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The chaplain who wrote the April 13 letter “Respect the modus operandi” made a number of points about the media’s treatment of the pope that missed the mark. He implored the editors of Stars and Stripes to “do their homework” and read Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the Irish people. I’ve read that letter and found it every bit as disheartening as it was insulting.

The pope’s letter contained a lot of talk about sin and forgiveness and not losing faith in the church. The one thing it did not contain was a call to Irish bishops and bishops all over the world to cooperate with local civilian authorities to root out pedophile priests and bring them to justice in civilian court for the rape and torture of innocent children.

In fact, the pope has never issued such a proclamation. This man is considered by many to be the vicar of Christ on Earth. He is also the head of an organization with more than a billion members and, by the Catholic Church’s own pronouncement, a de facto head of state. Why isn’t he leading the charge to have rapists and child molesters within his organization put into prison?

The letter writer tries to blame the pope’s inaction on the decentralized, “bottom up” structure of the Catholic hierarchy. He cautioned us that investigations take time. The letter writer would have us believe that these instances of abuse took place over several months instead of over several decades.

In the most ghoulish example of church negligence, the Rev. Lawrence Murphy abused hundreds of helpless boys at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin. Local church officials begged for years to have the reverend defrocked, only to be ignored.

The letter writer’s argument that we should respect the slowness of the church’s procedures seems especially unconvincing considering that the pope has no problem circumventing the hierarchy to personally intervene whenever he feels fit. Even though he did nothing to help the abused deaf children, the man who is now pope (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) allowed Murphy to be buried with full priestly honors.

Any modus operandi that allows for pederasts and abusers to avoid criminal prosecution is not one that we should have to respect. If this were any other organization, people would not be talking about respecting the organization’s internal procedures. They would be far more outraged, and rightfully so. The pope should not get a free pass simply because of his religious title.

Capt. Tony BenedossoSchweinfurt, Germany

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