The Pope and the Vatican are angry. Over police raids.
September 10, 2010 9:33 AM   Subscribe

'No Belgian church escaped sex abuse', finds investigation. It reveals that abuse was so extensive that it was going on in almost every diocese and at every Church-run boarding school: "We can say that no congregation escapes sexual abuse of minors by one or several of its members," the commission concluded." 'Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, an independent Belgian commission said Friday.' 'Friday's report lists 507 witnesses who came forward with stories of molestation at the hands of clergy over the past decades. It says those abused included children who were two, four, five and six years old.'

'"None of us was prepared for the severity of some of the accounts of abuse that we were given. All of us at one time questioned our faith in God, the Church and humanity."'

Meanwhile, the Pope and the Vatican are outraged over police raids in Belgium. 'The Pope has criticised a "deplorable" police raid on Catholic Church property in Belgium as part of a sex abuse investigation.'

'Fernand Keuleneer, lawyer for the Mechelen-Brussels archdiocese, suggested the Catholic archdiocese could sue the Belgian state over the raids. Father Eric De Beukelaer, spokesman for the archdiocese, said something that the Belgian church particularly regretted was the searching of the premises of a committee probing priest paedophilia allegations. The Brussels prosecutor has said the raid followed a string of accusations "denouncing abuse of minors committed by a certain number of Church figures".'

However, Belgian authorities defend the raids. "Belgium’s Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck defended the police action. “The bishops were treated completely normally during the raid,” he said. De Clerck said the Vatican’s reaction had been excessive as it was based on false information, dismissing the question of the police raids becoming a diplomatic incident."

The commission did not find evidence of systematic coverup, however the crisis in the Belgian church was exacerbated last month, when secret tapes were published of Cardinal Danneels speaking with the man whom Bishop Vangheluwe abused and suggesting a cover-up until Vangheluwe was to retire in 2011. Danneels said Wednesday he should have asked Vangheluwe to resign immediately.
posted by VikingSword (133 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Jesus Christ!

I really just said that aloud in my cubicle at work as I was reading this. And it's just so appropriate.

I really don't understand how Benedict and his crew sleep at night. Not necessarily because of guilt over what they have or how they respond to it -- the obviously have no conscience -- but if they believe in God and that they will one day be judged for their actions on Earth, how can they not be really fucking worried.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:36 AM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Beyond words...
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:48 AM on September 10, 2010


I don't understand - why are they pissed, exactly? It doesn't sound like the police have done anything they wouldn't do in ANY case involving child abuse allegations.

Or, is that the problem - the lack of special treatment?
posted by antifuse at 9:52 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


The flesh is weak and the soul is forever. If you believe you are doing the Lord's work, then, on balance, all of those saved souls count quite a bit more than few traumatized kids, whose troubled brows will be soothed upon entrance to Heaven. Pedophilia is an operational overhead: unfortunate but to be expected. Pain? Suffering? Why spare the children in whose charge they have been entrusted these things when those some qualities are venerated in the central figure of Christianity?

I don't buy it, but that's the way they sleep at night. What does keep them up is the loss of authority and the temerity of mere governments investigating the century-spanning rock of the Church.
posted by adipocere at 9:53 AM on September 10, 2010 [30 favorites]


How he responds to it makes this Pope a very bad person indeed, to put it mildly. I'm really having a hard time seeing how he can still come here now without at least there being some sort of political snubbing.
posted by shinybaum at 9:56 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


but if they believe in God and that they will one day be judged for their actions on Earth, how can they not be really fucking worried.

Because saving souls, they reason, is more important than anything else that happens in contemptus mundi. This doesn't just excuse conquest, forced conversion, genocide, Inquisitions, burnings of heretics and homosexuals.

Even more importantly, it means that, in order to continue to "save souls", the Universal and Catholic Holy Mother Church must continue to exist as (up until the Vatican II reforms, and still in the minds of many of the hierarchy) the Roman Catholic Church is the sole route to salvation.

Thus, they believe, for the sake of all souls, that the Church, no matter how corrupt and venal, no matter how many children are raped under its auspices, must be maintained.

Not just maintained, but must remain effective at gathering in more souls, must be able to compete for souls against other faiths, which necessarily requires that crimes of the clergy be covered up, lest potential souls be disgusted by Holy Mother Church and subsequently seduced by the errors of Protestantism and Pentecostalism and Mormonism and Islam.

For the greater good of saving more souls. No matter what the cost.

(And I came here to snark that "while the RC Church has a right to build a cathedral two blocks form an orphanage....", but then again, it seems that in Belgium at least, we're not talking about 19 terrorists contrasted to 1.5 billion believers.)
posted by orthogonality at 10:04 AM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yes, a severe snubbing is in order. Britain, prepare the cold shoulder!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:04 AM on September 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


but if they believe in God

I suspect once you rise to a certain position of power in any church, you're pretty much an atheist at that point. Sausage, laws, etc.

This is fucking horrifying.
posted by maxwelton at 10:04 AM on September 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


You have to wonder at what point the decent Catholics agitate for another great schism. How could you possibly belong to the church as it it now?
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:10 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This makes me want to throw up.
posted by rtha at 10:11 AM on September 10, 2010


The fact that this pope is not kicking butts and taking names and cleaning house tells me all I need to know about him.


I want to vomit.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:11 AM on September 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm really having a hard time seeing how he can still come here now without at least there being some sort of political snubbing.

Here's why there won't be: Roman Catholics are, by far, the single largest religious group in the United States. No one wants to be the guy who snubs the religious leader of nearly one in four Americans - no matter how much he deserves it.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:11 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know, I can think of few things worse than the institutional raping of children.

People of the world were really quick to get on Muslims because 19 of them committed an act of terrorism. Why aren't people of the world branding Catholics with the same fervor? This isn't just 19 child rapists - the whole fucking Church is in on it. When do we all stop sitting around and saying "gosh, this is terrible" and take up some god damned pitchforks and torches and drive these rapists out of town?

Seriously guys? You have problems with the way the police raided you to arrest you for raping children? It is a good thing I'm not a cop, or else you'd instead be reading how the Pope was outraged after all the rapists were "shot while trying to escape."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:12 AM on September 10, 2010 [21 favorites]


Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said the detention of a number of bishops during the raid was "serious and unbelievable", comparing it to the practices of communist regimes.

Are. you. fucking. kidding. me.
posted by rtha at 10:15 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


power is a heckuva drug...
posted by ennui.bz at 10:20 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, at least they're not ordaining women priests.
posted by Scoo at 10:21 AM on September 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Thus, they believe, for the sake of all souls, that the Church, no matter how corrupt and venal, no matter how many children are raped under its auspices, must be maintained.

You know, I'm normally quite tolerant when it comes to religions -- don't bother me, I won't bother you -- but if that's truly the point of view of the church (I see more than one commenter mentioning it), that's a pretty amazing racket they've got going.
posted by davejay at 10:23 AM on September 10, 2010


Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said the detention of a number of bishops during the raid was "serious and unbelievable", comparing it to the practices of communist regimes

Well, the Commies prevented the practice of religion. So I guess if Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone considers child-rape a sacrament, he's got a point.

Let's see, um, baptism, confirmation, holy eucharist, marriage, ah yep!, right here: forcible sodomy of children!
posted by orthogonality at 10:23 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm really having a hard time seeing how he can still come here now without at least there being some sort of political snubbing.

Here's why there won't be: Roman Catholics are, by far, the single largest religious group in the United States. No one wants to be the guy who snubs the religious leader of nearly one in four Americans - no matter how much he deserves it.


Whoops, I didn't check shinybaum's location and I assumed we were talking about the US. oops. My kingdom for that 3-minute edit window....
posted by deadmessenger at 10:24 AM on September 10, 2010


Well, at least they're not ordaining women priests.

Indeed, because that would be like pedophilia according to the newest Church teachings.

