Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pedophile Priests! - or - My Mind is Made Up, Don't Confuse Me With the Facts

I'm a Catholic.

And, at least in some circles, 'everybody knows' what those people are like. Particularly the ones who aren't personally opposed to abortion but don't think they have the right to get involved.

I'm one of those people who will stay Catholic even after what those awful, nasty, dirty, rotten mean, evil priests did. All the time. Everywhere.

And the Pope? Well, 'everybody knows' about him too. The swine!!!!!

(No, I don't see the Pope that way, but then I'm one of those people.)

What 'Everybody Knows,' That Just Ain't So

What brought this on?

As is 'well known,' pedophile priests are everywhere. And the Church is in on it. And the Pope is in on it.

As is 'well known.'

I've condensed some of the considered opinions I've encountered over the last couple weeks into this summary:

The pedophile priests are pedophiles who are priests and rape children and the Church did nothing and the Pope doesn't care and they're all covering it up all the time and should be thrown in jail or killed or something and how could that heartless Pope talk about cooperating with the police when those poor sick men just need help and understanding?

Reality Check: This May Hurt a Little

I should warn you: if you like to have nice, conventional ideas and want to fit in with the 'right' people in America, stop reading this post. Right now.

Still with me?

Seriously: I'm going to discuss a few points that won't help you get ahead with America's dominant culture.

Okay. You've been warned.

I ran into an interesting article yesterday.1 Here's how it starts:
"Should I stay or should I go?"
Clerical-abuse scandal
Timothy Radcliffe, The Tablet (April 11, 2010)

"As the scandal of child sexual abuse and its cover-up swirls around the Church, some Catholics are considering their options as regards their very membership of the institution. Here a former Master of the Dominicans explains why the Church is stuck with him, whatever happens

"Fresh revelations of sexual abuse by priests in Germany and Italy have provoked a tide of anger and disgust. I have received emails from people all around Europe asking how can they possibly remain in the Church? I was even sent a form with which to renounce my membership of the Church. Why stay?

"First of all, why go? Some people feel that they can no longer remain associated with an institution that is so corrupt and dangerous for children. The suffering of so many children is indeed horrific. They must be our first concern...."
Well, if he's so concerned about children, why isn't he jumping on the bandwagon and ranting about all those awful, horrible, nasty priests and the evil, heartless, wicked Pope?

He knows too much.

I recommend reading the article. Unless you don't want to get more Catholic cooties on you, of course. It's covered with 'em.

Evil is Not Nice

I'll do one more quote from the article, then list some of the main points, along with my take.

First, the quote:
"...Nothing that I will write is intended in any way to lessen our horror at the evil of sexual abuse...."
That goes for me, too. In my opinion:
  • What those priests did was bad
    • It was not good
    • It hurt people
    • They hurt people
    • That was bad
  • They shouldn't have hurt people
    • It was wrong for them to hurt people
  • The children they hurt
    • Stay hurt
  • It was bad for the children
So, why aren't I being conventional and ranting about what 'everybody knows?'

I know too much, too.

Not bragging: My conversion to Catholicism is, in part, the result of my efforts to discover just how nasty the Catholic Church is. But that's another story.

Facts, and My Take

Some key points from Timothy Radcliffe's article, with my take on them.
  1. Catholic clergy apparently do not offend more than the married clergy of other Churches.
    (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
    • In the light of the televangelist meltdown a decade or so back, that's not saying much
    • But I'm inclined to believe the statistics
    • Priests are human beings
      • Some live up to our potential
      • Some live down to our capacity for sin
  2. Some surveys give - unexpected? - results
    • Lay school teachers are more likely to abuse children than Catholic priests
    • Members of the general public are twice as likely to offend in this way, than Catholic priests
      • Celibacy really doesn't seem to be the issue here
      • If it were, than not being celibate would - if you look at the statistics - make you a child abuser
        • Which I don't believe
          • At all
      • I don't think that taking education classes makes a person abuse children, either
  3. Haven't bishops covered up this child abuse?
    • Yes
      • Some
      • Not all
      • Not even most
    • The abuse happened, much of it, in the sixties and seventies
      • When Western civilization was changing - fast
      • People were being encouraged to think 'outside the box' about sexual behavior
      • People were also being made aware of how much abuse could hurt women and children
      • Quoting from the article:
        • "...lawyers and psychologists often reassured them that it was safe to reassign priests after treatment...."
      • The author credits feminism
        • Okay: but there was more going on in the sixties than bra-burning
  4. What about the vast resources of the Vatican?
    • I'll let you in on a 'secret'
      • The Pope doesn't know everything
      • The Vatican isn't all-powerful
      • Each pope has been human
      • The Vatican doesn't have a really big staff
        • There are well upwards of 1,000,000,000 Catholics alive today
        • We have 400,000 priests
        • The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), that handles these cases, has 45 people on its staff
        • And, despite the impression you may get in the news, the Catholic Church has more issues to deal with than just child abuse
      • Yeah, some cases slipped through the cracks
        • That shouldn't have happened
          • But it did
  5. What about "confidentiality?" Why would a Catholic be concerned about that?
    • Here in America, it's a long time since somebody's been lynched for being Catholic
      • Can't say that I'm sorry to see that tradition go away
    • Not all parts of the world are quite as tolerant as America
    • I really ought to do a post on 20th century martyrs
    • Being a martyr is great
      • But the Catholic Church isn't in the habit of setting people up to be martyred
  6. "...But we owe a debt of gratitude to the press for its insistence that the Church face its failures. If it had not been for the media, then this shameful abuse might have remained unaddressed...."
    • Timothy Radcliffe also said:
      • "...And some people in the media do, without any doubt, wish to damage the credibility of the Church...."

The Not-So-Vast Vatican Staff

About the size of the Vatican's staff and the size of the Church? If there were only a billion Catholics, each of the CDF staff would be dealing with, on average, about 22,222,222 people's affairs. Popular notions notwithstanding, the Vatican staff is spread a little thin.

Timothy Radcliffe gives his reason for staying with the Church: You can read it in the article. I think he's right, by the way.

The reason I'll stay with the Church is that I found out who's really behind it. And that's yet another story.

Related posts:
A tip of the hat to nunblogger, on Twitter, for the heads up on that article in The Tablet.
1I know: It's dated "April 11," which is today's date, so how could I have read it yesterday? What am I, one of those fake mystics?

No. That kind of trouble I don't need.

Here's the deal: I live on the west side of the Atlantic, two time zones in from the coast. The Tablet is published in the United Kingdom, on the east side of the Atlantic. By the time I was reading "Should I stay or should I go?" it was already Sunday in the U.K. - and had been for hours.

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I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

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