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A church in crisis

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
 

A series of scandals (not including priestly pedophilia) suggests the Catholic Church faces a larger, overarching crisis — one that begs the question of whether Pope Benedict XVI is up to the task of leadership.

There's the late-May arrest of the pope's butler for allegedly smuggling documents out of the private papal quarters. But that hasn't stopped further “Vatileaks” of information damaging to the pope's private secretary and the Vatican secretary of State.

There's the archbishop reassigned in October — as ambassador in Washington, far from the Vatican — after antagonizing what the German website Spiegel Online calls “old boys' networks” by curbing waste and abuse in contracting.

There's the ouster in May of the Vatican bank head who tried to increase transparency at an institution known for keeping Mafia money safe.

And there's Benedict, 85, the oldest pope in 109 years. He's finding if increasingly difficult to speak, walk — and, insiders say, lead.

“The Vatican is disintegrating into dozens of competing interest groups,” stifling reform as clerical communities jockey for influence today and in the next pope's selection, Spiegel Online reports.

Business as usual? We hope not. But if it is, dare we say it the Roman Catholic Church is not sustainable.

If Pope Benedict's successor similarly fails to lead and to reform the Vatican, scandals will continue to plague Roman Catholicism and the church surely will implode.

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