"The new rules issued by the Vatican puts attempts at ordaining women among the “most serious crimes” alongside paedophilia and will be handled by investigators from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), considered the successor to the Inquisition."
posted by VikingSword at 10:27 AM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


I wonder if a half dozen insane Christians hijacked a plane and smashed it into a skyscraper in Iran what the reaction would be.

I wonder if there was systemic and widely reported child abuse by Imams in mosques and retreats the world around what the reaction would be.

No, not really. I don't wonder at all.

I'm stutteringly angry, but I think it's best that I just let this one go or I'm going to lose half my family.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Guy Fawkes day. Remember the Reason for the Season!
posted by atrazine at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's why there won't be: Roman Catholics are, by far, the single largest religious group in the United States.

He's due here in the UK any time now and I'm going to have a hard time sitting on my hands trying not to pull a Tatchell. I'd be very surprised if some people didn't try it, and so they should.

Although Catholic numbers rival our Anglicans right now there's a hell of a lot of resentment over these cover ups and no Catholic establisment as such to hide it it the media.
posted by shinybaum at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2010




no Catholic establisment as such to hide it it the media.

Except for Damian "Playmobil character head" Thompson at the Telegraph, who can reliably be counted on to defend just about abuse within the church.
posted by atrazine at 10:31 AM on September 10, 2010


Well, the Commies prevented the practice of religion. So I guess if Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone considers child-rape a sacrament, he's got a point.

The commission found that the level of abuse had declined in the 1980s.

Our correspondent say this is perhaps because by then there were fewer priests and they were less involved in the education system.


In other words, as I always maintained, the only way to deal with the RCC is to abolish it as an institutional structure in current form. Let Catholics form another Church where the power structure is build with more inherent accountability. Because as it is, abuse is inevitable with the way the RCC organization is structured. Otherwise, the best way to diminish abuse will continue to be to lower the number of priests and to remove them from contact with children, as per the article.
posted by VikingSword at 10:34 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hope the rank and file Catholics, whom I am sure are as outraged as us, will rise up and address this. I understand they are taught the Pope is infallible but there is no way you can know about this and still believe that. My heart hurts for the devastated victims and their families-this kind of abuse is devastating enough without having the perp be someone who is supposed to represent God and His ways.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:35 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I understand they are taught the Pope is infallible

A small clarification: the Pope is only infallible in certain, narrow circumstances. It's only been invoked roughly 7 times in all of Church history.

posted by jedicus at 10:41 AM on September 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


THe investigation findings only make sense to me if I mentally substitute "Church of Satan" for "Roman Catholic Church." This is institutionalized evil.
posted by bearwife at 10:45 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


How could you possibly belong to the church as it it now?

Well, I'm reading my Thomas Merton and cultivating a personal relationship with God. And, you know, not touching children that way.

We can't vote the guy out, you know. Not coming to my local parish church any more won't exactly slow down the heirarchy, 'way over there in Rome.

I am curious how I can act? I don't like what I am hearing about my church's leaders, but it just doesn't sound like my church, or any church I have ever attended. I am troubled.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:47 AM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hah, I was just remembering when Sinéad O'Connor burned a picture of the pope on TV and everybody was really upset about it.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:47 AM on September 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


As we know, the Vatican response to the abuse worldwide, is to try to run every gay person out of the seminary and prevent future gay priests - the idea being that it's gay people who are responsible for the abuse. From that point of view, I found this bit from the commission quite interesting:

"Assaults on boys usually ended by their 15th year but abuse of girls could continue into adulthood, the report found."
posted by VikingSword at 10:49 AM on September 10, 2010


I am curious how I can act?

How does "church ownership" work? Does the RCC own the local church - and I mean the property, the building, etc? If not, can your local churches simply opt-out of being RCC, and either just go on their own, or join up with another organization that doesn't support the raping of children?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:51 AM on September 10, 2010


I wonder if a half dozen insane Christians hijacked a plane and smashed it into a skyscraper in Iran what the reaction would be.

Well, Timothy McVeigh killed over a hundred people and wounded nearly 700, but nobody seems to care.


Hah, I was just remembering when Sinéad O'Connor burned a picture of the pope on TV and everybody was really upset about it.

Everybody who spoke harshly about her over that owes her the kind of apology that involves the application of tongues to shoes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:52 AM on September 10, 2010 [16 favorites]


This was posted by Jimmy Havok on Metafilter several months ago in a thread on a similar topic:

I'm in agreement with those who see the Catholic orders as a refuge for homosexuals in cultures that were hostile to them. In fact, I suspect that "the calling" was, for the most part, a metaphor for homosexuality. Priests would take confession from boys who admitted to homosexual desires and recruit them into the secret brotherhood. This was a structure that worked well at perpetuating itself up until homosexuality became socially acceptable.

One of the side effects of adult priests recruiting teen-aged boys into the fold was that it also provided a safe place for pedophiles to operate. I suspect that they formed a deeper secret cabal within or parallel to the homosexual secret society that was the backbone of the priesthood. With the reduction of the stigma against homosexuality, pedophiles became the major source of "the called," and the evidence of how the church's hierarchy has not just protected pedophiles but facilitated them leads to the conclusion that there is a strong, perhaps even dominant, pedophilic presence within that hierarchy.

Benedict's homophobic pronouncements are natural from the leader of an organization that depended on homophobia in order to perpetuate itself. He is fighting the tide, but I doubt that he can see any other path. The only population that is really suited to the overt life of a priest are asexuals, and they are not common, nor are they likely to reveal themselves in confession. Neither are they likely to be racked with the guilt that is such a central component of Catholic life, and so they are entirely unsuitable.

It strikes me that the whole structure built on concealed sexuality and secret corruption is no longer tenable in the modern world. The only possible way to rebuild the Catholic Church would be for it to honestly become what it has portrayed itself as, a spiritual cloister in a sinful world. But that is the kind of thing that will take generations to achieve, and the church probably does not have generations left to it.

posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:20 PM on August 14


I think he's got it down. Solid.
posted by Faze at 10:54 AM on September 10, 2010 [33 favorites]


How does "church ownership" work? Does the RCC own the local church - and I mean the property, the building, etc? If not, can your local churches simply opt-out of being RCC, and either just go on their own, or join up with another organization that doesn't support the raping of children?

Each diocese is its own entity for business purposes- this is part of how the Vatican protects its wealth.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:58 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Faze, as I linked in my previous comment, girls were also abused and in fact abused into adulthood. Since the vast majority of the abuse was by male priests, you'd think it's an issue of homosexuality - but what about the girls? You say "pedophiles", but what about the fact that they were abused into adulthood? I think it's more about power and being in a position of trust. No doubt it's a huge world wide pedophile ring, but the abuse spanned all ages, and was not merely sexual in nature - but outright torture, sadism and physical and mental cruelty... read accounts from Ireland and Austria.
posted by VikingSword at 11:01 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's no reason their secret club couldn't be on a continuum of sexuality that includes pedophilia, homosexuality, and plain ol' hetero-style. It's the '00s, people!
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 11:04 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, think of the diocese as a franchise. They have owernership of property, but they don't set policy. They rnu local programs, but the text is from the home office.

As an example:, the Boston diocese hd to sell off property to pay for court settlements. My alma mater, B.C., scooped up the land for a (relative) song, and the money stayed in Boston nistead of going to Rome. Of course, when a diocese is going broke, Rome also doesn't step in to save parish shurches or whatever.

