Those of you who think that the answer has to be a resounding “No!” need to remember that this is a Pope who is prone to letting people into Heaven. He has already admitted atheists, gays and Jews, which is bound to change the tenor of eternity, but the Pope has no regrets, at least not for now. When he arrives at the Pearlies himself, he may begin to wonder if overpopulating the place with non-Catholics has negatively impacted the value of eternal real estate, and whether manna-rationing will someday have to be enforced, but for now, he’s content to let almost everybody in.
But the Pope has kept his thoughts on eternally rewarding child-molesting members of the clergy to himself, even though they seem to be a significant segment of the priestly population. He is in Ireland as of this writing, and doing some heavy apologizing for child-abusing priests there, of which there were also a solid number. Ireland may well have been the birthplace of pedophile priests; in the Catholic traditions of that land, if one of your sons was prone to wearing dresses, he was bundled off to the priesthood, where he could wrap himself in robes full-time. If he also occasionally slipped a hand up an altar boy’s cassock, it was all part of God’s plan.
Don’t think the Pope hasn’t done anything about this. He has called on one of the Heavenly heavies, the Mother of God herself, to put an end to the scourge of pedophilia among priests. This is a Papal Tweet:
I ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for the healing of the survivors of abuse and to confirm every member of our Christian family in the resolve never again to permit these situations to occur.
That’s bringing out the big guns as far as Catholics are concerned. The rest of us might point out that it’s comparable to the “thoughts and prayers” offered by the NRA and the politicians they own every time some young white guy shoots up a school. You can’t really count on the BVM to do anything but show up randomly to a bunch of kids occasionally somewhere, at Fatima, at Guadalupe, or in Ireland, at Knock. That’s it—she is the Bill Murray of the Heavenly Hosts.
The Pope doesn’t really have to answer the question in the headline, though—it has already been answered by Catholic doctrine, which this column had a heavy dose of in its childhood. Any sin can be forgiven, as long as it is confessed to a priest.
There’s no rule forbidding one pedophile priest confessing to another pedophile priest and in fact, it may occur quite frequently. These Fathers can employ the confessional booth to both smooth their way into eternal grace and also compare notes on which of the altar boys is already sprouting pubic hair.
Must seem like Heaven already.