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Irish stew. Papal hide the pickle.
July 25, 2011 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Irish PM condemns Vatican interference in sex abuse cases. Enda Kenny, the new Taoiseach of Ireland, has scathingly criticized the Vatican, citing the Cloyne Report and a recently-leaked Vatican letter intended to prevent sex abuse cases from going public, despite their public policy of reporting all abuse claims to the authorities. (Similar claims of the Vatican not reporting recent child abuse cases have also been made in the US.) Ireland's Minister for Justice has cited an extensive list of The Church's failures to comply with their policies, and is supporting legislation to make it a crime not to report child abuse claims. The Vatican's envoy was asked to report to Parliament and explain The Church's position on this matter quickly, with the implied threat that they might be forced to testify. Today, the Church, citing "surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions" has recalled their envoy. "(This) should be interpreted as an expression of the desire of the Holy See for serious and effective collaboration with the (Irish) Government."
posted by markkraft (297 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, maybe collaboration isn't the best word choice there.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:02 PM on July 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


I have to say that it doesn't help the Vatican's image by calling these actions by the Irish PM as "excessive." I'd say that asking the local member of the organization that has been associated with charges of sexual abuse a few questions as fairly prudent and restrained action. It sounds more like a plan to buy time so they can get their story straight. I don't know anything about Irish law, but would they be able to hold the envoy under arrest for obstruction of justice or tampering with evidence? (Also, wouldn't those laws be able to hold parties accountable for not reporting child abuse?).
posted by mrzarquon at 5:06 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing is, most child abuse rings are not a nation state
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:07 PM on July 25, 2011 [45 favorites]


Did I mention everyone owes Sinead O'Connor a big fat apology?
posted by dunkadunc at 5:10 PM on July 25, 2011 [100 favorites]


The thing is, most child abuse rings are not a nation state
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:07 PM on July 25 [+] [!]


Hear hear! How a murky unelected theocracy has so much influence over the democratically elected government in Ireland really defies logic.
posted by helmutdog at 5:11 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is my surprised face.

...I'm sorry. I know that was trite. But, really now, is there anyone who actually thinks the RCC gives a damn about the kids they've abused? Anyone?

The only thing that matters, when it comes to massive bureaucracies, is the continued existence of the bureaucracy. This is not a question of religious vs. non-religious, or anything like that. Simply put: the only thing, the only thing, which matters to the RCC is the continued existence of the RCC.

And if they think they need to rape some children to make sure of it, they're going to. If they think they need to cover up the existence of child rape, they're going to. If, as events turn, they suddenly feel like they need to rat out hundreds of molesters, they'll do that too.

Your morality, sad to say, has little to nothing whatsoever to do with their decisions.

All things being equal, it seems to me that perhaps people ought to be focused on making the RCC decide that they need to rat out hundreds of child molesters. BUT: you will not achieve this by appealing to morality, except in the most tangential way.
posted by aramaic at 5:12 PM on July 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Catholics are ill served by "The Church". Given the collusion, stonewalling and protectionism exhibited by the Vatican I'm surprised there are many Catholics left. Almost any other organization that has exhibiting such ingrained behavior would likely have been torn down.
posted by edgeways at 5:13 PM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Findings of the Cloyne report:

- Two-thirds of abuse allegations made in 1996-2009 were not passed on to the Garda, as required by the Church's 1996 guidelines
- Bishop Magee had misled the former inquiries by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2009
- In a secret letter the Vatican described the Irish bishops' 1996 guidelines to be a "study document", and not a binding set of rules

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:13 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Legislation requiring that child abuse be reported hasn't seemed to dissuade the child rape cult in the US. Why would it be any different in Ireland?
posted by kafziel at 5:14 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


From way back in 2005: Pope 'obstructed' sex abuse inquiry. He made an official policy of concealing the abuse from the police, until the victim was in their late twenties. I don't know how anyone defended the man after that.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:20 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


The correspondence stated that the bishops policy was “merely a discussion document” and that the Vatican had serious moral and canon reservations about mandatory reporting of clerical abuse.

More evidence that religion and morality are associated by chance and not by nature.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:20 PM on July 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


the Church, citing "surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions" has recalled their envoy.

The Pope's head on a stick for the Church's crimes against humanity might be excessive. This, not so much.
posted by dobbs at 5:23 PM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I rather think at this point "religion" is almost secondary, if not tertiary to the Catholic church. It is a weird collusion of nation-state and multinational corporation who's product is Catholicism
posted by edgeways at 5:25 PM on July 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Jesus Christ. How is anyone younger than 60 still going to Catholic Mass? At one point, calling the Roman Catholic Church "an institution for the enabling and protection of child molesters" seemed like hyperbole. Granted, it was funny hyperbole in the sense that it seemed based in a foundation of truth, but over the top.

It's not hyperbole. It's not over the top. The Vatican is a sick, remorseless vehicle for child abuse. They've had numerous chances to sincerely apologize and work to fix the situation. They don't want to. They want to keep allowing children to be destroyed and to continue crying crocodile tears when they get caught. Evil. Just fucking evil.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:27 PM on July 25, 2011 [35 favorites]


I don't know anything about Irish law, but would they be able to hold the envoy under arrest for obstruction of justice or tampering with evidence?

No, the Papal Nuncio is an ambassador-level representative and thus has diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. The worst they could do is expel him, and I suppose break off diplomatic relations with the Vatican. The local church hierarchy has no such immunity, though.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:30 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Irish PM condemns Vulcan interference in sex abuse cases. Enda Kenny, the new Taoiseach of Ireland, has scathingly criticized Vulcan, citing the Cloyne Report and a recently-leaked vulcan letter intended to prevent sex abuse cases from going public, despite their public policy of reporting all abuse claims to the authorities. (Similar claims of the vulcans not reporting recent child abuse cases have also been made in the US.) Ireland's Minister for Justice has cited an extensive list of Vulcan failures to comply with their policies, and is supporting legislation to make it a crime not to report child abuse claims. The vulcan's envoy was asked to report to Parliament and explain Vulcan's position on this matter quickly, with the implied threat that they might be forced to testify. Today, Vuclan, citing "surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions" has recalled their envoy. "(This) should be interpreted as an expression of the desire of Vulcan for serious and effective collaboration with the (Irish) Government."
(via)
posted by blue_beetle at 5:33 PM on July 25, 2011


I'm surprised the Catholic Church hasn't been banned, in Ireland or elsewhere, as a criminal organization.

This could be a great opportunity for Catholics to take back their church. Kick out the Vatican, ordain women, end clerical celibacy, etc., and there's a chance to put together a modern church that Catholics could and would support.
posted by grounded at 5:35 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Irish PM condemns Vulcan interference in sex abuse cases."

Noooooo!!!!! Bad touch!

posted by markkraft at 5:39 PM on July 25, 2011


Every time I think the Vatican can't surprise me any more, they prove me wrong. Assholes.
posted by rtha at 5:40 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Church has betrayed Ireland on many fronts. I would say ever since the 11th century, when Irish Catholics were declared heretics to give the English an excuse to invade. There were the hedge schools, which preserved learning in Ireland, but after being a Catholic priest became legal again, the priests and the Church have ridden rough-shod over the people of Ireland.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:42 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kick out the Vatican, ordain women, end clerical celibacy, etc.

So, Anglicanism :D
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:43 PM on July 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


It wouldn't take long for the Roman Catholic church leadership to find compelling Moral, Canon, and Theological reasons to hand over documentation about every single priest ever accused of sexual abuse. Give them 30 days to turn over the docs or they forfeit all of their material assets in the Republic. They'll buckle like the principle-free wretches that they are. Even this mafia will sell out their own made men to stay in business.
posted by chimaera at 5:46 PM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


This.
posted by uosuaq at 5:48 PM on July 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Church has betrayed Ireland on many fronts. I would say ever since the 11th century, when Irish Catholics were declared heretics to give the English an excuse to invade. There were the hedge schools, which preserved learning in Ireland, but after being a Catholic
priest became legal again, the
priests and the Church have ridden
rough-shod over the people of
Ireland. The way priests treated this who worked for an independent Ireland was also a disgrace.
The treatment of innocent children by Irish priests and nuns was and remains so awful and so pervasive.
When I visited Ireland some years back, I noticed that churches were mostly empty.
Now I don't want to do a total hate-fest on the Church, there were people who genuinely did good works, there still are. At this point I bet a lot of Irish people feel pretty disgusted and pretty upset.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:49 PM on July 25, 2011


Well said, Taoiseach Kenny.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:53 PM on July 25, 2011


Sorry, hit the button too fast on that first post, any mod who wants, feel free to take it out.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:54 PM on July 25, 2011


Enda Kenny's speech as it appears in the parliamentary transcript [Sort of self-link but germane to the topic at hand, I think].
posted by genghis at 5:59 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's Sinead O'Connor talking about this orchestrated campaign to hide abuse way back in 2010, on Rachel Maddow.

Her permission on the Vatican is now a pretty mainstream one in Ireland. Take a look at the YouTube polling on RTE's coverage of the speech. It's no doubt primarily seen by the Irish general public, and they're voting it up by a 10-1 ratio.

Enda Kenny used to be viewed as a party hack and a bit of an uninspiring, debate-dodging, somewhat conservative old fart. Now his support has gone way up, and he's being viewed as a leader, even though a recent poll indicates that 48% of Irish still don't believe that the government is going to go far enough to reign in the Church and make sure they comply with the rule of law.
posted by markkraft at 6:05 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This.
posted by uosuaq


That there is a solid argument.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:05 PM on July 25, 2011


If, as events turn, they suddenly feel like they need to rat out hundreds of molesters, they'll do that too.

This is the only part that surprises me--that after all these years of scandal, they still think it's prudent to cover up child abuse. Which means that either they have completely lost touch, or they realize that they can still get away with it.

I would prefer to think it's that they've lost touch, and that they won't get away with it, but I think that's too optimistic. My cynicism tells me it's the other option, and that the church is simply aware that they can continue to protect their own at the expense of the people who trust and respect them, because most people will still trust and respect them no matter what they do.

That's surprising to me. That they haven't all been rounded up and charged and probably never will be.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:07 PM on July 25, 2011


(Obligatory link to "The Catholic Boat".)
posted by markkraft at 6:17 PM on July 25, 2011


Edgeways: "Given the collusion, stonewalling and protectionism exhibited by the Vatican I'm surprised there are many Catholics left. Almost any other organization that has exhibiting such ingrained behavior would likely have been torn down."

You're kidding, right?

Sorry, I'm genuinely incredulous, because here in America we have this thing called "The Republican Party," and it seems pretty similar in its collusion, stonewalling and protectionism while still being wildly popular.
posted by valrus at 6:24 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


While I'm glad Leanza has been expelled, it's sort of a hollow victory. The electorate has been calling for the state expulsion of the Papal Nuncio for months and months. Waiting for the Holy See to take action off their own bat and finally get around to calling him home isn't particularly satisfying. It smacks of the endless recalling, reassigning and shielding of paedophile priests that went on in this country, under the auspices of the Vatican, for decades and decades.

I'm not discounting the impact of Enda's statement. It just felt like it took the government months to say what the rest of us have been saying, at some volume, for years now. On balance, for me: tempest in a very old, leaky tea pot.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:28 PM on July 25, 2011


The great and much-missed standup comedian Greg Giraldo has some great bits about the Catholic Church on his Good Day to Cross a River CD. Like the meetings the Church used to have to discuss the sexual abuse, at which Giraldo imagined the only thing to talk about was: "Hey, let's stop fucking kids. OK? Come back next year just to remind ourselves again?" (or something like that)
posted by anothermug at 6:34 PM on July 25, 2011


"Her permission on the Vatican"

Um... position permission on the Vatican.

(Sinead isn't exactly in the habit of having to ask permission to speak her mind, if all of you haven't noticed yet.)
posted by markkraft at 6:43 PM on July 25, 2011


The Vatican is a sick, remorseless vehicle for child abuse.

I think we should stop calling it "child abuse".

Calling it "child rape" would help clarify the stakes.
posted by Trurl at 6:44 PM on July 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Church has betrayed Ireland on many fronts. I would say ever since the 11th century, when Irish Catholics were declared heretics to give the English an excuse to invade. There were the hedge schools, which preserved learning in Ireland, but after being a Catholic priest became legal again, the priests and the Church have ridden rough-shod over the people of Ireland.

Normans. The Normans invaded Ireland in the 12th century. The Vatican also supported their invasion of England a hundred years earlier, hence the confusion.

posted by Jehan at 6:48 PM on July 25, 2011


Given the collusion, stonewalling and protectionism exhibited by the Vatican I'm surprised there are many Catholics left.

See my previous post. Many, many people here who would identify as Catholics would be among those calling for the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio. People dearly, dearly want priests to be prosecuted, even as they sit in Mass. It is a fairly simple matter to divorce the tenants and practice of faith from the organisation and politics of that faith.

Catholicism is a culture here. It is the pervasive, dominant culture. It is everywhere, in everything. It is in the history, the street names, the education system, the social services delivery system, healthcare - everything you can think of is touched by and tied up in the church. The fact that 90% of Ireland's citizens no longer go to church and are not religious does not change the fact that this is fundamentally Catholic nation that has absolutely nothing to do with religious observation.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:50 PM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


The fact that 90% of Ireland's citizens no longer go to church and are not religious does not change the fact that this is fundamentally Catholic nation that has absolutely nothing to do with religious observation.

I think that's to be welcomed. It's fine to embrace Catholic culture, history and identity, as long as you aren't actually giving money or support to the Church.

The Catholic Church continues to do many noble things in society, as it has done historically. But it is unwise to give the Church money when there are so many other churches and secular organizations that perform equally benevolent acts, while not systematically conspiring to enable and protect child rapists.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:03 PM on July 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


"While I'm glad Leanza has been expelled, it's sort of a hollow victory."

He was *NOT* expelled. He was recalled by the Vatican to supposedly to take part in coming up with a proper response to the Irish Government. You very well might get him back again in a few weeks.

Charlie Flanagan, the leader of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, had called for the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio a week ago, but the government never did that. Instead, what we saw was more of a strategic retreat on the part of the Vatican, as well as a way of making it very clear that world leaders do not, and should not, speak in that manner to the Vatican. Part of the reason why Enda Kenny might have spoken so stridently on this issue is because the support for his expulsion was getting very high, but diplomatically, to expel the Vatican's ambassador would be a huge incident... moreso than the speech itself.

The recall was likely done by the Vatican partially out of indignation, but mostly as a strategic withdrawal, in order to allow things to cool down before they have to speak to Parliament, and in order to get their story straight. This is the Church, trying to protect their reputation.

When a country expels an ambassador, that's their way of that country expressing their anger over an act their country has done. When, however, a government recalls an ambassador, that is usually their way of expressing indignation and outrage over an act that they believe has been done to them.

From the Vatican's POV, even though they have some explaining to do, they were the aggrieved party.
posted by markkraft at 7:12 PM on July 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


It is a fairly simple matter to divorce

Not for Catholics, it ain't! *rimshot*
posted by Zozo at 7:15 PM on July 25, 2011


...sorry about that. I'm leaning on cheap jokes because I'm upset.

Turns out the poor beleaguered pontiff is only being persecuted by the secular media. See, they want to undermine the church to give credibility to the sinful lifestyle they preach. The Pope is doing God's work here on Earth, and apparently every true Catholic stands at his side and prays for him in his time of trial. And I guess it's tragic that the sins of a few bad apples—and the claims of a few attention-seeking apostates—can cast a shadow on such a great and blameless man.

I know. I was surprised, too. But it's true.

It says so right here, on the "I Support Pope Benedict XVI" group on Facebook that my sister and baby brother have joined.

I don't even know if there's a name for this, but it feels like mourning. If anyone needs me, I'll be crawling into a bottle of bourbon.
posted by Zozo at 7:19 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's worth remembering that for the Vatican as an institution, the stakes are high here. They either ARE the voice of God on this planet, or they are not. Either they are infallable, or they are not. So, when you dare to question them, you dare to question God. It's just that simple.

Really... when was the last time that the Vatican got taken to task by a major leader in the Western World to such a degree? Henry VIII?!
posted by markkraft at 7:25 PM on July 25, 2011


infallable
posted by Wolof at 7:31 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I asked my Catholic pals about this issue, and never get a straight answer. They divert the conversation to something else, and when I try to steer it back, I'm accused of being anti-Catholic.

How can we expect the Church to be responsible and open about the issue when they've cowed most of their followers into hushing up the issue?
posted by reenum at 7:33 PM on July 25, 2011


"infallable"

Clearly, I'm not. Long day, and quite tired, really. That said, I still managed to not molest any kids today, so I guess that's something.
posted by markkraft at 7:34 PM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


The thing I hear here in Boston, whenever a church official is discussing the protection of child rapist and how it should be handled, is a unwavering assumption that the church should take care of it. They really believe that they are only answerable to their own hierarchy; that police and district attorneys should only be allowed to play a role in handling the crime after the church has handled it as they see fit and decided to call them in. The arrogance of these guys , to think that a child molester shouldn't be immediately handed over to the police, is mind-boggling.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:38 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Religion continues to be the divisive force that contrives to keep decent people from communing with their God rather than expediting it.
posted by umberto at 8:00 PM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


The RCC will continue to be a criminal organization as long as the world permits it. Every country, everywhere, ought to launch criminal investigations, because the RCC has committed crimes in every single country it's had its tentacles in. This is ongoing and routine. Just a recent example:

Despite priest's dark past, he was given ample time to find new victims

"Victim's lawyer says 'some of the worst of the abuse took place' in the six months after L.A. Archdiocese officials were warned about the Rev. Fernando Lopez Lopez. With his record, he should never have been hired.


All this bubbles back up now for two reasons. First, a lawsuit against the priest, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and the archdiocese is scheduled to be heard in October. And second, "Dan Rather Reports" aired an investigative piece Tuesday night claiming that Lopez Lopez had an even darker past than was previously known.

Rather reported that according to an Italian court official, Lopez Lopez pleaded guilty in 2000 to "repeated sexual violence on a minor."

If true, it's morally shocking that such a priest would have been allowed to stay in ministry, but not surprising. If anything has been more reprehensible than the decades of sexual abuse by priests, it has been the attempts by the Catholic church to shuffle pedophiles to new parishes and cover up as much of the mess as possible.

So Rev. Lopez Lopez ends up in California, where he seemed to have no trouble finding new victims."

Repeated violence against a minor - this is not some garden variety abuse. We are talking violent rape of a child. The RCC hierarchy is a criminal organization run by sick people. They shift and protect each other, and continuously, relentlessly seek out new victims.

Particular criminals may be caught, but the organization carries on. And their chieftains are celebrated, even as they are neck deep in shielding child rapists:

New chapter in church sex abuse scandal is written in Cardinal Roger Mahony's final weeks

"Cardinal Roger Mahony is down to his last week on the job, but my invitation to the going-away party must have been lost in the mail.

Before His Eminence passes the torch, I put in one last request for an interview, to no avail. That keeps my record intact, but it's a shame because I had several questions about the latest scandal at the archdiocese. This one involves a priest who admitted he was a molester but remained in ministry. The good reverend was even appointed, if you can believe this, to Mahony's sexual abuse advisory board.
"

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, as always, working hard to hide RCC child rape. In this particular case, we're not talking 1980's, or 1990's, or 2000's. We're talking February of this year.

There's only one way: acknowledge that the RCC is a criminal organization and investigate it as such, everywhere. The RCC is the biggest pedophile ring in the history of the world - and it will continue to be one, as long as it is not stopped. The crimes occur every single day, and shall continue until the RCC is stopped, because they will never, ever stop of their own will - this they have proved repeatedly.
posted by VikingSword at 8:02 PM on July 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Cardinal Roger Mahony is down to his last week on the job,

May I suggest that someone take away his passport.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:16 PM on July 25, 2011


I hope the his holiness can follow the example of his predecessor:

VATICAN CITY—Calling forgiveness "one of the highest virtues taught to us by Jesus," Pope John Paul II issued a papal decree Monday absolving priest-molested children of all sin.
posted by Renoroc at 8:17 PM on July 25, 2011


It's not hyperbole. It's not over the top. The Vatican is a sick, remorseless vehicle for child abuse. They've had numerous chances to sincerely apologize and work to fix the situation. They don't want to. They want to keep allowing children to be destroyed and to continue crying crocodile tears when they get caught. Evil. Just fucking evil.

Woah! Ease up, Turbo.

I think the church has been gamed by paedos. The paedos use the church as a "vehicle."

Because a lot of these slimeballs don't wanna be wasting their time getting their hands dirty doing what a priest should, a lot of their interests lie in the internal politics, so "management" has always been top heavy with all sorts of crazies. But not everyone is crazy, so the crazies have to be careful, and a lot of the non crazies still need support from the crazies so they try not to ask too many questions, and it all becomes all don't ask, don't tell, you've got a chip in the big game now type of deal.

Most of the doddery old powerbrokers aren't fucking boys any more. They'd love to rat on every paedo priest. But that takes a lot of EFFORT and they'd rather be eating cucumber sandwiches with Mrs Jenkins and the Ladies Auxiliary posse, and it also attracts a lot of ATTENTION and a lot of these guys might have a "history" themselves and want to minimise the attention, and no one wants to make decisions, and for a number of different reasons they're all like the Not This Shit Again guy ["don't report" does not equal "approves"].

Like the meetings the Church used to have to discuss the sexual abuse, at which Giraldo imagined the only thing to talk about was: "Hey, let's stop fucking kids. OK? Come back next year just to remind ourselves again?" (or something like that)

And on top of all that you have a situation similar to anothermug's quote from a comedy routine, above. It's funny because it's true category, for me. Can you imagine the meetings? A bunch of 70 year old men. "Next on the agenda. Fucking boys up the ass, and the media's response." Awwkwaard.

Something about what that guy said in a quote all dem years ago, Mayor Curly. Don't attribute to evil what you can to laziness. You sounded like Helen Lovejoy back there.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:19 PM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Don't attribute to evil what you can to laziness.

But sloth is a Deadly Sin, so this too is evil.
posted by Winnemac at 8:45 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I hope the his holiness can follow the example of his predecessor:

VATICAN CITY—Calling forgiveness "one of the highest virtues taught to us by Jesus," Pope John Paul II issued a papal decree Monday absolving priest-molested children of all sin.


Renoroc... While The Onion may be as entertaining as the Daily Show, it is also roughly as trustworthy a news source. A good rule of thumb is to believe everything on it is just blatantly false.
posted by TheMidnightHobo at 8:45 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


>>Don't attribute to evil what you can to laziness.

>But sloth is a Deadly Sin, so this too is evil.


[sullen] I think that bit may be somewhere towards the back.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:51 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


When is the world going to recognize that the Catholic Church hierarchy is a pedophile organization actively protecting criminals. Most Catholics I know abhor the idea of pedophilia, but the amount of political muscle the hierarchy has brought to concealing and obfuscating the truth has made it impossible to actually take any corrective action. It is shameful.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:53 PM on July 25, 2011


Wow. Mind, blown. I am astonished by the machinations. I find it increasingly difficult to not view them as a criminal organization.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:00 PM on July 25, 2011


Also, wow at the statistics. It is plainly obvious that the RCC literally raped generations of Irish children. That is truly malignant.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:03 PM on July 25, 2011


VATICAN CITY—Calling forgiveness "one of the highest virtues taught to us by Jesus," Pope John Paul II issued a papal decree Monday absolving priest-molested children of all sin.

It's bizarre that this is funny when the Onion does it but the cold legalism and lack of compassion make it a perfect fit for the Church; it could easily have been a real headline.

That being said.

I don't like these headlines:

"Parents who are informed by their own children that they have been sexually abused will face prosecution if they fail to pass on the information to the Garda Síochána, according to justice minister Alan Shatter." (No matter how young? Kids make stuff up.)

"He pledged to press ahead with new laws making it a crime to withhold evidence of child abuse - even if the information was attained during a priest's confession." (This goes against the entire principle of confession.)

I'm all for uncovering hidden child abuse but I don't want to see Ireland patrolled by witch hunters.
posted by shii at 9:05 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Irish Times, July 22: "Or take the case of former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, the man who was at the very epicentre of the US church’s sex abuse crisis at the beginning of the last decade, accused of having gravely mishandled, if not covered up, cases in Boston. These days, he serves as high priest in the Basilica of Maria Maggiore. Furthermore, he serves on the Congregation of Bishops, the key Vatican body which oversees church appointments.

"On top of that, he is a regular on the Vatican diplomatic social scene, including the Pontifical Irish College and the Irish and British embassies to the Holy See, often saying grace prior to dinner. For a man who was once just about the most controversial Catholic prelate on the planet, this is hardly a sack cloth and ashes existence."

Disgusting.

When the Holy See is forced to recall its envoy to freaking Ireland, something's rotten in Denmark.
posted by blucevalo at 9:11 PM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


in Vatican City, surely?
posted by speedo at 9:21 PM on July 25, 2011


One thing I don't actually understand is the amount of people claiming that the entirety of the RCC's structure is focused on pedophilia and the propagation thereof. I mean, do people really believe that? Beyond the ethical problems of painting millions of people with a brush meant for perhaps a few thousand, hyperbole like this adds nothing to the discussion of how to realistically solve this. All it does is entrench the defenders of these acts further.

I agree completely with uncanny hengeman's assessment. Those in charge have been blind to the problems inherent in their hierarchy's system which allow, and will likely keep allowing, things like this to keep happening. This is in addition to the RCC's typical traditionalism unfortunately means that those problems will stay in place for quite some time. I highly doubt that the majority of the Church's leaders are guilty of more than stubborn institutionalism, irrationalism, and shortsightedness.

As frustrating as it is to watch people adopt ridiculous positions for what, to us, seems like bewilderingly silly reasons, it is much more constructive to focus on stymieing the pedophiles, and making sure the Church becomes a fellow whistleblower, then to yell angrily at everyone on the other side of the room.
posted by TheMidnightHobo at 9:26 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know if anyone bothered to read the "recently-leaked Vatican letter" (from 1997), but here's a thorough explanation of it for the church jargon-challenged. (Spoiler alert: it's not at all "intended to prevent sex abuse cases from going public.")