If the thrust of the original question is something along the lines of "how come you don't go to the finance committee meeting and seize control," then my response is something along the lines of "there's not much to seize: the policies are externally-imposed, and I engage my parish priest and fellow parishoners in local efforts of service and worship."
posted by wenestvedt at 11:05 AM on September 10, 2010


This post is pretty damned misleading, it seems like. I can't really find anywhere that anybody even connected with the Catholic church uses the term 'outrage' for this. The pope's statements actually seem pretty measured - he says that he wants justice for the victims, that this is a painful thing for everybody, and that he believes that the church should first and foremost be subject to the law. I kind of liked that last bit. Then he goes on to say that he deplores a few of the raids that were done by the police - not all of them, but a few - specifically the raid on the church council that itself happened to be trying to investigate the abuse. I can understand being bitter about that, particularly since the wrongdoing the raids were looking for (some sort of cover-up conspiracy) clearly didn't happen, and since the raids found no evidence whatsoever that the church was trying to hide anything at all.

This is a tragic and terrifying moment, though. That's just one more reason to stop, breathe, and pay attention to what's actually going on. Calling the Church's reaction 'outrage' at being raided isn't really true at all, and it's just going to inflate the situation and make them seem like monsters. It'd be nice if they were. It'd be nice if we could point to the evil people - because then we could just kill them and be done with evil. Unfortunately, the church itself hasn't done anything wrong here, and this investigation has proven that. It's the Belgian churches that are clearly at fault, and the horrific things we're hearing about have to be faced and dealt with.

It doesn't help that the Telegraph's translations of the Pope's and the Vatican's statements seem stilted and drab, and are hard to read. That only makes it easier, in fact, to read those statements as being blindlingly, hideously evil. But if you actually read them, and read what they're saying, you'll find that they're not as terrifying and awful as one might wish them to be.
posted by koeselitz at 11:07 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nice backpeddling Pope. Now abdicate.
posted by stormpooper at 11:10 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, please note that "deplorable," the word used by the Pope, is probably a (frankly bad) translation of the Latin word deplorabilis or the Italian deplorevole. "Deplorable" in English is a bit archaic, and has always had a pretty strong sense, and is concurrent with 'outrage;' but both the Italian and the Latin words aren't very strong at all. If the Pope used one of those words, then what he said was that he regretted the raids. And I don't think that's a terrible thing for him to have said. The Telegraph is making a lot of noise about something that's not as fantastically insensitive as it seems.
posted by koeselitz at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't really find anywhere that anybody even connected with the Catholic church uses the term 'outrage' for this.

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Friday it was astonished and outraged that Belgian police investigating priestly sex abuse had conducted raids that also targeted the graves of two archbishops.

The Vatican summoned the Belgian ambassador to the Holy See to convey its anger over the raids, which also included the home and offices of the retired archbishop of Belgium. The ambassador was called in for a meeting with the Vatican's foreign minister.

In a statement, the Vatican said any sinful and criminal abuse of minors from members of the church must be condemned and repeated that there is a need for justice and amends.

But it added, "The Secretariat of State also expresses astonishment at the way in which the search took place." It expressed "outrage over the violation of the tombs."


This post is pretty damned misleading, it seems like.

When you make an accusation, please back it up. And when you are proven wrong, apologize.
posted by VikingSword at 11:14 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: “This post is pretty damned misleading, it seems like.”

Well, that may be a bit strong. But the Telegraph article is 'deplorable,' if I may say so, in its neglect to communicate what was actually said by the Vatican at all. It's funny that all of the statements by Belgian authorities in the article are rendered clearly, directly, and concisely; but statements by the Vatican seem to be badly translated, turned into stultified, unreadable sentences that it's hard to parse. And then the word they pull from this is the most inflammatory word that can be found in it - the word 'deplorable.' I don't think that's very careful or thoughtful.
posted by koeselitz at 11:14 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, the church itself hasn't done anything wrong here, and this investigation has proven that. It's the Belgian churches that are clearly at fault, and the horrific things we're hearing about have to be faced and dealt with.

I used to agree with this but now I very much don't. My childhood religion had a record of covering up child abuse and had actual policies in place to make it almost impossible to prove (even very stupid child molesters can usually avoid doing it in front of the biblical two witnesses) but the most insidious thing was the extent to which they'd protect individuals and absolutely refused to make it a top down culture of zero tolerance.

What were the consequences to those Belgian churches from HQ? at best, none. At worst, less than none as they moved priests round and waited for people to retire.

People used to say it isn't the religion, it's bad people within the religion. It's regional overseers in particular areas. No, it's the religion. Not because there are memos to rape children, but because there aren't any memos to have people who rape children arrested and excommunicated and damned to eternal fucking hell under the power and rage of the god damned Pope himself.
posted by shinybaum at 11:17 AM on September 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


"The new rules issued by the Vatican puts attempts at ordaining women among the “most serious crimes” alongside paedophilia and will be handled by investigators from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), considered the successor to the Inquisition."

So, in other words, it will be swept under the rug and never spoken of again?
posted by rtha at 11:17 AM on September 10, 2010


To be clear, the word "outrage" was used in the official Vatican statement. So those who "can't find it" are not looking too hard, then rushing ahead and reaching conclusions based on their lack of research.
posted by VikingSword at 11:20 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear Catholic Church: Take me off the list. (SELF-LINK)
posted by jtron at 11:22 AM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Imagine if Monaco had a bunch of holdings in, say, Denmark. And then imagine that Denmark discovered that every single one of those holdings was a safe-haven for child-rape.

Wouldn't it behoove every other nation on Earth to immediately and carefully look into Monaco's holdings in their own borders?
posted by Navelgazer at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


To be clear, the word "outrage" was used in the official Vatican statement. So those who "can't find it" are not looking too hard, then rushing ahead and reaching conclusions based on their lack of research.

I have an idea. Why don't you link to it instead of getting GRAR-y with other MeFites?
posted by thesmophoron at 11:29 AM on September 10, 2010


Well, at least they're not ordaining women priests.

iirc, most sexual abuse of children is done by men who self-identify as straight.

To save the children, what we need to do is only let practicing homosexual men become Catholic priests.

All of them. Not just the Jesuits.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:30 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The word "deplorable" is not something that has been cherry-picked "by the Telegraph". Almost all the original reporting on the pope's statement includes the pope's words: "Pope Benedict described the raids by officers investigating abuse claims as "surprising and deplorable" and demanded that the church be allowed a role in inquiries into child molesters in its ranks." - that was the Guardian. The word "deplorable" as used by the pope, as reported by Al-Jazeera. Really, far and wide. It's not a "Telegraph" thing.
posted by VikingSword at 11:34 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is pure fucking evil.

I am curious how I can act? I don't like what I am hearing about my church's leaders, but it just doesn't sound like my church, or any church I have ever attended. I am troubled.

Quit. Find your god on your own. If he exists, these are the last people he'd use to reconcile us to him.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:35 AM on September 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "Each diocese is its own entity for business purposes- this is part of how the Vatican protects its wealth."

And when a parish tries to break away this is what can happen - excommunication, etc. (n.b. the particular breakaway was over the issue of parish control - the parish had run its own finances for over 100 years, and the diocese wanted to take the parish over so it could close the entire facility and sell the now-more-valuable land.)
posted by notsnot at 11:35 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


VikingSword: “To be clear, the word "outrage" was used in the official Vatican statement. So those who "can't find it" are not looking too hard, then rushing ahead and reaching conclusions based on their lack of research.”

It wasn't in any of the links up top – I'm sorry, I guess I should have searched better. And like I said, it wasn't fair when I said your post was "pretty damned misleading;" I'm sorry for saying that. My chief problem was with the Telegraph article.

I don't think you were being misleading. And I understand what you're saying here; I sympathize, frankly, and I am not a Catholic, nor would I wish to be one today. However, it's also leaving a bit out to say that the Vatican was "outraged over police raids." They weren't. They made a point of complying with every one of the raids completely, and the Pope himself said over and over again that the Church had to comply with the law. The outrage was over the fact that the police raids included exhuming the dead bodies of archbishops. And that is a little crazy – I have a hard time seeing what it would accomplish. However, I don't know all the facts, either; maybe the police had reason to believe that evidence was hidden on dead church officials.
posted by koeselitz at 11:39 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


And that is a little crazy – I have a hard time seeing what it would accomplish. However, I don't know all the facts, either; maybe the police had reason to believe that evidence was hidden on dead church officials.

