In Defense of the Catholic Church

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I’ve been keeping a leery weather eye on the current incarnation of the chronic Catholic priest sex abuse scandal. It disgusts me.

If you are Catholic and you have informed yourself about this current batch of priestly rape and torture of children and you ignore it, equivocate, rationalize, or otherwise attempt to defend or mitigate the actions of the priestly rapists and torturers of children, the church hierarchy’s response and actions regarding those priestly rapists and torturers, or the responsibility of any clergy or laity who has known the slightest bit about the priestly rape and torture of children, up to and including the Pope, you are an accomplice to the priestly rape and torture of children who are members of the very family you claim to belong to.

If you are Catholic and you have informed yourself about this current batch of priestly rape and torture of children (some of which has been perpetrated by priests for longer than I have been alive), and you wish to hold on to some modicum of respect for yourself, you must:

  • Examine your conscience, especially if you feel inclined to equivocate, rationalize or otherwise attempt to defend anything having to do with the priestly rape and torture of children;
  • Hold the perpetrators of these crimes, and the institution that has enabled their sin fully accountable for their actions, in the courts of law, with prison sentences, and do all that you can to make sure that they are held fully accountable by society;
  • Repent for the sins of the Body you belong to;
  • Take a penance. The Church Itself should take on a penance, disclosing all information it has related to the priestly rape and torture of children, and changing its policies, procedures and culture of non-responsibility and secrecy to something a bit more humble and Christ-like.
  • Then, after all this has been accomplished, hope for forgiveness.

I want to hear no arguments about how unfair the media or anyone else is treating the Catholic Church. I want to hear no arguments about how the Pope isn’t responsible, or any disagreement regarding possible reasons why the institution that has enabled the priestly rape and torture of children is being targeted. I want to hear no misdirection of blame, no calls for me to explain how I can feel righteous enough to make these claims when I’m a sinner myself. My position is unassailable. I have the moral high ground here. There are very few, if any moral grounds lower than the rape and torture of children.

If you do any of these things, you are enabling the continuing, chronic and depraved culture that currently protects those priests who rape and torture children.

There is and can be no defense for the priestly rape and torture of children, ever.

What do all Catholics, but especially Church Itself need from the rest of the world? Attempts at empathy, prayer, and the hands of justice, both scale and sword.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan is a little bit nicer about it.