The RCC hierarchy is a criminal organization run by sick people. They shift and protect each other, and continuously, relentlessly seek out new victims.

biggest pedophile ring in the history of the world

neck deep in shielding child rapists

To VikingSword and others trying to paint this as an epidemic of pedophilia within the RCC -- I'm sure you're aware that there are over 400,000 Catholic priests in the world. And that a very, very small minority have ever abused children. Less than 2%, in fact. Your kid is at least as likely to be molested by his elementary school teacher or scout troop leader or evangelical pastor.
posted by Cortes at 9:29 PM on July 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Cortes, commentary from the "thorough explanation" you linked to:
If this policy means what it says then just on suspicion that abuse may be taking place (suspicion being a subjective state that is very easy to come by) you’ve got to report the priest or religious to the police. No provision is made (at least in this section) for distinguishing between suspicions that are credible or well-founded and those that aren’t. Similarly, no provision is made for doing a preliminary investigation. Instead, Church workers are to make the mandatory report “without delay.”
It may be that the policies of the church are not overtly intended to shield sex abuse cases from public scrutiny, but that effect is detailed in plain English from your very own link. Ireland does not have mandatory reporting laws. Nobody, from the family GP to officers of the court to priests to teachers, is required to report suspected child abuse of any kind in this country.

There should be mandatory reporting laws, exactly on "just suspicion that abuse may be taking place." That is how mandatory reporting works in other places that have it. That is the point - so that the suspicions can be investigated.

It is HIGHLY problematic that the church had an institutional objection to this. It is conversely worth noting that the Protestant church in Ireland has a voluntarily adopted, institution-wide mandatory reporting policy. Everyone from youth workers to the bishop is a mandatory reporter. Neither protestant faith nor worship has collapsed under this burden. Why is it such a problem for the Catholic church?

I am with you on the small minority thing. I don't want to burn all priests at the stake or throw the church out of the country or anything like that. I do want the catholic church to stop shielding, moving and re-assigning accused paedophiles as a matter of Vatican policy. I do want them to cooperate in the investigation, and if supported, prosecution of these priests. That is not happening.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:46 PM on July 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Those in charge have been blind to the problems inherent in their hierarchy's system which allow, and will likely keep allowing, things like this to keep happening.

Blind? Dude, the Pope himself has shuffled known child rapists to safety. That's not blindness. That's aiding and abetting.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 PM on July 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


five fresh fish: He isn't blind to the pedophilia; he is blind to the problems in the Church's organizational and corrective structures that allow pedophilia in the clergy to take place. Why does he shuffle them elsewhere? Likely a good heaping of denial, hope in human decency, and blind traditionalism.

As much as it may sound like I'm somehow defending the Church, believe me, I don't mean to. DarlingBri summarized my feelings succinctly in the last paragraph of his/her last post.
posted by TheMidnightHobo at 9:55 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My theory is they don't give a shit about fixing their problems in the West/First World because their future is with Asia, Latin America and the developing world. Why get entangled with the past?
posted by spicynuts at 10:08 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


DarlingBri It is HIGHLY problematic that the church had an institutional objection to this.

Fair enough, although I'll point out that the letter was simply a study, and not an order. They were looking at potential "moral and canonical" conflicts with the mandatory reporting provision.

I do want the catholic church to stop shielding, moving and re-assigning accused paedophiles as a matter of Vatican policy. I do want them to cooperate in the investigation, and if supported, prosecution of these priests.

Totally agree, except that where it occurs, it's not in accordance with Vatican policy. The Church is clear on that point. "...the prescriptions of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the designated authority should always be followed."


five fresh fish "the Pope himself has shuffled known child rapists to safety"

Are you referring to a specific case?
posted by Cortes at 10:14 PM on July 25, 2011


Kevin Myers: Enda Kenny leads the Paisleyite lynch mob

Markkraft, why are you linking to a Youtube video of a letter? That's bizarre. You can find a pdf in a couple minutes googling.

Your description of the letter: "intended to prevent sex abuse cases from going public, despite their public policy of reporting all abuse claims to the authorities." Is at best, hotly contested.

It is HIGHLY problematic that the church had an institutional objection to [mandatory reporting].

Right... that notorious pedophile wring the Arkansas state legislature for instance, who abetted this kind of coverup:
(29) A clergy member, which includes a minister, priest, rabbi, accredited Christian Science practitioner, or other similar functionary of a religious organization, or an individual reasonably believed to be so by the person consulting him or her, except to the extent the clergy member:
(A) Has acquired knowledge of suspected child maltreatment through
communications required to be kept confidential pursuant to the religious discipline of
the relevant denomination or faith; or
Neither protestant faith nor worship has collapsed under this burden. Why is it such a problem for the Catholic church?

Perhaps they have different religious beliefs! I know this is shocking, that different religious denominations have different religious beliefs. Perhaps this is why they are different denominations.
posted by Jahaza at 10:51 PM on July 25, 2011


> It is conversely worth noting that the Protestant church in Ireland has a voluntarily adopted, institution-wide mandatory reporting policy. Everyone from youth workers to the bishop is a mandatory reporter. Neither protestant faith nor worship has collapsed under this burden. Why is it such a problem for the Catholic church?

I believe the religious sanctity of confessional, which is not an established aspect of Protestantism as it is with Catholicism, has something to do with it.

Also, Catholic doctrine says that the Pope and his agents are appointed by God, reflect his will, and are infallible. Which makes ANY statement or action that goes against a previous Pope's actions or doings (or incriminates them for wrongdoing) extremely problematic. The institution of Catholicism is what provides the relationship with God, through the church one can reach heaven, therefore all it's agents are reflections of God's will, etc. You can see how such issues as child abuse and other crimes would almost becomes secondary as while those people may have sinned, we can't ruin the name of the institution, because then others will be led astray, and so on.

Protestantism has survived, in a fashion, because there isn't any doctrine really saying (except maybe the evangelicals who may be considered a different branch) that they are the word of god and are hand picked and through them you will find salvation and Christ. Protestantism and in a part the whole deal of Martin Luther was that individuals could have a personal relationship with Christ and not need to go through some secondary medium such as the Catholic church. Which means if you have a corrupt priest or bishop, it doesn't become a referendum on the Faith, just those individuals involved.

For the Catholic church, the Faith, the Institution, and the Person are all intertwined. To acknowledge the problems of one part is to weaken the strength of the whole religion, or at least that is the RCC's justification for going immediately to the defensive position. Obviously there must be a misunderstanding they say, you can't really expect to arrest and imprison these godly people, or if so, it is some sort of agenda to act against the faith. The culture of the institution makes it hard for them to think of anything else.

Read about the time it took for them to apologize for their treatment of Galileo, including the rationalization that the church was still acting in the enlightened best interest (something stated by the current Pope in his pre-papistry position). Which, now that I mention it, implies that if the current Pope is willing to take amazing logical leaps to justify the actions of the church 400+ years ago, I wonder what fantasy's he is creating now to justify their obstruction of justice now.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:23 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your kid is at least as likely to be molested by his elementary school teacher or scout troop leader or evangelical pastor.

Except the abusive teacher/scout leader/pastor is not going to be protected by the school or their employer and NOT EVEN REPORTED TO THE AUTHORITIES. Their employers are not going to shift them to other schools so that they may find fresh victims. Their employers don't have cosy relationships with legal authorities and special dispensation is not given to their organization. Their employers don't have a whole country that backs them and to which they can escape to avoid responsibility (a la Card. Law etc.). And the teacher does not have the power to invoke the name of god to further their abuse and get deep into situations where they have great access to the most vulnerable of children and parents who come to them for spiritual counseling where the victims give the abusers the status of intermediaries to god and tell them their most intimate thoughts in holy confession.

I'd say there are some small differences. Differences which put the entire question on a completely different plane.

The RCC hierarchy is a criminal organization subverting justice and the legal systems of countless countries. They must be fought no less tenaciously than has been fought the mafia, which has been in the criminal business for much less time than the RCC.
posted by VikingSword at 11:23 PM on July 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


"Don't attribute to evil what you can to laziness."

"I can't be arsed to pick up the phone and call the police, so I'm going to write a stern letter of admonition instead, and put pressure on the kid not to come forward to the police... and if it happens again, I'll arrange for him to see a church therapist to cure his problem, create a cover story for his reassignment, find a replacement who hopefully isn't also a pedophile, make travel arrangements for all concerned, and send the priest packing to another church? And if the truth breaks, I will get in touch with our media relations team, and get someone from the Vatican to pretend we're going to do something about it in the future."

Gee. Lying sure sounds like hard work, doesn't it?!
posted by markkraft at 11:27 PM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Metafilter has a consistent problem with posts that are actively and hyperbolically wrong about issues related to child abuse in the Catholic Church, but arn't deleted as troll bait. The Cloyne Report is really fucking damning but if you actually bother to read the youtube video* it says (PDF) absolutely nothing like what this post says it does.

*Seriously WTF
posted by Blasdelb at 11:30 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Put the pope in the dock: Legal immunity cannot hold. The Vatican should feel the full weight of international law
posted by homunculus at 11:36 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Markkraft, why are you linking to a Youtube video of a letter? That's bizarre. You can find a pdf in a couple minutes googling.

Yeah, but you don't get the creepy chamber music with the pdf. How else are you going to know that what you are reading is Very Sinister Indeed?
posted by Cortes at 11:53 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am horribly disturbed by the fact that I am applauding Enda Kenny on anything, but his speech has been a long time fermenting -and good on him for delivering it. The ways in which the Vatican and the church hierarchy in Ireland have acted in relation to these enquiries have been nothing less than appalling. The Vatican seems to exist in some parallel universe, where every expression of revulsion at their pettifogging attempts to block these investigations is seen as an affront to the mother church rather than a normal, decent human reaction. Kenny's speech is the product of years of legitimate frustration on the part of Catholics waiting for the Vatican to respond properly to horrific abuse on the part of the church's anointed - and if they fail to respond to this too they will lose Ireland forever.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:54 PM on July 25, 2011


they will lose Ireland forever.

Doubt it and also they don't care. They want China, India, Korea and Africa. More than makes up for Ireland.
posted by spicynuts at 11:56 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spicynuts, I suspect you're right about them not caring about Ireland. Though they may care if they lose enough support to have property start being confiscated to pay compensation to the victims. As for whether they'll lose Ireland, this is just anecdata but over the last two years I've met so many people in Ireland with such a pure contempt for the church that it's startled me.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:03 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"if you actually bother to read the (letter) it says absolutely nothing like what this post says it does."

First off, I linked to the video, because that is what I had available and what I saw first, and because it made a point of fairly showing the whole letter in a way that was both neutrally presented and readable in its entirety.

There was no effort on the part of the people that made the video to misrepresent it. They even accompanied it with a nice, neutral piece of baroque music, as opposed to what most people tend to do, if they were out to scare people.

The letter plainly says that that "the framework for a Church response" put forward doesn't "conform to the canonical norms presently in force" and that "if such procedures were to be followed", it could prove to be "highly embarassing and detrimental"... that "mandatory reporting gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature" and it specifically instructs that "the procedures established by the Code of Canon Law must be meticulously followed under pain of invalidity" in case "the priest so punished were to make hierarchical recourse against his Bishop."

This led directly, as the Cloyne Report clearly points out, to a *LONG* period of time when the Church was supposed to report crimes and comply with numerous other recommendations that the Irish public fully expected them to comply with, where they Church simply didn't do so, because of the fear that should priests go to trial, the sh*t could roll uphill.

In other words, as the Irish PM said so eloquently, "The Vatican's reaction was to parse and analyze it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer."

But really, if you question the findings and opinions of the Irish Government, the Irish press, and the vast majority Irish people, based on all they know to be true... I would humbly recommend that you bring it up with them, and not me.

(Perhaps you should consider whether you're parsing the meaning of the document yourself?)
posted by markkraft at 12:05 AM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Perhaps the Vatican should've bothered to tell the Irish people that the recommendations that were released by their clergy weren't official policy, and would never be complied with, as they violated canonical law?

Oops. I guess it must've slipped their mind...

Remember... we wouldn't even know about that letter, if a relatively high-up individual of conscience and man of God within the Catholic Church -- quite possibly someone on the commission itself who deeply felt that these crimes should not be hushed up -- hadn't leaked it.

Thank God someone brought this letter to public attention and decided to put the poor victims of these crimes first. The first act of a truly reformed Catholic Church should be to grant the whistleblower sainthood.
posted by markkraft at 12:14 AM on July 26, 2011


"you don't get the creepy chamber music with the pdf"

"The Princess of Persia", composed by Henry Purcell... a devout English Catholic of the Baroque era, not an especially spooky piece, performed in a simple manner, as opposed to most chamber music. No organ.

Henry Purcell: Pope approved!
posted by markkraft at 12:33 AM on July 26, 2011


the Church, citing "surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions" has recalled their envoy.

The Pope's head on a stick for the Church's crimes against humanity might be excessive. This, not so much.


Tell me again, Tony Blair, how atheists are moral terrorists and secularism is the greatest evil facing modern Europe. Tell me again how we need to listen to your adopted faith more to right the ills of the world.

A reasonable response would be Interpol warrents for those who have facilitated child rape, as well as the rapists themselves, to stand trial. If we can manage it for a murky case involving a guy who runs a wiki, it ought to be possible to have extraditions of the numerous child rapists and their accessories in the Church hierarchy.

Of course, the various apologists, such as those we see here, who conflate any serious investigation of the systematic enablement and protection of child rapists with religious bigotry will howl.

An excessive response would look more like Italy after the fall of Il Duce or Russia after the Revolution.
posted by rodgerd at 12:42 AM on July 26, 2011


(As clarification, it should be known that Purcell got his start as a composer for Charles II, who had strong Catholic sympathies, and was initially kept from the throne by Oliver Cromwell. After Cromwell's death, Charles assumed power, and attempted to introduce religious freedom for Catholics with his 1672 Royal Declaration of Indulgence, but the English Parliament forced him to withdraw it, after which point Charles faced constant pressure to conform to wishes of the C of E.

In 1675, Purcell, who was apparently raised Catholic, and was already in a successful position at Westminster Cathedral, was apparently compelled to take the sacrament rather late in life in order to retain his career.)
posted by markkraft at 1:04 AM on July 26, 2011


"Kevin Myers: Enda Kenny leads the Paisleyite lynch mob"

I always tend to have a little chuckle whenever someone tries to refute facts by linking to an op-ed, because they invariably don't mention anything about the actual source of the article.

In this case, Kevin Myers is an English-born Irish rightwing journalist who is known for his colorful prose.

"Jews have been disproportionately responsible for financial crime in the US, yet even to utter this simple truth is to court shrieks of anti-Semitism."

"I can say Americans are loud, boorish, lazy and insensitive morons, and that's fine. If I say the same about Nigerians, I am in jail."

"(Gypsy) traveller values are overwhelmingly antithetical to individual happiness, personal achievement or social duty. The world will be far happier when the traveller-tradition is hastened to a humane end."

"Somewhere, over the rainbow, lies Somalia, another fine land of violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts. Indeed, we now have almost an entire continent of sexually hyperactive indigents ... (The countries of the world) are now -- one way or another -- virtually all giving aid to or investing in Africa, whereas Africa . . . is giving almost nothing to anyone, apart from AIDS. . . If (Bill Gates') programme is successful, tens of millions of children who would otherwise have died in infancy will survive to adulthood, he boasts. Oh good: then what? I know. Let them all come here. Yes, that's an idea."

I don't know about you, but I personally prefer my sources far more than your opinions.
posted by markkraft at 1:27 AM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


One thing that I have always been proud of about MetaFilter is our ability to attract knowledgeable people on just about any subject, and we are large enough to probably have at least one church lawyer or at least a few priests, but these threads have scared away anyone who is even Catholic.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:28 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The letter plainly says that that "the framework for a Church response" put forward doesn't "conform to the canonical norms presently in force" and that "if such procedures were to be followed", it could prove to be "highly embarassing and detrimental"... that "mandatory reporting gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature" and it specifically instructs that "the procedures established by the Code of Canon Law must be meticulously followed under pain of invalidity" in case "the priest so punished were to make hierarchical recourse against his Bishop.""

That is in fact not what it is saying at all, for fucks sake its only two pages (PDF). In 1996 an advisory committee created by the Irish bishops conference produced this document (PDF) in response to the massive scandal that rocked the nation at the time. In the framework the report puts forward however, according to established precedent, where it may conflict with Cannon Law, the Cannon law would supersede. Thus if a cleric were to suffer reprimand under this procedure they would be able to successfully appeal to Rome which would for very good reasons be "highly embarassing and detrimental." Hell yeah it would, if the Vatican were forced to overturn a local ecclesiastical conviction because it wasn't legal we'd be all over that shit, and rightfully so. You'll notice none of this has anything to do with either civil or criminal law, just the ecclesiastical sanctions on child rapists and whether they were currently enforceable.

The only part that even vaguely interacts with non-church law is this:

"In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature."

The concept of mandatory reporting is in inherent odds with millennia of the church's deep tradition of confession held onto strongly unto martyrdom over the centuries. I'm not sure that I can fault the Apostolic Nuncio for asking that changes to that tradition in church law come from the Pope and in fact, Cannon law was changed in a way inspired by the report.

It is kinda fucked up for not being transparent, but the way the world's media reacts hyperbolically and too often incoherently to anything remotely related to church sex abuse I'm not sure I can blame them for that either.

This is a more detailed summary by someone more familiar with church politics than I am
posted by Blasdelb at 1:38 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which is to say that, yes all of those phrases do exist in the letter, but an honest appraisal of it could not possibly make them mean what you think they do.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:42 AM on July 26, 2011


One thing that I have always been proud of about MetaFilter is our ability to attract knowledgeable people on just about any subject, and we are large enough to probably have at least one church lawyer or at least a few priests, but these threads have scared away anyone who is even Catholic
I know, the anti child rapist side just can't be reasoned with.
posted by fullerine at 2:09 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


"That is in fact not what it is saying at all, for fucks sake..."

So, you refute direct quotes from the letter which was leaked by someone high up in the Church, by linking to an opinion piece from a Texan Born-again Catholic and a "Senior Apologist" for Cathoic Answers?

Once more, an op-ed, as opposed to the facts of the matter.

FACT:
Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II's envoy to Ireland, wrote in the letter that canon law, whereby allegations and punishments are handled within the church, "must be meticulously followed"; any bishop who tried to go outside canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of being overturned on appeal in Rome.

A 2009 Irish state report found this actually happened with Tony Walsh, one of Dublin's most notorious paedophiles, who exploited his role as an Elvis impersonator in a popular "All Priests Show" to get closer to children. In 1993, Walsh was defrocked by a secret church court, but successfully appealed to a Vatican court, and was reinstated in the priesthood in 1994. He raped a boy in a pub restroom that year. Walsh since has received a series of prison sentences, with a 12-year term imposed last month. Investigators estimate he raped or molested more than 100 children.

Again, if you have a problem with the findings, as presented, please consider bringing them to the Government of Ireland, the press, the Irish people, etc. Don't expect accepted reality to agree with you, however.
posted by markkraft at 2:15 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


All this talk of church law and church tradition is infuriating. Why should the state care one whit for church "law"? Treat clergy the same way one would any other citizen, and treat religious organizations as something equivalent to the Elks or Kiwanis, which can have their own by-laws like any other social club, but which are not entitled to have any kind of "law" which interferes with that of civil society as expressed by the state.
posted by dhens at 2:43 AM on July 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


Also, there's the simple fact that page 10 of the Cloyne Report specifically states that Monsignor O'Callaghan -- the individual in charge of managing child sexual abuse cases -- did not approve of the requirement to report cases to the civil authorities, despite being thoroughly familiar with the reporting requirements. In fact, he implemented them in only one case, leaving numerous other cases strictly to canon law. The report cites 15 complaints of abuse that should have been reported, but weren't.

Claiming that the Framework Document and the letter in question deals only in respect to canon law completely overlooks the reality of how we know the Church applied the Framework Document's reporting requirements. (i.e. In the clear majority of cases, it didn't.)

The letter specifically referred to the Framework as "not an official document... only a study document". Clearly, this had implications not just on any references to canon law, but also to Church commitments to report crimes to law enforcement. Likewise, the questioning of mandatory reporting in the document, potentially being contrary to canon law, which must be obeyed.

To quote the Cloyne report, "this effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures which they had agreed and gave comfort and support to those who, like Monsignor O'Callaghan, dissented from the stated official Irish Church policy."
posted by markkraft at 2:43 AM on July 26, 2011


Also, Catholic doctrine says that the Pope and his agents are appointed by God, reflect his will, and are infallible.

I'm no fan of the Vatican. But get your facts straight. According to Catholic Doctrine, the Pope can make infalliable statements under certain set circumstances. That's a world away from saying he's infalliable. (IIRC there have only in the history of the Roman Catholic Church been fewer than half a dozen statements, and most of them to do with the theological status of the Blessed Virgin Mary). The rest of the time he's a normal human - and the infalliable statements are strictly for putting wide ranging disputes to bed.
posted by Francis at 2:44 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Treat clergy the same way one would any other citizen, and treat religious organizations as something equivalent to the Elks or Kiwanis, which can have their own by-laws like any other social club, but which are not entitled to have any kind of "law" which interferes with that of civil society as expressed by the state."

Exactly. That's why the Irish Government want to do exactly that, making failure to report child abuse claims a crime.

The next Monsignor that's caught covering up child abuse will likely find himself doing time behind bars. And hopefully, he'll share a cell with some interesting fellows.
posted by markkraft at 2:48 AM on July 26, 2011


And hopefully, he'll share a cell with some interesting fellows.

Uh, prison rape is not acceptable in a civilized society, either...
posted by dhens at 2:57 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


You thought I was talking about prison rape?! Pervert. There are all kinds of interesting people out there, you know.

(Just to clarify things, a joke is *not* sexual abuse, nor is it any kind of statement of either intent or preference. Oftentimes, it's something people do when the reality of disturbing situations is just too, well.. disturbing. Which pretty much describes this whole scandal, really. Clearly, there's a lot more space in my reality for tasteless jokes than there is for child abuse.)
posted by markkraft at 4:01 AM on July 26, 2011


One thing that I have always been proud of about MetaFilter is our ability to attract knowledgeable people on just about any subject, and we are large enough to probably have at least one church lawyer or at least a few priests, but these threads have scared away anyone who is even Catholic.

Depends on what you mean by "Catholic". If you mean the basement-dwelling trolls who hang out on catholic.com, honing their utterly devastating apologetics against their parish priest's liturgical abuses and spinning dark conspiracy theories about the Novus Ordo, I'm not disappointed that they're not swarming Metafilter. I think there are more Catholics than you think - they just don't hold the positions you want them to hold.

I also think you have to realize that the reason this inspires such venom is that one of the major reasons for the success of Catholicism has been its ability to shape people from birth. It's not as if people just shrug it off like they did late '80s hair metal. There's a huge number of Catholics who have left the church, who may even become evangelical atheists, but who will always be affected somehow.

Affected by what? A 2,000-year-old organization, claiming direct descent from Jesus' words to Peter and its leadership as supernaturally endowed by God Himself with the keys of heaven (hence the keys on the Papal flag), systematically covering up the repeated rape of children. This organization instantly excommunicates any woman ordained as a priest because girls are icky. However, anally raping a few children only merited being transferred to some new hunting ground.

To sum it up - women ordained, "Expel them!"; children raped, "Boys will be boys".

If anyone in the leadership of the the Roman Catholic Church had any sense of decency, Joseph Ratzinger should be sitting in the middle of the Vatican in sackcloth and ashes like the citizens of Nineveh did (that's from a book they should maybe pay more attention to than the volumes of canon law loopholes that the Church prefers nowadays). But they don't. And they won't. And millions of people, broken-hearted, wonder why Holy Mother Church cannot repent the way they demand everyone else repents over a thousand and one other sins. When a lay Catholic rapes a child, the Church supports putting them in prison. Why not a priest?
posted by jhandey at 4:10 AM on July 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


If humor helps you deal with overpowering rage that tends to crop up when the church responds to this kind of thing, my personal favorite video on the topic is AHughman08's video response to the Vatican's statement about the scandal last year.

It's a really catchy tune. You... can't really sing it in public.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 4:55 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did I mention everyone owes Sinead O'Connor a big fat apology?
Years later, after growing up a whole lot I really came to regret joining in on the bandwagon that tried to run Sinead out of town on a rail. I was young and in the grips of religious fervor that would lead me to simply condemn anything that wasn't part of the canon the church currently held.

Years later when my deeply devout parents would eat meat on Fridays during Advent and Lent and then scold me for not going to chapel any more; I'd take comfort in knowing that inevitably we'd all be up there with Sinead, being boo'ed for not being orthodox enough about our love of all things Italian and repressive.
posted by NiteMayr at 5:04 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


This ex-Catholic says fuck canon law, report any suspicions of abuse to the state authorities immediately. What happened to rendering unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar? What, Jesus wants to make sure you pay your taxes but doesn't give a shit if you evade the law for raping children?

Catholics aren't above the law of the land, even if pedo priests would like to think that god's forgiveness means they don't have to obey the law or observe the bare minimum of human decency.
posted by harriet vane at 5:34 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Adhering to local law requiring reporting anything is a deal-breaking precedent for the church, and as monstrous as it is in this scenario it's really quite respectable in others. There are plenty of nations out there in which simply being Catholic is a crime, to say nothing of the confidentiality of the confessional. In some areas of the world, blaspheming against the local religion calls for the death penalty.

This is not to say that the Church is above the law, but let's not pretend that this is so simple an issue. "Don't rape children" is a simple issue. "Voluntarily submit to local law" is extremely complex. The obvious example being those Catholics who broke the law and risked everything to save Jews in Nazi Germany. Godwinned!
posted by Riki tiki at 6:27 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Again, if you have a problem with the findings, as presented, please consider bringing them to the Government of Ireland, the press, the Irish people, etc. Don't expect accepted reality to agree with you, however.