Well, no. The idea was not that there was evidence "hidden on dead church officials" - it was police suspicion that documents were being hidden by the RCC hierarchy, and they drilled small holes into some tombs on Church property to examine them. It's a lot less crazy when you know the facts.
posted by VikingSword at 11:44 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


VikingSword: “Really, far and wide. It's not a "Telegraph" thing.”

That wasn't my point. Please understand where I was coming from there – I know you probably had a host of other sources open when you made this post, but I'm first hearing about it from you. I jumped to the conclusion (wrong, I know – again, I'm sorry) that people were getting the 'outrage' from the word 'deplorable.' I was merely pointing out (since 'deporable' isn't always a common word, and means something slightly different in Italian) that that word doesn't necessarily indicate outrage.

But the Vatican in fact said elsewhere that they were outraged about the tombs being opened. So I was really just confused. My fault.
posted by koeselitz at 11:44 AM on September 10, 2010


The report mentioned is one thing, the police raid is another thing entirely.

Actually, the Adriaenssens commission that produced the report was an official *church* commission, and the commission's complete files were among the documents seized.

The raid -- "Operation Chalice", as it was called -- was annuled a couple of weeks ago, and all the documents were returned to the Church.

Turns out you actually need to have something more than "we suspect there may have been unspecified shenanigans going on between unspecified probably priests and unspecified other people at an unspecified time in the past" to justify confiscating essentially all documents in a given building (and confiscating all computers owned by anyone possibly maybe involved, and breaking open graves to search for files under the corpses, and detaining people without warrants, etc.).

It's a rule of law thing, apparently.

(obviously this doesn't mean the abuse wasn't horrific and shouldn't be dealt with in some way -- but sadly I don't think this was anything specific to the catholic church in Belgium)
posted by mvuijlst at 11:47 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


To be clear, the word "outrage" was used in the official Vatican statement. So those who "can't find it" are not looking too hard, then rushing ahead and reaching conclusions based on their lack of research.

And the official vatican statement doesn't seem to be linked in the OP, or any of the OP's linked articles. The only place I could find a quoting of outrage was in the HuffPo link that mentions 'It expressed "outrage over the violation of the tombs."'

Most of the pullquotes in the OP articles (and elsewhere) seem to sound like pretty measured responses.
posted by antifuse at 11:48 AM on September 10, 2010


Addendum: link (Dutch only, sorry -- Google translate may help)
posted by mvuijlst at 11:52 AM on September 10, 2010


VikingSword: “The idea was not that there was evidence "hidden on dead church officials" - it was police suspicion that documents were being hidden by the RCC hierarchy, and they drilled small holes into some tombs on Church property to examine them. It's a lot less crazy when you know the facts.”

I see that, but isn't it still possible to object to tiny holes being drilled into peoples' tombs without being against an investigation in principle? And even if you're in favor of the investigation happening this way, isn't it possible to see how someone could object to this detail? I think it's pretty important that the outrage wasn't over the investigation, but over the fact that there was tampering with tombs. Again, I think that was probably a necessary precaution, but the Vatican's outrage over that in no way conflicts with their complete cooperation in the investigation, which, according to the Belgian police in all of the articles you've given us and the ones I've found on my own, was complete. It sounds like the Vatican was actually very rational in their response to the police here, and cooperated fully with them. That's a good thing.


me: “Unfortunately, the church itself hasn't done anything wrong here, and this investigation has proven that. It's the Belgian churches that are clearly at fault, and the horrific things we're hearing about have to be faced and dealt with.”

shinybaum: “I used to agree with this but now I very much don't. My childhood religion had a record of covering up child abuse and had actual policies in place to make it almost impossible to prove (even very stupid child molesters can usually avoid doing it in front of the biblical two witnesses) but the most insidious thing was the extent to which they'd protect individuals and absolutely refused to make it a top down culture of zero tolerance... What were the consequences to those Belgian churches from HQ? at best, none. At worst, less than none as they moved priests round and waited for people to retire... People used to say it isn't the religion, it's bad people within the religion. It's regional overseers in particular areas. No, it's the religion. Not because there are memos to rape children, but because there aren't any memos to have people who rape children arrested and excommunicated and damned to eternal fucking hell under the power and rage of the god damned Pope himself.”

But the Belgian police disagree with you. They've said that they believe there was no coverup here. I know – there may have been coverups elsewhere, and this doesn't prove there weren't. In fact, I think we have solid evidence, if not proof, that there were coverups elsewhere. But what I said was that there wasn't a coverup here, and that seems to be absolutely true, and is agreed by everyone in the case. It's really, really important, I think, to stick to the facts in the case.

And, by the way, there are internal memos to have people arrested if they break the law. The Pope remarks in the Telegraph article that he's said over and over again that lawbreakers have to be subject to civil law; this is regardless of their position in the church. So what you're asking for... it's there. I don't deny that you have every right to be bitter about this, and frankly I am too, but the truth about what's happened is important.
posted by koeselitz at 11:57 AM on September 10, 2010


THe investigation findings only make sense to me if I mentally substitute "Church of Satan" for "Roman Catholic Church." This is institutionalized evil.

Well, as far as I've read, The Church of Satan has never been involved in a denial and cover-up of child abuse, especially one of such global proportions.
Indeed, Rule Nine of The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth states in no uncertain terms "Do not harm little children." so perhaps we could leave them out of it.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:58 AM on September 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


It'd be nice if we could point to the evil people - because then we could just kill them and be done with evil.

Errrr... I don't think killing people really lessens the amount of evil going around.
posted by sonika at 12:03 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the Belgian police disagree with you. They've said that they believe there was no coverup here.

The Belgian police can't possibly disagree with me, because I have no opinion on whether there was a coverup or not, and don't much care either way. I was simply saying organisations do not act regionally or independently on some subjects.

And I don't think the Pope weaselling his way out of this with mealy mouthed semi-apologies is quite what I was asking for.
posted by shinybaum at 12:05 PM on September 10, 2010


thesmophoron: “You're contradicting yourself in a way I think you are incapable of comprehending.”

We may disagree with each other, but I'd like to think we're all at least friendly here. There's no need to make this personal. I don't think you need to start making insulting remarks regarding VikingSword's intelligence, which frankly should be beyond dispute at this point (even if it were a point of debate.) He's a thoughtful guy, and this is a good post. Please try disagreeing with him in a more civil way.
posted by koeselitz at 12:08 PM on September 10, 2010


Regarding coverups - I always try to be fair to both sides in stories like this, and I certainly said so in the body of the FPP (that no evidence of systematic coverup was found). That said, I think we must be careful in how we evaluate such statements. There are legal terms that are operative along a different spectrum from common usage. For example, to say "we found no evidence", may mean simply "actionable evidence", or it may mean that insofar as their investigation was allowed to proceed they have found no evidence so far. It is a bit of a leap to conclude from this that the Church is absolved "of doing anything wrong". It means that at this time the investigation does not have actionable evidence to reach the conclusion that a coverup has occurred. And perhaps there hasn't been a systematic one - though as I quoted in the FPP, there certainly were individual efforts, such as by the Belgian Cardinal... this does NOT mean all the members of the Belgian hierarchy were involved, of course. Innocent until proven guilty.
posted by VikingSword at 12:11 PM on September 10, 2010


koeslitz, thank you for exploring the issue on both sides. I could have included more links, and perhaps should have - note for the future wrt. contentious issues.
posted by VikingSword at 12:14 PM on September 10, 2010


My apologies - there are too many posts from me in my own FPP. I'm going to step out of this thread now.
posted by VikingSword at 12:16 PM on September 10, 2010


In his old age he reached the clear conviction that nothing but the advice of the great dread spirit could build up any tolerable sort of life for the feeble, unruly, 'incomplete, empirical creatures created in jest.' And so, convinced of this, he sees that he must follow the counsel of the wise spirit, the dread spirit of death and destruction, and therefore accept lying and deception, and lead men consciously to death and destruction, and yet deceive them all the way so that they may not notice where they are being led, that the poor blind creatures may at least on the way think themselves happy.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:17 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Saxon Kane put it best
posted by lalochezia at 12:18 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


sonika: “It'd be nice if we could point to the evil people - because then we could just kill them and be done with evil.”

sonika: “Errrr... I don't think killing people really lessens the amount of evil going around.”

