Like most Catholics, former Catholics, fallen Catholics, broken Catholics and my favourite term, Catholic survivors, I have a complicated relationship with the Catholic Church.
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. 🙂
This is very heavy stuff, Pepe. I think it’s very hard going trying to find a church or religion that lives up to what it teaches. I work with the CA Catholic Conference – great people. But the very same leadership that can be prophetic on poverty, race, immigration can be incredibly boneheaded whenever it comes to defending its internal mess, justifying its own inflexibilities, and putting waaaaay too much premium on dead laws rather than living people.
Every movement, sooner or later, comes to a fork in the road where a decision must be made: protect the organization or protect and advance the mission? EVERY movement gets there. Most opt to defend the structure and all that implies – the corrupt people, the wealth or at least perceptions of wealth, the status quo of power.
One of the things that keeps most people alive in faith is dropping out of it. I work for a profoundly dedicated faith organization that has chosen the mission over the organizational structure. So we are poor, relatively speaking. We do the work, we reap few rewards, but – and here is the good part – we actually make a difference for social justice (I just made Glenn Beck poop his pants) and moving society ahead for those in need.
Through every day of my life, I’m in and out of churches, and with people for whom the call to justice is IT. I, personally, do not belong to a church, not any church, though I am drawn to several, and visited one Easter in a town way too far away for me ever to belong to it. Why do I go there now and then? Because you walk in the door – and love is revealed. This is a church with very small income – the pastor works a professional job because they can’t pay her,and everyone with any kind of need – the homeless people right off the street – is welcome. No judgements are ever made, and all welcome is honest and forthright. Now that’s a church! It’s not just lip service. It may be 4 hours from where I live, but I think of it as my ‘home church’ because it never lost the meaning.
The Catholic Church, in addition to all you’ve written, Pepe, is also investigating nuns in America. Uh-huh. Nuns. Why? Well, you may remember that at the end of the health refrom debate, a petition was signed by 59 heads of orders saying the plan did a good job on the issue of abortion. Those signatures represented 60,000 nuns who stood up for health care over dogma. They bucked the system. The head of the movement was NETWORK, a social justice organization headed by a kick-ass nun who used to be one of my colleagues here in CA. Needless to say, having defied the Bishops, these nuns are proving DANGEROUS.
So, in honorable tradition, when the sexual abuse scandals get heavy, the Vatican investigates someone or something that has them deeply worried. It has significant precedent. Back in the 80s in Rhode Island, a huge abuse scandal broke wide open – 6 priests found guilty of molestation (most of the victims were girls, BTW). So the church authorities bent their entire energies toward dealing with the horror of the abuse – and excommunicated the woman who was head of Planned Parenthood in RI.
See? They are perfectly capable of tidying their house. Don’t know WHY you’re worried…
I am sure that if you dig a bit in any Protestant mainline or progressive denomination, you’ll probably find an ugly item or two, but the huge difference is that these folks don’t spend all their time pointing fingers at YOU. They don’t have infallible dogma by which to beat you over the head. They know all well that people – including the clergy – are simply human beings with failings, weaknesses, and problems. That little bit in the Bible about “judge not lest ye be judged”? They believe that. It does not make their errant ways less errant, but it does mean that their institutional housecleaning is unlikely to be turned against someone other than the miscreant. They keep the mission, are not so concerned about the organization.
As for God – one doubts he/she had much to do with Jesus’ crucifixtion. I can’t define God, but I strongly suspect he/she is not an old guy with a long white beard moving us around like chess pieces. (Though a friend said if we thought of God as a cranky toddler in the throes of the Terrible Twos, EVERYTHING including earthquakes makes more sense! I think that’s deliciously funny – but equally unlikely to be the case!)
I think Jesus knowingly walked into Jerusalem prepared for the worst because it was HIS OWN understanding that you cannot preach truth to power without that consequence. He sacrificed his own life to give energy to what he had learned, what he taught, what he had to say that was powerful and new. It was the same sacrifice that has taken many wonderful people – Dr. King comes to mind – into the jaws of death for what they believed. Is there literal truth to his descent into hell and rising again? I doubt it. I long hated Easter because I do not believe it – until a wonderful UCC minister said to me, it just means there remains HOPE. What “rose” on Easter is hope – hope for a better and more just world, hope for grace and love supplanting hate and rules and dogma and rigidity. Hope that we would bring about, we ordinary people, a much better and finer world that included all people and was rich in its abundance and its sharing of abundance. Easter is not about a miraculous man rising from the dead. It’s about hope persisting in the face of all adversity. And it’s available to everyone, regardless of belief.