I have a problem with the way you've presented them and no, not all the Irish people agree with you. Sorry. Neither does all the press as I've pointed out.

In this case, Kevin Myers is an English-born Irish rightwing journalist who is known for his colorful prose.

Yeah, and he's the kind of opinion you've totally left out of your one sided post. Apparently because you have no intention to do anything other than express your personal outrage and gin up other people's outrage. What's key about the Myers article is that he's not just a water carrier for the Catholic Church and its power in Ireland.

A post about this topic needs some substance other than "here are some reasons to be outraged" presented in the most negative light possible without outright resorting to calls for the suppression of a major world religion (but don't worry, Vikingsword will reliably do that in the comments.)
posted by Jahaza at 6:39 AM on July 26, 2011


Adhering to local law requiring reporting anything is a deal-breaking precedent for the church...

That's really too bad. I notice that it's also a deal-breaker for the Mafia and the KKK, among others. Oddly enough, none of those others get any tolerance, let alone assistance from the legal authorities in hiding illegal activities of their members.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:40 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Don't rape children" is a simple issue.

Don't protect child rapists is also a simple issue.
posted by Pendragon at 7:01 AM on July 26, 2011


Yeah, and he's the kind of opinion you've totally left out of your one sided post.
I thought everyone was aware of Metafilter's bias against Child Rape and Malaria.
posted by fullerine at 7:09 AM on July 26, 2011


This is not to say that the Church is above the law, but let's not pretend that this is so simple an issue.

I understand that, I really do. I know there's some pretty good reasons beyond the repugnant sophistry of canon law. I know that anti-Catholicism does exist, and I know that not that long ago, there were places that the Catholic Church was effectively banned (and not just in places you'd expect it to be, either - Mexico in the 20s and 30s under Plutarco Elias Calles was a hotbed of anti-Catholic persecution).

On the other hand, Hebrew National's slogan just popped into my head: "We answer to a higher authority". The Roman Catholic Church makes some pretty unique claims as to the nature of its authority that simply aren't made in Christianity outside of certain fundamentalist Protestant groups. Even Orthodoxy, which many Western Christians think of as Catholics with beards and onion domes, has a quite different ecclesiology. Tradition is held by the entire Church, not just by the hierarchs. This might seem like splitting hairs, but the effects are pretty dramatic. For example, Mark of Ephesus, who led a rebellion against the Orthodox hierarchy over the terms of the Union of Florence just before the fall of Constantinople, is a saint in the Orthodox Church.

Catholicism's claims are of a whole other order. Catholicism's claim to authority rests on a chain of popes stretching back to Peter. Unity with the papacy is the highest value, because the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, God's representative on earth. From the pope ultimately flows all authority in the church, down to Sister Smack-Your-Hand-With-A-Ruler and Father Roamin' Hands. Since the Ultramontanists of the 1800s (papal infallibility is a recent invention, dating only from the First Vatican Council in 1870, held during the unification of Italy and capture of the Papal States) the papacy has been increasingly obsessed with centralizing power.

Why does this matter? Nobody else claims what Rome claims. Nobody else claims that closeness to God for a hierarchical institution. So shouldn't they be held to a higher standard? This isn't supposed to be just another multinational corporation. This is the organization that supposedly determines the eternal fate of all humanity to some degree, that mediates the love of the Creater of the universe, etc, etc. They sure do act fast when an icky girl gets ordained as a priest. Abortion, too - they can act fast on that. But suddenly, when it comes to child abuse, there's a billion reasons why they can't. And that's not good enough.

"With great power comes great responsibility", as a wise man once said. The Catholic Church claims great power. I think I'm not the only person who notices that they don't want to claim great responsibility.
posted by jhandey at 7:15 AM on July 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


"Neither does all the press as I've pointed out."

By citing two opinion pieces, but no actual independent news sources with actual journalistic standards. I've cited numerous major news sources, government reports created after direct questioning of involved members of the clergy, etc.

"Kevin Myers is an English-born Irish rightwing journalist who is known for his colorful prose...
Yeah, and he's the kind of opinion you've totally left out of your one sided post."


Please examine the post again. It's not an opinion piece. It is a link to the Irish PM, to the report and the letter in question, to a previous MeFi post involving the same sort of repeated abuse in the US, to a statement by the Irish Minister for Justice, and to a news article -- not an opinion piece -- from Ireland.

If I had included an op-ed from your preferred rightwing white supremacist or a pro-church apologist, it would've been a slanted post, just as certainly as if I had included an op-ed from a liberal pundit calling for the Church's head. There was actually one Irish news source I rejected, because I felt it was actually too critical of the Vatican, and soft on the details that people would like to have available to them. Instead, I focused almost exclusively on the most firsthand, newsworthy sources I could find.

So, yes. I intentionally tried to leave out opinions from the story... but the truth is, some stories are pretty hard to refute.

The Vatican has had a standing invitation to speak to the Irish Parliament and put out their side of the truth. When asked to come forward and speak, their envoy left the country at the request of the Vatican. Perhaps when they do finally speak, perhaps, just perhaps, they'll have some sort of understandable explanation for what has clearly, damningly, occurred... but even if they can somehow thread that needle, there will still be lots of questions, most relating to what they are going to do to stop this, and why it took them so long to come forward with a good explanation, for a crisis that should've ended over a decade ago, but simply did not.

All of my family on my father's side is Catholic, and they're really nice people and a great family. They've shown great kindness to me and love their church, but they are also deeply frustrated with the Vatican, and hope that the Church will change... which it gradually does, but mostly at the local level. They hold that hope as an object of faith, just as much as they hold their other beliefs of faith closely... but the Church keeps letting them down.

In this case, they let the entire nation of Ireland down. And it shows.
posted by markkraft at 7:16 AM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought everyone was aware of Metafilter's bias against Child Rape and Malaria.

Oh come on. You know that's not my point. The Taoiseach's speech and the proposed policy actions of the Irish government are not just a matter of passing a resolution condemning child rape.

They've proposed a mandatory abuse reporting requirement that will not exempt sacramental confessions:
THE sacrament of Confession will not be exempt from rules on mandatory reporting of child abuse, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald has vehemently insisted.
Mandatory reporting laws in the U.S. and other places commonly respect the integrity of sacramental confession.
posted by Jahaza at 7:20 AM on July 26, 2011


Don't protect child rapists is also a simple issue.

No, it's not. Protect them from what? Many people in supposedly-progressive societies would think it's okay for a rapist priest to be punished with prison rape, and the prison environments of those countries often reflect that attitude.

I genuinely want these monsters brought to justice, but I can see a strong argument for protecting them from that sort of punishment.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:21 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please tell me you're not comparing hiding Jews from the Nazis with hiding pedophiles from the police.

I'm well aware that there are good reasons for disobeying government laws on occasion. It's called civil disobedience, and it's not limited to Catholics, so I don't see why they need a special canon law to cover that sort of situation.
posted by harriet vane at 7:23 AM on July 26, 2011


"presented in the most negative light possible"

... through the statements of government officials, and the citation of official reports created with the cooperation of the Irish clergy, and internal Church correspondence!

Once again, blame the Government of Ireland. -- or blame the Vatican -- for doing and saying things that conflict with your sense of what reality should be!
posted by markkraft at 7:23 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not an opinion piece. It is a link to the Irish PM, to the report and the letter in question, to a previous MeFi post involving the same sort of repeated abuse in the US, to a statement by the Irish Minister for Justice, and to a news article -- not an opinion piece -- from Ireland.

If I had included an op-ed from your preferred rightwing white supremacist or a pro-church apologist, it would've been a slanted post, just as certainly as if I had included an op-ed from a liberal pundit calling for the Church's head.


*Your post* is most certainly an opinion piece. You've chosen to present the government's action (while conventiently downplaying the most outrageous parts of the government's plan, which has made it particularly newsworthy in the Catholic press) and link to the things they've cited as inspiring their action. Not everyone agrees with the Irish government, which is not an objective honest broker, but its own political animal. In discussing a political speech, political and religious reaction is part of balance, not some sort of distortion of it.
posted by Jahaza at 7:26 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I genuinely want these monsters brought to justice, but I can see a strong argument for protecting them from that sort of punishment."

Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar... but when in Rome, expect special treatment?!
posted by markkraft at 7:27 AM on July 26, 2011


Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar... but when in Rome, expect special treatment?!

Come on Mark. You're digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole of refusing to engage with the actual realities of the situation and people's honest arguments. You think child rapists should be raped in prison? Cause that's the kind of "protection from punishment" Riki tiki was proposing and you're now mocking.

By the way, I just noticed the title of your post including, "Papal hide the pickle." Yes, you're completely objective!
posted by Jahaza at 7:32 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


By all means though, I think it would be a great, very humane thing for the Catholic Church to make it a major focus to make prisons more humane for everyone, including those Catholics who lose their way in life. (Sure beats spending that time campaigning against equal rights for homosexuals, pushy, invasive protests that block healthcare centers for women, etc.)
posted by markkraft at 7:34 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Don't protect child rapists is also a simple issue.

No, it's not. Protect them from what? Many people in supposedly-progressive societies would think it's okay for a rapist priest to be punished with prison rape, and the prison environments of those countries often reflect that attitude.

I genuinely want these monsters brought to justice, but I can see a strong argument for protecting them from that sort of punishment."


Wait, what? You are saying that the Catholic church can be excused for being against sending priests to prison for child molestation because they might be raped themselves should they be incarcerated ? I honestly can't think of a coherent response to that but I will try- It would be nice if the Catholic Church took all of the energy it expends into protecting priests accused of molestation and redirected it to working tirelessly to help reform our prison system so things as inhumane as prison rape don't happen *to anyone*.
posted by stagewhisper at 7:36 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


(or what markkraft just said)
posted by stagewhisper at 7:38 AM on July 26, 2011


Stagewhisper, see, here's the thing ... once you admit that Catholic priests accused of child sex abuse should be protected from prison rape, it becomes a slippery slope. You've admitted that it's as simple as saying "Don't protect child rapists." You've ruled out lynching, then prison rape, then punishment without trial, then unfair trials, pretty soon you find yourself thinking they should be entitled to procedural due process and presumption of innocence before the criminal courts at least... especially when you're talking about *accused* child rapists. Part of the point of Riki tiki's argument as I understood it is that it's not just a "simple" matter of "protect the innocents and punish the guilty" because administering criminal justice is not simple as we well know from every other category of crime and thousands of years of development of judicial systems.
posted by Jahaza at 7:40 AM on July 26, 2011


You've admitted that it's as simple as saying "Don't protect child rapists."

Rather:

You've admitted that it's NOT as simple as saying "Don't protect child rapists."
posted by Jahaza at 7:41 AM on July 26, 2011


"You think child rapists should be raped in prison? Cause that's the kind of "protection from punishment" Riki tiki was proposing and you're now mocking."

No, I don't. I previously said as much, in fact. And I'm not mocking protection from rape... I really am mocking "protection from punishment". Prison is punishment, regardless of what might happen inside, after all.

Above all, though, I am mocking protection from being treated the same as everybody else, because that is ultimately what the Vatican is fighting for here. They are positioning themselves above the rule of law, and it is simply not a tenable position anymore.

"You're digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole"

Yes, by citing direct, newsworthy sources as opposed to racist op-ed writers, and by insisting on equality and some basic respect from the Church for lawful, polite, kind, ethical human behavior, I am digging myself a deeper and deeper hole. If I keep up like this, I'll make my way all the way to Dublin, and find myself abandoned by God with the rest of the unrepentant who have lost their way.
posted by markkraft at 7:42 AM on July 26, 2011


by insisting on equality and some basic respect from the Church for lawful, polite, kind, ethical human behavior,

So titling your post "Irish stew. Papal hide the pickle." was your waty of insisting on basic respect and polite behaviou?
posted by Jahaza at 7:45 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


@TheMidnightHobo wrote: One thing I don't actually understand is the amount of people claiming that the entirety of the RCC's structure is focused on pedophilia and the propagation thereof. I mean, do people really believe that?

Of course not.

Pedophilia is, naturally, the primary interest and mission of the Roman Catholic Church, but it has several other interests as well.

The Church is also highly invested in killing people by helping the HIV virus spread, their primary method for this laudable activity is telling Africans lies to the effect that condoms are laced with HIV as part of an European plot to eradicate black people.

But, of course, that's not all. The Church is also deeply invested in encouraging pain and misery in the third world. Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, alias "Mother Theresa", was one of the primary agents in the goal of encouraging pain and misery. Her clinics denied pain medication and Bojaxhiu herself was of the belief that suffering was desired by her deity. Money sent to her organization by people duped into believing it did good was channeled directly to the Vatican where, presumably, it was used to purchase solid gold dildos for use in the Church's primary mission because it damn sure never did anything to help the poor people it was intended to.

The Church is also the worldwide majority stakeholder in interest in killing women by making abortion illegal in all circumstances, including saving the life of the mother or when the pregnancy is non-viable. In Nicaragua, for example, ectopic pregnancies (commonly called "tubal pregnancies") are banned under the Church mandated woman killing laws, and to date a minimum of 200 women have been killed by denial of critical medical care on Church order.

The Church is also invested in the cause of ensuring that nine year old rape victims are forced to give birth.

And, of course, we can't forget the Church's vast and widespread program of encouraging poverty and starvation under the auspices of forbidding contraception. It is obviously vital to the Church that as many people as possible be born into a live of privation and starvation.

So, no, I don't think the entirety of the Church is focused on child rape, that's just one of the many active evils that the Church promotes. Encouraging the rape of children, however, is clearly the highest priority the Church has. Condemning uppity women comes in a close second, though it may be tied with their poverty encouragement program.

You do, occasionally, see a bit of good from the Church, their program of care and treatment for lepers for example, but that's also rather clearly a very low priority.
posted by sotonohito at 7:56 AM on July 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


The Church raped a nation and you call the government response "outrageous"?

Raping. Children.

Gettaclue.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:57 AM on July 26, 2011


five fresh fish, yes, I call it outrageous that the Irish government would seek to end the confidentiality of sacramental confessions as a matter of policy. That's outrageous. But apparently it's easier for for you and other folks to mock than to try to understand why that would outrage people.
posted by Jahaza at 8:02 AM on July 26, 2011


This front page post has a tasteless title. I agree.

I am surprised that the post's title causes you to rage more than does the rape of children.

Raping. Children.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:03 AM on July 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Look, we aren't getting anywhere here. The snarks have gotten all the faves that are to be had, and we've descended once more into how every CatholicFilter post, ever, has ended. (Good morning, Sotonohito!)

Obviously everyone is opposed to child rape/abuse. There are abusers in the Catholic Church, lay and clerical, no more or less than elsewhere, but Catholics (we'll follow procedures we've followed for millenia and, to the extent they respect ours, your rules) and non-Catholics, especially those with axes to grind (nuke site from orbit) will continue to disagree about how to deal with child rape with regard to its manifestation in the Catholic Church.

What people can come away with is that hyperbole founded on axe-grinding gets you nowhere with Catholics. Faithful Catholics know there's a problem and want it fixed yesterday, and are just as pissed about this issue as non-faithful people generally. I understand that you're angry about child rape. Me, too. But when you say "Sure beats spending that time campaigning against equal rights for homosexuals, pushy, invasive protests that block healthcare centers for women, etc.", i.e., 'I wish the Catholic Church would stop being Catholic!,' and then you call for systematic investigation and prosecution of the whole pedophile ring that is the entire Catholic Church, bring the whole thing down, like the mafia, even the pope, well, I just have to wonder where you're coming from. Because it just looks like you're using this situation as a stick to beat the Catholic Church into what you want it to be. You can't just say BUT BUT CHILD RAPE! CHILDREN! Because your solution--just like "organized crime," LOL--simply isn't a measured response to what everyone understands to be the situation: molesters here and there with some bishops trying to paper over it.
posted by resurrexit at 8:04 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am surprised that the post's title causes you to rage more than does the rape of children.

Well, as far as I know, there are not any child rapists in this thread. But there are people advocating the trampling of religious freedom.
posted by Jahaza at 8:04 AM on July 26, 2011


Blasdelb: "One thing that I have always been proud of about MetaFilter is our ability to attract knowledgeable people on just about any subject, and we are large enough to probably have at least one church lawyer or at least a few priests, but these threads have scared away anyone who is even Catholic"

There's at least one Catholic I recognize here, and I'm Catholic. There just isn't much to say. If I ever saw abuse occurring in our church I'd report it. If there are accusations of abuse, the police should be allowed to investigate as far as they would any other crime. I've been over the "then why are you Catholic?" bit before. You just learn to identify the cries of "burn the Catholic Church to the ground!" as being aimed at the hierarchy instead of being aimed at your local beloved parish.
posted by charred husk at 8:07 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've just realised I am carrying on three on-line discussions trying to persuade people that covering up for child rapists is wrong, shooting dozens of people is not a viable response to pork being removed from a school menu and that taxing billionaires is reasonable in order to stave off a world economic crash.

I can't even remember inventing the piano key neck tie.
posted by fullerine at 8:10 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obviously everyone is opposed to child rape/abuse.

It's not obvious to me. There are people on this thread who feel that religious tradition/freedom is more important than not having children raped.

The nation of Ireland has been sexually traumatized to the point virtually no one attends church.

That is a LOT of child raping.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:10 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


on-line discussions trying to persuade people that covering up for child rapists is wrong

Where's that dicussion, 'cause it's not happening here.

There are people on this thread who feel that religious tradition/freedom is more important than not having children raped

As a society, we already agree that there are other goods beside "children not being raped". If that was the highest value, we would just have extrajudicial execution of suspected child rapists or at least mandatory life imprisonment. But we don't.
posted by Jahaza at 8:15 AM on July 26, 2011


I made fun of the Irish and the Church! Indeed! Absolutely! I even made a joke about what a member of the clergy might expect, should they ever be so unwise and unfortunate as to get sent to prison for helping protect a child molester. (They really don't like child molesters in prison, I hear.)

But hey, I'm not a politician. I'm not the Vatican. I can make a joke, and I can even take a joke. It's my right criticize, and even mock! That doesn't mean that I'm out there on weekends with my friends, blocking the entrance to the Catholic Church with signs showing grotesque pictures of abused children, or slipping birth control pills into their drinking water, or telling their children that they're going to hell for being attracted to the opposite sex, either.

There's a difference between satire, humor, and mockery, and the kind of routine, rude, invasive, unkind, and occasionally fatal things the Catholic Church does as an institution every day.

The Catholic Church has no right whatsoever to expect not be the punchline to the joke that the Vatican has helped to create. Humor *always* reflects a niggling discomfort about the subject matter. Remember the good old days about the jokes only being about all the kneeling and unintentional aerobics?!

Really, I'd consider making a joke about Buddhists, but they sit still a lot. Boy, are they good at that. But it's just not very funny, is it?! And it doesn't make me uncomfortable, and rack my head with "why, why, why on earth are they doing this kind of crap again?!" But the Vatican has propelled the Catholic Church into realms of humor that go far beyond Anglicans or Methodists, who are pretty damn boring.

And it's not like people actually want the Catholic Church to be so unintentionally amusing. It makes the mere nuttery of the Scientologists and the Mormon dogma seem, well... benign.

So, yes. There will be no end to the humor and mockery, until there's a clear, unequivocal end to the protection of pedophiles. Because that is how humor works. Clear enough?!
posted by markkraft at 8:22 AM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


The nation of Ireland has been sexually traumatized to the point virtually no one attends church.

Don't let the facts stand in your way! "Fewer than one in five attend Sunday Mass in Dublin." The most recent number I can find for the number of Catholics in Dublin is from 2006: 1,087,361. So the number attending would be roughly 217,000. That strikes me as something more than "virtually no one".
posted by Jahaza at 8:24 AM on July 26, 2011


So, yes. There will be no end to the humor and mockery, until there's a clear, unequivocal end to the protection of pedophiles. Because that is how humor works. Clear enough?!

No. It's not clear enough. Making offensive sexual jokes about the leaders of a religion with whom you disagree is not redeemed by saying: Oh, I'm just being funny.

The Catholic Church has no right whatsoever to expect not be the punchline to the joke that the Vatican has helped to create.

The fellow members of the community you participate in deserve not to have their religion ridiculed for your amusement. As several people (both Catholic and non-Catholic) have pointed out in this thread, the way you presented the discussion of this issue was not productive for engaging in discussion of it. But as long as you get your yucks, I guess.
posted by Jahaza at 8:27 AM on July 26, 2011


"But there are people advocating the trampling of religious freedom."

Who has advocated that you can't be a practicing Catholic? Nobody. Unless there's some sort of special ceremony I am not aware of, I don't believe there's anything in Catholicism that requires a regular supply of ritual child abuse. Sure, that kinda stuff might fly for the really hardline Satanists... those poor schmucks that think that worshiping ultimate evil might be worth doing for a lark.. but even they tend to gravitate towards maiming pets nowadays.

They just don't want all the bad press that the Catholics are getting, I guess. The police would actually arrest them, no doubt.
posted by markkraft at 8:37 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm naive, but why is the Catholic Church relevant at all in any of these investigations?

Men committed child rape. Not abuse, rape. They're sex offenders of the very worst order, and it's the job of civil society to punish them with the upmost severity. As rapists, they are individuals confronting civil authorities, and there's no need to bring in any additional group affiliations into this dynamic.

The person down the street who rapes kids? So what if he works for major convenience store ABC, or worldwide fast-food franchise XYZ, or global distributions corporation alpha-beta-gamma. He's just a person who committed a terrible crime. His employeer has little-to-no-bearing on the investigation, and it shouldn't. Likewise, justice authorities, when starting these investigations of child rape in the Catholic Church, shouldn't pay any attention--positive or negative--to the supposed "role" of the Church in aiding, deflecting or impeding the flow of the justice system. They're a goddam employer, a third party. Fuck 'em.

Then, after you've revised laws and statutes of limitation to put every last convicted rapist behind bars, you go after the big fish--the Catholic Church. You do this after building a separate, independent case against the Church for obstructing justice. You ignore the legal firewalls surrounding the ersatz Vatican "nation state" and bring them down.

But you only do this after every rapist fairly tried and convicted in court has been swept out of society and into a lengthy, multiple year (or decade) stay in the penal system.
posted by Gordion Knott at 8:46 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


@resurrexit but Catholics (we'll follow procedures we've followed for millenia and, to the extent they respect ours, your rules) and non-Catholics, especially those with axes to grind (nuke site from orbit) will continue to disagree about how to deal with child rape with regard to its manifestation in the Catholic Church.

Ok, hyperbole and snark to the side, WTF?

This is not merely a disagreement on how to deal with child rape. It is a case of the Church actively and deliberately protecting child rapists.

Working, purely for the sake of argument, that the problem in the Church is one of good intent somehow gone wrong, Catholic procedures are, self evidently, not solving the problem and, in fact, are making it much, much, worse.

Contrary to your rather interesting view that everyone wants to prosecute child rapists and stop them from raping children the "procedures we've followed for millenia" are not stopping the problem. The second half of that sentence "and, to the extent they respect ours, your rules" is preposterous. The idea that actual real **LAWS** should play second fiddle to Church dogma and rule is objectively insane.

What, exactly, is wrong with prosecuting all child rapists, regardless of whether or not they they a position in the hierarchy of some religion? Why, exactly, are you claiming that somehow a separate and vastly more lenient set of rules must be laid down for people simply because they are part of a religion?

How about the very simple, straightforward, idea that the Church should apologize for it's systemic cover up of rape, it's systemic protection of rapists, and adopt the new policy of turning over all suspected rapists to the real law?

Why is that somehow not on the table?
posted by sotonohito at 8:51 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Who has advocated that you can't be a practicing Catholic? Nobody.

Have you read the thread?

Vikingsword writes: "The RCC hierarchy is a criminal organization run by sick people."

What do we do with criminal organizations? We supress and prosecute them. Well funnily, since the Catholic Church is inseperable from its heirarchy, if you advocate abolishing your hierarchy you've abolished the religion.

Mayor Curley writes:
At one point, calling the Roman Catholic Church "an institution for the enabling and protection of child molesters" seemed like hyperbole. Granted, it was funny hyperbole in the sense that it seemed based in a foundation of truth, but over the top.

It's not hyperbole. It's not over the top.
If this is true, there can be only one policy outcome, because afterall you don't allow "an institution for the enabling and protection of child molesters" (which, remember, he has specifically said is not hyperbole) to continue to exist. It would be monstrous to allow such an institutition to continue to exist and to allow people to belong to it.

Looking again at your comments, I see why you don't understand the stakes here. You wrote: "Really... when was the last time that the Vatican got taken to task by a major leader in the Western World to such a degree? Henry VIII?!"

But the stakes are that the Catholic Church has been banned and its priests, religious and lay people martyred or imprisoned for their religion repeatedly since Henry VIII and within living memory. In Spain, in Mexico, in China, in Vietnam, and the list goes on and on.

The auricular and private confession of sins is a fundamental part of the Catholic sacramental economly (ironically private confession was largely popularized from Ireland, previously confession was generally public). Catholic practice depends on being able to tell a priest ANYTHING in confession with the knowledge that the priest will never tell anyone under penalty of the harshest possible excommunication. The Irish government has propsed abolishing that confidentiality.

Sonhito writes: "The idea that actual real **LAWS** should play second fiddle to Church dogma and rule is objectively insane."

But in reality, American laws routinely make an exception for Church dogma and rules on this point. Perhaps American legislatures are "objectively insane" or maybe not.
posted by Jahaza at 9:00 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


@Jahaza: So you're arguing that if it is Church policy to cover up for and protect rapists then the various governments around the world had better just accept it?

And please, the "Church" is the hierarchy. The members are the members. Stop trying to pretend that somehow by arguing that we should prosecute actual genuine criminals, even if they are part of Church hierarchy, we mean we should be banning a religion. Anyone who wants to be Catholic absolutely should and I do not under any circumstances support banning a religion.

But, at the same time, if the leaders of a religion have committed crimes than they should be given fair trails and if found guilty incarcerated. If that causes the religion to have internal problems that's not my concern, nor is it the state banning a religion.

