Is the Pope Toast?

05/12/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This isn't getting much attention in the US, but it's a big one: The Pope's in trouble.

Trouble, trouble. Not-going-away trouble. Run-out-of-office trouble. It's a potentially transformative moment in matters of religion and of power, wherein even the infallible turns out to be vulnerable. Some of us live for such moments.

It's the priest sex story, the same one we've already done -- and done. But now it's popping up in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, all markets which make the American news media yawn. But come on. The priest sex story is one of the best we've had. It's one of the ones that the media of our time is going to be remembered for. It's the ultimate destruction of façade; the giving of voice to silence; the catching of deer and hypocrites in the headlights. It's our triumph.

It's also, on the other hand, our shame. Because who hasn't known for generations that that's what priests were doing? And yet the story went untold. It had to wait for 30 or 40 years for public sensibility to catch up with it before it was told.

And it's still told with an absurd tact and respect. It's still a story about errant and deviant priests instead of a story, as the numbers indicate, of not just a spectacular cover-up, but of a clear sexual predisposition. This was a driving motivation of priests joining the church: sex with boys.

So far, it's been an American thing which the Vatican has been remote and rather haughty about: vulgar American media. But now the story is everywhere in Europe and it includes the Pope's brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

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