So yes, the Catholic Church guards the wrong things. Rules, dogma, property, power, structure, bureaucracy – instead of the right things. If it cared for the right things, the place of love would come always first, so that no child would ever be harmed, and no person would ever be scapegoated to protect that organization.
Nothing much wrong with faith. Lots wrong with religion. Took the wrong fork in the road and now does resemble and reproduce precisely what Jesus opposed. The leaders have lost their souls in the process. No reason I can see for the rest of us to follow suit. Thank you, Pepe, for calling out the hypocrisy. The church has SO missed the point!
I’ve been staying away from this one, Pepe, as it’s complicated.
Tell me again – what good has the church done in history?
I think not.
The Crusades? (and btw, my Catholic school high school football team was called the Crusaders!)
I think not.
The Spanish Catholic missionaries coming to the Americas and whipping, literally, the natives into compliance?
I think not.
During Hitler’s reign, how the church somehow turned an eye and allowed all of that to happen?
So someone tell me please, what good to humanity did the Catholic Church do for the history of man?
I agree with whoever wrote in the comments that you cannot say the celibacy thing led to the pedophilia.
You either lust after women or adult men, or you lust after children.
This entire thing with the church and their denial and shooting the messenger and making excuses just doesn’t go over big with me.
Yet, I still consider myself a Catholic, even though I will never go back after being lapsed for years and going back, but I’m lapsed for good now.
I wash my hands.
Ever been to the Vatican?
Heck, for that matter, ever been to Salt Lake City?
Both are similar in a sense in that there are poor people everywhere, while the riches are confined within the walls.
Jesus tossed the moneychangers from the temple, and I do not believe that Jesus would approve of the Vatican or Salt Lake City.
I know what I believe, and I do believe that Jesus existed, and was pretty close to a perfect man, but yet, he wasn’t perfect, and that’s what made him human.
As for God –
I’m really pissed off with God.
What kind of God sends his only son down to earth and allows him to be tortured and then killed?
What kind of God allows his chosen people to endure the Holocaust?
When I say here on this site that I believe, I mean that in that Christ existed, but when it comes to God – well, I guess I’ll see lots of people in hell, as God is one mean and nasty father.
I’ve never been so angry in my life with the Vatican, even though I know the church’s history, and that is not a good thing.
I think the church is evil, and I truly do, and when people talk about the anti-Christ, and I know this is going to upset people, my deepest apologies to Kalima, but I believe the anti-Christ is the Catholic Church.
They’ve covered up for centuries.
Javaz, I came here to read cl’s comment and saw yours below and am quite baffled why you would feel the need to apologize to me for stating what you feel.
I have explained or thought I had explained that I don’t defend the Church but the right of millions or at last count 1b 200 million Catholics around the world to defend their faith in spite of the scandals world wide and that the ones who chose to leave should not be condemned by those who chose to stay and neither should the opposite be true.
If you have read my comments below you will know that I haven’t attended Mass for over 25 years and you will also realize that family is the strong bond that I have with my past and my religious beliefs. You said yourself that you consider yourself a Catholic, then you of all people should understand how I feel about this when I said below that I was born a Catholic and will die as a Catholic. There is absolutely no reason to single me out for an apology here, I am not in the least bit offended by your conclusion javaz, just wanted you know where I stand on this in case you didn’t understand it from my comments on this thread.
I said this earlier just in passing, but here is an article saying perhaps it might be time for the Vatican to hold Council III:
Precisely my views.
Also interesting to consider the origin of celibacy, and that Episcopals have indeed been allowed this loophole. I remember reading at the time of the last one that this could one-day be a precedent to overturn the vow. Or, they could at least do what the Orthodox Church does (just not frame it that way!), and allow lower level priests, but not cardinals to marry. That sure could backfire in those moving up the hierarchical ladder, though. Not sure how the Orthodox do that. Like, checking a virtual box with the understanding they want to be considered Patriarch? (I just walked into waters way over my head)
Don’t lose the irony here. History is repeating itself. The message Jesus brought to the Jewish people 2000 years ago was this. The corrupt temple priesthood was in cahoots with the Roman overlords and it was a simple matter of disobeying them both and acting as if neither the priests or the Romans existed. After all, would the Romans crucify every rebellious Jew in Judea? Who would be left?
