Pressure mounts on Cardinal Seán Brady (right) to resign over his part in the case of beast priest Brendan Smyth in 1975. But beyond the Mail and the recent BBC This World documentary on the subject, paedophiles in the Roman Catholic Church have a more implacable enemy: Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI.
In 1985, in a little-publicised move, Cardinal Ratzinger persuaded the then Pope to prevent America from moving alleged paedophiles outside the US. Over the next decades as hush-money emptied the coffers, affected US dioceses started to file for bankruptcy. It was a powerful lesson.
Shortly after relocating from Munich to Rome in 1982 Ratzinger was given access to details outlining the true extent of the paedophile scandal in the RC Church and commented on the "filth" within the church. The chronology is now generally recognised by church papers, but following John Paul II’s death in 2005, as Ratzinger emerged as a favourite, the quote was released to Catholic papers as if he’d just said it, the inference being that he’d been referring to his competitors. Knowing his views on beast priests, was a faction in the Papacy moving to keep Ratzinger off St Peter's chair?
I’m not presenting Ratzinger as a saint – the Vatican's equation of homosexuality with paedophilia> will live in infamy. But he has struck blows against beast priests in the US, Ireland and the powerful Legionaries of Christ, any one of which could be seen as marching on Moscow.
But clerical abuse doesn't happen in a vaccuum: for instance, social workers in Glasgow knowingly returned fleeing children to abusive nuns in Nazareth House and later claimed they’d had nowhere else to put the children. When the media gives equal weight to the enabling of abuse by social workers and others (such as Margaret Hodge), their pursuit of a then junior player might seem less ideologically fuelled.