The latest revelation by a European newspaper that Pope Benedict XVI may have chosen to resign after finding out about a possible blackmail scandal is further proof that the Catholic church needs a fresh face for a leader.
I am not Catholic, so in the grand scheme of things, who the pope is matters about as much to me as the flitting of a gnat's wings in Zimbabwe. But I am a fan of justice and the fair treatment of people, especially children. So when an organization makes a habit of sidestepping those concepts, I think it's important to point it out and ask for change.
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported this week that failing health may not be the only reason for the pope's sudden announcement that he would step down. The paper cited a dossier alleged to contain a report on a network of gay prelates in the Vatican who are being blackmailed over their secret by forces outside the church.
It's the kind of intrigue one would expect from a Dan Brown novel, but it's the kind of reality we've come to expect from the church in the wake of continuous sex and molestation scandals.
The church's problem with its priests and sex are by now legendary. Whether it's a relatively simple matter such as a consensual homosexual affair involving a bishop, to the sickening systemtic molestations and official coverup, the church has had its hands full with promiscuous priests. And if the recent documentary "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" is to be believed, it's a problem that goes back hundreds of years.
Dealing with this problem was one of the pope's duties when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The old questions of what he knew and when he knew it for the most part are answered: He knew pretty much everything. It was his job to investigate these matters. But what he did about them is a question that is still open. One side believes him guilty of running the cover-up, while the other says he was caught in the middle, stymied in many of his efforts, frustrated to the point that when a window of opportunity finally opened he leapt through it, starting one long overdue investigation the very day Pope John Paul II died.
Whether the current pope is a co-conspirator or simply a man who has lost the strength to deal with the cancer in his church is a question that needs answering. Hopefully the new pope will have more energy and fire in his veins to confront the big questions the church faces with these scandals and to take definitive action. What the Vatican has done thus far has obviously not worked. By resigning, Benedict XVI at least gives the option of new blood that will hopefully clean up the Lord's House once and for all.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.