The corruption in the priesthood of the Catholic Church today is very similar. Look what happened in the 16th century with the Reformation. Will the Vatican excommunicate every Catholic if nobody shows up for mass. Of course not.
One thing I forgot to mention until my memory was jogged by the suggestion of “collective guilt” once again is this. With the number of priests being implicated in sexual abuse cases being higher in the U.S. than any other country, whenever there is a lull in the brick throwing, it might be a good thing to examine what is wrong in your society.
As for Catholics defending their Church, I believe strongly that it is their faith that they are trying to defend and the right to not be held responsible for something that they more than likely didn’t know anything about. Religious beliefs are not a weekend Country Club where you can just cancel your membership because you don’t like the rules, for most people it’s a life long commitment but to suggest that people are just closing their eyes to this problem is untrue and uncalled for, it reeks of bigotry.
If there is evidence that the majority of Catholics are defending and supporting their Church then there must be links to verify this, I would be interested to read them.
A brief breakdown of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandals around the world.
Kalima, thank you for all your eloquent words on this article. I debated long and hard before even starting to weigh in, because, to be perfectly candid, this debate is the last thing I want to spend my time on over a really glorious Easter weekend.
Every large institution screws up. The United States has screwed up with slavery, McCarthyism, and the Iraq war, to name just a few.
We all have two choices. We can stay in the game and try to change things. Or we can get out. In most cases, either one is a legitimate choice for any given individual.
The one thing I would urge everyone to avoid is for the “leavers” and the “stayers” to start viewing each other as the enemy. The enemy is the evil in the institution — not necessarily the institution itself.
I don’t think anyone could plausibly argue that the United States has done so little good in the world that it doesn’t deserve to exist.
The Catholic Church has fed, clothed, sheltered, healed and educated millions through the centuries. Maybe it’s a little premature to wish it away.
I fully agree, of course, with not condemning a whole faith.
I have no way of ascertaining what a majority of Catholics believe, but there are quite a few joining in the blame-the-media-game. And those not defending it, are blissfully unaware or in denial. I have no way of coming up with a number, but I’d be willing to bet reactions run the the gamut and break down among particular demographics (even political). I understand this blame the media sentiment to an extent, with sensationalism, but it is not a non-story, either.
As to countries. I think the US is in a different position, as a secular democracy, and mostly Protestant (especiaaly historically). While this could give it an air of a witch-hunt, on the other hand, the traditionally Catholic countries may just as well have just as widespread cases. Ireland was particularly horrible. There the way the Chirch has been tied much more deeply to the society could make it that much more difficult to expose were it happening with the same frequency.
Comparative data on abuse cases would be hard to come by. And, as an institution, the Catholic Church practiced the same moving in nearly every country I’ve seen as policy. I would gander we’ve only scratched the surface of Germany and especially Italy.
Abuse can be seen in any position of power. A powerful Deepa Mehta movie, Water, explored that of Brahmin Priests sexually abusing. We know about the Protestant cases (especially Televangelist variety). And I can’t even begin to imagine the extent of sexual child abuse in the most conservative Muslim countries.
The thing about sexual abuse religious or not, is that the offender be put to justice. Furthermore, that they aren’t held up as moral examples. This is where the RC Church is different in my eyes. They shield their offenders, while they are moved to another parish to preach morality. I’m not sure you can compare that to any other sexual abuse. Granted, the ‘average’ offender may be upstanding members of the community. Granted, their secrets may also be kept and they be protected from justice by a business, or other institution. But, in such case, those people and those institutions would be held culpable (which we do see with law suits and payouts to an extent), and the CEO sacked or forced to resign (I don’t see this happening to the current Pope; at least not until those chimneys smoke white again).
I’ve got nothing against the faith (though as I mentioned, the position of the Pope being infallible – thus, in a way unaccountable – is something I as a non-Catholic have a hard time getting my head around). I still have a real problem with the way the Holy See has been run for a few centuries (though it has gotten much better, relatively speaking). It might be due for its own inner-“Reformation” (pardon the pun) – a major cleaning house. ‘Cause, the thing is, is that it is capable of so much good in the world.
I wonder if they are higher numbers reported in the U.S. because more people in the U.S. are speaking out about it. I suspect in Latin America and perhaps Old Europe, people are remaining silent. I really don’t know. I don’t have anything to back up that assertion; it’s just my suspicion.
