Benedict refused to acknowledge how women actually live in the 21st century, how they repudiate church teachings.
The church is adamantly against birth control, yet most Catholics worldwide practice it. Garry Wills, Catholic writer, ridicules the notion that “using a contraceptive is a mortal sin for which Catholics would go to hell if they died unrepentant.”
Wills also cites the view of John Henry Newman in 1859; “history shows that the laity had been more true to the Gospel than the hierarchy.” For such “heresy” the Vatican denounced Newman as “the most dangerous man in England.”
The church is woefully short of priests, yet will not allow women priests. It will not admit the equality of women. Sister Louise Akers, head of the Sisters of Charity, calls the Catholic Church “the last bastion of sexism.”
The church insists that priests be celibate. Celibacy is unnatural. Moreover, priestly pedophilia can be traced to the celibate priesthood. The church doesn’t allow divorced Catholics to take communion. It should. Communion is central to the meaning of Catholicism.
The church prohibits the use of condoms even to prevent AIDS — a clear example of head-in-the-sand dogma. The church opposes premarital sex, a view contrary to human nature and thus practiced by few Catholics.
The introvert Benedict was mired in the past with his books on Jesus and encyclicals on love and charity. Those things are fine for scholars and compassionate souls but dreadful leadership for the world’s 1.2 million Catholics.
Benedict as pope constantly evaded the truth.
Jason Berry, who has written extensively about the Vatican, notes: “A long list of leaders betrayed Catholics everywhere with their pathological evasions, sending known sex offenders into treatment centers to avoid the law, then planted them in parishes or hospitals where they found new victims.”
Berry describes Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles as ”an egregious practitioner of the cover-up.” A court ordered release of thousands of church Internet documents revealing how Mahony mishandled sexual abusers.
The church was hammered worldwide by sexual scandal. But Benedict never disciplined bishops caught in the cover-up.
When the Irish church rightly complained of widespread priestly sexual abuse, Benedict accused Irish Catholics of “spiritual disillusionment.” Benedict denounced a group of nuns who urged liberalization of the church.
Benedict removed an Australian bishop who suggested that priests should be allowed to marry and women allowed into the priesthood. Benedict welcomed an apostate bishop who denied the Holocaust.
Benedict was devoid of the spirit of Vatican II and Pope John XXIII with his aggiornamento, the open window of fresh air brought into the church. The church needs modernization, the “revolution” that Pope John desired.
It’s not just a younger pope with far greater energies than the frail, 85-year-old Benedict who needed a pacemaker. The church requires a far younger pope in outlook, someone willing to attack “the mighty wheels of a 1,000-year-old Vatican bureaucracy.”
But the prognosis of the College of Cardinals: selection of a pope with the same musty doctrines.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.