If that's your position, I'll get a few friends to claim I'm the Supreme Spokesman For the One True God, then I'll rob a bank. By your logic I should be immune from prosecution because to prosecute me for that crime would be the same as banning the religion of the One True God. Other than the number of followers, what, exactly, would be the difference there?

**AGAIN**: the Church policies you so praise and expect various real governments to kowtow to are clearly ineffective when it comes to dealing with rapists and have for some time clearly been directed at protecting the rapists rather than actually stopping them from raping. Can you please address this point?

And, finally, yes, any exception to real laws for any religion is objectively insane. The law must be equally applied or there's no point in having laws. Religions aren't super special precious groups that must be coddled and given exceptions to real laws.
posted by sotonohito at 9:08 AM on July 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Jahaza: "The auricular and private confession of sins is a fundamental part of the Catholic sacramental economly"

Maybe I misunderstood recent developments, but didn't the Vatican recently come up with procedures for breaking the seal of confession when it involved a priest and a minor without invoking latae sententiae excommunication?
posted by charred husk at 9:09 AM on July 26, 2011


(I think this is a pretty good article on the subject that, while it comes from an orthodox Catholic newsman,* sheds some light for me. It's broader than a line-by-line look at the 1997 letter from the Congregation for Clergy linked to above; sort of a 40,000 feet view.)

*Guys like this are representative of the people working from within the Catholic Church to rid it of the bishops who are largely, though indirectly, responsible for the abuse scandals (and others!) See especially the last two lines of the article.
posted by resurrexit at 9:13 AM on July 26, 2011


didn't the Vatican recently come up with procedures for breaking the seal of confession when it involved a priest and a minor without invoking latae sententiae excommunication

No. It's absolute, period.
posted by Jahaza at 9:20 AM on July 26, 2011


Well funnily, since the Catholic Church is inseperable from its hierarchy, if you advocate abolishing your hierarchy you've abolished the religion.

And this is why I am no longer a Catholic. Too many people in high places (and, sadly, in the pews as well) who really believe this. This, more than anything else, is what shattered my faith in Catholicism. Bad things happen. Institutions screw up, all of them. But unlike others, Rome just can't bring herself to say "we were wrong". That's it. Don't say "there were bad apples". Don't say "waaaah, but look at everybody else, they're doing it too!" Rome won't, though. I remember arguments in a social justice group at a liturgically-conservative parish in Seattle in which the "defender(s) of the Faith" were utterly unable to say that the Church had ever made a mistake. People in the Church had. Even popes had. But the Church itself? Impossible.

When I started thinking about having kids, I just couldn't see entrusting them to the care of the Catholic Church. Not because of the abuse scandals, but because they couldn't even admit that anything could possibly be wrong, virtually guaranteeing that there will be more and more scandals. It's not about a few bad apples. It's not about better reporting. It's not even about immediately reporting to the police, because if it's only after the fact, the crime has still been committed. It's about the aura of power and authority that makes the kinds of changes that might actually do something of value virtually impossible in my lifetime.

A frequent Dawkinsite atheist stereotype of religion is that it's all about power and fear and divine authority. Conservative Catholicism is devoted to proving them correct. The laity to them are there to pray, pay and obey (and sometimes as prey). Luckily, Catholicism's extreme power-worship is much more of an anomaly than its believers (and most dedicated opponents) imagine it is. There's a vast world outside.
posted by jhandey at 9:26 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Maybe I'm naive, but why is the Catholic Church relevant at all in any of these investigations?"

Because sexual abuse does not generally happen in a vacuum. It requires either active support from others or elaborate and recognizable scenario to hide and is perfectly eliminatable within an institution with education, solid policies, and the conviction to follow them. For every pedophile priest there are dozens of adults who either knew, didn't want to know, or didn't know how to know.

"So, you refute direct quotes from the letter which was leaked by someone high up in the Church, by linking to an opinion piece from a Texan Born-again Catholic and a "Senior Apologist" for Cathoic Answers?"

Yes! It actually quite convincingly refutes the hand wavy half of this FPP, perhaps you should actually read it.

"A 2009 Irish state report found this actually happened with Tony Walsh, one of Dublin's most notorious paedophiles, who exploited his role as an Elvis impersonator in a popular "All Priests Show" to get closer to children. In 1993, Walsh was defrocked by a secret church court, but successfully appealed to a Vatican court, and was reinstated in the priesthood in 1994. He raped a boy in a pub restroom that year. Walsh since has received a series of prison sentences, with a 12-year term imposed last month. Investigators estimate he raped or molested more than 100 children."

Read the date on the letter, 1997, this is exactly the situation that the letter is trying to prevent.

"Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II's envoy to Ireland, wrote in the letter that canon law, whereby allegations and punishments are handled within the church, "must be meticulously followed"; any bishop who tried to go outside canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of being overturned on appeal in Rome."

This is in fact what it says, but it is not what the FPP, or your later explanation of the FPP described it as. The purpose of the letter is not: intended to prevent sex abuse cases from going public, despite their public policy of reporting all abuse claims to the authorities.

What all of this means is that not only is this thread already delivered as a what they are conversation and not a what they did conversation, but the what they did is even blatantly wrong.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:30 AM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Whoa, I just realized how completely awesome that article is. Not on its merits, but because "Anne Rice" shows up in the combox, which "she" has done before.)
posted by resurrexit at 10:15 AM on July 26, 2011


No one is going to be banning the Catholic church in Ireland. No one is advocating that. But the Vatican through steadfastly refusing to deal with this and hampering efforts on the part of local authorities (including local Catholic officials) to deal with and punish those guilty of horrific offenses against children has brought this on itself. It has been given multiple chances to respond like a decent government, but its response has been to obscure, lie, and occlude the truth and to stand on its diplomatic privilege as much as possible. Kenny is right: Ireland is a free state and not the Vatican's backyard where it gets to do what it wants without consequences.

The amount of Irish *bishops* coming out in support of Kenny's statement should highlight that even the Irish branch of the church thinks the Vatican is hampering its own efforts (however late they may be) to ensure that no child has to go through this again. If the seal of the confessional is struck down by Irish law, then that will rest on the shoulders of church authorities not on the Irish people or their government. If they weren't keener on protecting their reputation, power and wealth than protecting the innocent, this would not be happening.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:40 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


(And it makes me mad that this is seen as some anti-Catholic crusade, when in fact many devout Catholics are the ones trying to ensure that children are protected in the fact of the hierarchy's obscene attempts to protect child abusers. I don't like Enda Kenny's politics in general, but I see no reasons to think he's not a sincere, devout Catholic, driven to this by the Vatican and a church administration that keeps interfering with Irish efforts to sort out this rotten, horrific mess.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:43 AM on July 26, 2011


Irish *bishops* coming out in support of Kenny's statement

I wasn't aware of this here. Guilty bishops shift blame to distant enemy ("Rome" or "the Vatican), sigh, movie at 11. Sort of like Ireland's government having a reason for its people to look elsewhere at the moment.
posted by resurrexit at 10:55 AM on July 26, 2011


Jahaza has claimed that I advocate "suppression of a major religion" because I advocate investigating the RCC hierarchy for obstruction of justice. Nowhere, ever, have I written one bad word about Catholicism as a religion, or about Catholic laity. Quite the opposite - I have gone on record here in the blue, as saying that many Catholic priests have done heroic things. I have focused my ire on the RCC hierarchy, as forming an organization which has indisputably subverted the law in multiple countries - and such, deserves to be investigated just as the mafia does. Child rape or any other crime, is not made lesser because the organization perpetrating the crime is the RCC hierarchy, centered in the state of Vatican, rather than the mafia in Sicily.

So how does Jahaza and other apologists get from this to claiming this as an attack on the religion of Catholicism? Why, because as Jahaza claims, the RCC hierarchy is equal to the religion. What? Raping priests and their co-consiprators in subverting the law, the bishops, archbishops and cardinals, are the religion of Catholicism? That sounds extremely anti-Catholic, and that's certainly not a position I would hold - but Jahaza is welcome to it. I for one, will continue to see a difference between the rapist priests and the corrupt hierarchy as distinct from the religion of Catholicism, and I will continue to call for justice and the investigation of the crimes of the RCC hierarchy, on equal terms as with any other criminal organization or conspiracy such as the mafia - and I will continue to advocate for religious tolerance of ordinary believers and their religious leaders, whether Catholic or Muslim or any other.

At the same time, I reject any special dispensation for religion - whatever it may be, Catholic, or any other - when it conflicts with the law. It is not OK to murder or rape or molest, and say that's "just part of religious expression" - we have separation of church and state precisely for that reason. And so, to advocate, as Jahaza does, the "absolute" elevation of a religious practice, such as the confession above the law, is to advocate a particular religious practice as above the law. When a priest learns of a murder or child rape, he should be obliged to report the crime, as any other law abiding human is compelled to, lest they become an accessory to the crime. The RCC hierarchy has repeatedly and systematically - as multiple reports in many countries show - subverted the law.

It is time to stop giving the RCC a pass as an organization (the formal hierarchy). It is not "just like the boy scouts" or "teachers at a school", as their apologists claim (including in this thread) - they are an organization, centered in the state of Vatican, with an elaborate power structure and tremendous resources. They must be treated as any other criminal organization would be, when they commit crimes.
posted by VikingSword at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Blasdelb: So you agree that the handling of the matter so far has been immoral, I assume. Do you have a suggestion that would allow canon law to be respected whilst making reporting likely? It seems risky to leave it entirely to the judgement of a hierarchy which appears to have chosen to cover up on several previous occasions.
posted by jaduncan at 11:30 AM on July 26, 2011


I guess that question applies to you also, Jahaza.
posted by jaduncan at 11:30 AM on July 26, 2011


ressurexit, are you suggesting that the entire Cloyne report and the reaction to it is driven by the belief that talking about it will stop Irish people thinking of the financial crisis? Because it will take more than that to get the collapse of the economy out of the forefront of people's minds.

I think you can legitimately say that the government is trying to hide some of its own failings in regard to the protection of children, but, for all that, the Fianna Gael and Labour government can defend itself partially by saying it wasn't in government during much of the period covered. But whatever the motives behind Kenny's speech none of this can argue away that guilt of the Vatican in helping protect child abusers (even in recent years) and refusing to respond to questions by some commissions set up to investigate these abuses because 'they weren't sent through the right channels.'

The pope is supposed to be Christ's vicar on Earth. It's time for him to act like it. And it's time for the Vatican to take the lead in protecting the most vulnerable of their flock - the children - and in rooting out without hesitation any wolves within the fold. If it can't do that, then what's the point of it being the Holy See?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:31 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jahaza has claimed that I advocate "suppression of a major religion" because I advocate investigating the RCC hierarchy for obstruction of justice. Nowhere, ever, have I written one bad word about Catholicism as a religion, or about Catholic laity.

You wrote:
"Applying it to the RCC, we note that the more the church is insinuated into the fabric of a society, the greater the abuse. Which indicates that such abuse is an integral part of the organization.
...
I would start with applying RICO statutes to the RCC, and removing them from any legally privileged position (like the church being able to deal with their priests) - these are criminals, and must be prosecuted as such, it is a criminal enterprise and must be treated as such - a conspiracy to subvert the law, going on for decades and decades. Enough.
Later on you wrote:
The charge is: The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world. [Your emphasis.] That is not bigotry - that is the truth.
You wrote:
The Roman Catholic Church must be shut down.
You did not distinguish in these comments between the hierarchy and the Church in general. Yes, you like to walk it back afterwards. But without apology for your initial distortion. You just claim you've been misunderstood, despite it being repeatedly pointed out to you that you are being offensive. Your reaction should be to be more careful, not to keep repeating the same pattern.

So how does Jahaza and other apologists get from this to claiming this as an attack on the religion of Catholicism? Why, because as Jahaza claims, the RCC hierarchy is equal to the religion. What? Raping priests and their co-consiprators in subverting the law, the bishops, archbishops and cardinals, are the religion of Catholicism?

I've written that having a hierarchy is integral to (note that this is different from "equal to") the religion (and would add the apostolic succesion of the present leadership from the initial leadership). When you advocate abolition/destruction/criminalization of the hierarchy, it's functionally equivalent to advocating the supression of the religion. It's like claiming, "oh, we're just removing the man's head, not killing him." A man is not his head, but he won't live without it.

At the same time, I reject any special dispensation for religion - whatever it may be, Catholic, or any other - when it conflicts with the law. It is not OK to murder or rape or molest, and say that's "just part of religious expression" - we have separation of church and state precisely for that reason.

This is inflammatory and offensive. No one has advocated for "murder or rape or molest" [sic] as a part of religious expression. For you to suggest that they have is wrong.

And so, to advocate, as Jahaza does, the "absolute" elevation of a religious practice, such as the confession above the law, is to advocate a particular religious practice as above the law. When a priest learns of a murder or child rape, he should be obliged to report the crime, as any other law abiding human is compelled to [My emphasis.], lest they become an accessory to the crime.

You're wrong on the facts. There isn't a general legal obligation to report crimes in the UK, Ireland and the U.S. (e.g. murder). (Misprision of felony laws have generally either been abolished or limited to active concealment.) As I've repeatedly pointed out in this thread, in the respect for the confidentiality of confession, Catholic priests are not above the law, because generally speaking, such an expectation of confidentiality is written into the law for all religious practitioners of any religion.
posted by Jahaza at 11:33 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you have a suggestion that would allow canon law to be respected whilst making reporting likely? It seems risky to leave it entirely to the judgement of a hierarchy which appears to have chosen to cover up on several previous occasions.

In the U.S. we commonly have mandatory reporting laws. Ireland currently doesn't. I'd support mandatory reporting laws like the one in Arkansas that I quoted upthread. That's really the main thing that the Catholic Church is asking for in mandatory reporting laws, that they don't require the reporting of sacramental confessions.

The Catholic Church (e.g. here in New York) has also asked that, given that child abuse cases were widely mishandled throughout society, it not be specially targeted for prosecution, by, for instance, seeking to lift the civil statute of limitations while maintaining protections for government run schools. There's also some concern that civil statute of limitation laws exist for a reason of promotion of justice (faded memories, dead or missing witnesses) and there can be a lack of due process for the accused in lifting the limitation.
posted by Jahaza at 11:43 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


There seems to be one problem with that. Let us construct a hypothetical Bad Priest. BP goes to his Good Bishop, as BP suspects that GB suspects him of abuse. GB now has a confession, and it is hard as a matter of canon law to justify further investigation as BP has confessed. BP's confession is now the only evidence. Should this then be turned over to police? It seems impossible to inform civil authority without breaching confession, and hard to argue that the evidence gathered in any further investigation isn't the fruit of the confession that cannot be mentioned.
posted by jaduncan at 11:58 AM on July 26, 2011


BP goes to GB to preemptively confess, to be clear.
posted by jaduncan at 12:00 PM on July 26, 2011


A man is not his head, but he won't live without it.

"And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:43-48, RSVCE)
posted by Zozo at 12:35 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aah, Jahaza, as ever looking to distort anyone's opposition to the organizational hierarchy as opposition to the religion itself. I know you'd like to subsume any criticism of the RCC as an attack on Catholicism itself and the Catholic laity, because then you'd be able to call "religious persecution!". Unfortunately, I won't let you.

This time around, you'd like to do it through cherry picking quotes out of context. Lame. You couldn't find anything that could be distorted in my comments here in this thread, so you went trolling through all my comments, but sadly again, you did a sloppy job.

I like how you cut out a part of the quote, but did not include the context of that quote - here it is with the context:

"Funny, I don't recall anyone attacking ordinary lay Catholics, or even all priests - I certainly wouldn't. What I did attack, and am unapologetic about, is the RCC as a hierarchical organization - top down power structure. I have a problem with the way the "top" is working and the way power is structured within the RCC, because while I have no doubt that there are plenty of good honest decent and even heroic priests, the organization they work for has been responsible for the biggest organized child rape anywhere in the world, going on for decades (and no doubt centuries).

Truth is an adequate defense against charges of slander. And truth is an adequate defense against charges of bigotry. If the shoe fits, wear it.

The charge is: The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world. That is not bigotry - that is the truth.
"

You quote the last sentence, but omitted the rest of the quote which makes your claim a direct lie - because it proves the very thing I've claimed all along, "the organization", not the Catholic laity - not even most Catholic priests. What a shabby, shabby maneuver.

I know you'd love to portray me as attacking common Catholics and Catholic priests, and to do so you resort to lies, looking for partial quotes or quotes out of context - you'd never go searching for posts of mine like this, for example:

"I don't donate money to the Church and I don't think anyone else should until they show that they're taking this shit seriously, but please don't assume that Catholics are bad people just because they keep bad company.

Quoted for truth. And I'll go further - not only are there fantastic awesome lay Catholics, but fantastic awesome Catholic priests who have lead all but saintly lives in the service of others, asking for nothing. They deserve the utmost respect, and should not be smeared by a brush too broad.
posted by VikingSword at 11:12 PM on April 1, 2010 [14 favorites +] [!]"

The other thing you like to do, is to scour every single comment to see if you can pick up one where I have mentioned the RCC but not immediately appended "caveat: I mean the organization, not laity", so that you can latch on to that as proof that it's common Catholics that I mean. Never mind that such quotes come in a thread where I have made clear that when I speak of the RCC I mean the organization, and I specifically disavow this as any kind of attack on common laity or even most Catholic priests. This is such a common technique, that I've even addressed that before, so all I have to do here is repeat that old post:

"Well, I'm not writing a legal opinion, or a scholarly essay - if I were, I'd be referencing, and annotating, and citing and qualifying. But I'm not. I'm posting on a website - and therefore I'm using shortcuts and colloquial speech to refer to concepts. There is nothing I did that actually is "incorrect" here - as long as I make my meaning clear. Which I did - abundantly. I did make a distinction - repeatedly - between lay Catholics and the hierarchy. "The Church" encompasses both - but in common usage, it is allowed to use it as referring to just the hierarchy. It's what analytical philosophers (and linguists) refer to as "common usage". To then play word games, and attack someone for using language in such a way - as long as there is no confusion, which in this case there wasn't - is a hallmark of dishonest debating techniques, techniques which people get past in the first week of debating classes. If someone uses such techniques, it says quite a bit about them, and as such it is valuable. Saves effort, I can rest my case merely by quoting my opponent.
posted by VikingSword at 7:49 PM on December 2, 2009 [+] [!]"

That was back in 2009. I see certain things never change. Shabby debating techniques, where you are more focused on scoring points, even if it involves blatant distortions, than in an honest debate about serious issues with an organization that's been proven the world over, to repeatedly subvert the law.

You can either accept that I have made the distinction between the RCC as an organization, the hierarchy, versus the religion of Catholicism, Catholic laity, or most Catholic priests, and focus on the serious issue of organizational responsibility, or you can continue to attempt to distort and lie about my position so that you can portray any concern with outrageous child rape as simply an attack on all Catholics and "suppressing a major religion". We all know what you'll choose - because what you are defending is indefensible on its own, instead you have to hide behind "religious persecution" even if it involves lying about what is actually being said.
posted by VikingSword at 12:37 PM on July 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


@Jahaza Can you please stop pretending that when people say "the Church" they somehow mean the entire congregation?

I'm aware that some people use that term in that way, but you know perfectly well that when most people say "the Church" they're referring to the hierarchy.
posted by sotonohito at 12:39 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Blasdelb: So you agree that the handling of the matter so far has been immoral, I assume."

Holy fuck yes.

"Do you have a suggestion that would allow canon law to be respected whilst making reporting likely? It seems risky to leave it entirely to the judgement of a hierarchy which appears to have chosen to cover up on several previous occasions."

Since the transmission of this letter cannon law has been changed, in fact it drove metafilter into a hissy fit then too because the apostolic letter that did it also happened to address the ordination of women. The change was a significant improvement, though clearly it is not yet adequate.

A rational change would be a direction that bishops require that every congregation in their diocese with minors develop their own written policy for proactively preventing and detecting abuse. Each policy would be required to at the very least:
    Screen youth volunteers and staff with a waiting period, an interview, and a criminal background check. Additionally it should require that all youth volunteers and staff sign a form stating that they understand the policy prior to working with children. Church leaders should be required to attend an annual training on child abuse prevention, held by the diocese with the assistance of other faiths that already do this. Institute an appropriate two adult rule for any activities involving minors and use of church staff or facilities, with adults of mixed sex for any overnight activities. Classrooms or childcare rooms will not be locked and may be visited without prior notice by church staff, parents, or other volunteer church workers. No child/youth will be in the building or on the church grounds unsupervised. It will be expected that all children/youth are attending the church for a specific program. Persons responsible for activities/classes will arrive early enough and remain long enough to insure that all children are properly supervised. For all classes/programs for children younger than 1st grade, a procedure will exist that clearly identifies the child with the child’s parent or guardian.
There should also be a form of mandatory reporting built directly into Cannon Law that makes an exception for sacramental confession.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:42 PM on July 26, 2011


@Jahaza Can you please stop pretending that when people say "the Church" they somehow mean the entire congregation?

How 'bout people say what they mean and not leave us guessing.

I'm aware that some people use that term in that way, but you know perfectly well that when most people say "the Church" they're referring to the hierarchy.

I actually don't know it "perfectly well". In my experience, it's not the case that "the Church" means for "most people" the hierarchy and not, well, the Church, the leadership and the people together. The word we translate commonly in English as "Church" in Greek refers to the "assembly" generally, not the leadership.
posted by Jahaza at 12:52 PM on July 26, 2011


vikingsword, it's actually not a direct lie:

but omitted the rest of the quote which makes your claim a direct lie - because it proves the very thing I've claimed all along, "the organization", not the Catholic laity - not even most Catholic priests.

OK... lets look at the whole comment:
"Funny, I don't recall anyone attacking ordinary lay Catholics, or even all priests - I certainly wouldn't. What I did attack, and am unapologetic about, is the RCC as a hierarchical organization - top down power structure. I have a problem with the way the "top" is working and the way power is structured within the RCC, because while I have no doubt that there are plenty of good honest decent and even heroic priests, the organization they work for has been responsible for the biggest organized child rape anywhere in the world, going on for decades (and no doubt centuries).

Truth is an adequate defense against charges of slander. And truth is an adequate defense against charges of bigotry. If the shoe fits, wear it.

The charge is: The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world. That is not bigotry - that is the truth.
This is an outrageous slander. The Catholic Church has not organized for an "organized child rape". Clearly their was mismanagement, but there is no evidence that the Catholic Church as a whole was organized for this purpose for decades let alone centuries.
posted by Jahaza at 12:56 PM on July 26, 2011


@Jahaza So you're going to continue using an bizarre meaning of the word in order to insist that people criticizing the hierarchy are somehow evil people bent on banning the religion?

To me that would seem to imply that you have absolutely no intent of continuing this discussion honestly.
posted by sotonohito at 1:12 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jahaza, this is beyond pathetic. You quote me, and then right afterwards insist on interpreting a meaning that's clearly not there. I don't know if you are doing it on purpose, or are somehow bewitched. I never said that the RCC was organized for the purpose of child rape. Where do you see me make that claim in the quote you cited? As to my claiming that the RCC as an organization is responsible for more child rapes than any other, what is there that's not the truth? The RCC is millennia old, and with the number of priests involved over the centuries, can you name any other organization with such institutional continuity that can take that title away from the RCC? Or is the quarrel with the claim that it's an institutional problem, rather than "a few bad apples"? If it's the latter, please refer to the devastating written reports coming out of Ireland the last few years - or indeed the investigations here in the U.S., or Belgium, or Austria, or Germany, or... well, I'll be happy to find the quotes for you, if you doubt the deep systemic problems here, rather than a few bad apple priests here and there.

In any case, the claim you made that I slandered the RCC as organized for the purpose of child rape - well, that claim is simply invented by you, for I have made no such claim as anyone can plainly see in the very quote you cited.
posted by VikingSword at 1:14 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


What makes these continued scandals so frustrating for me is that the right answers from an institutional perspective are not rocket science, far from it. However the Church hierarchy has said over and over again that one of the primary reasons they arn't looking for help from the outside is that all they see is hyberbolic and plainly incorrect attacks on the Church itself. That's what makes these threads so depressing for me, that as the western media and plainly metafilter itself get further and further from reality, we drag the Church with us, just in the opposite delusional direction.

To be clear I'm not trying to say that MetaFilter is responsible for how far up their own asses the powers that be are, but I am saying that threads like this where at least half off the assertions made about the church are factually incorrect much less unproductive are part of the problem. If we want the church to stop spending so much time trying desperately to defend itself, perhaps we should spend less time flailing incoherently about evil and complicit all Catholics must be.

"@Jahaza So you're going to continue using an bizarre meaning of the word in order to insist that people criticizing the hierarchy are somehow evil people bent on banning the religion?"

You're not seriously trying to assert that there is no one in this thread bent on banning religion are you?
posted by Blasdelb at 1:17 PM on July 26, 2011


I never said that the RCC was organized for the purpose of child rape. Where do you see me make that claim in the quote you cited?
I have a problem with the way the "top" is working and the way power is structured within the RCC, because while I have no doubt that there are plenty of good honest decent and even heroic priests, the organization they work for has been responsible for the biggest organized child rape anywhere in the world, going on for decades (and no doubt centuries).
You could have written, "covered up the largest amount of child rape" or "failed to prevent the largest amount of child rape". But instead you linked the organization with organized child rape.
posted by Jahaza at 1:23 PM on July 26, 2011


@Jahaza So you're going to continue using an bizarre meaning of the word in order to insist that people criticizing the hierarchy are somehow evil people bent on banning the religion?

Amazing! Using the word "Church" to refer to the Church is dishonest? In your reading, members of the Catholic Church are NOT ACTUALLY MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH. That's silly.
posted by Jahaza at 1:25 PM on July 26, 2011


Also Vikingsword, remember, you wrote, "The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world." You didn't write, "sheltered the biggest and oldest pedophile ring" or "covered up the biggest and oldest pedophile ring" you wrote that it "is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world".