Good post Pepe and I can feel your anguish. I am not making any kind of excuse for these men, but they are old. Perhaps all the years in the church has turned them stale as well. They fall into all of the pomp and circumstance of the church’s history and to admit, for them, that the church is now tainted is probably quite too much. So instead they hide the problems. It is like a person who lies. They, at first, think it is just a little white lie, then it gets bigger and bigger rolling downhill until it hits them like a bunch of bowling pins.
That is what has happened today. These guys have been hit hard and they are lashing out. No matter that they deserve what they are getting, they are so steeped in their ways they cannot see the way out of the forest they have built around them.
The problem with what they did is if they had come out with the first incidence and taken charge, they would not be in the position they are today. Take a look at the school in Massachusetts. That is by no means the first child who has been the subject of bullying in school in fact not the first in Massachusetts that had a tragic ending, and BOE’s and administrators at schools have been getting away with their lack of followup for years. This young girl was the tipping point for the schools same as the piece in the NYT was the tipping point for the Catholic Church. But what both have to admit is it was not the DA or the NYT who perpetuated the problem, they have to look within themselves and they have to be honest.
Hopefully in these cases the people brought in to replace them will have learned a valuable lesson and take steps to make sure it never happens again. But, if it does happen again, they need to act now, not when they are caught by a DA or the NYT.
I am sure the church will survive this, but if they do not do the right thing, perhaps the people in the congregations will rise up and demand the right thing. Perhaps that is what the church needs, for their congregants to force the right thing on them and say Never Again.
Sue, a candid, compassionate, realistic and hopeful post. I completely agree.
The problem with Catholicism. Well, not the problem in itself, but the complication here is the nature of the hierarchy. It exists in other Protestant denominations, as well. But, things get a bit more complicated by the Vicar of Christ thing. How do you criticize that, without being a heretic? Mind you, Catholicism is a faith full of arcane (to non-Catholics) legalism and I’m sure some way could be argued. But my point is: is it possible to be a good Catholic and a dissident. I would say there has to be, but in history this has not been met with good results. I’m in awe of the ritual, of good works, of the precepts of Catholicism in practice. However; can you be a good Catholic and go against the hierarchy? Perhaps, but it’s tricky, I would think.
In any case, the Catholic laity are not being served well. I’m also wondering what the College of Cardinals was thinking, or if there was a candidate with clean hands at all.
Also, given the history of the Church, especially when Abb
Spot on and I can put it in two words “Papal Infallibility”. A hierarchy that inherently thinks they can never be wrong is often more wrong than most.
Funny thing is, they say he is infallible in capacity of scriptural interpretation and the doctrinal affairs, but not in administration – if memory serves.
They can say what they want but the truth is the assumption that they are perfect in any way permeates through every part of their behavior. At the very least if they think their dogmatically perfect they will rationalize any means to an infallible end.
I think they’re just looking for a loophole, like the whole being head of state thing with the Kentucky case.
Pepe I share many of your concerns about the Church, haven’t attended Mass for about 25 years and disagree strongly with their unwavering stance on birth control, homosexuality and a few other old fashioned views.
Am I embarrassed about the sex abuse scandals, very much so. Am I outraged about the cover up for so many years, absolutely. Do I believe that the hierarchy has to change it’s policy and come clean about the whole sordid issue, 100%. Am I still a Roman Catholic yes I am.
I refuse to be hijacked or let my spiritual beliefs be hijacked by the appalling behaviour of a few who took advantage of their positions to terrify and abuse so many innocent children. I blame the top brass for not stepping in and reporting the priests. I blame the perpetrators for believing they could ruin the lives of young children and get away with it because somehow it was their “godly” word against that of a young child. I blame the climate that made it so hard for the children to step forward to tell their parents fearing that no one would believe them. In my day the Father of our Church was revered and any word against him would have almost been a mortal sin.
As a kid in Germany we were taught collective guilt about our country’s past. In my young mind the beatings and xenophobia I experienced as a child after our move to England was because of our past. I was so ashamed to say that I was German in company for fear of backlash that I said I was Swedish, my mother’s birthplace and denied my own roots.
After gaining British citizenship at 19, I swore that I would never again be a victim of “collective guilt” it ruined a formative part of my life. In the same way I won’t let the sins of the Catholic Church stop me from saying that I’m a Catholic, was born a Catholic and will die a Catholic too.
K phenomenal insight on an issue that is much more complex than people understand.
Spot on the local Priest had all the credibility of Jesus in my local Parrish. Then we found out much too late that he was molesting children, including some of the friends I grew up with. I remember wondering at that time why those kids were so messed up and many kids picked on them. I just wish they had someone to go to at the time but they simply did not.
