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May 21, 2009

Here’s the AP’s take on it.

Also – I have been thinking on and off about Aaron’s criticism of my last post since I first responded to it. The ultimate point he makes is that the Church should be reformed from within. I think that’s impossible for two reasons:

1. Their teachings are false. Not worth getting into in this post, but I don’t believe a word of either testament is true, nor are the Church’s subsequent teachings rooted in reality.

2. More germane to the earlier discussion, the problems run too deep. Time and again, we have seen wicked acts committed, then covered up. There is no doubt that this runs all the way to the top of the hierarchy; in 2001, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued a memo telling Church officials that inquiries into allegations of child abuse were to be conducted by tribunals in which the “functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests.”

Child abuse ran rampant and unchecked for decades. I cannot agree with Aaron’s characterization of this as “gross negligence.” One cannot negligently rape a child, nor can one in a superior position negligently shuffle a rapist between dioceses in order to adhere to the negligent gag order of an even greater superior. That’s rape, conspiracy and obstruction, not poor housekeeping.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Aleksei permalink
    May 21, 2009 12:58 pm

    I got something sightly different from Aaron’s comment – and Aaron, please set me straight if I’m putting words in your mouth – which is that criticism of the Catholic Church, legitimate or not, comes off as criticism of Catholics, most of whom when judged even by a secular standard of morality are pretty good people. Their allegiance, then, to that rotting sty in Rome, is something that atheists like you and I have a very hard time identifying with. For us, it’s easy. If we belong to a club, and it turns out that club refuses membership to gay people, we leave. If we work for a company and find out that company is elsewhere employing slave labor, we quit. It’s as clear as day. I think in those two situations, most Catholics would behave the same way.

    But religion gets all up in your business, and it’s not that easy to walk away from it. I think that’s probably one of the reasons you and I and other atheists eschew it, save for the occasional lighting of a Hanukkah candle or eating of a bitter herb. Walking away from religion means making a split with family, with community, with one’s own very happy childhood memories and cherished rites of passage, and, yes, with some pretty heavy existential shit. In my own experience, many people who aren’t particularly religious, and don’t keep up the trappings of their faith outside of special occasions, are still hard-pressed to question God’s existence or the worthiness of their church. My sense is that they think of religious devotion the way I’ve always thought about healthy eating – something I’ll do when I’m older and feeling my mortality a bit more palpably. But switching to another faith, or leaving faith behind altogether, I think does not compute for them.

    The only thing I have when thinking about this stuff that’s even close to an analog to religion is my family. If my son killed someone, would I disown him? I’m sure I wouldn’t, even if it were in cold blood. I’d certainly be crushed, but I imagine I’d still feel “on his side” on the most fundamental level, and I certainly wouldn’t suffer anyone speaking ill of him, even if what they said were undeniably true. I suspect that’s something most people could identify with.

    But that’s the problem I have – everyone has that. It’s not like they have their church and I have my family. They have their family too. So even though on some level I empathize, I want to ask, why do they get to have this OTHER thing that they can be unconditionally protective of without outside reproach?

    Aaron is right that the necessary changes will only ever come from within, but I think in order for that to happen, enough pressure has to be coming from without, so I’m all for calling a spade a spade in this situation. If doing so can inspire some cognitive dissonance for even a few Catholics, I’m okay with it falling on the deaf ears of the other billion.

  2. Jojo permalink
    May 21, 2009 2:45 pm

    me impressed. aleksei thoughtful. give new perspective.

  3. Jojo permalink
    May 21, 2009 2:45 pm

    i meant that seriously, though my grammar does not belie that.

  4. Jojo permalink
    May 21, 2009 2:45 pm

    i meant that seriously, though my grammar does not belie that.

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