I grew up Catholic, turned my back on the church many, many years ago over its entrenched hypocrisy and corruption, and utterly evil history (I also came to realize Christianity had nothing to offer me personally. I just simply couldn’t swallow it, and came to believe whatever good Christ might have been trying to say 2,000 years ago had been twisted to a point that he would no longer recognize it.), yet in a weird way, though I haven’t set foot in a Catholic church in nearly 30 years, still consider myself Catholic — barely. This week in particular, I have never been more disgusted with the church. It’s rotten to the core. Not the people, not the parishioners, but the hierarchy. More than 200 deaf boys molested by a Catholic priest. Ratzinger knew about it when he was in the “defender of the faith” office, or whatever it is called, and helped cover it up. Several other bishops and archbishops also contributed to the cover-up.)
When I look at those old withered prunes in the Vatican scurrying like cockroaches to cover their own rear ends over the molestation cover-up in Wisconsin, so help me, and I don’t want to offend any good Catholics who might read this, but they remind me of one thing — a movie I saw when I was a teenager called The Dark Crystal. Remember the Skeksis, withered up old prunes in their jewels and fine robes. Don’t they look like they could fit right into the Vatican?
And it’s heartbreaking to the good Catholics, and please, remember, there are good Catholics, people really trying to do good works for the poor and the downtrodden. I know some of them. I don’t know how they can still do it and call themselves Catholics. They have an ability to separate their faith from that hierarchy. I do know many of the best Catholics simply cannot call themselves Catholics any longer. There’s a lot of former Catholics in the Methodist and Episcopal faiths for a reason (and evangelical faiths, too.).
The rottenness endemic at the top of the Catholic Church came to the fore twice this past week, ironically during Holy Week. First, the allegations out of Wisconsin that the Pope helped cover up molestations, then to make matters worse — the reaction of the Vatican. It’s just so painfully obvious these withered old prunes are completely oblivious to the real world.
First, they blamed the New York Times for printing articles about the cover-up. It was a lame response, a “kill the messenger” reaction, typical of the guilty. Then, the Vatican doubled down — BIG TIME — as the Pope’s personal priest compared the reaction to the Pope’s involvement in the cover-up to the persecution of the Jews to the Holocaust.
I was utterly gobsmacked when I read that. It literally blew my mind.
As part of the Times article on this, it points out that the Catholics did have a history of blaming Jews for Christ’s death (which I honestly never even heard of until a few weeks ago when I read that here), a history that didn’t come to an “official” end until the 1960s. The Church literally murdered millions in the Middle Ages, both during the Inquisition, the Reformation and the Crusades, and in particular giving its complicit blessing to the slaughter of Indians in Central and South America during the age of Conquest. With that track record, actually “going there,” in making a comparison to what was done to the Jews in the Holocaust because some people think, gee, maybe the Pope oughta step down, smacks of pure delusion.
Just to get an idea of the scope of the priest molestations — I looked it up. According to the John Jay report, there were more than 6,700 “valid” accusations of molestations against more than 4,300 priests in the U.S. between 1950 and 2002 — that’s more than 4 percent of the total number of priests that served in the U.S. in that time. I’m guessing the real number is likely two or three times higher than that. Why is there such a high number of priest abuse? There’s been several studies done, some blame the chicken, some blame the egg. Does the priest’s position within the church attract pedophiles, or does the vow of celibacy for priests create pedophiles. Again, studies have reached conflicting conclusions.
You all know what happened in the Boston Diocese. Old news. The Portland Diocese recently had to declare bankruptcy because of all the lawsuits against it over priest abuse and cover-ups by the Church.
In L.A., the Catholic Church has paid out more than $600 million in settlements over priest abuse and the Diocese’s cover-up.
Interestingly, the former arch-bishop in L.A., Roger Mahoney, was the priest who baptized me. He is a cardinal now, and he was rumoured to be a serious candidate for Pope after John Paul II died. If Ratzinger has to resign, Mahoney might be a candidate again EXCEPT he has his own molestation cover-up track record. When he was a bishop in Stockton, Calif., he covered up and transferred a priest accused of molestation. The priest committed more molestations in his new parish. Just like Boston.
Honestly, I don’t expect anything to happen to Ratzinger. The last time a Pope actually resigned was 600 years ago. I expect the old prunes in the Vatican to keep burying their heads in the sand, and unfortunately, I keep expecting people to keep donating money to the Church and the Church to keep growing.
Really, the only way to shake those old dinosaurs out of their lethargy is to have their money cut off, but it won’t happen.
I’ve seen people write the Catholic Church is a dying religion. Oh, boy, it isn’t. It might be stagnant or in decline in the U.S. and Europe, but unfortunately, it’s growing quite robustly in the Third World. Remember, there are 300 million Catholics in South America, 150 million Catholics in Central America, 130 million Catholics in Africa and 75 million Catholics in the Philippines. All parts of the world with booming populations.
(As an aside, in looking up these numbers, I saw that more than 40 percent of Canadians are Catholic. That surprised me. Catholics make up fewer than 25 percent of Americans.)
The Church is not dying by a long shot. Don’t expect anything to happen to those old, delusional, out-of-touch men in the Vatican, especially Ratzinger.
It’s Holy Week, a time you would expect the Vatican to engage in some self-reflection. I suspect they won’t. We’re spending Easter going to a champagne brunch with the family and maybe go for a hike if the weather holds. That’s it. That’s more than good enough celebration for me. 🙂