These three headlines say it all:

Hitchens: Pope Benedict wants ‘wiggle room’ for ‘rape and torture of children’

“I warned them about all of this,” declared author Christopher Hitchens, appearing on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night. “Nothing good can come of a church that has as its’ slogan, ‘Leave no child’s behind.’ And then they went and chose as pope the man who was personally responsible, in his dioceses, and institutionally responsible for the cover-up. So now, there’s no escape.

Even with his role in covering-up child molestations at his former dioceses in Munich, Pope Benedict offered an apology for the sexual abuse so rampant in the church, but did not call for any law enforcement action.

As Benedict Commemorates Palm Sunday, Church Acknowledges “Moral Credibility” Is at Stake in Growing Scandal

Pope Benedict XVI opened Holy Week on Sunday amid one of the most serious crises facing the church in decades, with questions about his handling of cases of pedophile priests and the Vatican acknowledging its “moral credibility” was on the line.

Benedict made no mention of the scandal in his Palm Sunday homily. But one of the prayers, recited in Portuguese during Mass, was “for the young and for those charged with educating them and protecting them.”

And this statement, from the Vatican spokesbot Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirms the PR shop of the Pope is beyond help:

[T]he Vatican is now looking at the scandal as a way to purify itself so that it can emerge renewed and strengthened. He pointed to the action taken by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops after the clerical abuse scandal erupted there in 2002.

Let’s see, that would be an admission that the church is full of impurity and immorality, no?

The Bad Shepherd – Why Pope Benedict XVI May Not Be Able To Heal His Church

One reason Ratzinger may not have recognized the human trauma in these cases is that his experience with actual humanity is so narrow. He has spent almost his entire life in the rarefied world of academia in Germany or the antique corridors of power in Rome. “He was a priest in a parish for one year,” says the Rev. Thomas Rausch, a Jesuit professor of Catholic theology at Loyola Marymount University. “I’m worried that he doesn’t have more direct pastoral experience.”

For such a man, the desire to protect fellow clerics can be so deep as to be instinctive: the Vatican’s bureaucratic elite, the Curia, is perhaps history’s first old boys’ club. “It’s a culture of secrecy and hierarchy and doing what you’re told,” says Peter Manseau, author of Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son.

…What the Vatican views as punishment, the outside world can see as reward. Cardinal Bernard Law, who covered up and ignored hundreds of abuse cases in Boston, was demoted, yet retains a cushy Vatican post. Similarly, although Benedict was harsh in his recent letter to the Irish church, calling for “urgent action,” he has accepted resignations from only two of the four Irish bishops who have tendered them. In Ireland, “the present hierarchy has no credibility,” says Benedict’s biographer George Weigel, who favors a cleaner sweep of the church there.