"organized for" in this case doesn't mean "founded for" but "arranged so as to undertake". Certainly a "pedophile ring" is arranged to undertake (organized for) pedophilia.
posted by Jahaza at 1:28 PM on July 26, 2011


You could have written, "covered up the largest amount of child rape" or "failed to prevent the largest amount of child rape". But instead you linked the organization with organized child rape.

Can you please explain to me, how "covered up" is not linked to the organization? This is not just about covering up, btw., but about re-assignement of offending priests who then go on to find fresh victims - over and over and over again. This was done by free-lancing individuals - these are people in an strict top-down hierarchical organization. This is a systemic problem. It's a structural problem in dealing with the whole issue - not just the abuse itself, but the response to it, down to the PR efforts.
posted by VikingSword at 1:31 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because it goes to the purpose. What you repeatedly write indictates that the Catholic Church as a whole and at the highest levels acted the way it did for the purpose of promoting child abuse. That's what a pedophile ring does. That's a ridiculous and slanderous claim.
posted by Jahaza at 1:33 PM on July 26, 2011


Err: "This was [NOT] done by free-lancing individuals".
posted by VikingSword at 1:34 PM on July 26, 2011


Because it goes to the purpose. What you repeatedly write indictates that the Catholic Church as a whole and at the highest levels acted the way it did for the purpose of promoting child abuse. That's what a pedophile ring does. That's a ridiculous and slanderous claim.

You are welcome to try to draw lines as to how high the coverup and abuse went, but it is now touching the very top, the pope himself - see: Abuse Scandal in Germany Edges Closer to Pope; I personally don't know how high it reaches, all I know is that when the organization is as shot through with corruption on this point, whatever other things the organization is ostensibly devoted to, it can not avoid institutional responsibility. I certainly don't believe that the RCC was formed with the idea of child sexual abuse. But over time, whether through infiltration or through structural failures, the problem became endemic. When the whole organization stands to shield those responsible, and the Vatican continuously obstructing justice here, in a top-down hierarchy, the organization is responsible.
posted by VikingSword at 2:00 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


@Jahaza So are you actually Bill Donohue, or are you just channeling him?

In the context of discussing Catholicism the phrase "the Church" refers to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Maybe in religion class they teach you that "the Church" means all believers. But that isn't what anyone but you means, and continuing to pretend otherwise is dishonest, yes.

It's abundantly clear from context that the people using that phrase in this discussion meant the hierarchy, not the entire community of believers.

I have never, in fact, heard anyone use the term "the Church" to mean "the entire community of believers" except people like you trying to misrepresent the arguments of the other side in discussions of this nature.

But it's been explained, several times now, so it'd be nice if you'd stop pretending that critics of the Church are intent on banning the religion.

"That's really the main thing that the Catholic Church is asking for in mandatory reporting laws, that they don't require the reporting of sacramental confessions. "

IE: that mandatory reporting laws not apply to the Church. Yay! Oh, and did you mean "the entire community of believers" when you wrote "the Catholic Church"? No? Gee, guess you don't use the word that way either, except for when you're trying to BS us.

The law you support means if Bad Priest suspects he may soon be discovered and rushes to confess to Good Bishop, then Good Bishop is protected if he chooses to cover up for Bad Priest. That's great for rapists, not so great for anyone else.

I think you're failing to comprehend the idea that we want to solve the problem of rape by priests being concealed by the Church, you seem to think the problem is people making a fuss not the Church protecting rapists. That isn't the problem we want to solve, in fact we don't see people making a fuss about being raped as the problem.

If mandatory reporting hurts your precious little religious "laws" too damn bad. I'm a mite concerned about actual victims of actual crimes, and I don't really care about the pretend "laws" of your religion.

To take an extreme example: worshipers of Kali would like to murder people, it's part of their religious belief. We do not make an exception in laws forbidding murder to satisfy their religious faith.

If the Church has pretend "laws" that forbid priests from calling real authorities to deal with priests who rape people then I'm 100% in favor of severe legal penalties for priests who obey those pretend "laws" and cover up for the rapists. If that hurts the Church then fine, it also hurts the Church of Kali when murder is outlawed. Tough shit.

But you seem intent on promoting the idea that respect for the pretend "laws" of your religion is more important than preventing rapists from getting away, and (worse) being shuffled around to new places and new victims.

Did you have your empathy surgically extracted?

"The Catholic Church (e.g. here in New York) has also asked that, given that child abuse cases were widely mishandled throughout society, it not be specially targeted for prosecution, by, for instance, seeking to lift the civil statute of limitations while maintaining protections for government run schools. "

I think it is entirely justified to specifically target the Church for investigation in that, unlike government run schools, the Church had a policy of concealing rape, covering up for rapists, and moving rapists to new areas and new victims when there was threat of their crimes being exposed.

The schools, by comparison, have a policy of reporting rape to the authorities and not covering up for rapists.

The problem is not the rapes, but the fact that institutionally the Church has had, for decades, a policy (official or unofficial) of covering up the rapes and protecting the rapists. Can you not see that this is a problem?

If the Church hadn't been in the business of protecting rapists I'd agree completely that singling it out for investigation would be inappropriate. But it was, and arguably still is in that business.

Once the Church changes its tune, prostates itself and offers sincere and humble apologies to the victims and the world and makes a real change in Church policy coupled with a turning over every single known rapist to real authorities then, and only then, will I support the idea that the Church shouldn't be singled out for investigation. Until that happens I say it is impossible to examine the Church too closely.

Don't want the Church to be singled out for investigation? Then change the Church so it is no longer a haven for rapists. Otherwise, don't bitch when we examine organizations known for protecting rapists more closely than we examine organizations not know to protect rapists.
posted by sotonohito at 2:01 PM on July 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ah, Catholic apologetics - cheap debating tricks for the Lord! It's like listening to one of those crappy EWTN call-in shows or super-apologist Father John Corapi, who's had quite an interesting few months.
posted by jhandey at 2:10 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"If the Church has pretend "laws" that forbid priests from calling real authorities to deal with priests who rape people then I'm 100% in favor of severe legal penalties for priests who obey those pretend "laws" and cover up for the rapists."

That doesn't exist, you are arguing from delusion, that interpretation of the uncovered letter is a fabrication of the New York Times parroted uncritically in this FPP. The Church has many problems, this is not one of them.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:15 PM on July 26, 2011


A few months ago, there was a story about orgies at a monastery in Italy, involving many high placed Vatican bishops and other officials, but I can't find it at the moment, and while googling for it, I came across more stuff from Austria:

"Priest orgy scandal hits Catholic church

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON
The powerful Austrian Catholic church was plunged into its second big sex scandal in a decade on Monday when a seminary run by arch-conservatives was alleged to be the site of orgies among young priests and their teachers.
The seminary in St Polten, west of Vienna, comes under the authority of the conservative Bishop Kurt Krenn.
The Vienna news magazine Profil has published pictures of priests and students engaged in sexual acts, prompting an uproar, emergency meetings of the church leadership, and calls for Bishop Krenn's resignation.
The pictures were said to be part of a cache of some 40,000 photos and child pornography videos found by church officials on computers at the seminary a year ago. While the Austrian Bishops' Conference issued a statement declaring that "homosexuality and pornography" could have no place at the seminary, Bishop Krenn refused to resign and appeared to compound the crisis by saying: "This has got nothing to do with homosexuality. It's just boys' pranks."
The Austrian church experienced its worst modern crisis in 1995 when its then head, Cardinal Hans-Hermann Groer, was accused of pedophilia. Senior church figures eventually found that he had been molesting boys for years. He was forced to retire, and died last year.
In a country that is officially 90 percent Catholic, the scandal saw thousands leaving the church and hundreds of thousands joining a petition campaign for reform."

Institutionalized mass rape has also sadly not been a rarity, as this report from already ten years ago, shows.
posted by VikingSword at 2:19 PM on July 26, 2011


> They divert the conversation to something else, and when I try to steer it back, I'm accused of being anti-Catholic.

At this point, I'd consider that a compliment.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:12 PM on July 26, 2011


WWJD? Would Jesus protect a child-raping disciple, or would he thrash him worse than the money-changers at the temple? Would he forgive the raping disciple and look the other way when he rapes another child, or strike him down faster than a recalcitrant fig tree?

I guess what I'm asking here is whether you believe your argument in favour of protecting the clergy to be the Christ-like attitude of a rape-happy Jesus.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:46 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I think this is a pretty good article on the subject that, while it comes from an orthodox Catholic newsman,* sheds some light for me."

Yes, but it's largely op/ed speculative analysis, with a few notable holes.

"The Taoiseach lambasted the Irish hierarchy for not requiring bishops to disclose reports of sexual abuse in the 1990s, when his own government had not made any such requirement until recent weeks."

He only became PM quite recently. Perhaps he viewed things differently than his predecessor, or simply decided that he needed to get ahead of the emerging issue. You can't exactly say that it's "not logical" to compel the Church to obey the law, after they've been breaking the law for centuries, can you?! Change comes when its ready, and has its own logic.

The writer acknowledges that the Vatican “effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures which they had agreed", but suggests that Kenny’s speech focused excessive criticism on the Vatican. Seems to me that allowing child abuse to continue in their sovereign nation without reporting the crimes, even after putting forth a policy of reporting those crimes is a pretty serious thing worth condemning.

That, and the fact that polls in Ireland indicate that nearly half believe the government isn't going far enough, seems to indicate that Kenny reflected the public's mood pretty accurately here.

Ireland wants to be taken seriously for a change.
posted by markkraft at 4:00 PM on July 26, 2011


"It's like listening to one of those crappy EWTN call-in shows or super-apologist Father John Corapi, who's had quite an interesting few months."

Pish posh. I bet that he's got a perfectly reasonable explanation for that!
posted by markkraft at 4:07 PM on July 26, 2011


Look, the RCC is an organization with the longest institutional continuity extant today. They are not going anywhere anytime soon. They have some 1.2 billion nominal adherents and are the second largest behind Muslims.

The RCC (as an organization) will be with us for a long, long time yet. But, there are astonishing trend lines, so dramatic that I was honestly surprised. There's an FPP today about how a 10% dedicated minority can change public opinion in a dramatically short time. Once upon a time, the RCC had implicit trust from the populations world-wide. But very bad things are happening to the RCC - it is in free fall in the Western world, and in the developed world in general. Talk about the 10% - the scandals, as I predicted on the blue a couple of years ago, have seriously undermined the RCC moral authority, and the decline has been nothing short of astounding. There are now far more than 10% of the populations in pretty much every Western country, that strongly holds an extremely negative view of the RCC, and it is having a snowballing effect with a speed and rapidity I find breath-taking.

The RCC (the hierarchy) is met with derision even in countries which were formerly their power base. That has happened in Spain, in Italy, in Ireland and in Poland. In the West, they are also facing a horrible generational split, with their adherents generally older, and dying out, and the new generation growing up under the constant drumbeat of RCC scandal (the exception is the U.S., where there is actual nominal growth due to Latino immigration - though that's temporary as by the second generation, the trend reverts). They are having a hard time replacing priests and holding onto parishes.

So what are they doing? Well they're pushing into the third world. But this is only a delaying tactic, as there is a well-known paradigm, where a brand goes down market and eventually is also rejected by that market - as the developing world catches onto the status of the RCC in the developed West, they too shall reject it.

The trends are quite clear. It will take some generations to play out, but almost unbelievably, we may be coming to the end of the RCC as a unified organization. I think it will eventually splinter and splinter and peter out. Religion may never die, but the form will keep changing. The RCC (as an organization), seemingly so invincible, will too, like all things, be subject to the same relentless laws of evolution and will face extinction while others will take their place. Not in our lifetimes, to be sure. But didn't the religions of ancient Egypt, some with millennial pedigrees, also seem eternal? And yet they crumbled with relative rapidity. Nothing lasts forever. And today, I firmly believe, we are witnessing the beginning of the end for the RCC (as an organization).

But it is a wonderful spectacle to see this dramatic decline - in our very lifetimes - of the RCC (as an organization) in the West, a harbinger of its eventual demise. I am quite sure there will be ups and downs, but the trend is enormously satisfying to witness.

It is up to individual Catholics to take charge of their church and reform it, if it is to have any chance at all at evolving into something that can survive. The vast majority of Catholic priests too are people of good will - but their organization is fatally flawed. They can either reform it, or the shell shall die. I personally wish them the best - may they succeed and take charge of their destiny.
posted by VikingSword at 4:35 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awesome takedowns, Jahaza!

H8r: "B-b-but I never said that." Jahaza: "Oh yes you did. Here. Here. Aaand here." There's more backpedalling here than a... erm... backwards tricycle race.

> I think the church has been gamed by paedos. The paedos use the church as a "vehicle."

BTW, not sure what it's like over the pond, but in Australia the Catholic Church is currently being gamed by people wanting a visa to live here. And considering the known problems the Church has here of recruiting locals to become men of the cloth, these shadowy visa-craving types are on an absolute winner.

The church is recruiting too many people with their heart in the wrong place. I can't see things improving.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:51 PM on July 26, 2011


And that a very, very small minority have ever abused children. Less than 2%, in fact.

Yes, figures from the RCC hierarchy are pretty reliable, I'm sure.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:07 PM on July 26, 2011


VikingSword: there are astonishing trend lines, so dramatic that I was honestly surprised.

the decline has been nothing short of astounding

it is having a snowballing effect with a speed and rapidity I find breath-taking

it is in free fall in the Western world, and in the developed world in general

What exactly is your basis for these broad, sweeping statements? Are there polls or studies that you found and forgot to include? Or did you lick your finger and hold it to the wind?

Yes, the Church in Western Europe is in sharp decline, as are virtually all religions in Western Europe. The reasons for this are much, much broader than the abuse scandal. Everywhere else in the world, membership is growing. Yes, even in America, as you begrudgingly admit. In fact, if you follow that link you'll see that the RCC is one of the only American mainline denominations whose membership did not decrease in 2011.

the scandals have seriously undermined the RCC moral authority.

Not for the majority of American Catholics. See, there are actually more Catholics like this guy then you'd like to think. As someone apparently interested in the pulse of the modern church, you'll want to take note of his last few lines:
1) We’re human, and the church exists because of all that “human” implies, not the least of which is the reality of sin; 2) The church is not an organization, but a community, which is an entirely different thing and 3) I don’t belong to it; it belongs to me. The more Catholics there are who realize and live those realities, the fewer unengaged Catholics there would be — all of which points to perhaps the real issue behind the concern about “fewer Catholics.”
It requires a special kind of arrogance to A) diminish the role that developing nations will play in the future or assume that they will follow the same ideological paths as others, and B) consider your own position in history so privileged that you have all the background needed to make sweeping predictions about a 2000-year old institution.

Do you think that this is the first crisis the Church has ever faced? You may relish her struggles and you may think that this crisis is a "wonderful spectacle," but you are dreaming if you fail to see that she has survived much worse.
posted by Cortes at 8:11 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


... you are dreaming if you fail to see that she has survived much worse.

Rather than seeing the Catholic Church's main goal as either spreading Christ's teachings (as some maintain), or promoting pedophilia (as some other may be claiming), it usually seems to me that it acts to maintain itself as a powerful institution, and that its primary goal is surviving as a powerful institution.

[In this I'm not necessarily referring to all catholic communities, but the institution of the Catholic Church.]
posted by benito.strauss at 10:27 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you think that this is the first crisis the Church has ever faced? You may relish her struggles and you may think that this crisis is a "wonderful spectacle," but you are dreaming if you fail to see that she has survived much worse.

Fucking listen to yourself.
posted by Zozo at 10:29 PM on July 26, 2011


Not seeing the reason for your outrage, Zozo.
posted by Cortes at 10:41 PM on July 26, 2011


In fact, if you follow that link you'll see that the RCC is one of the only American mainline denominations whose membership did not decrease in 2011.

National Catholic Reporter, February 28, 2011.

For Catholicism, the banner headline was that there are now 22 million ex-Catholics in America, by far the greatest net loss for any religious body. One in three Americans raised Catholic have left the church. Were it not for immigration, Catholicism in America would be contracting dramatically: for every one member the church adds, it loses four. On the other hand, the study also found that the Catholic church has a higher retention rate than other major Christian denominations, and that 2.6 percent of the adult population is composed of converts to Catholicism, representing a pool of nearly six million new Catholics.
posted by jhandey at 4:06 AM on July 27, 2011


@Cortes I'm guessing that the reason for Zozo's outrage is that the Church has been actively protecting rapists for decades, if not centuries, and that some people here seem to see that as a trifling little detail not really worth discussing, much less doing anything about.
posted by sotonohito at 6:32 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing that gets me is that this isn't even all due to abusing priests being hidden behind the seal of the confessional. I've been reading up more and most of the complaints about the cover ups have to do with simply not reporting accusations of abuse. That's simply inexcusable.

I look at it this way - a priest who goes to confession and unloads his sin on another priest is a confession that wouldn't exist anyways if the seal of the confessional didn't exist. All the normal evidence of abuse is still there and that isn't protected - as was pointed out earlier in the thread, there tends to be a lot more going on when abuse is occurring. That part isn't protected by sacrament and there's no reason to not report it.

And that is really what is infuriating. I can understand the desire to keep the seal of the confessional sacred. Why all the other cover ups?
posted by charred husk at 7:04 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll bet that, to my claim that the Catholic church's "primary goal is surviving as a powerful institution", some people thought "Yes, thank God!" and others thought "The bastards!".

So I think the debate should be over how much good they do by being a powerful institution, and how much bad they do in order to stay that way.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:07 AM on July 27, 2011


benito.strauss: "So I think the debate should be over how much good they do by being a powerful institution, and how much bad they do in order to stay that way."

Since "maintain the line of Apostolic succession" is probably not going be considered a "good" by the majority of MetaFilter, how about we not bother?
posted by charred husk at 7:11 AM on July 27, 2011


The heirarchy of the Catholic Church has been shuffling known pedophiles from one parish to another for decades. Untold numbers of children have been raped by those priests.

When similar issues were discovered in other institutions, they acted to make reporting of suspected child abuse mandatory. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church has spent the last decade or so trying to avoid mandatory reporting.

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church* claims that their religious rules take precedence over the prevention of the continued rape of children. Even in cases where those rules don't apply, where reports of abuse were made by victims to priests higher up the chain of command than the priest being accused.

Most of the laity of the Catholic Church think this is not only an appalling abuse of power and shows a disgusting acceptance of child rape - they also think that the weak excuses are complete and utter bullshit. In this, they're in solidarity with billions of decent people around the world. We don't give a shit if one rule of one religion gets broken in order to prevent further horrific abuse, and we don't give a flying fuck if some Catholics have their feelings hurt by finding this out. It's *nothing* compared to the evil done by pedophiles evading justice.

* it's getting tiring writing that out in full each time when everyone knows exactly what I mean, but I'm determined not to let anyone pick that nit
posted by harriet vane at 7:20 AM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


WWJD? Would Jesus protect a child-raping disciple, or would he thrash him worse than the money-changers at the temple?

"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."
Mathew 18:6
posted by jeffen at 7:35 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


For good or ill, I don't think millstones are covered under canon law.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:55 AM on July 27, 2011


Not seeing the reason for your outrage, Zozo.

That's at least half the problem.
posted by Zozo at 10:14 AM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


"So I think the debate should be over how much good they do by being a powerful institution, and how much bad they do in order to stay that way."

I can't help but notice that nowhere on that high horse of yours is anything that has anything to do with the protection of children. It is an effort to maintain this thread as a referendum on how evil the church is or is not instead of the problem and logical solutions. With all of the moralizing in this thread about how lay Catholics could think about anything else in regard to their church, perhaps we should take the log out of our own eye

"@Cortes I'm guessing that the reason for Zozo's outrage is that the Church has been actively protecting rapists for decades, if not centuries, and that some people here seem to see that as a trifling little detail not really worth discussing, much less doing anything about."

If this is some kind of jab at Cortes' referenced and valid explanation that Catholicism is not collapsing thats in bad faith. No one here is saying that child rape is not a big deal.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:32 PM on July 27, 2011


@Blasdelb I must disagree. They appear very much to be arguing that protection of priests who rape people is not that big a deal by saying that it must take a back seat to the policies set down by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church [1].

They seem to be arguing that while they grudgingly admit that stopping priests from raping people might be a valid concern, it is utterly wrong, immoral, unethical, and completely against the principles of religious freedom to actually require the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to adopt policies that might be effective in stopping priests from raping people.

They also seem insistent on pretending that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church [2] has never done anything to protect rapists and that it is a very bad idea to acknowledge reality and subject the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to greater scrutiny than organizations which do not have a similar history of protecting rapists are subjected to.

To me that looks a lot like they don't think priests raping people is that big a deal.

See, when you think something is a big deal you take steps to address the big deal. You don't sit around insisting that absolutely nothing be done because it makes you butthurt to be reminded that an organization you contribute to and support has done very bad things.

But please, do explain where they a) expressed the position that stopping priests from raping children needs to be the top priority, and b) made proposals that might work to accomplish that goal? I don't see either of those things.

I see attempts to minimize the problem, to deflect discussion of the problem of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church establishing policies that protected rapists onto other topics, to attack Ireland for raising the issue by pretending it was raised as a diversion from their economic problems, and to generally attack anyone who suggests that maybe the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church needs to seriously address the problem of priests raping people and it's own protection of those priests.

[1] I'm joining harriet vane in the annoying use of an overly long phrase due to willful misinterpretation by the Bill Donohue wannabes.

[2] tired of that phrase yet? Yeah, me too, it'd be so very much simpler and easier to just type "the Church", but noooooo, the Donohue wannabes derail and pretend we're out to ban their religion if that happens.
posted by sotonohito at 2:25 PM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I very much wish people would not attempt to make Kenney's comments and people's disgust over the way the church has handled child abuse into a rhetoric of martyrdom for the Catholic church. I've hesitated about bringing this down to personal stories because i think to any sane and rational individual the reports speak for themselves,, but given some of the comments in this thread, I see that's not true.

My sister teaches adult literacy Dublin. One of her students came from one of the institutions infamous for the rape and abuse of children. From those of his class he was the only one still living in Ireland who was still alive. The rest had either committed suicide or destroyed themselves through drink or drugs. (I guess he could have been wrong and there might be some living on the streets in Dublin.) But that's what children were put through and that's what the results are. And that's why seeing people try to fall back on the need to protect the mother church reduces me to incoherent rage. The Vatican and the hierarchy reposnsible for covering up endemic abuse should be spending their days in penance and atonement instead of trying in to use diplomatic privilege and canon laws to block the punishment of those responsible. As recently as 3 years ago the hierarchy was trying to cover up. Three years. This is not the dim and distant past. This is the Vatican and assorted church authorities ignoring not just the law but common decency to hide the unforgivable. I'll repeat from an earlier comment: if the church loses the seal of the confessional in Ireland it will be because they, the descendants of the original apostles, have shown themselves unworthy of the trust once given to them by the Irish people. They did this to themselves, they did it repeatedly and they did it for years.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:58 PM on July 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


I see attempts to minimize the problem

No, you don't. What you see are attempts to provide some sort of accurate scale and temper the overblown anti-Catholic diatribe that comprises the majority of the comments.

There's a big difference between A) calling out as inaccurate and slanderous the charges that "the Church is a criminal organization whose program is child rape" and B) claiming that the child abuse scandal is not a terrible evil. No one here is guilty of the latter. The numerous attempts of some here to conflate the two is disingenuous.
posted by Cortes at 3:13 PM on July 27, 2011


Sotonohito, we're still in this thread two days later, why be coy about who you mean? Jahaza did exactly what you're demanding in their first comment and Cortes had confined themselves to correcting blatant falsehoods, the truth being something I hope we all agree is productive.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:22 PM on July 27, 2011


"So I think the debate should be over how much good they do by being a powerful institution, and how much bad they do in order to stay that way."

I can't help but notice that nowhere on that high horse of yours is anything that has anything to do with the protection of children. It is an effort to maintain this thread as a referendum on how evil the church is or is not instead of the problem and logical solutions.


Either I expressed myself badly or you've mis-interpreted me, because I don't understand how you you've said here relates to what I said. I was hoping to create a basis for the argument to move beyond "church good / church bad" direction it was taking. Failure to protect children is bad.

Maybe this reveals another difference between the two camps: forward looking vs. backward looking. Are you saying that all this attacking of the church is preventing it from putting in place mechanisms for protecting children in the future? [I'm honestly asking this. I sincerely didn't understand what point you were making there.]
posted by benito.strauss at 3:34 PM on July 27, 2011


I think I have misinterpreted you benito.strauss, and that is exactly what I am saying. The pope himself has said repeatedly, to that much more outrage, that he doesn't take the media criticism of the church seriously. Looking at the content, focus, and veracity of the media criticism I can understand why. The folks attacking Jahaza and Cortes are flailing around trying to have a what you are conversation with the church, and that is even riddled with repeated falsehoods at that, leaving Jahaza and Cortes to address the what are you are conversation that quickly spiraled past hyperbole anyway. If we don't want to be having this same damn argument in twenty years, and the mountain of anecdotes like lesbiassparrow's should be way to much reason not to, then the lay people of the church, the media, and outraged people around the world need to stay focused on the what you did conversation with the many enablers of bad actors within the church.

Besides, if more than half of the assertions about the church in this thread are not even factual statements, why should they be taken seriously by anyone much less catholics, you know, experts on the catholic church?
posted by Blasdelb at 4:47 PM on July 27, 2011


I wish there was a name for the following phenomenon: There is group A and group B. 10% of group A is assholes, and 10% of group B is assholes. The rest of group A and group B are your typical people, with a muddle of motivations. But all of group A is pointing at B's 10%. and saying "B's are assholes". Symmetrically, all of group B is pointing at A's 10%, and saying "A's are assholes". A blatant example around Boston is where A and B are 'cyclists' and 'motorist'.

It feels like a lot of this thread was just playing out that scenario.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:21 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Blasdelb, to the best of my knowledge the majority of the members of the Catholic Church have been focused on the What You Did side of things. It's had zero effect on the hierarchy, presumably because they don't give a shit what the laity thinks and/or they think the laity are mistaken in objecting to the perversion of justice involved in not reporting cases of child rape. We don't know exactly what they think, to be sure, but judging by the fruits of their actions it must involve at least one of those options.

