The Sacrament of Confession does not provide a magic eraser; I don’t believe God is convinced by empty ritual or empty words. Pope Benedict is likewise guilty of empty words when he expresses his horror at the behavior of abusive priests. The empty rhetoric of election year politicians has nothing on the empty rhetoric of Catholic prelates. And our legal system is guilty of collusion as long as lawyers refuse to prosecute priests and bishops in the civil courts, and as long as statutes of limitations shield the criminals from the consequences of their crimes. If Benedict believes the crimes are heinous then he should demand that records in every diocese are passed over to the courts for review and prosecution, and he should speak out in favor of removing the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children. Words are too easy, whether they are spoken under the seal of the confessional or from the chair of St. Peter.

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