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.