Here is a case of someone trying to do the right thing,
I totally respect your point-of-view; that’s why I tried so hard to focus my diatribe on the Catholic “hierarchy.”
You said something interesting that you still call yourself a Catholic. I’m not sure I can still do that; but I do know I still in a weird way I have trouble articulating *think* of myself as a Catholic.
Is it like an identity thing, like being a Jew? I guess in some ways I could describe myself as Protestant in background, but I am in no wise Christian. Somehow, the way it sounds, seems a bit different with Catholics (current, lapsed and recovering), though.
I think it is a little bit, actually!
Maybe it’s because I have no bad memories to associate with being a RC until I had to chose between the Church’s teaching’s on birth control or my own conscience. Or when my gay friends were discriminated against and I felt their pain.
My grandparents were devout but didn’t push us in any way. The nuns at my school were gentle and kind souls who listened to our childish questions without scolding us. So I believe that some of the trauma experienced by many was not the case for me.
The final blow was when I decided to get married and was told that we couldn’t get married in Church because my husband was not a Catholic and it would have required months of learning for him, I just couldn’t put him through that. I retaliated by getting married in a Brixton, London registry office, dressed in black from head to toe, even sporting a black veil. My mother giggled through the whole ceremony.
Oh mein Gott! That is so how I always dreamed my bride would look! (you should know by now I’m not even kidding 😉 )
Yeah, I get that. I was turned off from trauma I experienced with a stern Christianity at a young age in the care of a capriciously cruel, devout, woman. As I got older I truly could respect gentle souls who followed the teachings of Christ, but the scars will always be there for me. I just can’t do it. For me certain things about Christianity bring up painful memories.
😆 to your first two sentences!!
I understand your feelings about certain aspects of Christianity too and am sorry to hear about the painful memories. A friend of mine was traumatized by very strict and religious parents who threatened her with going to hell every time she did something they disapproved of. It left her as a scarred adult who chose not to have a family because she was so afraid that however hard she tried, she might end up doing the same to her children. Very sad.
Yeah, without getting into details, when I was a kid they literally tried to beat God into me when I said I didn’t believe anymore. They failed.
Happy Easter, Kalima! Kesmarn wrote something very similar yesterday– that she refuses to be “kicked out” of Catholicism by the more reactionary elements (she wasn’t responding to the pederasty stuff).
And I know how you feel. As I see it, there are plenty of bad apples in any organization and certainly one as large as the Church. But unless the tenets or the ideals or the actual practices of an organization are bad, it certainly doesn’t mean the entire institution is. If I were Catholic, I’d be unhappy about the state of affairs, but not about the religious aspects! I see one as organizational, and the rest as spiritual.
I’ve discussed this before, but even though the state of Israel is by no means a religion, it is still part of the culture. And for many years now, I have had serious disagreements with Israel. That doesn’t make me want to convert! Even Bernie Madoff and his ilk– who professed to be observant– didn’t make me leave Judaism. (And I can’t remember ever wishing death on another criminal as much.) I know it’s not the same as for Catholics because Judaism is not hierarchical in the same way, but I still relate.
Yes Cher I agree and it’s a point I often tried to make over on the “Dark Side.” To blame all Catholics, to paint us all with the same brush is as insulting as it is ludicrous. It would be like me saying that I blame all Americans for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war in Iraq or that because of their hierarchy, the Iranian people are evil, it’s pure nonsense, but many people still do this and believe it too. Crowd mentality can be a dangerous thing as you well know with your rabid tea party nutjobs. I hope that this might change the Church top brass thinking from within, but won’t be holding my breath.
Further, sometimes one’s religion is also one’s whole culture. Not only the spiritual practices, but the food, the language, the music. Hundreds of small habits associated with a tradition. I know that is true as a Jew, but I think of all the Irish Catholics I know (whether or not they are still technically Catholic) and they are in their essence, Irish Catholics! If one has basically fond family memories, it seems impossible to give those up, even when one no longer practices a religion. If I were to convert, it would be like I was a stranger in a strange land.
I admire the courage of those who follow their own path, but I could not do it.
Nail on the head Cher, we have discussed this before, the thread that holds some of us together is indeed a mixture of tradition, religion and the memories this evokes.
If it were still available here, I would gladly attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve for the deep feelings I know it would bring as for a short time when I closed my eyes I could picture us all together again, sleepy, enriched and happy, a family.