You appear to think that a more respectful dialogue that accurately represents every tiny detail of a baroquely convoluted religion will change the minds of people who've already decided that child rape isn't bad enough to report to the police. But if the detail isn't about an instance of child rape, it's not really germane and won't sway anyone on either side. This isn't a seminary, nor is it a history or comparative religion class. No-one is going to do in-depth research into the details of someone else's religion when what they are angry about is the cover-up of child abuse.

And I think that people who deliberately and with malice aforethought cover up cases of child rape (let alone *commit* such a heinous act) have forfeited their right to my respect. They may have avoided a court of law, but the public knows what they did and will not be silenced.
posted by harriet vane at 7:33 AM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


@Cortes Why, exactly, would there be a need to "call out" hyperbole? When people are righteously angry they tend to get a mite hyperbolic.

Furthermore, yes it may be technically inaccurate to say that "the Church is a criminal organization whose program is child rape" in that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church [1] was hardly founded for that purpose.

HOWEVER. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church undeniably committed and may well continue to be committing crimes, failing to report crimes, and shuffling around rapists to avoid those criminals being prosecuted by real (ie: non-hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church) authorities. If an organization is committing crimes does that not make it a criminal organization?

Further, those crimes are being committed to protect and enable members of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who rape children. Is that not, therefore, a program of child rape?

See, that's the problem. You and your fellow defenders of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church don't seem to grasp the idea that people are rather justifiably outraged that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has not only been discovered to have engaged in decades of protection and cover ups for members of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who are rapists [2], but moreover that it has refused to acknowledge that program, refused to take concrete action to end that program, and that in general the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is behaving as if the revelations of the rapes was the problem, not the rapes themselves. You seem instead to be utterly outraged that anyone, no matter what provocation offered by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church should be upset with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

That's going to create animosity, and you need to understand why people are, rightly, furious at the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. And, by extension, upset with people who are dedicating themselves to the defense of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

Will you acknowledge please that people, both Catholic and non, have very good and just reasons for being both utterly infuriated with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, and that they have been given no reason whatsoever to think that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has any intent of changing anything?

Recall, if you will, that it is only two months ago that one of the Pope's top advisers on pedophilia, Father Riccardo Seppia, a man praised in previous Papal statements, was revealed to be pedophile soliciting for needy boys under 14 with family issues he could exploit?

That's an indication of how seriously the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is taking the matter; they aren't taking steps to have priests who rape people prosecuted by real authorities, but rather they're continuing their established program of protecting those priests.

Given that background, can you see why people would be righteously upset?

Given that background let's examine the attempted deflection to the problem of teachers who rape people. Yes, there are teachers who are rapists. However, unlike with the priests who rape people and had powerful allies in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who covered up for them, moved them around to different areas with new victims, and intimidated the victims to prevent them from going to the police, the school systems tend to be aggressive the opposite direction. School systems report rapist teachers to the police, they do not cover up,t hey do not shuffle rapist teachers to new areas.

Which is why I think it is perfectly fair and accurate to describe Jahaza's attempt to bring up the problem of rapist teachers as both minimizing the problem of rapist priests and trying to deflect the conversation away from the problems of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

What I see is a lot of angry people and a few dedicated defenders of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who are doing their utmost to convince the angry people that the stonewalling, intransigence, and generally aggressive indifference to the problem of rapists in the priesthood by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is OK.

Yes, I can see how hyperbole can be perhaps a mite annoying to people who really want to believe that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church are great people who shouldn't be criticized even mildly, much less subject to harsh criticism.

But when you've got, on the one hand an organization that has had both official and unofficial policies of covering up rape by its members and protecting members who rape children, and on the other hand people getting somewhat hyperbolic in their criticism of that organization, you're going to have to bend over backward acknowledging the problems of the organization before you even think about criticizing the hyperbole.

Which is more important? The rape of children by members of a wealthy and powerful organization, or a few people on the net being hyperbolic about that problem?

[1] Note: still using the insanely awkward phrasing because of people like you trying to pretend that otherwise I'm claiming all Catholics everywhere are bad and that the religion should be banned. Are you tired of this yet? Can you and your fellow apologists for the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church get together, acknowledge that isn't what we mean when we say "the Church" and let us talk normally? Please?

[2] And most likely centuries of such protection and covering up. If the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church was protecting rapists in the relatively liberal and not especially respectful towards the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church 1970's, why would we assume for one moment that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church was not doing exactly the same thing during the centuries they had vastly more power and respect than they do today? I'd venture to guess that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has been covering up for and protecting rapists since the time it first acquired much power at all.
posted by sotonohito at 9:49 AM on July 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd venture to guess that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has been covering up for and protecting rapists since the time it first acquired much power at all.

It seems to depend on when you establish that acquisition of power. From A VERY SHORT HISTORY OF CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH:
The Council of Elvira [306 AD] was not the only source of early legislative attempts to curb the sexual misdeeds of the clergy. Other gatherings of bishops throughout the Christian world, which encompassed what are now Western Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East and the British Isles, passed laws attempting to stamp out clerical concubinage, clerical fornication and homosexual activity.
. . .

The Penitentials provide a vivid glimpse into the darker side of Christian life at the time. Though it is not known exactly how many such books were written, the more prominent ones have been preserved, studied and translated. Several of these refer to sexual crimes committed by clerics against young boys and girls. The Penitential of Bede (England, 8th century) advises that clerics who commit sodomy with young boys be given increasingly severe penances commensurate with their rank, the higher ranking (bishops) receiving harsher penalties. The regularity with which mention is made of clergy sex crimes shows that the problem was not isolated, was known in the community and was treated more severely than similar acts committed by lay men. The Penitential Books were in use from the mid 6th century to the mid 12th century.
Things seem to have changed somewhat later:
The most dramatic and explicit condemnation of forbidden clergy sexual activity was the Book of Gomorrah of St. Peter Damian, completed in 1051. The author had been a Benedictine monk and was appointed archbishop and later cardinal by the reigning pope. Peter Damian was also a dedicated Church reformer who lived in a society wherein clerical decadence was not only widespread and publicly known, but generally accepted as the norm. His work, the circumstances that prompted it and the reaction of the reigning pope (Leo IX) are a prophetic reflection of the contemporary situation. He begins by singling out superiors who, prompted by excessive and misplaced piety, fail to exclude sodomites (chap. 2). He asserts that those given to “unclean acts” not be ordained or, if they are already ordained, be dismissed from Holy Orders (chap. 3). He holds special contempt for those who defile men or boys who come to them for confession (chap. 6). Likewise he condemns clerics who administer the sacrament of penance (confession) to their victims (chap. 7). The author also provides a refutation of the canonical sources used by offending clerics to justify their proclivities (chap. 11, 12). He also provides chapters which assess the damage done to the church by offending clerics (chap. 19, 20, 21). His final chapter is an appeal to the reigning pope (Leo IX) to take action.

The pope’s response, included in the cited edition, is an example of inaction similar to that of contemporary church leaders. Pope Leo praised Peter Damian and verified the truth of his findings and recommendations. Yet he considerably softened the reformer’s urging that decisive action be taken to root offenders from the ranks of the clergy. The pope decided to exclude only those who had offended repeatedly and over a long period of time. Although Peter Damian had paid significant attention to the impact of the offending clerics on their victims, the Pope made no mention of this but focused only on the sinfulness of the clerics and their need to repent.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Furthermore, yes it may be technically inaccurate to say that "the Church is a criminal organization whose program is child rape" in that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church [1] was hardly founded for that purpose.

Except nobody has said that the RCC was founded with the idea of child rape. But it is undeniable, that whether through corruption or structural flaws in the institution, the RCC is effectively operating as a pedophile ring - i.e. they not only shield rapist priests from the law, but actually shift them around and the rapists then find new victims; meanwhile, the victims are being intimidated and every measure is taken to have them not report the crimes. How is this not operating like a pedophile ring? This still does not mean that (1) the RCC was founded as a pedophile ring, or that (2) child rape is the RCC's institutional mission. But it certainly effectively functions as pedophile ring, even if that was not the reason for founding the RCC or what the RCC identifies as it's role (either officially or not). And that is why, the statement that the RCC is the biggest pedophile ring in the history of the world remains heartbreakingly accurate.
posted by VikingSword at 11:14 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


sotonohito - I think when an issue is as contentious as this one is, hyperbole should be called out, but we should be calling out the people arguing on our side of the issue. Hyperbolic statements just give the people you are arguing with something to latch on to and ignore the main thesis. For example,
The pope himself has said repeatedly, to that much more outrage, that he doesn't take the media criticism of the church seriously. Looking at the content, focus, and veracity of the media criticism I can understand why. ...

Besides, if more than half of the assertions about the church in this thread are not even factual statements, why should they be taken seriously by anyone much less catholics, you know, experts on the catholic church?
That's why I really like your last post. You stated the important points clearly and explicitly. I think it demands a response.

I'll quibble with two points, though. First, comparing the relative importance of molestation and being hyperbolic is a rhetorical dead end. It's probably important to some, but arguing about it will most likely just churn the waters.

Second, you say "... they have been given no reason whatsoever to think that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has any intent of changing anything?". I think there have been some steps taken to reduce the chances of molestations re-occuring; I think Blasdelb has referred to them. So it's not that nothing is happening.

But the actions the RC Church has taken are not enough. Even those who agree that things need to change in the future seem very reticent to find and punish all those who committed crimes in the past. Using language like
many enablers of bad actors within the church.
to describe
failing to report crimes, and shuffling around rapists to avoid those criminals being prosecuted by real (ie: non-hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church) authorities.
make feel a bit queasy. It excuses too much.

Also, nothing I've ever heard from the church acknowledges that they are subject to the same laws everyone else is. It's always "We're reforming Canon Law", never "We'll report molesters to the appropriate authorities". If there's been a reversal in this trend, I'd love to hear about it.

[I've noticed that my posts try to set me up as the arbitrator in this thread, laying down rules to reduce friction. Forgive me, I am a middle child.]
posted by benito.strauss at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2011


I think if there's one thing we can all agree on, pro–hierarchy-of-the-Roman-Catholic-Church and anti–hierarchy-of-the-Roman-Catholic-Church alike, it's that "the Book of Gomorrah of St. Peter Damian" is possibly the most badass title for a book, ever.
posted by Zozo at 11:41 AM on July 28, 2011


Also, nothing I've ever heard from the church acknowledges that they are subject to the same laws everyone else is. It's always "We're reforming Canon Law", never "We'll report molesters to the appropriate authorities". If there's been a reversal in this trend, I'd love to hear about it.

That trend is the reversal. From that "Very Short History" that I linked to above:
By 1566, in the first year of his pontificate, Pope Pius V (1566-72) recognized a need to publicly attack clerical sodomy. The constitution Romani Pontifices promulgated legislation against a variety of actions and practices, including the ‘crime against nature.” This short canon condemned all who committed this crime and prescribed that they be handed over to secular authorities for punishment. Clerics however were to be first degraded, presumably by an ecclesiastical court, and then handed over to secular authorities.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:43 AM on July 28, 2011


Given that background let's examine the attempted deflection to the problem of teachers who rape people. Yes, there are teachers who are rapists. However, unlike with the priests who rape people and had powerful allies in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who covered up for them, moved them around to different areas with new victims, and intimidated the victims to prevent them from going to the police, the school systems tend to be aggressive the opposite direction. School systems report rapist teachers to the police, they do not cover up,t hey do not shuffle rapist teachers to new areas.

Uh, yes, they have done exactly that:
The practice of shuffling sexually tainted teachers and administrators is a dirty secret and a national disgrace. Yet dozens of school districts engage in the practice. Hundreds of teachers accused of or that are guilty of sexual abuse of students have skipped away scot free or with minimal disciplinary action. This practice has left countless student victims and their parents in emotional rage and turmoil. The practice recently bit the Los Angeles Unified School District hard when Steven Rooney an administrator was charged with the sexual molestation of a 13 year old middle school student.

The Rooney case was a textbook example of the all too prevalent wink and nod of many school districts toward sexual abuse. Rooney was under investigation for a prior suspected sexual offense against a teen student, yet was shuffled around to several South Los Angeles inner city schools. Finally he was dumped at Markham Middle School in the heart of Los Angeles's Watts district. There was no public disclosure that Rooney might be a problem. Rooney's arrest brought howls of rage and protest from dozens of parents. Embarrassed school officials scrambled fast and offered profuse apologies, promised to set up a task force and conduct a rigorous investigation.

The problem though is that the Rooney case may be just the tip of the iceberg. The great likelihood is that there are other teachers and administrators that have committed acts of sexual abuse within the LAUSD and parents, students, and even teachers and administrators may be totally in the dark about them. And it�s not just the Los Angeles school district.

Education researchers estimate that fifteen percent of the nation's 50 million school children could be the victims of sexual abuse. The sexual abuse involves not just inappropriate physical contact between teachers and students but involve sending emails, text messages, and digital photos, as well as My Space postings, seductive notes, and even anonymous gifts. A majority of the cases go unreported out of fear, shame, embarrassment, and reluctance on the part of some teachers and administrators to blow the whistle on their co-workers. Some districts dread the prospect of costly liability suits and settlements, and the adverse publicity from sexual abuse cases.

Even when abuse is documented or strongly suspected, the discipline is often spotty, inconsistent and arbitrary. From 2001 to 2005, states suspended or revoked the licenses of more than 2500 teachers and administrators guilty of sexual misconduct. A handful such as Rooney was jailed. In far too many other cases, the offending teachers and administrators were transferred within the district, or got jobs with other school districts, and were given glowing recommendations. There was no known public disclosure in most of these cases. There is no federal law that bars teachers accused of sexual malfeasance from moving from one school district to another.

The school districts where the sexually suspect teachers resurface did not know that they were ticking sexual time bombs.
It is and was a society-wide problem.

Furthermore, it's you who are deflecting, because I have not opposed handing over abuse cases to the secular authorities. I've opposed a) rhetoric that overstates the responsibility of the Catholic Church versus other institutions or misstates their positions/beliefs/actions and b) the enactment of mandatory reporting laws that don't have exceptions for sacramental confessions.

Which is why I think it is perfectly fair and accurate to describe Jahaza's attempt to bring up the problem of rapist teachers as both minimizing the problem of rapist priests and trying to deflect the conversation away from the problems of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

This is completely bogus. I brought it up, because someone asked, "Do you have a suggestion that would allow canon law to be respected whilst making reporting likely? It seems risky to leave it entirely to the judgement of a hierarchy which appears to have chosen to cover up on several previous occasions."

And in the course of responding to that line of discussion (saying that I supported mandatory reporting laws with a sacramental confession exceptions), I quite logically pointed out that there are other proposals that I don't support (and that the Church has opposed) like laws that single out the Catholic Church, rather than addressing the problem on a societal basis. This was discussion in good faith about what I see as good and not so good solutions to the problem. Indeed, it was the very opposite of "deflection", especially since the Catholic Church's opposition to such laws has been quite unpopular in the Northeastern United States (Connecticut as well as New York, for example).

What I see is a lot of angry people and a few dedicated defenders of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church who are doing their utmost to convince the angry people that the stonewalling, intransigence, and generally aggressive indifference to the problem of rapists in the priesthood by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is OK.

What I see is angry people who think it's O.K. to not pay attention to what people actually write and instead condemn a strawman.

Yes, I can see how hyperbole can be perhaps a mite annoying to people who really want to believe that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church are great people who shouldn't be criticized even mildly, much less subject to harsh criticism.

But can you see how you're continuing to engage in hyperbole: "people who really want to believe that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church are great people who shouldn't be criticized even mildly, much less subject to harsh criticism." See, there's not anyone like that in this thread. It's not polite to misrepresent the views of people you're discussing an issue with.

But when you've got, on the one hand an organization that has had both official and unofficial policies of covering up rape by its members and protecting members who rape children, and on the other hand people getting somewhat hyperbolic in their criticism of that organization, you're going to have to bend over backward acknowledging the problems of the organization before you even think about criticizing the hyperbole.

The gravity of the crimes is obvious. At some point, you have to move on to discussing the solutions and the solutions BECAUSE THEY'RE IMPORTANT FOR PROTECTING CHILDREN must be discussed calmly and rationally and truthfully.
posted by Jahaza at 12:45 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jahaza, I'm curious to know if you've read the Cloyne report? What prompted this explosion on the part of the elected leader of Ireland was information that as recently as 3 years ago the Vatican interfered with Irish efforts to ensure justice was done. We're not talking about some mythical long ago past, where child abuse was okay and large swathes of society were fine with it (or as Pope Benedict suggested, in a comment that bewilders me, the 70s, where apparently people thought sexual relationships with children were fine). And call me crazy, but given that the church sets itself up as a moral arbiter and feels free to try to use its moral authority to affect policy and can also hide behind diplomatic privilege (and has done so in Ireland), I think I'm entitled to hold her to different standards than other institutions.

I would also point out that within the specific context of Ireland, the Catholic church has had control over most primary and secondary education. You can't separate the two in Ireland - and that is what this post is about. I was raised in that system and I know the endless lectures we got on not supporting evils like divorce and abortion tossed out as part and parcel as part of our daily education, along with efforts to push people into vocations, by members of a hierarchy who were apparently at that time also abusing or covering up abuse of my peers. That is why so many people are angry. That is why I do not think the Catholic church deserves to be granted any special privileges whether that affects a sacrament or not. If they want to claim privilege they're going to have to show people that they're worthy of our trust. The church should be working towards making itself worthy of that trust, not trying to hide behind canon law.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:16 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


@benito.strauss First, comparing the relative importance of molestation and being hyperbolic is a rhetorical dead end.

Actually, I think it is a necessary conversational filter. I do not think that meaningful communication is possible between people who contend that a bit of impassioned hyperbole is anywhere near the same scale of bad or importance as the systemic organizational protection of people who rape children.

If person X says "yes, I suppose that the systemic protection of rapists by organization Y is of some tiny degree of importance, but the hyperbole used by some parties in condemning that systemic protection of rapists is either more important or on the same level of importance" then that is not a person with whom I think any meaningful communication is possible.

More to the point, if the response of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is to declare that some people are being hyperbolic and therefore there is no need to address the actual problem, that would, from my POV tend to indicate more than anything that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is sufficiently out of touch with reality that trusting them with any power at all is simply unacceptable.

I will, however, agree completely that the responses from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church are woefully inadequate and utterly unacceptable. The idea that Canon "law" can be permitted to aid in the protection of rapists, and to stand in the way of turning those rapists over to real authorities for prosecution is prima facie evidence that they're smoking hashish at the Vatican.

@Jahaza "saying that I supported mandatory reporting laws with a sacramental confession exceptions"

IE: supporting mandatory reporting laws that don't actually require mandatory reporting and thus permit the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to continue its practice of stonewalling, intransigence, and aggressive indifference to the problem. I'm not seeing a lot of good in your position cousin.

Here's the problem that you continue to try and avoid. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has utterly, completely, and blatantly, failed in its responsibility to police itself. Worse, it has actively and officially aided and abetted some of the worst sort of criminals in the commission of their crimes. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church [1] can't be trusted, based on its prior actions we must assume it will take any opportunity it can to keep doing what it's been doing. Will you address this? Will you explain why you think we need to let a proven bad organization have more opportunities to do bad?

To the best of my knowledge so far the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has turned over exactly zero rapists known to them to real authorities for prosecution. They are, in other words, continuing to protect the rapists to the utmost of their ability.

You seem to be taking the position that we can, and should, deal with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in good faith, that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church can be trusted not to misuse or abuse any potential loopholes in reporting laws. That does not seem to be a reasonable position given the past behavior of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Can you please explain to me why you think it is reasonable to trust them now?

The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is going to need to do a lot to make up for its past actions (and likely present actions, I note that it is only two months ago that one of Ratzinger's cronies was arrested for pedophilia). Until that happens I don't understand why you think we should be giving the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church the benefit of the doubt, or any opportunities to continue its past (and possibly present) behavior. Explain please.

If not more important, at least more broadly and generally, why should we, as a secular society, grant any religious body exceptions to any laws that are supposed to apply equally to everyone?

Serious question: do you support a religious exception to laws prohibiting murder for the worshipers of Kali? In their faith murder is a sacred act and a key component of their religion, putting their priesthood in prison for murder would so adversely affect their religion as to make it almost impossible for them to continue worshiping their deity.

[1] Are we done with this silliness yet, can I talk like a real person now without you taking it as an opportunity to deflect? Or must we keep up this insane practice you insist on?
posted by sotonohito at 1:24 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's hardly the distant past:

Philadelphia Cardinal Rigali resigns after abuse probe; 19 July 2011

"The archbishop of the US city of Philadelphia has resigned, months after renewed accusations that the Catholic Church covered up child sex abuse.

Cardinal Justin Rigali had submitted his resignation in April 2010 upon turning 75, but Pope Benedict XVI did not act on it until now.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of the US city of Denver is to replace him.

US grand juries in 2005 and 2011 said the church protected abuser priests and left some in contact with children."

"In 2005, a Philadelphia grand jury said Cardinal Rigali's predecessor, Cardinal Joseph Bevilacqua, and his predecessor, Cardinal John Krol, knew priests were sexually abusing children but transferred the priests among parishes."

"The archdiocese reacted by saying the grand jury's report was "discriminatory" and "sensationalised" and accused investigators of "bullying" Cardinal Bevilacqua during his testimony sessions."

"Then, in February 2011 a second grand jury report said at least 37 priests were kept in assignments that exposed them to children despite "substantial evidence of abuse"."


So, who is the replacement for Cardinal Rigali? It's Cardianl Chaput, described by the BBC as:

"His successor, Cardinal Chaput, 66, is known as a staunch conservative and a vigorous opponent of abortion rights.

Last year he defended the decision by a Catholic school in Denver, Colorado to expel two children of a lesbian couple
."

Quite a piece of work. I guess as long as you're doing god's work.
posted by VikingSword at 1:54 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Christ was all about protecting the corrupt hierarchy. I'm certain he wouldn't change a thing about the RCC. Hamburger.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:09 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey, Jahaza, can you clarify for me?

1) "At some point, you have to move on to discussing the solutions" - Do you think we have done enough (and should be done with) dealing with those who committed the crimes, and those who covered for them?

2) You oppose "the enactment of mandatory reporting laws that don't have exceptions for sacramental confessions.". Buy you also say "there are other proposals that I don't support (and that the Church has opposed) like laws that single out the Catholic Church,". You're saying you want special treatment but don't want to be singled out? You do realize how that strikes people?

3) I'm curious about the exceptions you want for confession. Should they be any different from those covering people acting as someone's therapist?

4) If the "therapist rules" are what you are thinking of, there's a complication in the Church's case that I'm curious about. When a therapist hears things from their patient, I can see how that's very analogous to a priest listening to a parishioner. But when a superior priest hears something from a priest who works under him, the superior has a great motivation to hide it, as the disclosure will harm the whole church, not just the priest — the abused are suing the church, not just the abusing priest. How do we deal with that conflict of interest?
posted by benito.strauss at 2:12 PM on July 28, 2011


I know there's been a lot of debate as to whether the Catholic hierarchy or the Irish PM is to blame here, but it looks like an Irish priest Godwin'ed, so that kind of decides the matter, right?!
posted by markkraft at 2:17 PM on July 28, 2011


sotonohito: "@Jahaza "saying that I supported mandatory reporting laws with a sacramental confession exceptions"

IE: supporting mandatory reporting laws that don't actually require mandatory reporting and thus permit the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to continue its practice of stonewalling, intransigence, and aggressive indifference to the problem. I'm not seeing a lot of good in your position cousin.
"

The thing is, the stonewalling, intransigence, and aggressive indifference doesn't need the seal of confession in order to occur. If the Church was following any of the proper reporting procedures to begin with, there wouldn't be much need to break seal of confession.

The frustrating thing here for someone like me is that the main reason people are crying out for confessions to be made fair game is that the damn higher ups won't do the right thing under normal circumstances. And because of that, the integrity of one of the seven sacraments of the Church is being threatened. It hurts to have something like that violated, but I understand why it is happening and there is nothing any of us proles on the ground can do.
posted by charred husk at 2:23 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


@charred husk My thinking on the issue of mandatory reporting is that it enables us to nail the people doing the cover up if at all possible. The threat of prosecution for failing to report might, possibly, also give a sufficient disincentive prevent a few cover ups, though I'm not counting on it.

But at the very least with mandatory reporting laws when and as new rapists are discovered the investigation can go deeper into the cover up and has some hope of getting hard time for the people who protected the rapist.

Absent mandatory reporting laws the protectors of rapists not only have absolutely no reason to stop protecting the rapists (other than simple morality, but they've proven they don't care about that), but when found out they get away with no penalties. I'd like to see that situation changed.

Right now a vile person can say "Well yes, Father X did confess to me that he raped dozens of children last year, but since it was under the seal of confession there was absolutely nothing I could do about it so I had him do 5 Hail Marys and sent him back to teach Sunday School. Surely no one could expect me to violate Canon Law and the Sacrament of Confession not to mention ruining the career of a good and caring priest merely to satisfy the witchunt mentality of a few anti-Catholic bigots?" They say that, and there's nothing that can be done about them legally.

As you say, we wouldn't be discussing mandatory reporting laws that overrule the seal of confession if it weren't for the behavior of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church [1]. Which is part of what annoys me with Jahaza and the others, they're yelling at me for wanting to take real measures to fix a problem created by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church refusing to do its bloody job. If Ratzinger had cared more about the victims of rape than he did about the reputation of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church then we not only wouldn't be having this conversation, but we'd be praising Ratzinger and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church as exemplars of how to do it right.

And I wish Cortes, resurrexit, and Jahaza would focus their ire on the people who created the problem rather than those of us who want to solve the problem.

"but I understand why it is happening and there is nothing any of us proles on the ground can do."

You could start dropping notes into the collection plate to the effect that until such time as the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church changes its position on the issue of protecting rapists you will not be contributing financially to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

They do indeed give you no good options. But you can vote with your wallet. Enough rank and file Catholics do that and even Ratzinger will have to change his tune.

