March 13th, 2010
11:41 PM ET

Is Pope Benedict's job in jeopardy?

Is Pope Benedict in danger of losing his job over the  sex abuse allegations against the Catholic church that are sweeping through Europe right now?

Last week brought two revelations about papal ties to the scandal in Germany - one professional, one familial. In recent weeks, roughly 170 Germans have  come forward to report sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

On Friday, the Catholic archdiocese of Munich said it had permitted a priest suspected of molesting a child to continue pastoring in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Benedict - then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - was archbishop there. The archdiocese said Ratzinger was unaware of the transfer at the time.

The familial tie: two of the Germans claiming they were abused by priests were involved in the Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir, which was directed by Father Georg Ratzinger - the Pope's older brother - from 1964 to 1994.

Professional opinionator Michael Wolff argues that the new revelations could be grounds for Benedict's dismissal:

This isn’t getting much attention in the U.S., 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.

But Vatican expert and CNN contributor John Allen - a Benedict biographer - has a different take.

"Is he likely to resign? No,” Allen told me Saturday night. "The last pope to resign was in the 12 century. It just isn't  the kind of thing that popes to very often. To date, very few Catholic bishops of any sort have resigned over mishandling the crisis."

Church sex abuse brings trouble to pope

So far as predictions go, that one seems pretty well grounded. Which isn't to say that Benedict will emerge from the current controversy unscathed.

"Does this do enormous damage to him and his papacy, does it damage his moral credibility and his reputation?" asks Allen. "I think there is a risk there."

So does the Vatican, apparently. It responded to Friday's revelations about the abusive priest who worked under then-Cardinal Ratziner when he was Munich's archbishop in a matter of hours. The Vatican quickly got the archdiocese's number 2 man from the time to full-throatedly defend Ratzinger's performance during the episode.

When's the last time the Vatican responded that quickly to the news cycle? Allen couldn't remember one.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Leaders

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.