I wonder if there’s something missing inside these guys to make them think that the molestations really aren’t that big of a deal. It’s entirely conceivable that they consider it not quite as much of a sin as sex with a woman would be. I dunno — just speculating. I don’t understand how these “holy” people could commit what is, in my mind, one of the worst crimes you can perpetrate against someone.
Really, short of murdering someone, this is just about the most heinous act a person can commit against another.
I think this kind of sick, but kind of funny Onion article sums it up:
The Onion nailed it.
Yeah sometimes satirizing even the most atrocious acts puts a mirror up to them that shows how unforgivable they are.
Just some musings that your comment brought to mind:
I deplore pederasty because it always involves a powerless innocent. Anything between two consenting adults is pretty much OK with me, but obviously this is heinous child abuse. That said, I wonder if pederasty is hard wired in a certain percentage of people.
I say that because it appears to be both universal in all cultures (and universally condemned) and because it appears to be untreatable.
Once I acknowledge that it is hard wired–i.e., that some people are born that way, I am logically tempted to say I can’t blame them. But I do. Some people are born sociopaths, but that doesn’t make it OK. Some are born with fetal alcohol syndrome–which makes them incapable of discerning right from wrong–likewise not OK.
I think that in most cases, the priests know it is wrong on several levels, but are unable to stop themselves and that’s why the only solution is to remove them from contact with children.
If I were in charge of them, what would be the best thing to do with them for the good of society? If I just defrock them, they go into society and molest other kids– but at least not as part of the Church. Maybe I would want them to stay in the Church so I could send them to a monastery. I would probably turn them in to the police, even though lawsuits would ensue.
But the other thing I want to consider is the relationship between the Pope (or Cardinals, Bishops, etc.)with their priests. Surely they hear their confessions and feel forgiveness and mercy. It must be complicated. Believe me, I am not excusing the behavior,or justifying the Church for their complicity, just trying to see it as the Church might.
(Wow, I kinda got into that!)
I have, as you may have and many others be aware, seen studies that show a very high incidence of certain indicators among the profession compared to others, gathered from MMPI data.
And, pederasty was not always universally condemned, but I’m just being a pain. I know you knew that.
You take the words out of my mouth though. Send them to a monastery! Have them makin’ chocolate or beer. They can be productive members of society. Funny thing is, I do think the Church can have a valuable part to play in keeping predators away from children.
I’ve actually seen conflicting studies — some that suggest that the job description attracts pedophiles and others that suggest the whole celibacy thing is a factor.
Ditto. Maybe a combo of both in some proportion or another.
You are correct about Holy Week as well. When John Paul II was Pope he used Holy Week as a time to speak for peace and reflection. This Pope not so much.
Pepe you and I have similar backgrounds and have evolved our thinking in a similar way as well. I think the cover ups by the Catholic Church are simply indefensible. But I do want to put the fact out there to be fair. I came across this graphic and was pleasantly surprised that even though the church covered up the past and some of the present the behavior of priests and bishops has been much better in recent years.
Again don’t get me wrong this is a ZERO TOLERANCE issue. No child should be molested ever, especially by a priest or bishop. This graph does not mitigate any bad behavior by Catholics in authority. I just think sometimes in our reactionary world people get the impression things are so much worse now because it’s in the news when it was much worse before these horrible deeds came to light.
True, that doesn’t surprise me the worst of it was in the 70s and 80s. The worst of the Boston and Portland cases were 30 and 40 years ago. I suspect the Church is perhaps screening priests better today to nip the issues before they get out of hand, or before kids get hurt.
I believe many of the cases involved in the Ratzinger cover-up took place in the 70s and 80s.
Interesting how low the graph is many decades ago. I suspect that is purely because molestations were not being reported.
But, my point still stands that the Vatican and Ratzinger need to answer for their past cover-ups.
I just wish the church would be more open and truthful. Blaming “the gays” or the NY Times for something that is their responsibility is just plain wrong.
I really don’t like the direction this Pope and American Bishops are taking as well. Pope John Paul II while conservative was more consistent and tolerant than this Pope. The worst thing is especially in the American Catholic church they are trying to interfere with politics.
One other thing I thought of of why those molestation reports are going down.
I could look this up, but I’m guessing from the 1980s to the present, the Catholic Church has probably paid out close to, if not more, than $1 billion in court settlements over molestation lawsuits– and that’s just the U.S. Like I posted, the L.A. Archdiocese alone paid a $600 million settlement.
That would motivate them to start nipping the issue in the bud!