I normally stay away from religious topics -- unless they have a connection to Rises and Falls of Empires, a favorite topic of mine.
This sad and sordid report here on sexual abuse by Irish priests over a very long time is relevant to the Rise and the ongoing Decline of the Roman Catholic Church.
The official government report on child abuses is here.
One normally does not think of the Vatican as an empire. At the height of the Soviet empire which covered all of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and could count China and North Korea as "cousins", Stalin famously asked an advisor dismissively: "How many divisions does the pope have?"
The last laugh is not heard in Kremlin, but in Vatican. The proper answer to Stalin would have been "How many divisions does the Pope need?" No one at Kremlin had the courage to give Stalin that answer, of course.
The Church has outlasted all secular empires. The Church and its doctrines shaped the minds over 2000 years around the world without having had to build its own armies. Well, to be fair, it had others to do its dirty work.
It is, therefore, not inappropriate to think of Vatican as an empire.
All falling empires shares these 2 features: economic and moral decay.
The Church is still rich, very rich. However, the moral decay as evidenced in this report and in other similar reports elsewhere in the world is a stake through its heart.
Has anyone wondered why celibacy is so important to the Church? Protestants long broke away from that medieval and ridiculous restrictions. What, pray tell, has sex got to do with salvation or lack of?
To enforce this ridiculous rule, the Church had to invent Virgin Birth so that the mother of Jesus bore a child without having had sex with Joseph.
Celibacy was enforced only in the 12th century at the Second Lateran Council, an edict held up by the Council of Trent in the 16th century. Prior to 1139 CE, priests could indeed take wives and, yes Virginia, have sex.
Sex was never a taboo subject in the old Testament and became an "issue" only in the New Testament which, we know, was more a book written by committees and revised over the centuries. It was more a political document than one about truth.
The fundamental issue remains: why is celibacy among priests necessary? Celibacy is the root of all sexual abuses by Catholic priests. But you can count on this conservative Pope Benedict XVI to keep on the books the law of celibacy. That can only hasten the decline of this "other" Roman Empire that has outlasted that secular Roman Empire by nearly 1800 years.