Even more than the scandal of concubinage a thousand years ago, or the Protestant Reformation half a millennium ago, the current daylight being shed on what can only be called systematic pederasty among priests in the Roman Catholic Church is doing more than just undermine what moral authority it may have left. Might we be seeing the real beginning of the end?
A Belgian Bishop has retired after admitting to long-term abuse of a family member. The US, Germany, Ireland, now Belgium - is it possible this is pandemic in the church as it is currently structured? Clearly, because he is so severely compromised, if he had any integrity left, Pope Benedict would resign, and the Curia would confront the entire situation with openness and confession. Any Cardinal compromised by this scandal would, I would think, be unfit to serve as pontiff. Of course, that might just mean an interregnum as worst case, perhaps an African or other non-Western Pope. In any case, the current power-structure of the Church is far too riddled with the taint of this systematic predatory behavior upon boys. Unless the Church comes clean, opens itself to external legal audit, forces the resignation of much of the current hierarchy, and perhaps installs a caretaker coalition until the various national legal messes can be sorted out, I do believe this has far reaching implications for the long term survival of the Roman Church.
UPDATE: Let me heighten the controversy just a smidge by offering the following view. As agents not just of a spiritual organization, but also of a foreign state - Vatican City is recognized by most countries as a sovereign state - how do individual nations respond to what can only be interpreted as a decades long attack upon the children of a variety of states by these agents?