You do realize the Church doesn't own most of the Churches in Europe, the government does. You do also realize the reason the Church doesn't sell all of the art they possess is because it could feed people for a short time but then they'd still starve and much of that art would be in private possession, no longer available for the world to see. One thing I definitely have a problem with is priests who don't live simple lives. That's a big reason why I would join a religious order rather than be a diocesan priest. However, telling the Catholic Church, which donates more time AND money to the poor than any other organization to sell the vatican (basically 8 Churches, pope's apartment, a garden, and an art collection) to feed the world for a small period of time is stupid.
That's like telling a world class surgeon, who is an organ donor, to get into an accident so we can use his heart and liver to save two lives rather than live and continue to save lives as a surgeon.
"Yeah, it can't possibly be that they're horrified by his involvement in the cover-up of child abuse (there's no denying that the Church actively protects rapists), or his organisation's contributions to the spread of HIV in third-world nations, or its abhorrent views on gay rights..."
You realize he wasn't the pope at that time? I agree, the things that happened to kids was terrible. As someone who has been abused by a priest, as an adult, I can empathize. Since he has become pope, he has made great strides in removing pedophile priests. Realistically, most of the blame for not removing pedophiles should be among the local bishops as they were the one moving them around using their own power. Much of the abuse was kept secret from Rome. It wasn't until 2001 when this pope asked the previous pope that his position investigate all abuses. Since then, he has been continually removing these priests.
They don't spread HIV; that's ridiculous. Just because they don't allow for artificial contraceptives, which in rare circumstances can fail at preventing HIV without improper usage. The Church promotes chastity. If one is a practicing Catholic they should live chastely and then HIV wouldn't be spreading through sex unless in a marriage and the Church doesn't prevent testing for HIV so those would want to be tested.
I'm not even going to get into the gay rights comment because it's Christian doctrine and nothing can change it. Gays, are not sinful, but they can't marry in the eyes of God. So like any other unmarried person they must be chaste. I won't go beyond this because it's pointless to argue this issue
"The better question is, would anyone defend people like that if they were not religious leaders? We don't give anyone else that kind of leeway. Who's really too brainwashed to be objective, here? In what way is he an "excellent man"?"
Let's see, an organization that donates more money to the world than any other, has given us the modern university system, has produced some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the world. Yeah, why would I ever defend these people?
Like I said above, Benedict has removed many pedophile priests since he started in 2001 to investigate abuses. He has really cleaned house in the Church. Yeah, it's still not great but what do you expect? One of the twelve apostles was Judas. There's always going to be problems as we're only human. Benedict has been exactly what the Church needed, a strong leader to clean up the Church.
EDIT: I'm done on this post. There is no sense arguing and this has become off topic.