Heh. Yeah – that was sort of what I was getting at. There's this impulse oftentimes to identify the 'bad guys,' the people who embody complete evil. That's an extension, I think, of the very human desire for something like mob 'justice' – the desire to 'give the bastards what they deserve,' to get 'em back for all the shit they've pulled. And underlying it all is the believe that they're the source of all this trouble, and if only we get rid of them then everything will be better.

Like you say, the sad thing is that this never works. You don't get rid of evil by killing people, or even by locking them up so that they're never heard from again. And it's insanely difficult to identify people who are truly evil. I really believe that the strange reality is that 'evil' turns out, generally, to simply be human frailty and weakness.

Justice means confronting that, in a rational and careful way, and attempting to right the terrible pain that this human frailty sometimes causes. In order to be truly just, though, I think we have to be honest with ourselves about the fact that the situation is complex. It's also possible to say, I think, that it's infinitely easier to know how to deal with someone who is actually a pedophile than it is to know how to deal with a group of people who may or may not have known about pedophilia which happened in their midst. The person who is actually a pedophile – the person whose pedophilia is known and proved – can be isolated somewhat from society, and can begin to undergo punishment. There are mechanisms for this. But what do you do when pedophilia happened in the midst of a group of people, and when it's hard to tell if those people were even aware that it was going on? At the very least, the most important thing to do is to be careful, dispassionate, and as rational as possible.
posted by koeselitz at 12:23 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a recovering Catholic, this makes me sad and angry. I believe strongly that there was/is a culture of deception in the church. These are the worst cases. For sure. In my review of my Catholic youth, I return to those field trips that the altar boys would take with the parish priest. We would go to seminaries for the day or for overnight stays. I remember swimming in the indoor pool. The locker room was never available to us, so we all had to stand poolside and get into our swimming trunks. The priest sat in a chair and watched us. He did not read a magazine, turn his head, close his eyes, sit on the other side of the pool, nope. He sat there, 2 feet from us and watched us undress. Is that normal? As an adult, now a father, I don't think so. Had my mom known, she'd have been punching this priest's face in. How many of these instances are out there? We will never know but they had an effect on me. Was this abuse or a lead-in to abuse? I don't know and my kids will never be put in that situation.

The Catholic church is dying for good reason.
posted by zerobyproxy at 12:26 PM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


and when it's hard to tell if those people were even aware that it was going on?

At this point, I can say with confidence that it is widely known that this is going on.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:27 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The priest sat in a chair and watched us. He did not read a magazine, turn his head, close his eyes, sit on the other side of the pool, nope. He sat there, 2 feet from us and watched us undress. Is that normal? As an adult, now a father, I don't think so.

Right fucking on. I was raised Catholic, I won't let a Catholic priest within 10 feet of my sons.
posted by Scoo at 12:39 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


But what do you do when pedophilia happened in the midst of a group of people, and when it's hard to tell if those people were even aware that it was going on?

We need to stop treating every single case like an individual case. If it happened to a now widely known unacceptablle extent in the Belgian Church, the Austrian Church, the Irish Church, the blah blah Church, we need to start blaming The Church.

Whether the Vatican knew specifically about the Belgian goings on is irrelevant at that point, unless you want to go higher up the chain of command and prosecute the Pope or some other high ranking official. But is the Vatican ultimately to blame? surely. They provide the culture of tolerance, they provide the necessary absence of will to allow this to happen.

For prosecutorial purposes, we absolutely need to see the individuals and investigate and arrest accordingly, especially those found to have colluded to hide abuse. But as for who I personally blame, the organisation as a whole can't be exempted.
posted by shinybaum at 12:51 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't understand - why are they pissed, exactly? It doesn't sound like the police have done anything they wouldn't do in ANY case involving child abuse allegations.

Or, is that the problem - the lack of special treatment?


That's exactly the problem - it's an argument Ratzinger was making in roles before he became Benedict. The secular state ought to have no authority over the church but that the church chooses to grant.

(And it's a very old argument - "Will no-one rid me of this turbulent priest?")

I suspect once you rise to a certain position of power in any church, you're pretty much an atheist at that point. Sausage, laws, etc.

Ah, yes, it's all the fault of the atheists. Here was I thinking gays were the new Jews it's OK to hate, but realy, it's the secret cabal of atheists that's ruining everything.

Faze, as I linked in my previous comment, girls were also abused and in fact abused into adulthood. Since the vast majority of the abuse was by male priests, you'd think it's an issue of homosexuality - but what about the girls?

Faze is just trolling. Let it alone.

Errrr... I don't think killing people really lessens the amount of evil going around.

I don't notice too many Nazi death camps operating in Poland in the last 60 or so years.

I agree with you in general, ostly because our definition of "evil" is often so solly in retrospect. But it's not an absolute.
posted by rodgerd at 12:52 PM on September 10, 2010


you know who else kept meticulous administrative records of their crimes?
posted by mlis at 12:58 PM on September 10, 2010


That guy from Se7en?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:01 PM on September 10, 2010


nope, the Catholic Church in the US and Ireland.
posted by mlis at 1:02 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


credit to Joe Beese for the above comment, which I meant to link to.
posted by mlis at 1:07 PM on September 10, 2010


The Belgian police and juridical system do not have an historically good track record about child abuse. Rember Marc Dutroux the serial child killer and rapist; he is now being associated with these abuses. This runs deep into the heart of the Belgian power establishment.
posted by adamvasco at 1:12 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


thsmchnekllsfascists: "Quit. Find your god on your own. If he exists, these are the last people he'd use to reconcile us to him."

But that was my point: the Catholics around me aren't doing this. We have a garden where we grow food for the food bank, we teach little kids the nice, New Testament love-your-neighbor bits of the faith that they can digest, and we come together to pray each week.

Heck, if Father Ray was caught with a kid he'd get torn apart, which is probably why Confession for kids is now done on two chairs in the middle of the nave with a barrier between them. *sigh*
posted by wenestvedt at 1:22 PM on September 10, 2010


I think it's pretty important that the outrage wasn't over the investigation, but over the fact that there was tampering with tombs.

Agreed. The events described are horrible enough; we really don’t need to go mischaracterizing the Vatican to get our grar on.

That being said, shinybaum has it -- this needs to be treated as the systemic problem that it is.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:24 PM on September 10, 2010


It's only been invoked roughly 7 times in all of Church history.

Roughly seven times?
posted by adamdschneider at 1:26 PM on September 10, 2010


the obviously have no conscience --

The only way I can come to grips with this is that despite their reputation as puritanical prudes, the priesthood considers pedophilia just another naughty activity that the boys will sometimes engage in. As long as they don't have sex with or marry adult women, which would be contrary to their deeply held beliefs, it's all forgivable. And those laws out there putting civilians away for years and subjecting them to post-incarceration surveillance? They don't apply to the clergy.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:30 PM on September 10, 2010


VikingSword: It reveals that abuse was so extensive that it was going on in almost every diocese and at every Church-run boarding school: "We can say that no congregation escapes sexual abuse of minors by one or several of its members," the commission concluded." 'Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, an independent Belgian commission said Friday.'

