Watch Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Alex Gibney’s (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; Taxi to the Dark Side) deeply disturbing documentary about how the church deals with sex abuse cases. Gibney points out that from 2001, every case of clerical sex abuse around the world was reported to the Grand Inquisitor (which had previously supervised the Inquisition). The Grand Inquisitor was Cardinal Ratzinger. The documentary premiered on television days before the papal abdication.
It sounds like a novel by Robert Ludlum or Dan Brown, and it’s supposed to. Any time something unexpected occurs in an institution as averse to change as the Roman Catholic Church, we bring out the conspiracy theories. Surely this cannot be as simple as the Vatican announcement that Benedict XVI was stepping down due to his age and declining strength. The fact that popes have resigned in the past—most recently 600 years ago—does not make it any less shocking. Nobody remembers what happened in 1415, but everyone knows that popes die in office.