[1] This awkward phraseology brought to you curtsey of Cortes, resurrexit, and Jahaza. If you'd like to see more normal communication, ask them to stop being willful idiots.
posted by sotonohito at 2:43 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The biggest problem with confession being protected from any laws that might require reporting a crime, is that confession isn't always anonymous... although that option is certainly a possibility.

Those with serious crimes that they need to confess -- or who are simply concerned about their privacy -- should confess anonymously. Perhaps policy should be changed to make anonymous confession the standard, if at all possible. And perhaps there should be some kind of general principal with serious crimes mentioned in anonymous confessions, where both perpetrators should be encouraged -- but not demanded -- to come forward voluntarily to the authorities, with the potential that the clergy itself could act as intermediaries to counsel those involved, see to it that those involved are treated humanely, and to generally soften the blow. Judges might consider criminals who come forward as part of the penance of their confession as relevant when it comes their sentencing, for example.

(I don't know currently how priests deal with serious crimes as far as penance. Unless there are compelling moral reasons to have committed the crime, then how can you receive complete absolution for your crimes, when you refuse to do penance both spiritually, and through your actions on earth?)

I think anonymous confessions should remain. But I also think that if the confession itself isn't anonymous in nature, then there should be no expectation of privacy. That, to me, seems like a workable compromise.
posted by markkraft at 3:03 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps policy should be changed to make anonymous confession the standard, if at all possible.

Perhaps, but this flies in the face of how the Roman Catholic Church has maintained its hold on people.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:06 PM on July 28, 2011


If Ratzinger had cared more about the victims of rape than he did about the reputation of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church then we not only wouldn't be having this conversation, but we'd be praising Ratzinger and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church as exemplars of how to do it right.

But that assumes that the rape of children rates at least as much consequence as being defrocked. Imagine this - a Bishop in the capital of a country, has sex with a children as young as five and continues this for years and years. When exposed, he is spirited out of the country by the Vatican. But the Bishop goes on national TV to say that he doesn't consider what he did as pedophelia. The minister of the country is outraged and expresses himself thus:

"Justice Minister Stefaan De Clercq said in a statement the Church authorities "had to take measures to stop the irresponsible behaviour of the former bishop".

"It is a slap in the face of his victims and all victims," the justice minister added."


So what do you think the Vatican does? Does it at least defrock the Bishop? Why, of course not:

"Speaking in Vatican City, Fr Lombardi said Roger Vangheluwe had been ordered to leave Belgium and undergo spiritual and psychological treatment.

The disgraced cleric has not been defrocked but the Vatican spokesman added that it was "obvious" he would not be allowed to practise as a priest while he was undergoing treatment.
"

I guess it's at least progress that the child rapist Bishop is not allowed to practice his trade at the very moment when he's supposedly undergoing "spiritual and psychological treatment". I guess once that treatment is concluded, all bets are off.

And where did all this happen? In some third world hell-hole with no judicial accountability? No, it happened in Belgium, just this year.
posted by VikingSword at 3:10 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Perhaps policy should be changed to make anonymous confession the standard, if at all possible.

Perhaps, but this flies in the face of how the Roman Catholic Church has maintained its hold on people."


I don't think it's fair to suggest that the Vatican maintains its grip over people through public confession over private.

People turn to religion and faith for pretty much the same reasons all across the board. Those reasons might not be good enough ones for me, and probably aren't good enough reasons for you, but to suggest that the Church would collapse without non-anonymous confessions -- as opposed to anonymous confessions which would protect privacy and the special nature of the confessional -- well, that just seems rather far-fetched and somewhat anti-Catholic.

I believe the Church can change their policies and get through this. Lots of Catholics do as well. I only wish that the clergy itself had as much faith.
posted by markkraft at 3:28 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And where did all this happen? In some third world hell-hole with no judicial accountability? No, it happened in Belgium, just this year."

And this is why canon law cannot be allowed to dominate over the laws of any nation for these sorts of crimes.

There are countries out there with bad laws that target people of conscience and faith, which no church should blindly kowtow to. Laws concerning child abuse, however, are not among them.
posted by markkraft at 3:33 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The woman who took on the church, and won
posted by homunculus at 4:22 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the "therapist rules" are what you are thinking of, there's a complication in the Church's case...

Therapists (mental-health professionals) of all types are, at least in the US, required to report any suspicion of child abuse to the police. So are doctors and nurses. In fact, 26 states already require clergy to report child abuse.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:52 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget Bernardo Álvarez, Bishop of Tenerife:

There is outrage in parts of Spanish society following declarations made over Christmas from the Bishop of Tenerife, Bernardo Álvarez.

His comments were that there are youngsters who want to be abused, and he compared that abuse to homosexuality, describing them both as prejudicial to society. He said that on occasions the abuse happened because the there are children who consent to it.

‘There are 13 year old adolescents who are under age and who are perfectly in agreement with, and what’s more wanting it, and if you are careless they will even provoke you’, he said.

posted by jhandey at 5:42 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's fair to suggest that the Vatican maintains its grip over people through public confession over private.

People turn to religion and faith for pretty much the same reasons all across the board.


If you look at the high correlation between a person's religion and their parents religion and the high geographical correlation with religion, you'll see people don't "turn to religion" at all, but that mainly they are indoctrinated into it.

Then it is made particularly difficult to leave the religion you have been indoctrinated into because you are shunned by those friends and family that are beholden to the hierarchy of that religion (at least for ones that have a hierarchy). For Roman Catholics, a not-so-subtle additional dynamic flows from the fact that a priest knows all your darkest sins, which you have voluntarily confessed to him. If you don't believe that plays any role in the psyche of those contemplating leaving the church, then you are either disingenuous or lack insight into human behavior.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:29 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mental Wimp, this is a good example of how crazy the argument here has gotten -- somehow, magically, the seal of confession serves the dual purposes of being inviolable enough to protect pedophile priests (and by the way, anyone who knows anything about human behavior knows that there's a huge overlap on the Venn diagram of priests who molest children and priests who make honest, thorough confessions) and yet not *so* inviolable that laypeople aren't afraid to leave the Church lest the priest who knows all their "darkest sins"...umm...does something bad with that knowledge...? (What exactly? I have no clue.)

This is tinfoil hat/Illuminati territory and exactly the kind of thing this thread could do (have done) without.
posted by Cortes at 10:51 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's how crazy the argument has gotten: right now some creep priest is raping a child, and instead of making damn sure he doesn't get away with it, you argue that he deserves protection in the confessional.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:11 AM on July 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


five fresh fish, you realize there are other privileged confidential relationships in civilized societies, yes? An attorney and his client for instance...? Because if we are really determined that people "don't get away with it," that privilege would be something else we could abolish.

But you've also considered, I'm sure, how such a policy would *actually* play out, either with the lawyer or the priest. Person sits down with lawyer/kneels in confessional; first thing he hears is: Be advised that I am required to report certain crimes to the authorities and that your statements to me are admissible in a court of law.

It doesn't take much effort to realize that:
No child abuser will go to a priest in confession knowing the priest is required to inform the police. But cutting off the avenue of confession to a child abuser makes it less likely that he will talk to someone who can persuade him to take the next step.
posted by Cortes at 8:06 AM on July 29, 2011


When priests actively work to establish the innocence* of accused persons, your argument may have some weight. Until then, it's a false equivalence.

* And invoking secrecy while transferring the accused to another diocese is not working to establish innocence.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:33 AM on July 29, 2011


The actions of bad priests do not determine whether the seal of the confessional is deserved or legitimate or necessary. Are you saying that corrupt lawyers and their guilty clients aren't entitled to confidentiality?

It's not a false equivalence. Privileged confidentiality exists everywhere in the world. Take a look at the few countries that have laws "overriding" the confessional seal and tell me again that you want to go there.
posted by Cortes at 8:44 AM on July 29, 2011


@Cortes You seem to be deliberately missing the point here.

We know for a fact that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church [1] has gone to rather extraordinary lengths to conceal allegations of rape, to protect known rapists, and to shuffle them off to new victims.

Therefore it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to give the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church the benefit of the doubt. They've proven themselves to be unworthy of any leeway in the slightest here.

The object of the exercise with mandatory reporting laws is to try and prosecute not merely the actual rapist, but all of those who aided and abetted the rapist via aggressive indifference to the problem.

Again note that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church has not yet turned over all known rapists to real authorities for prosecution. They are still stonewalling, actively impeding prosecution, and generally protecting rapists.

You seem to fail to realize why the step of mandatory reporting laws is considered necessary. It isn't because of a witchunt mentality among anti-Catholic bigots, but because the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church has demonstrated, repeatedly, that nothing else will solve the problem.

If the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church won't clean up its own act than it is up to us to clean up the problem ourselves. Mandatory reporting laws are the only really available tool for the job.

If they'd wanted to keep their "sacraments" unsullied by the law they shouldn't have been protecting rapists all those years. The the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church is responsible for people wanting to rip away the seal of secrecy.

No one but you seems to think that your precious little religious games are so important that keeping them intact is more important thatn protecting the victims of rapists.

I'd like to ask you the same utterly serious question I asked Jahaza earlier: Do you extend your idea that religious ritual should take precedence over real laws to other religions, or do you think that is something that should only apply to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church? Specifically do you think that the religious rituals of the worshipers of Kali, which include murder as a sacrament, should be protected by law? Should there be a Thuggee exception to murder laws in the same spirit as your proposed hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church exception to mandatory reporting laws?

I'd really love for one of you ardent defenders of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church and their right to continue protecting rapists to address that question.

[1] This awkward phraseology brought to you curtsey of Cortes, resurrexit, and Jahaza. If you'd like to see more normal communication, ask them to stop being willful idiots.
posted by sotonohito at 9:57 AM on July 29, 2011


Are you saying that corrupt lawyers and their guilty clients aren't entitled to confidentiality?

Absolutely. Lawyer-client privilege is necessary for our legal system to do any kind of halfway decent job of producing justice. Take it away, and your chances of being found guilty (whether you are or aren't) increase enormously.

Confessional privilege, on the other hand, does not help accused persons defend themselves. If it did not exist and criminals never confessed to their priests, as you postulate, that would have zero effect on the legal outcome. Whether it would have an effect on the criminal's spiritual status is another matter, but that matter is not a proper business for a government to have any involvement with.

The slippery slope is in a government implicitly endorsing the spiritual claims of a religion by granting special privileges, not in withholding the privileges.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:13 AM on July 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


As I hope the rest of my comment demonstrates, I meant "Absolutely not," in answer to Cortes's strawman question.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:17 AM on July 29, 2011


As well, attorney confidentiality does not apply to the explicit intent to commit further crimes, whereas the confessional not only wants to apply to that, but in fact to the facilitation of additional child rape.
posted by kafziel at 10:27 AM on July 29, 2011


All this sophistry is taking its (intended) toll on me, at least. Another triumph of Catholic apologetics. Nothing anyone can say will convince the Defenders of the Faith of the gravity of the situation. Note how the Church's apologists never respond to the posted stories from Ireland or Austria or anywhere else. They focus like a laser beam on legalistic hair-splitting and an absolute determination to avoid fixing any sort of meaningful responsibility on Holy Mother Church.

I'm done. I'll just note one funny fact: every mention of Jesus, the putative reason for the existence of the Catholic Church, in this discussion has been from those outraged about the abuse. Not one mention came from the Defenders of the Faith. Same for appeals to basic humanity and decency. The Defenders of the Faith have no time for such silly, naive things.

Whitewashed tombs, indeed.
posted by jhandey at 11:03 AM on July 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


So, Cortes & Jahaza, how do you propose to put an end to the child-raping? You're eloquent in protecting the church—can you do the same for children?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:52 AM on July 29, 2011


This is tinfoil hat/Illuminati territory and exactly the kind of thing this thread could do (have done) without.

You know, given your absolute inability to consider any nuance in either the culpability of the RCC in protecting pedophilia or the potential coercive nature of its practices, you sound more like a lawyer defending a client than you sound like you're interested in exploring the issue identified in the post. So I guess I'll go with "disingenuous" rather than ignorant.

Are you saying that corrupt lawyers and their guilty clients aren't entitled to confidentiality?

Are you just talking out of your ass now? "Privilege cannot be relied upon where the communication is used to facilitate a crime."
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:56 PM on July 29, 2011


VikingSword: But that assumes that the rape of children rates at least as much consequence as being defrocked

What Vangheluwe did was positively vile, and his statements are seriously disturbing. But you're missing a couple important points here. He can't be prosecuted for his crimes because they occurred too long ago. That's really unfortunate, because he belongs in prison for what he did. Yes, "defrocked" sounds like an appropriate measure to take by his superiors -- but here's the thing. Once defrocked, he's completely outside the authority of the Church. As it is, they've removed him from ministry and sent him into exile, out of his home country. Is that anywhere near harsh enough? I don't think so, but what are the alternatives? "Defrocked" sounds like the ultimate church punishment, but it isn't what you think it is, or at least, his superiors aren't making the statement you think they're making by not defrocking him. They're putting him out of the way for the rest of his life which is about as good as we can get given the statute of limitations.

sotonohito: If the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church won't clean up its own act than it is up to us to clean up the problem ourselves. Mandatory reporting laws are the only really available tool for the job. [emphasis mine]

Nonsense. And if they are, we're all in trouble -- as I said before, mandatory reporting laws that require priests to violate the confidentiality of the confessional will have absolutely no impact other than stopping people from going to confession. It's been stated repeatedly: this issue is not black and white; it's very complex. (Not just here: see similar debates where medical, mental, and legal professionals are concerned.) How would agencies determine whether priests are compliant, especially given that Irish priests have pretty much stated that they will not comply? Entrapment? Bugging? I don't care if one hates the Catholic Church with the heat of a thousand suns -- he still has to admit the slippery slope and the serious precedent this would establish for interference in a religion by the state.

And with all due respect, the Kali example you keep bringing up is ridiculous. You won't admit of a categorical similarity between the attorney-client privilege and the confessor-penitent privilege, and we're supposed to compare the "sacrament" of murder with the sacrament of confession? Give me a break. If you really believe the two are equally without claim to exemption from civil law, fine, but realize that a state forcing mandatory reporting in the confessional will absolutely not have the effect you seem to think it will.

No one but you seems to think that your precious little religious games are so important that keeping them intact is more important thatn protecting the victims of rapists.

Thank you for this -- it's a model for the kind of statements in this thread that get the conversation nowhere. It contains an ad hominem attack, mockery of religious rites, and wildly inaccurate mischaracterizations of the view that opposes your own. You hit a triple!

[1] This awkward phraseology brought to you curtsey of Cortes, resurrexit, and Jahaza. If you'd like to see more normal communication, ask them to stop being willful idiots.

As always, I appreciate being called an idiot, and I can tell you're really bent out of shape by this -- but I'll be honest: I think the added language is an improvement. The tenor of the conversation before Jahaza insisted on accurate use of terms was such that any bit of specificity was only going to improve it. If that means you have to use extra words, I'm ok with it. Broad generalizations of an entire religion, of a church, even of an entire hierarchy, are not going to cut it, especially in a discussion as sensitive as this. Heck, if you want to amend your qualifier to "certain elements within the hierarchy of the Catholic church," feel free. Nobody likes the guy who refers to Islam as the religion that bombed us on 9/11. A narrow brush is almost always going to serve you better than a broad one.

jhandey:Note how the Church's apologists never respond to the posted stories from Ireland or Austria or anywhere else. They focus like a laser beam on legalistic hair-splitting and an absolute determination to avoid fixing any sort of meaningful responsibility on Holy Mother Church.

I've been reading most of the articles as they've been linked. I don't have much to say about them. I've seen the downfall of two priests in our diocese in the last ten years. I also have young children. It doesn't take much effort for me to feel rage at the thought of a child being abused. And I absolutely hold responsible those members of the hierarchy who willfully protected pedophiles. But, I don't see that those feelings are mutually exclusive of a desire for accuracy and fairness. The tendency here, and in most threads about the Catholic Church, is towards hyperbole and slander -- I firmly repudiate that tendency, as well as sotonohito's statement that hyperbole is expected in a discussion like this and that there is no need to call it out. Many here, yourself included, have attempted to paint statements of clarification or rebuttal of ridiculous assertions (the characterization of the Church as a criminal organization, for instance) as evidence of insufficient outrage at the crimes of pedophile priests and those who have protected them. Trust me, no Catholic I know of isn't outraged. But I don't think outrage at a specific failure within the Catholic Church should of necessity lead to open season for anti-Catholic bigotry.
posted by Cortes at 4:40 PM on July 29, 2011


mandatory reporting laws that require priests to violate the confidentiality of the confessional will have absolutely no impact other than stopping people from going to confession.

It'll put the brakes on cover-ups. It's one thing to look the other way when there's no consequence in moving a rapist from diocese to diocese. It's a whole other thing to put your own freedom on the line to protect the rapist.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:59 PM on July 29, 2011


But I don't think outrage at a specific failure within the Catholic Church should of necessity lead to open season for anti-Catholic bigotry.

Curious. At what point do you call for general condemnation of an organization that uses the organization to facilitate criminal behavior? I mean, the Mafia does charitable works, but no one hesitates to call it a criminal organization. Drug cartels in Central and South America also do charitable works. Where is the cut point? At what point is the child abuse worth the tradeoff in charitable works? And couldn't that charity, which ultimately comes from the laity be channeled through other, less criminally inclined organizations? At what point do you give up on an intransigent leadership?
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:13 PM on July 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's been stated repeatedly: this issue is not black and white; it's very complex

This statement is as disingenuous as they come. It is not complex; it is very black and white, and you know it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:15 PM on July 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


IIRC the current Pope was a high-ranking cardinal active in the apparatus that moved criminal rapists to protection. To Rome, when necessary: the Church protects its own, first and foremost. It's the code of brotherhood.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:00 PM on July 29, 2011


I don't consider that covering up child rape in dozens of countries all around the world at all levels of the organisation to be a 'specific failing', more of a 'complete organisational corruption'. We could start listing the other failings of the Church (say, the lies told about condoms in Africa leading to increased deaths from AIDS, which breaks the 8th commandment) but we should probably stay on topic. What you're seeing in this thread and others like it isn't anti-Catholic bigotry, it's an entirely reasonable anger at people who are unwilling to take action to investigate or prosecute one of the most atrocious crimes possible.

The actions of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church speak louder than their words. Attempts by this hierarchy and its defenders to minimize the corruption and moral bankruptcy are weak and transparent. The anger you're seeing will continue until serious, sincere reform is made.
posted by harriet vane at 3:22 AM on July 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


IIRC the current Pope was a high-ranking cardinal active in the apparatus that moved criminal rapists to protection.

Indeed he was.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:16 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're putting him out of the way for the rest of his life which is about as good as we can get given the statute of limitations.

Why should we believe them when they say they've done this? There is decades of evidence that they take "troubled" priests and say that they've put them where they can't cause more "trouble," when in fact they've simply shuffled them off to another parish.

Perhaps in this particular case, they've actually got this guy in a monastery in remotest Remotestan, in a hairshirt, doing penance for the rest of his life. But they've given us no cause to trust that they've done so.
posted by rtha at 7:55 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


@Cortes "You won't admit of a categorical similarity between the attorney-client privilege and the confessor-penitent privilege"

Of course not. Because they aren't similar except in extremely superficial senses.

A priest is just some random schmo who's only authority, training, position, etc, comes from other random schmoes in funny hats saying he's a priest. Confession is just a game some religious people play. It has nothing to do with anything real.

People see attorneys for the specific and explicit purpose of employing them as their representatives in courts. An attorney is expected to be biased on behalf of their clients and to do everything possible to get the best outcome for their clients. That's the way an adversarial judicial system works. An attorney is expected to try an get people they know to have committed crimes acquitted, that's their job.

There is no meaningful comparison between attorney/client privilege and religious games.

And, again, I note that you're ignoring the cause of the problem. We wouldn't be having this discussion if the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church [1] hadn't been hiding behind their "sacrament" in their ongoing efforts to protect rapists. They're the ones who decided to make confession a shield for rapist priests, not me, therefore any blame for confession being weakened as a result is theirs, not mine.

Again, the thing you keep willfully ignoring is that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church caused this problem. They became the enablers or rapists. They chose to use any argument they could, including the use of confessional seals to protect rapists and move them to new victims.

Perhaps mandatory reporting laws are not the only tool available. But after decades, centuries even, of stonewalling and aggressive indifference from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church [2] I don't think it is at all reasonable to expect them to change their behavior with anything short of the maximum force that can be exerted on them.

If they had wanted to keep the confessional game secret they shouldn't have used it as one of the many tools they employed in pursuit of the goal of protecting rapist priests. They have proven themselves to be acting, ahem, bad faith. So no, I don't trust them to do anything without being driven to it by ruthless and aggressive laws.

As for Vangheluwe, I have no reason at all, given prior behavior by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church to believe that they have done anything at all to stop him or punish him.

As far as expelling him goes, it would be a nice, big, step in assuring people that they aren't just shuffling him around and putting him yet again into positions of power. Right now he's still a member of the hierarchy and accorded all the powers, privileges, and authority of being a member. And, of course, since he's still a member they're still saying "yes, this man represents us, his goals are ours, his methods are ours, his beliefs are ours, we support him".

It isn't a matter of punishment, it's a matter of disassociating from evil criminals. Even the Yakuza and Mafia understand that you don't keep people you don't like as part of your group. The Yaks and Mafia tend to execute child molesters in thier ranks, I don't advise that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church take that approach, but at least they could say "he is no longer part of our organization and we repudiated him".

But they haven't.

and we're supposed to compare the "sacrament" of murder with the sacrament of confession?

Why not?

Both are just things people made up and randomly declared to be sacred. Do you have objective, empirical, evidence to support the idea that the rituals of the Catholic religion are not made up while those of the Thuggee religion are?

Absent that they're exactly equal. One group says murder is sacred, the other says that protecting pedophiles is. I see no reason to treat one group differently from the other.

Laws exist above religion, they should apply equally to everyone regardless of that person's religion. If we say "murder is illegal" we shouldn't say "except for the worshipers of Kali". If we say "people learning of child molestation must report it to real authorities" we shouldn't say "except for Catholic priests".

Why do you argue that the two must be treated completely differently? That one religion must be privileged by law, and the other must not? Sounds like religious discrimination to me, more specifically it sounds like you're saying "my religion is the real, important, true, religion and therefore must be kowtowed to, while the other religions are fake, unimportant, and should be trampled".

I'm saying let's put it all on equal footing.

Tell me, please, why we shouldn't put it on equal footing?

But I don't think outrage at a specific failure within the Catholic Church should of necessity lead to open season for anti-Catholic bigotry.

Again with the lies and attempts at deflection. Show me one person who said that Catholics (as in the worshipers) are evil or should be discriminated against?

You keep lying, you keep insisting that daring to criticize the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church, that failing to kowtow to your religious superstitions, is somehow bigotry against all Catholics. That's utter nonsense and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop with that crap.

But again, tell us what **REAL** steps you advocate be taken to stop your religious leaders from protecting rapists in their ranks. Saying "well, the hierarchy is really sorry and says it won't happen again" doesn't count as a real step.

[1] This awkward phraseology brought to you curtsey of Cortes, resurrexit, and Jahaza. If you'd like to see more normal communication, ask them to stop being willful idiots.

And, no, I don't think it's an improvement at all, it's just an annoying and more long winded way of saying "the Church" that you jerks are insisting on by derailing into baseless accusations of wanting to ban Catholicism every time someone uses the more natural, less artificial, and universally known and understood phrase that you keep pretending to misunderstand. So yeah, willful idiot perfectly describes your particular brand of jerkdom WRT that phrase.

[2] Given the fact that the current Pope was instrumental in that stonewalling, protection, and aggressive indifference I think saying "certain elements of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church" is nothing more or less than an attempt to minimize the problem. It's the whole hierarchy from top to bottom.
posted by sotonohito at 10:29 AM on July 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the top tier of the RCC hierarchy entirely comprised of child rapists and those who have actively protected them?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:52 AM on July 30, 2011


Actually, sotonohito, the evidence for bigotry is not in reasonable criticism of the RCC -- it's in statements like these:

The Church is also highly invested in killing people by helping the HIV virus spread

deeply invested in encouraging pain and misery in the third world

worldwide majority stakeholder in interest in killing women by making abortion illegal

vital to the Church that as many people as possible be born into a live of privation and starvation


or these:

random schmoes in funny hats

the confessional game

your precious little religious games

your religious superstitions

things people made up and randomly declared to be sacred




A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs.
posted by Cortes at 1:38 PM on July 30, 2011


A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs.

You mean like the Roman Catholic Church's attitude toward women and gays? That kind of bigotry?

Oh, and calling animosity toward the RCC hierarchy is not the same as anti-Catholic bigotry. Most people on this thread have no issue with people who call themselves Catholic. The problem is with an encrusted, insular organization that is unable to reform itself from the inside, in spite of the church membership's desire that they do so. Something is seriously wrong, and your animated, but misguided attempts to defend those decrepit old men who keep this going do not help.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:02 PM on July 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is deeply invested in killing people by encouraging the spread of HIV, and it does tell outright lies in pursuit of that goal. Or has Archbishop Chimoio been forced to issue an apology and been replaced?

You can argue that spreading AIDS and killing people thereby is not the actual goal of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church [1], but that's what the result of their actions is.

deeply invested in encouraging pain and misery in the third world

It is well established that "Mother Theresa" had a policy of encouraging suffering as a sacrament to the Catholic deity. Her "clinics" have been shown to have denied pain medication, and to have sent money meant for revealing suffering to the Vatican.

Last time I checked she not only had not been rebuked, but was on a fast track for Sainthood. Looks like encouraging pain and misery in the third world to me.

worldwide majority stakeholder in interest in killing women by making abortion illegal

It is known that at absolute minimum 200 women have died in Nicaragua alone due to an absurdly broad and strict anti-abortion law put in place at the urging of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church which has made doctors their unwilling to perform necessary abortions to save the lives of women.

vital to the Church that as many people as possible be born into a live of privation and starvation

Does the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church not still prohibit contraception and threaten the Catholic laity with eternal torture if contraception is used? Is not overpopulation in the third world a significant problem?