I don't even know what to say, that is one of the worst, most horrible things. Every congregation in the country had at least some instance of this. I can't even… Words don't even come close. What the fuck, assholes. What the fuck.

VikingSword: The commission did not find evidence of systematic coverup

It really does pale in comparison, but this really isn't something to miss. I sure don't give the hierarchy a pass, but this at least avoids adding an entire extra planet full of terrible on top of the one that is already there.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:30 PM on September 10, 2010


Pope Guilty: Each diocese is its own entity for business purposes- this is part of how the Vatican protects its wealth.

Not a personal call-out, but this is a bit inflammatory, given the way that some people talk about the RCC. It's pretty comparable to:
Each synagogue is its own entity for business purposes- this is part of how the Zionist protect their wealth.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:33 PM on September 10, 2010


The fact that this pope is not kicking butts and taking names and cleaning house tells me all I need to know about him.


This is historically how the clergy and hierarchy of the RCC have acted, all the while purging or killing non-believers.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:34 PM on September 10, 2010


Not a personal call-out, but this is a bit inflammatory, given the way that some people talk about the RCC. It's pretty comparable to:

Each synagogue is its own entity for business purposes- this is part of how the Zionist protect their wealth.


Only if you're looking to be offended. There is no central organization of Judaism, nor is there a racist stereotype that Catholics are greedy and horde money. There is, however, a central organization of Catholicism, and it does in fact shield itself by making the local dioceses their own entities.

Frankly, the appropriation of rightful offense at anti-semitism by Catholics is disgusting and you should be deeply ashamed of yourself.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:39 PM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Each synagogue is its own entity for business purposes- this is part of how the Zionist protect their wealth.

Forgive me, but is there an actual business and political organization called The Zionists?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:41 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


So those kids who later killed themselves over this... they're going to Hell, right?
posted by basicchannel at 1:43 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mod note: comments removed - if you can't not make it personal you need to step away. Please keep this thread civil. MetaTalk and email are your options, grandstanding here is not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:45 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"In other words, as I always maintained, the only way to deal with the RCC is to abolish it as an institutional structure in current form.

Look, I don't want to jump to conclusions, but it seems to me a foregone conclusion that when you have a profession that 1) allows you intimate access to strangers, especially small children, and 2) provides a cover for not having an initmate relationship with another adult, you're going to attract a disproportionate number of pedophiles. Put yourself in their place; they have to somehow fit into society undetected and have regular access to children. There just aren't that many slots for them. So maybe it's this whole, you-can't-have-sex-wth-women-and-be-a-priest thing.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:46 PM on September 10, 2010


Pope Guilty: nor is there a racist stereotype that Catholics are greedy and horde money

There is, in fact, a long standing allegation against Catholics from a wide swatch of Protestants that the entire organization is a giant money laundering, influence peddling, for-profit greed machine. I'm not making this up, I've met people who sincerely believe that the RCC is some sort of global pyramid scheme in which Catholics defraud non-Catholics and are in turn defrauded up the chain.

(The zionist thing was a weak example for the reasons already pointed out; I am not a Catholic, Christian, Jew, Zionist, or rich, but I did grow up around some fairly rabid anti-Catholic weirdos, so I did notice the way they couch things.)
posted by paisley henosis at 1:47 PM on September 10, 2010


Can a dutch / flemish speaking mefite check this out please:
In Belgium, Het Laaste Niews has reported that one of the accused Cardinals, Godfried Daneels had in his possession unrevealed documents relating to the Marc Dutroux case
posted by adamvasco at 1:51 PM on September 10, 2010


At this point, I can say with confidence that it is widely known that this is going on.

And this is what worries me - that public outrage over these findings in Belgium will be muted because people are no longer surprised.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:51 PM on September 10, 2010


There are times I sort of regret that I don't believe in the hell that these abusers so richly deserve to suffer eternally in.
posted by quin at 1:57 PM on September 10, 2010


I really don't understand how Benedict and his crew sleep at night.

The covered that on the 3rd week of Hitler Youth orientation.
posted by mikelieman at 2:03 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Dear Catholic Church: Take me off the list. (SELF-LINK)

If you didn't read it, please do.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:05 PM on September 10, 2010


Quit. Find your god on your own.

From John Prine's Spanish Pipedream
Blow up your T.V. throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try and find Jesus on your own
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:10 PM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Frankly, the appropriation of rightful offense at anti-semitism by Catholics is disgusting and you should be deeply ashamed of yourself.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:39 PM on September 10 [2 favorites +] [!]


Epony-- ah fuck it
posted by DLWM at 2:44 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is horrifying. Absolutely horrifying. And I can't help but see this in my mind, over and over again.

I don't regret visiting the Vatican when John Paul II was there, but I wonder how many decades this sort of complicity has gone on for...
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:01 PM on September 10, 2010


Serious question: What's causing pedophilia?

I mean, it can't just be abstinence. People all throughout the world go without sex without molesting kids and it seems that adult-to-adult rape would be a much higher risk. I can't see it being culture, as there is no indication anywhere of promotion of the behavior (unless you agree that acceptance equals promotion). If there is a certain segment of the population that "naturally" is attracted to kids, and these people gravitate to the clergy for this and a variety of reasons, perhaps I could understand that. But then we have to take one step further back and ask why a certain segment of the population is attracted to kids and try to deal with that in a way that stops the abuse.

Someone enlighten me a little?
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 3:05 PM on September 10, 2010


I mean, it can't just be abstinence.

I wouldn't let my kid near any religious group on his own for the same reasons I spent ten years terrified of social services having anything to do with him. They never needed to, but it worried me at times. It isn't celibacy, it's power + access.

Celibacy doesn't make priests rape children, it might be an added bonus for some but it isn't a cause. One of the reasons this is a huge problem for Catholic groups is that they are the ones who run children's homes, social services and private religious instruction on a massive scale. Same for physical and other abuse by nuns. The way to stop it is the same as for any other group, monitor their interactions with children in their care and report, arrest, fire the ones that are discovered.

No system is perfect but the Church failed on a huge scale in the same way as local authorities and the UK government did for looked after children for many decades, and it is still covering it up when many other organisations have adopted guidelines and a change in culture to prevent it, successfully or not. The victim blaming and hoping it will all go away is not unique to them in the least, the outcry is mostly a matter of scale, violations of religious trust and lack of appropriate response/corporate responsibility. They failed utterly to discipline priests when they were accused of or admitted child abuse - grow a swamp, expect mosquitos.
posted by shinybaum at 3:24 PM on September 10, 2010


It isn't celibacy, it's power + access.

I believe this is probably true, but I'd like to know what the priests are thinking during these moments, how they twist the narrative of their actions to fir with their morals.

Not that the story would be compelling, but it might help us understand the pathology of the epidemic a little better.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:51 PM on September 10, 2010


Errrr... I don't think killing people really lessens the amount of evil going around.

I don't notice too many Nazi death camps operating in Poland in the last 60 or so years.


This isn't because we killed all the Nazis, though. I don't think we even killed or imprisoned the majority of the high-ranking officials.
posted by breath at 5:04 PM on September 10, 2010


Not that the story would be compelling, but it might help us understand the pathology of the epidemic a little better

I suspect (and I'm not a Catholic so I don't know), that there is no pathology or self justification specific to paedophile priests that doesn't exist in all paedophiles, and that the epidemic is because of systemic failures and fostering of the Church and it's membership.

My dad was raised Catholic and he had all sorts of stories about awful nuns, but I had trouble reasoning that awful people are somehow drawn to extreme religion rather than extreme religion fostering an atmosphere that awful people can be awful in. But I'm not a Catholic so I could be completely off on that.

Seven comments in one thread indicates that I probably shouldn't post any more, so that's that for me.
posted by shinybaum at 5:08 PM on September 10, 2010


This isn't because we killed all the Nazis, though. I don't think we even killed or imprisoned the majority of the high-ranking officials.

