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The Joke’s On No One

March 25, 2010

Dear Catholic,

Please stop being Catholic. It’s not that I don’t respect your right to believe whatever you’d like to believe about Jesus, Mary, and the Saints. Believe what you want. The problem is that by supporting an organization that has a very, very well-established track record of favoring the rights of child rapists over the rights of raped children, your judgment and reputation are on the line.

I don’t blame you for the rapes themselves; chances are, you’re a decent hardworking person with no time or access to the genitals of unrelated children. I just can’t escape blaming your financial contributions and your failure to demand accountability from the supposed guardians of God’s word on Earth. The more you let them get away with evil deeds, the more laughable is your belief that your religion and morality have anything to do with each other.

You’ll say that the truth the Church teaches is far greater than the deeds of any one clergyman, even the Pope. That may be true, but it’s missing the point. When those clergymen serially exploit the bodies of children, and their superiors serially protect their ability to continue exploiting, their ability to transmit God’s word must surely be damaged. If you believe that child rape is bad, you would refuse to attend or support the Church until its ranks had been scoured and purged of the perpetrators and their enablers. Take a moment to acknowledge that by not doing so, you are enabling child rape yourself. I am sorry if this is a painful reality to confront, but it can’t be more painful, terrifying, or shameful than being raped.

You may raise the issue that the Church is actively charitable, that its good works are innumerable. Fair point, but irrelevant. Let’s assume that Microsoft produces the world’s best software, but beheads 3 children a week. How many weeks would go by before Microsoft ceased to be known primarily for software and became “that place that murders children”? See where I’m going with this? The Church could literally bring about world peace and it would still be an organization that lets it leadership get away with raping children. And let’s not kid ourselves, the Church has had 2,000 years to bring about peace; why would it start now?

Next, you may say that people are being unfair – very few priests have raped any children and even fewer people up the hierarchy have abetted the rape. Ok. Let’s say that only one office within Microsoft were beheading children; it is not a matter of company policy. Here’s the rub: everyone knows about it. Unless literally every person in the organization is doing literally everything in his power to stop the abuse, everybody in the organization is failing. These failures are incessant.

Finally, Catholic, your Pope must be recalled. We’ve heard about his transfer and protection of a priest when he was in Essen. Now we’ve heard about his failure to act in 1996, when letters came to him from Milwaukee. We’ve also heard about his 2001 letter insisting that bishops must not comply with outside police investigations of child molestation, as it is a matter of “pontifical secret.” Unlike my hypothetical Microsoft, it is a matter of policy within the Church to cover up child abuse; no letter of apology to the Irish Church will change the simple truth that Ratzinger prefers the rights of rapists to the rights of rape victims. He is an evil man.

I am not painting with too broad a brush. The facts that I mention are not in dispute. The morality of sexually exploiting children is not up for review. The only variable here is the response, Catholic. By failing to demand decisive and permanent action, you have made yourself part of the problem. Think of the terror and pain that countless children have gone through. Think of how the Church leadership has shown itself to be willingly deaf to that pain, how they have placed their own interests far above those of defenseless children. Think about how your money and presence oil the very same machine. Now stop it.

Don’t shoot the messenger,


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