be like when he gets the bit between his teeth.

So, you’ve been warned.

Remain at your peril.

To begin I’d like to state the obvious: there’s nothing stranger than people! The media, the Blogosphere, even the local pub is a hotbed of gossip, of accusation, of condemnation of poor old Pope Ben…but why?

Yes, yes, yes, we’ve all heard the tales of shirt-lifting priests and cover-ups. A situation that has led to no less a figure than the Archbishop of Canterbury recently suggesting the Irish Catholic Church has ‘lost all credibility’ due to their paedophile priests. And the allegation that in 2007 while still a lowly Cardinal, Thomas Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, issued a “secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety…”

Why should anyone be surprised that Ratzinger – an ex-member of the Hitler Jugend (yes, membership was compulsory in Germany), an ultra-conservative Catholic, ‘enforcer’ of Pope John Paul II in everything but name, and head of the powerful “Congregation of the Doctrine of The Faith”, the department of the Roman Catholic Church charged with promoting Catholic teachings on morals and matters of faith – would act in any way differently from the way he has acted?

Ratzinger may well have followed the teachings of Christ – you know? Being a Christian and all that. “Let him who is without guilt cast the first stone”, “turn the other cheek”, and various other pronouncements of forgiveness. Perhaps, naively, he thought these monsters in their bible-black guise of priests were simply misguided, had slipped temporarily from grace, and would now return to the straight and narrow?

Today, of course, as Pope he is Christ’s Vicar on earth. His words are spoken on behalf of Christ. The Catholic Church maintains that he is “preserved from even the possibility of error” in his many decisions and pronouncements. Consequently he is not answerable to any civil authority. He is a head of state, as well as leader of the Catholic faith. Catholic dogma gives him Christ-like characteristics – in part we must come to see him as semi-divine: Christ made flesh. And if you think my concept of God incarnate a tad strong, see HERE I’m not alone in this view.

Yes, the “word turned flesh”. So how could Pope Ben do anything other than forgive? The devil offered temptations and weak souls faltered, strayed from the path. They confessed and repented, forgiveness must follow…

Mustn’t it?

On the other hand, he could have adopted the stance of the leader of the Church in Germany who ‘denounced past failures and mistakes in the Church’s handling of complaints of child rape and other abuse. The Church in the country of the Pope’s birth is in crisis after dozens of people came forward alleging that they were abused as minors by priests.

“Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg said that news of sexual and physical abuse by priests left the Church with sadness, horror and shame. He said that clerics failed to help victims by a “wrongly intended desire to protect the Church’s reputation” and called on the Church to face this painful reality. He added: “Wounds were inflicted that are hardly curable.”’

So Pope Ben might have cared a little less about an institution and a lot more about the souls of his “flock”. Might have, but didn’t. For here we see an example of “corporate religion” in action: the importance is “the singer not the song”; the imposing edifice of the Roman Catholic Church seen as an entity in its own right – somehow independent of the hoards of Catholic faithful, who assume secondary importance in these affairs of their Church – and of the Church’s leader.

In-effin-credible, in’it?