You don't have to kill all of them. You only have to kill enough. Talking to them sure as hell wasn't what closed the camps. It was shooting them, and bombing them, and probably some close-quarters beating on them. The boot and the bullet are the only historically proven remedies for Nazi.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:33 PM on September 10, 2010


rodgerd: “I don't notice too many Nazi death camps operating in Poland in the last 60 or so years.”

breath: “This isn't because we killed all the Nazis, though. I don't think we even killed or imprisoned the majority of the high-ranking officials.”

Pope Guilty: “You don't have to kill all of them. You only have to kill enough. Talking to them sure as hell wasn't what closed the camps. It was shooting them, and bombing them, and probably some close-quarters beating on them. The boot and the bullet are the only historically proven remedies for Nazi.”

Er... guys? Did you notice what we're talking about? We're talking... about killing Catholics. Doesn't that seem a bit... extreme?

I was the one that mentioned wanting to kill all the bad people. If you want a reason why your Nazi analogy doesn't work, here it is: we didn't defeat the Nazis by killing them. If raw killing was what won the day, then the Nazis had us beat hands down.

The Nazis were defeated because a number of people, through a combination of caution and bravery, understood what it took to create justice. And justice isn't as simple as 'apply violence for cure.' That's why the final outcome wasn't a vast pogrom involving the deaths of every single person in the Nazi party; it involved a careful, thoughtful process of legal prosecution that tried to find out the truth about what happened and lay the blame where it belonged. That's what justice requires; long, careful, thoughtful consideration, and not a small amount of wisdom.

The problem with the 'just kill 'em' method is that it pretends that justice is simple.It's easy to tell oneself that justice is blindingly obvious. It gets easier all the time – and I mentioned this because I think this is an example: it's easy for those of us who aren't Catholics to feel as though Catholics must be utterly insensitive to suffering to remain Catholics after this; and it's easy for those of us who aren't Priests to believe that Priests must be soulless and cold to remain Priests when these things have come to light. I don't believe those things are true, but to understand that they aren't, we have to put our emotions and feelings about the matter out of our minds and coldly, rationally try to understand the experiences of others. That's the only way to find justice.
posted by koeselitz at 6:14 PM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


There is, however, a central organization of Catholicism, and it does in fact shield itself by making the local dioceses their own entities.

It doesn't really "make them" their own entities; primitive local churches were independent of each other, and, for various historical reasons (including, relatively recently, gallicism and josephism), things have mostly stayed that way.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:13 PM on September 10, 2010


I think Tim Minchin puts it best.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 PM on September 10, 2010


To save the children, what we need to do is only let practicing homosexual men become Catholic priests.

All of them. Not just the Jesuits.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:30 PM on September 10


first i laughed at the Jesuit barb but then it made me wonder: is there a break-down of the abusers world-wide by their religious order?
posted by liza at 11:57 PM on September 10, 2010


Rolling out Sinead O'Connor for an interview.
She quotes any number of documents and papal decrees verbatim at me, hands me copies, insisting I doublecheck everything she says. You could imagine her in court, prosecuting the Vatican. She gives me a potted history of clerical child sex abuse – how it can be traced back to AD 320, how the first official complaint was made in 1917, the first edict was issued from the Vatican in 1922 stating that any complaints of abuse had to be silenced under pain of excommunication, how the first centre for paedophile priests was opened in 1940, how the original edict was reissued in 1962. "So they knew about it all right.
Er... guys? Did you notice what we're talking about? We're talking... about killing Catholics. Doesn't that seem a bit... extreme?

No, we're not. You may be selectivly misquoting to cast it in that light in your newfound role as defender of the Church, but we're talking about the absurd generalisation that killing people is more evil than whatever evil they were performing. Which, as a blanket declaration, is pretty much indefensible.
posted by rodgerd at 11:05 AM on September 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


This Wikipedia entry is interesting:
Beginning in 2002, researchers began reporting a series of findings linking pedophilia with brain structure and function: Pedophilic (and hebephilic) men have lower IQs, poorer scores on memory tests, greater rates of non-right-handedness, greater rates of school grade failure over and above the IQ differences, lesser physical height, greater probability of having suffered childhood head injuries resulting in unconsciousness, and several differences in MRI-detected brain structures.
[...]
Another study, using structural MRI, shows that male pedophiles have a lower volume of white matter than a control group.
[...]
...concluded that there is some evidence that pedophilic men have less testosterone than controls...
[...]
...previously found mothers of pedophiles to be more likely to have undergone psychiatric treatment...
It stuns me that while there are a number of studies done to discover more about pedophilia, that there aren't a LOT more, and that the information found in the studies that led to the above aren't made much more public. Further, if they destigmatized treatment of people who admit pedophiliac (right word?) urges, they could potentially prevent a lot of molestation.

Personal disclaimer: I was stalked/"groomed" by a pedophile school bus driver, but thankfully never physically molested. It bothers me still (although this was 20+ years ago) that the other bus drivers and school staff knew about his tendencies and did nothing about it. He's long dead, but would hope that there is some improvement in the way these things are handled in the present or future.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 11:16 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given that those were studies of people who had acted out and been caught, it's little surprise they appear to have damaged brains.

It would be interesting to know what's going on in the heads of the ones too savvy to get caught, because they dont act on their desire or figure out how to get away with it.

Given the abuse rates, I suspect the low-functioning types are a minority.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:14 PM on September 11, 2010


So, basically the Vatican, Holy See, what have you, is a sovereign state yeah? A country. They have diplomatic relations with over 170 countries, ambassadors, is an observer to the UN and the World Trade Organisation and blahblah. Their representatives, with their explicit protection, have been committing systematic abuses, crimes in all jurisdictions, in every fucking place that anyone has looked. How in the fuck have "we" not called for sanctions at the very least, called back our ambassadors or however such things are handled between nations? I assume there's something obvious I am missing. Otherwise? Starve the fuckers out.
posted by Iteki at 3:57 PM on September 11, 2010


wenestvedt wrote I am curious how I can act? I don't like what I am hearing about my church's leaders, but it just doesn't sound like my church, or any church I have ever attended. I am troubled.

As you said earlier, it isn't as if rank and file Catholics can vote out the Pope, nor really have any hope of ever producing change. The College of Cardinals is a self selecting organization, which means the current attitudes will be carried on for hundreds of years.

There are, as far as I can see, only two real options:

1) Quit. That's the easiest option in theory, but in practice there are a lot of Catholics who, like you, see nothing wrong with their local church and would like to keep attending and participating.

Which leaves only:

2) Quit giving them money. A percentage of the money you give to your local Church gets passed along and eventually winds up in Ratzinger's control. The only thing you can do other than vote with your feet is vote with your wallet. Print up a bunch of check sized bits of paper reading something along the lines of "Until such time as the Church hierarchy alters its positions on child abuse I cannot give any money that might assist the hierarchy, please understand that this does not reflect on my feelings towards the local priesthood" and start dropping them in the collection plate every Sunday.

And yeah, option two will hurt your local (presumably good) church more than it hurts the Vatican. But the only other choice is to keep propping up and supporting the Vatican. The closed nature of the hierarchy means there are no other options.
posted by sotonohito at 7:43 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Iteki: the Isle of Man is not part of the U.K.
posted by thesmophoron at 8:18 PM on September 11, 2010


We can't vote the guy out, you know. Not coming to my local parish church any more won't exactly slow down the heirarchy, 'way over there in Rome.

So, you apparently believe that Rome gets its money directly from God?

I am curious how I can act? I don't like what I am hearing about my church's leaders, but it just doesn't sound like my church, or any church I have ever attended. I am troubled.

wenestvedt, if you can't think of any way to act, except to continue paying both lip service and donations to an organization that supports pedophilic rape, I can't help you think.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:35 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


And if it doesn't sound like your church, it probably isn't true.

Only things we want to believe are true.

