Something about him always puts me in mind of Gollum...
Back when I first started this blog I managed to piss off people with an article called “The Greatest Force of Evil in the World Today“. It was a fair and balanced look at the Catholic Church.
I made a few errors and had some misunderstandings about things like the Doctrine of Infallibility and was happy to be corrected on those. But there were a lot of other things I said that I stand behind fully, the most central of which is this: the Catholic church remains the greatest force of evil in the world today.
How big is their evil? Well, they still won’t allow the faithful to use birth control. If you’re HIV+ you can’t even use condoms to prevent giving it to your wife. If you have ten kids already and you can’t afford more than two, you’re expected to forgo sex for the rest of your life rather than use birth control. Then there’s the whole abortion issue.
Of course there’s also the church’s stance on gays and gay marriage and the like. They stopped adoptions in DC recently rather than risk having to let kids get adopted by gay couples. A Catholic school also expelled the children of a couple lesbians on the grounds that, since the church teaches homosexuality is a sin, they wouldn’t want the little dears constantly hearing how evil their parents are. Very kind. I also note that I haven’t yet heard a loud condemnation from the Vatican about the “kill all the gays” bill in Uganda.
Then there’s my usual saw about how obnoxious it is that the Pope lives in a palatial art museum while so many of his faithful live in mud shacks if that. If the church liquidated even 1% of its assets imagine how much good they could do for the hundreds of thousands of Catholics God made homeless in Haiti.
These are all my usual complaints about the church, and ignore all my objections to problems with their theology (the Trinity, the Pope, original sin, etc), but they all frankly pale at this point compared with what is arguably their greatest evil of the last couple centuries: children being raped and abused by priests.
This is hardly a new issue, sadly. In the States we went through this back in the early part of the last decade, where it seemed like every day brought new revelations as to the level of evil within the church.
Give him a beard and call him Santa!
One of the people in charge of dealing with the problems, a certain Cardinal Ratzinger, sent out a letter to the church authorities in America which, among other things, could be interpreted as telling them not to report any allegations of abuse to the police. Now as the author of the post I linked to points out the wording on that is somewhat ambiguous. What wouldn’t have been was a directive from Rome to report such crimes to church and civil authorities but I guess they didn’t want to go overboard and actually try to, you know, actually do anything about the situation.
Apparently even as Pope the former Cardinal still enjoys writing, since his response to a massive, widespread series of abuse cases in Ireland has been to… send a letter where he apologizes for the way the church handled the crimes that occurred. For some this is enough, but not for me and not for Christopher Hitchens who tears the Pope a new one over this letter.
Civil authorities around the world really need to step up and do some real investigations of the various sex and abuse crimes the church has been involved in. The crimes themselves are horrible enough, but the fact that the church has gone out of their way to cover it up and not cooperate with criminal investigations or report the crimes to the police. They’re allowed to get away with doing that because they’re a religious organization. No secular group would accorded the same favoritism.
I know that in the long run this scandal won’t make any real difference. I know that the believers will continue to believe. I know that in the fullness of time the current Pope (who I’ve always viewed as something of a seat-warmer), will die and his replacement will probably be someone who has at least heard of the Enlightenment, but really I doubt that the culture of corruption and evil that permeates the upper-levels of the church will change much. It’d take something akin to Vatican II to bring real reform and that doesn’t appear to be on the radar.
I would however ask the church to remember this: there was a time in England where there was much discussion of the role of civil authority versus church authority. It ended with
the Psychotic Bastard Church the Anglican Church being formed which cost the Catholic church a great deal of power, prestige and money. History has a way of repeating itself.