In the latest from the Vatican, Benny has decided to condemn priests who abuse children, and for a change not link paedophilia to homosexuality. The article is good, it talks about how Bishops who have been hiding child abuse are not being condemned, and that the Vatican isn’t really doing anything about the child abuse other than talking about it. The bit that annoyed me was at the end:
In his speech on Monday, Benedict said children deserved to be loved and respected by all – and that they flourish best in a family.
He stressed his long-standing position that a family is founded on the marriage between a man and woman – and that couples should do everything possible to avoid separation and stay together for the sake of their children.
“They want to be loved by a mother and a father who love one another; they need to live with and grow up with both parents, because the maternal and paternal figures are complementary in educating children and in building their personalities and identities,” the pope said. [emphasis mine]
This, again, shows how far out of touch with reality the pope is. I could start with how the nuclear family is a very recent concept and only really started in the 17th and 18th century, and then discuss how widespread nuclear families are, and how common extended families are, to suggest that perhaps the pope’s idea of a family needs to be broadened.
But what I’m going to do instead is complain about the bolded text above. I posted a while ago about why conservatism is bad for women’s rights, and this is more of the same, by one of the most conservative and patriarchal institutions on the planet. I said then:
The big problem with this style of conservative thinking, and “traditional family values” is that it places women in society at a lesser place than the men. Women are typically more likely to become victims of domestic violence than men (I am not denying that men are not victims of domestic violence), so if it harder for women to obtain a divorce from a violent marriage, then that’s hardly fair and surely not part of what people would think that “traditional family values” are.
Staying together “for the sake of the children” if you are in an abusive relationship is not in the best interests of the abused spouse or the children. Staying together “for the sake of the children” if one of the spouses is abusing the children, is not in the best interest of the spouse or the children. Staying together “for the sake of the children” and raising those children in a toxic environment full of anger, hate and bitterness, is not in the best interests of the children.
Surely if we are going to “think of the children” then surely what is in the best interests of the children should come BEFORE religious ideals of the nuclear family and traditional values.
Personally, I’d also like the pope to show me his research in relation to what children want. I agree that children want to be loved, but I am sure that in some incredibly dysfunctional households* children don’t want to be loved by one of their parents and would rather be a long way away from them, due to abuse (directed at them or their other parent), neglect or disdain.
And how does the pope knows that “the maternal and paternal figures are complementary in educating children and in building their personalities and identities”, and how that has to be a mother and father, versus extended family such as aunts, uncles, grandparents or close family friends. There are many families that are single parents due to the death of one of the parents, should that single parent immediately rush out and remarry because their child is now lacking a maternal or paternal figure?
I am tired of the Vatican telling the rest of us how to live our lives. We’re grown up now Mr Vatican and we’re making our own way in the world. Get back in your box and leave us alone.
* And yes, I have evidence for this