Rest easy.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:35 PM on September 11, 2010


OK, IAmBroom, I see your passion. But one thing: my state has some of the highest rates of unemployment, foreclosures, and poverty in the nation. My diocese collects funds a directly disburses them to poor people. And I contribute into that fund.

So if I refuse to help financially in my community, and refuse to contribute financially in my state, just so that some small percentage doesn't trickle upwards past the national level to be eventually transferred to Rome, I am doing right? Dude, my jesus said to look to the brother right in front of me na dhand him my cloak, not to say, "You like Roman to me. Man, I hate what they're doing in Gaul these days. Hope it warms up at some piont for you!"

Generally I don't wear my religion on my sleeve because I don't want to get belittled in public. And I don't want to prolong this argument. But I am still wondering how to reconcile 1) not promoting pedophilia, 2) my relationship with god, and 3) helping out the needy. It's hard, and absolutism doesn't help me.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:24 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a practical way, you could make it clear what your views are in public. Religious people often use birth control, have abortions, support gay marriage, dislike child rape, etc. but nobody ever knows. The hypocrisy of going to church and thinking these things but never admitting them is what keeps a lot of it going.

I can guarantee there are Catholic online forums where people could encourage you with great ideas about how to support positive change within your own church without committing an absolute act and abandoning it altogether. Even if it's just a case of whenever people mention the poor abused Vatican you make sure to say 'I don't think they've handled it well, actually. I don't think it's very Catholic behaviour and I pray they change their ways'.

Read this book: Why You Can Disagree and Remain a Faithful Catholic. You don't have to leave to be true to your morals.

Or visit these sites:

Call to Action - faithful Catholics who campaign for social justice, includes a current campaign to disapprove of the handling of the sex abuse scandal.

Voice of the Faithful - a lay organization of faithful Catholics, who organized in 2002 as a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

There are faithful Catholics who live in their faith communities and object to this scandal. I assume they are experienced in remaining active in their individual churches while doing this. People like you aren't alone, use your voices. The Church might not react, but not doing anything is like telling that guy you hope it warms up for them because you're busy giving coats to other people.
posted by shinybaum at 8:46 AM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Pope: Witness for the prosecution
posted by homunculus at 9:12 AM on September 13, 2010




wenestvedt: For what it's worth, there are plenty of non-church based charities which need your money just as much as the church does. Helping the same people that your church helps, without passing along even a tiny percentage to the vatican. However, I understand where you're coming from - you want to support your local church any way, because even theough they DO end up passing along a small percentage, the vast VAST majority of money coming in to them goes to the local church and helping the community.
posted by antifuse at 9:35 AM on September 13, 2010


its pretensions to statehood should not give it immunity in international law nor in international affairs more than its due as one of a number of respected world religions.

Charles Moore wrote a terrible 'can't we all just get along' piece in the Telegraph, I wonder where Blair is in all this.

wenestvedt: For what it's worth, there are plenty of non-church based charities which need your money just as much as the church does.

I typed that at first but remembered an article on how charities work in the US, and often in small or rural areas there is no alternative to faith based initiatives. Also they tend to take the lead in helping paperless workers etc. where other funding is unavailable.
posted by shinybaum at 10:00 AM on September 13, 2010


no alternative to faith based initiatives


Yes, but there are other faiths than Catholic.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:49 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well you'd have to assume that in that particular area, the charity work is duplicated exactly by another faith. Some faith based charities want proof of residency before registering you with their food-bank. Catholics tend to not want to be the food police and can afford to do this because they're funded by individuals. Some say you can have food only if you attend church, some don't.

You can dislike the church immensely at the same time as understanding there are good people doing good things in the US and UK with credit unions and food co-ops. It doesn't excuse or even offset the pain they cause but if there's a way to move forward without amputating that part then that would be good. I'm a humanist, I don't see why people should suffer in the meantime.
posted by shinybaum at 12:17 PM on September 13, 2010


wenestvedt Couldn't you contribute to a secular, or even non-Catholic religious, charity?

Becuase, and this is the important thing, you do give money to the Pope. Not directly, but it happens, and that does give you a degree of culpability. As you've said, the only influence you have on the Church is either by leaving or ending your economic support. If you're unwilling to do either of those things I suppose the only thing you can do is focus on the fact that the money being transferred from you to the Pope isn't a lot of money.

The Church is pretty much set up specifically to insulate it from any and all influence by rank and file Catholics, so your options are limited. But if your main concern when it comes to ending economic support of the Church is the poor, and that's certainly a laudable concern, I'd suggest looking into non-Catholic ways to support the poor. If your main concern is that you fear your local church drying up and dying absent your support I suppose that's a tougher problem.

Because, unfortunately, I do think that the Pope is much more willing to let churches die than to be influenced by an outraged laity. His hope, I suspect, is that the rank and file Catholics may loathe his policies but feel sufficient affection for their local churches that they are unwilling to do what is necessary to actually change the position of the Vatican. Make no mistake, the Vatican's position will not change unless it is not merely inconvenienced by lack of donations, but suffering and on the verge of collapse.

It is easy for me as a non-religious person to say "let the Church fail, let the local church die, they've been protecting pedophiles." I can see how for a person who is emotionally invested in their local church that thought might be more of a difficult decision.

But really I think it does come down to a very simple, if not particularly easy, question. Which is more important to you, taking what tiny and likely ineffective steps you can to end the Vatican's position on rape, or supporting your local church?

Because the hard truth is that just you denying your money to the Vatican isn't going to change much, it might make you feel better, more pure, but it won't change Vatican policy. You'd have to try to convince other Catholics to join you, you'd have to try to make it a movement among Catholics before you'd be making a difference. And even then you wouldn't have any guarantee of success, in fact I'd argue that any attempt to alter Vatican policy is very likely to fail.

As an atheist I'll also admit some horrified frustration. If the exposure of widespread rape by priests, and worse the exposure of near universal concealment and protection of the rapist priests isn't enough to break people away from the Church I can't imagine what will. You know perfectly well that the Church as an institution is perpetuating a great evil, yet you feel reluctant to take any action at all, and you certainly don't feel compelled to leave the Church. I try to sympathize, to understand the social network and so forth that the Church represents to Catholics in your position and I'll admit I'm still frustrated and baffled. Aren't there other churches, or even secular organizations, that can serve the same function that the RCC does in your life?
posted by sotonohito at 12:55 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Believer: I don't like it but don't want to leave the church, what can I do?
Atheists: Leave the church.

I get the horror watching this as much as the next atheist but interrogating the one person on Metafilter willing to share and explain his dilemma isn't the most helpful thing ever.
posted by shinybaum at 1:19 PM on September 13, 2010


Sorry, wasn't trying to interrogate.

But really there isn't anything to do but either leave the church or accept that a tiny portion of donated money will be used to cover up for rapists. The Church hierarchy is not subject to the laity in any way other than economic, and that's a blunt instrument that takes a lot of the laity working in concert to wield.

I'm not trying to be an ass, in fact I'm trying very hard not to be an ass, and I'm genuinely sorry for wenestvedt's anguish over the issue, but there doesn't appear to be a good answer to their problem.
posted by sotonohito at 1:36 PM on September 13, 2010


Sorry. I get it, it is horrific. A minor alternative would be to ringfence the money you donate, or buy direct products for the services provided instead of using the collections box. Sure the church roof might fall down but you can donate directly to that too. You can write a letter explaining it nicely as to why you aren't going to directly finance money going to the Vatican. I suppose it depends on how your bishops react to it, didn't one refuse communion to people who supported some political cause? You'd have to draw your own line as to how much bullying you'd take. It isn't entirely black and white.

I'll remove it from recent activity this time
posted by shinybaum at 1:45 PM on September 13, 2010


Mod note: folks - at the point at which comments become "you pay kid rapists" you need to go elsewhere, thank you
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:58 PM on September 13, 2010


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