All of the above are factual. You may not care for the aggressive and flippant way they were phrased, but the facts are against you. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church simply, factually, takes actions that increase the spread of HIV and thus kill people, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church takes actions that increase pain and suffering in the third world, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church takes actions that are guaranteed to increase poverty and starvation.

All of those are tangential to the issue of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church being deeply involved in a decades long, centuries long actually, program of actively protecting rapists and giving those rapists a steady stream of new victims. As with many of the other bad things the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church does, you can argue that this was not the intent; but you can't argue that it isn't the outcome.

However all of those are orthogonal to the issue of why a great many people, including many lay Catholics, are utterly and completely fed up with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. The same exact hierarchy you so tirelessly defend.

I'm not bigoted towards rank and file Catholics, lay Catholics whatever you want to call them, but I will freely admit bigotry towards members of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church for exactly the same reason that I'm bigoted towards members of the KKK.

All your absurd claims that I'm an anti-Catholic bigot have done is demonstrate that even when I use the annoying and pointless phrase "the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church" you **STILL** insist on pretending that criticism of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is somehow equivalent to bigotry towards all Catholics.

You're still trying to silence criticism by ignoring the crucial difference between lay Catholics and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

random schmoes in funny hats

Since I don't believe that a "god" has appointed them, that's how I see them. I should lie and claim I believe their preposterous claims of supernatural appointment and authority? They're just guys in funny hats, nothing more or less.

If you're offended, let me cite the argument of Jerub-Baal back in Judges 6. You may remember him better as Gideon. Your "holy" book says that he was ordered by your god to tear down and destroy an alter to a different god. After he did so the townsfolk demanded that he be punished and Gideon/Jerub-Baal's defense was: "if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar."

I say: If he be a god let him plead for himself because one hath called his priests men in funny hats. Surely an all powerful deity can defend his own men in funny hats, yes? Heck, your kind and loving deity sent two bears to maul and brutally murder forty kids just because they made fun of a bald priest once, I'm sure he can spare at least an irritated badger to scratch me if he really exists. But I remain free from smiting by bears, badgers, or lightning bolts. Funny that....

the confessional game

your precious little religious games


Tell you what, I'll stop calling them games when you stop trying to use them to protect rapists, deal?

things people made up and randomly declared to be sacred

I'm universally of the position that religious superstitions are, like all superstitions, totally silly and not worth any respect. I'm not singling out Roman Catholicism for that position. You, however, do single out Roman Catholicism as the One True Religion and accord a different level of respect to other (lesser) religions. You put the game of telling the man in a funny hat secrets above the game of killing people for the glory of a made up multi-armed monstrosity. I put them on the same level, it isn't a level you like but at least I'm not a hypocrite. Of the two examples the latter is more directly harmful, in that it involves murder, but the source and root of both are equally absurd and worthy only of contempt. And the former is proving its harm in that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is using it to protect known rapists.

The very instant you can establish that a) a god actually exists, b) that god is the god of Abraham and Isaac, c) that god is fully supportive of the Roman Catholic Church, and d) that this god did in fact lay down the rules for the various Catholic religious games/superstitions/rituals/whatevers then, and only then, will I stop calling them silly made up games.

Until then it's just random crap people made up and decided was sacred. Not functionally different from the rules of baseball, or the firepower of a Star Destroyer, or any other thing that people made up. Religion, basically, is fandom and a tiresome lot of fanfic.

[1] This awkward phraseology brought to you curtsey of Cortes, resurrexit, and Jahaza. If you'd like to see more normal communication, ask them to stop being willful idiots.
posted by sotonohito at 2:26 PM on July 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mental Wimp, I don't think you bothered to read anything in my post but the definition of bigotry. So: please explain how the use of phrases like "your precious little religious games" and "your religious superstitions" is not an expression of "animosity toward those of differing beliefs." I'm curious to hear your defense of that kind of language. And no, I won't be surprised if you are unwilling to provide one.

One of my points in this thread has been that there's a right and a wrong way to have these discussions; the vitriol and bigoted language in many of sotonohito's posts is a great example of the wrong way.
posted by Cortes at 2:26 PM on July 30, 2011


@Cortes I really don't think the person defending the organization which had an a policy (official or un-) of protecting rapists is really in any position to lecture others on manners, tone, or anything else.

You or your religion wants respect? Earn some. Root out the rapists, kick them out of the organization, turn the known rapists over to real authorities for punishment and stop defending the practice of protecting rapists.

Why would I have any respect, any at all, for a person who spends time defending an organization that protected rapists for centuries and refuses to change?

Horrors, I used vitriol when describing and discussing an organization that protects rapists and got somewhat shirty with a person vigorously defending that organization. How dare I?! Surely that's vastly, infinitely, worse than actively protecting rapists for centuries!
posted by sotonohito at 2:33 PM on July 30, 2011


the vitriol and bigoted language in many of sotonohito's posts is a great example of the wrong way.

Be that as it may, the heinous facts that sonohito provides in the first half of their screed are facts.. It is unreasonable to expect to let such a plainly wrong-acting organization continue to have a say in how child rape will be handled. They had their chances time and again.

Our society can not continue to sit idly by while yet more children are raped. It's that simple. Everyone of good conscience places the welfare of children before the welfare of a child rapist.

The plain fact is that even right now, there are known child rapist clergymen who are being shielded from prosecution for their crimes.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:04 PM on July 30, 2011


Question:

Should Catholic confession -- spiritual discourse with a priest -- be seen as something that should be legally given protections of anonymity that you don't get in other religions?

If someone tells a priest about committing multiple acts of child abuse, should that be considered protected?

What about a follower of Islam telling an Imam about setting up an IED that maimed children? Should that be protected too? If the person who did the attack was a prominent member of the mosque, should it be possible to not report his crime, deal with it internally only, and relocate him to another country where he could maim and/or kill even more people?

Or if that were to happen, would we call the Imam in question a terrorist mastermind, even if they did not personally plan the subsequent attack themselves?
posted by markkraft at 4:38 AM on July 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cortes, you were asked "how do you propose to put an end to the child-raping?" So far as I can tell you've made no attempt to answer it; you've spent your time arguing against the measures others have proposed, and complaining about what you see as unfair characterizations of the Church.

Since preventing more child rape is really the central question here, can you please address it? The response by the Church has been singularly ineffective. What measures do you think should be taken to prevent more rape of children by priests?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:47 AM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


markkraft, which scenario do you prefer? a) the radical Islamist in your example does not go to the imam at all because he knows the imam will alert the authorities. He does his thing and innocent people die -- or b) the radical Islamist goes to the imam and tells him his intention. The imam counsels the would-be terrorist and uses appeals to human dignity/common sense/the Qur'an to show him the evil of his ways providing at least a chance that he will re-consider his actions.

Kirth Gerson: you've spent your time arguing against the measures others have proposed.

Let's be accurate here: it was one measure in particular -- mandatory reporting that does not exempt confession -- and one which, as I have pointed out repeatedly, cannot possibly have the slightest degree of effectiveness. Not only will it be ineffective, but it will have the result of removing one of the few people who could have a positive impact on the abuser: possibly deterring him from future transgressions or even convincing him to turn himself in. (See example directly above if this doesn't sound familiar.)

The response by the Church has been singularly ineffective.

No, not really. Obviously one instance of abuse is one too many, but there has been a marked decrease since the height of the scandal. Last year, there were seven credible cases of sexual abuse against U.S. Catholic clergy. Every archdiocese in the country now has comprehensive abuse prevention programs, as seen here or here or here or here.

Speaking to the original issue: I don't know why the Irish Church has had a particularly difficult time getting control of the problem. And I don't know what it's going to take to fix it. My suspicion is that it speaks more to an endemic failure within Irish society than a failure of one specific group in this case. This Irish Catholic journalist agrees. Historically, their laws have been lousy at protecting children -- and they're wasting time with yet another ineffective measure when they set their sights on the Catholic sacrament of confession.
posted by Cortes at 9:53 AM on July 31, 2011


Confession gives the abusive priest a supply of easily-victimized children and easily-manipulated child rape addicts. And makes it much easier for clergy to protect abusive clergy.

Mandatory reporting means the priest is now truly putting his ass on the line when protecting fellow clergy.

How about this: confessional privacy for the layman, full legal responsibility to report clergyman confessions of criminal nature.

Mandatory reporting
posted by five fresh fish at 10:13 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoops. Scratch that last line!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 AM on July 31, 2011


cortes - It seems to me that you're assuming the only way we can prevent someone from doing evil (setting off a bomb, molesting children) is to stay friendly with them and ask them to re-consider. In the bomb-happy muslim case, I'd prefer that the Imam tells the guy that what he's contemplating is horrible, against Islam, and then tells the FBI that this guy should be watched. I thought that there was an actual case of this, but either my memory is bad or my google-fu is inadequate. But I could swear that one potential terrorist was reported by his own father, so if a father can do it I'd say a member of the clergy can do it.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:08 AM on July 31, 2011


@Cortes I note that in the Imam scenario you left off a possibility:

c) The man goes to the Imam, confesses in full knowledge that the Imam will keep it secret and now feeling better because he confessed he goes on and kills lots of people.

Which brings us back to priests. Father X confesses that he's a rapist to Father Y who (respecting the "sanctity" of confession) does nothing but "council" Father X [1] and then Father X goes on to rape some more people, confess some more, and it gets nice and cyclic. Father Y now knows that he has a repeat rapist on his hands but continues to do nothing effective because he's convinced of the "sanctity" of confession. Worse, Father Y knows perfectly well that thanks to your proposed "Catholicism is super special and above the law" idea he will never, ever, fact criminal charges for letting a repeat rapist run around free.

Basically you're saying that it's kind of a shame that people are getting raped, but your religious stuff is much, much, more important than trifling little things like rape. And you expect us to take you seriously? You expect us to agree, to say "yes, it is a shame about those rape victims, but what can you do religion is so super duper important that protecting religious ritual by law is much more important than protecting rape victims"?

I also note your continued deflection and minimizing. It can't be that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has a long history of power and abuses that power. Nope, the problem with rapists among the priesthood in Ireland must be that somehow Ireland is just a bad place filled with bad people. Under no circumstances will you admit that maybe the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has a problem.

I'll also ask you, again, to justify your position that the religious rituals of Roman Catholicism are special and must be protected by law, but that the religious rituals of other religions are not so special and do not deserve to be protected by law.

[1] Note that priests aren't actually professional councilors and have no real training for the job.
posted by sotonohito at 11:10 AM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and as always the obscenely and preposterously stupid phrasing "the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church" is there in a proven to be ineffective attempt to get Cortes etc to stop deflecting by using the more standard phrase "the Church" as an excuse to claim I want to legally ban the Roman Catholic religion.

If you'd like to see more normal communication, PM Cortes, resurrexit, and Jahaza and ask them to stop willfully misrepresenting the positions of others.
posted by sotonohito at 11:12 AM on July 31, 2011


Basically you're saying that it's kind of a shame that people are getting raped, but your religious stuff is much, much, more important than trifling little things like rape

If you'd like to see more normal communication, PM Cortes, resurrexit, and Jahaza and ask them to stop willfully misrepresenting the positions of others.

Interesting. I think the key words here are "willfully misrepresenting."

sotonohito, my post was in response to markkraft and Kirth Gerson. If they want to respond, great. But I won't be engaging you further. You've proven pretty clearly at this point that you have no interest in anything resembling a reasonable conversation.
posted by Cortes at 11:27 AM on July 31, 2011


Yes, those are the keywords there, you and they were deliberately and willfully pretending that people offering criticism with the phrase "the Church" were evil anti-Catholic bigots out to ban the entire religion and hateful of every single Catholic on the planet. That's willful misrepresentation.

As for reasonable discussion, I'm quite interested. But it must begin with an admission that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has, for centuries, protected rapists and that it is, therefore, reasonable for people to assume the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is not acting in good faith when they now claim to have solved the problem without outside intervention.

It also requires that you answer questions directed at you, and justify your positions with facts.

You seem incapable of the first, and unwilling (or unable) to do the second.
posted by sotonohito at 12:24 PM on July 31, 2011


Historically, their laws have been lousy at protecting children

I'm not an expert in the history of Irish law, but I'd be very surprised to find out that any secular laws were passed and enforced if they were in opposition to the policies and practices of the Catholic Church in Ireland, unless we're talking very (last 20 years) recently. When the "public" schools that children must attend are all run by a religious organization, I would look first to that organization's policies and practices regarding the protection of children. That a nominally secular government may have weak laws protecting children doesn't make the religious organization's mistreatment of generations of children okay or excusable.
posted by rtha at 12:44 PM on July 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Vatican row over sex abuse scandal reveals emergence of a new Ireland: Nation now more secular and tolerant, say activists as Enda Kenny 'captured anger of a generation' with speech
posted by homunculus at 1:15 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The response by the Church has been singularly ineffective.

No, not really.


But wait -

I don't know why the Irish Church has had a particularly difficult time getting control of the problem.

Which is it - not really ineffective, or having a particularly difficult time getting control? Also, I must point out that you once again neglected to tell us what you think should be done to prevent priests from raping more children. Does that mean you endorse the program that's having a difficult time getting control of the problem?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:23 PM on July 31, 2011


But wait -

You really can't see how those two statements might not be contradictory? Ok, I'll give you a hint. Look at the word "Church" where it appears in each sentence and then see if there are any additional descriptive words in front of it.

Also, I must point out that you once again neglected to tell us what you think should be done to prevent priests from raping more children.

I'll repeat what I said in my earlier response to you, since you don't seem to have read it:
Obviously one instance of abuse is one too many, but there has been a marked decrease since the height of the scandal. Last year, there were seven credible cases of sexual abuse against U.S. Catholic clergy. Every archdiocese in the country now has comprehensive abuse prevention programs, as seen here or here or here or here.
Take a look at those links. See how child protection policies have been implemented in parishes in the U.S. (All of which of course emphasize mandatory reporting.) Look at the statistics, which show a huge decrease in abuse cases. Then you'll have a sense of the kinds of solutions I think work. And I'll point out that you once again have neglected to tell us how mandatory reporting, by virtue of not providing an exemption for confession, will result in a single additional prosecution.
posted by Cortes at 6:21 PM on July 31, 2011


"markkraft, which scenario do you prefer? a) the radical Islamist in your example does not go to the imam at all because he knows the imam will alert the authorities. He does his thing and innocent people die -- or b) the radical Islamist goes to the imam and tells him his intention. The imam counsels the would-be terrorist..."

How about...

c) The Imam doesn't help hush up the terrorist's crime, and never buys him a ticket to NYC?!
posted by markkraft at 6:31 PM on July 31, 2011


You're still arguing from the premise that the terrorist will go to the imam knowing that the imam will report him to the authorities. I don't grant that premise, because it's stupid.
posted by Cortes at 6:33 PM on July 31, 2011


Well, to be more accurate with the analogy, it's more like an Imam being caught organizing a terrorist attack without any prior orders from his superiors... then being caught by an Ayatollah, compelled by the evidence to confess his crimes, and *then* being sent to NYC.

Child molesters in the clergy are already most likely not confessing their crimes to their superiors, until and unless caught and forced to admit them. And the benefits of being counseled by their superiors and reassigned to other duties...

Well... how well has that worked for ya? Perhaps the priests were unaware that they shouldn't be molesting children?

(BTW, has confession, repentance, and absolution stamped out sin amongst Catholics yet?!)
posted by markkraft at 8:13 PM on July 31, 2011


Child molesters in the clergy are already most likely not confessing their crimes to their superiors

Right, and I said as much earlier (with a healthy dose of sarcasm): anyone who knows anything about human behavior knows that there's a huge overlap on the Venn diagram of priests who molest children and priests who make honest, thorough confessions

Sounds like we agree, then, about the fruitlessness of mandatory reporting where confession is concerned.
posted by Cortes at 8:33 PM on July 31, 2011


You're still arguing from the premise that the terrorist will go to the imam knowing that the imam will report him to the authorities. I don't grant that premise, because it's stupid.

Isn't the confessional kind of important to Catholicism? Like, according to the Church's doctrine, you have to confess your sins and receive your penance or you're going to hell? You're arguing that if the confessional wasn't exempt from mandatory reporting laws, Catholics would just not confess. This seems to be an argument rooted in a belief that practicing Catholics - members of the Catholic clergy, even - see ritual as a matter of convenience, rather than faith.

Besides, the primary purpose of mandatory reporting in this situation is not to go after the confessors. It's a mechanism to prosecute those taking steps to cover up the rape of children.
posted by kafziel at 8:46 PM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll repeat what I said in my earlier response to you, since you don't seem to have read it:

Oh, I read it. You're saying the Church's program in the US works. You're also saying you don't know why the Church's program in Ireland isn't working.* The OP is about what's going on in Ireland. Tell us what should be done to stop Catholic priests in Ireland from raping children. Even if the Church's measures in the US are working, that's not helping those Irish children.

Those who rape children are criminals who should be subject to the criminal-justice system, regardless of any other consideration such as their occupation. I haven't seen any compelling argument why priests who rape children are not criminals, or why they should not be subject to the criminal-justice system.

Anyone who shields those who rape children from the justice system is also a criminal, and I have likewise seen no compelling argument why those criminals should escape being treated as such.



* If has had a particularly difficult time getting control of the problem means something different from isn't working, please explain.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:13 AM on August 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Very little in this thread has been restricted to the OP, which is in fact largely what I and others took issue with. I really don't know what needs to be done in Ireland. Neither, apparently, do Irish lawmakers, Irish bishops, or people posting in this thread. The Vatican response to the Cloyne report is expected in the next couple weeks. Will be very interesting to see what tone is struck.

I haven't seen any compelling argument why priests who rape children are not criminals, or why they should not be subject to the criminal-justice system.

They are, and they should be.
posted by Cortes at 8:16 AM on August 1, 2011


"I really don't know what needs to be done in Ireland. Neither, apparently, do Irish lawmakers, Irish bishops, or people posting in this thread."

Irish lawmakers are quite clear... they want anyone who has knowledge of the abuse of minors to come forward, at the penalty of being criminals themselves. Sounds pretty clear to me, frankly.
posted by markkraft at 8:33 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


They are, and they should be.

Good. What about their accessories, who shield them from the law and enable them to continue committing crime?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:40 AM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Vatican row over sex abuse scandal reveals emergence of a new Ireland.

"Others stressed that the Holy See's response, which has been promised by the end of August, would seek to heal the breach. But the signs this week were that it would also include a vigorous defence of the Vatican's position.

In Dublin gay and secular activists said Kenny's comments reflected a new Ireland, where attitudes to the church and its influence on daily life have quietly undergone a dramatic shift over the past decade.

Until 1993 homosexuality was still illegal but, according to McGrattan, conditions for gay people have dramatically improved over the past 10 years.

"There has been a move across the board even in schools – of which more than 90% are controlled by the Catholic church – where talk about being gay is no longer banned or simply ignored. Gay youth groups are even going into schools to talk about homophobic bullying. This is real progress."

That tolerance is measured in a series of current opinion polls that show the openly gay Irish senator David Norris as the people's favourite to become Ireland's next president when the country elects a new head of state in the autumn."


Sounds like Catholicism's lost that loving feeling in Ireland, and though the Irish live with the Church, it's not so much a partner anymore as the old, somewhat bigoted grandparent living in the guest room of a familial estate it used to run.
posted by markkraft at 8:49 AM on August 1, 2011


I haven't seen any compelling argument why priests who rape children are not criminals, or why they should not be subject to the criminal-justice system.

Uh, duh! You haven't seen any compelling argument for that because no one has made *any* argument for that in this thread at all!
posted by Jahaza at 9:06 AM on August 1, 2011


Is it a coincidence that both you and Cortes ignore my corollary statement that those who protect the rapist priests are also criminals?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:03 AM on August 1, 2011


Perhaps because we're both busy with other stuff, so we're just highlighting the most ridiculous parts of your comments, rather than going point by point?
posted by Jahaza at 11:21 AM on August 1, 2011


Shattered beliefs. From the letter in the link:

"Do those people realise what they have done? The church does not know the damage it has caused.

The institution is far removed from that which claims to follow in the footsteps of the man who walked in rags."

And that's what this is about for me. I was raised Catholic in Ireland and although I always struggled with the Church* I never felt the utter contempt that I feel now for the Vatican and the hierarchy. The mealy mouthed parsing of every statement, the refusal of those in charge to accept full responsibilty for the organization they rule over, the damage to thousands upon thousands, the attempts to blame this on the rest of society rather than look inwards... Where do I end?

I don't believe any longer and I do miss some things about Catholicism such as the ceremony and even confession because it could be with the right confessor a way to work through issues and sorrow and errors and to come out with a new resolution to behave better. But that's not enough of a reason to use it as one of the Church's panoply of ways to protect child abusers in its fold. And wow, even were I suddenly to rediscover faith, I would never dream of going back while the current bunch of old men rule with their minutiae and contempt for the rest of us, including children and women and all who don't think that they should bow down before them because they wear the collar. If there is a hell it's going to contain a lot of Canon lawyer and members of the Church's elite.

* Thanks not being a 'real Catholic' according to some religious figures because my mother is Jewish.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:21 PM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


...so we're just highlighting the most ridiculous parts of your comments, rather than going point by point?

So your purpose here is not to present a reasoned argument about why the Church shouldn't have to reveal the criminals in its hierarchy, but to cherry-pick ridiculous statements and go "DUH?"

Noted.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:44 PM on August 1, 2011


So your purpose here is not to present a reasoned argument about why the Church shouldn't have to reveal the criminals in its hierarchy, but to cherry-pick ridiculous statements and go "DUH?"

Well, a reasonable disagreement requires both sides to be reasonable. While you're going around suggesting that people are arguing that "priests who rape children are not criminals, or why they should not be subject to the criminal-justice system," you're not being reasonable, but rather pointlessly provocative. Since you seem to be interested in pointless provocation (intentional or careless) rather than hearing a reasoned argument about why--in certain limited cases---priests shouldn't be required to report child abuse, I'm not sure why we should spend a lot of time arguing with you.
posted by Jahaza at 1:20 PM on August 1, 2011


If there is any faction indulging in blatant straw-manning, it's the defenders of the faith. Equating criticism of the church hierarchy with anti-Catholic bigotry is by far the biggest straw-man in this thread.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:35 PM on August 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Equating criticism of the church hierarchy with anti-Catholic bigotry

Maybe this is too fine a point (I would hope not) -- but there is a whole spectrum of criticism, ranging from "honest and accurate" on one end to "disingenuous and indiscriminate" on the other. I have no problem with reasonable criticism of the hierarchy of any church. There is much to criticize.

It's of course one's prerogative to decide that statements like "The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world" (to use one of many examples in this thread) fall on the honest and accurate side. But I don't think anyone should be surprised when that kind of approach to the discussion gets called out for what it is.
posted by Cortes at 3:31 PM on August 1, 2011


Meanwhile we're to accept that it's "OK" for some child rapists to go unreported.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:52 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


While you're going around suggesting that people are arguing that "priests who rape children are not criminals, or why they should not be subject to the criminal-justice system," you're not being reasonable, but rather pointlessly provocative.

You're avoiding the main point, which is that the Church hierarchy, by shielding and enabling criminals, become criminals themselves. Do you deny it? Do you agree that all the criminals involved should be treated as criminals? That's not being pointlessly provocative, it's trying to get you to address the point of this whole thread, and stop lurching off into diversions about the sanctity of confession and other red herrings.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:47 PM on August 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


When those members of the Church that are supposed to monitor church groups and prevent abuse are themselves caught with child pornography, I find it hard to take seriously any claim that the Church can be trusted to police its own.
posted by kafziel at 9:03 AM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's of course one's prerogative to decide that statements like "The Roman Catholic Church is the biggest and oldest pedophile ring in the world" (to use one of many examples in this thread) fall on the honest and accurate side. But I don't think anyone should be surprised when that kind of approach to the discussion gets called out for what it is.

Well, since clearly that criticism is aimed at the hierarchy, not at practicing Catholics, calling it anti-Catholic bigotry is not calling it out for what it is, with all due respect. You seem to be functioning as a tireless advocate for that hierarchy, as you simultaneously pretend to be a defender of ordinary Catholics. I think that is why you see an escalation of emphatic denunciation of the hierarchy in response to your (in my opinion) obstinance in recognizing the enormity of that hierarchy's absolute abdication of responsibility in regard to pedophilia. Your objections that each bit of evidence is some isolated event rather than evidence of the sustained pattern it appears to be to those of us outside the circle of trust seem more suited to a defense lawyer committed to obtaining a not-guilty verdict than a reasoned discussion of the evidence.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:57 PM on August 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Tag team child rapist clergy. Nearly 30 suicides.

RCC response: proof once again that the church must not be trusted.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:20 AM on August 4, 2011


Presumably you mean this response:
While conceding the abuse of children was wrong, he [Bishop of Ballarat Peter Connors] said that in the past it had not always been clear to everyone what was appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

"In the past a lot of ignorance was there on the part of lots of people. Parents didn't understand, sometimes bishops didn't understand. We have no excuse now."

As to whether there was an excuse when Ridsdale and Best were abusing boys, Bishop Connors said he did not know.
Yes, the behavior in question was rape. One of the victims was 9. The story doesn't describe the others. To what sort of person is it not clear that raping children is "inappropriate?"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:08 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, the behavior in question was rape. One of the victims was 9. The story doesn't describe the others. To what sort of person is it not clear that raping children is "inappropriate?"

This disingenuity is so obvious to outside observers that it makes it difficult for use to give credence to those attempting to defend the hierarchy. As long as the RCC hierarchy feels that it needs to be in full defensive mode as opposed to transparently acknowledging the enormity of the problem and taking steps to correct it, I will continue to harshly criticize that hierarchy. That criticism is in no way directed at my relatives and friends who are practicing Catholics.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:22 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mass. group says abusive priest list falls short
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:15 AM on August 4, 2011


New report on Diocese of Raphoe to have horrifying details of more abuse.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:28 PM on August 10, 2011


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