This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is Pope Benedict XVI expressing his regrets today for the sex scandal that’s been overwhelming the Roman Catholic Church throughout Europe of late.

Confronting a sex abuse scandal spreading across Europe, including his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday apologized directly and personally to victims and their families in Ireland, expressing “shame and remorse” and saying “your trust had been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.”

His message, in a long-awaited, eight-page pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, seemed couched in strong and passionate language. But it did not refer directly to immediate disciplinary action beyond sending a special apostolic delegation to investigate unspecified dioceses and religious congregations in Ireland. Moreover, it was, as the Vatican said it would be, focused particularly on the situation in Ireland, even as the crisis has widened elsewhere.

“You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated,” the pope told Irish victims and their families.

“Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape for your sufferings,” he continued.

“It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church,” Benedict continued. “In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel.”

The pope’s message is unlikely to resolve the escalating abuse disaster. Benedict’s message not only made no mention of actual penalties for those involved in the scandal and cover-up, and not only does the Vatican seem reluctant to investigate evidence of abuse outside of Ireland (overlooking recent revelations from Germany and Netherlands), but the pope also made no effort to address the Vatican’s culpability in the scandal.

The international uproar is likely to continue.

The God Machine also noted that Virginia’s state legislature approved a resolution this week, honoring radical televangelist Pat Robertson on his 80th birthday. The resolution celebrates Robertson as “a compelling and compassionate spiritual leader” who is “devoted to his family, his viewers who are his extended family, his community and the Commonwealth.”

Given that Robertson blamed Americans for 9/11, and in 2003, expressed his support for a terrorist attack on the U.S. State Department, it strikes me as odd that Virginia lawmakers would approve a resolution to pay tribute to a radical cleric who happens to live in their state.