The moral high ground

Recently I was listening to a conversation between my mother and my sister.  My mother had given up on convincing me to join her at church that Sunday and was talking to my sister instead, hoping to convince her.  My sister patiently explained that she had rather big issues with the way the Catholic Church was operating, their classification of sins, their treatment of women, and their lack of action regarding the abuse by priests of children and others.  My mother immediately deflected criticism of an organisation she identifies with, and replied that the church was made up of people, and people are fallible, and hey what about that organisation that you belong to, I bet they’re not perfect either.

It took me a while to unpack all that and why it was so wrong, and when it came to me, the response was perfect (and also a few days too late).  You see, most organisations that people belong to don’t make claims that they’re the moral arbiters for the entire world.

From Retired Sydney bishop Geoffrey Robinson (The Age):

”A major reason why the revulsion against the Catholic Church over abuse has been so great is precisely that for centuries the church presented itself as the great and infallible moral guide that could tell everyone else what to do and threaten eternal punishment for anyone who did not bow down and obey,” he writes in the new book. ”And now this church – which so vaunted its own perfection – has been shown to have a rottenness at its core. When the school bully is exposed, the whole school rejoices.”

If the Catholic Church was just another organisation, like the local football club, or FIFA, or even a business like HP or Oracle, then they’d not be claiming to be moral arbiters of the world, and if their members committed crimes, they’d likely be prosecuted and not shielded.  Also as much as they might like to influence global politics, they’d be relatively limited in their ability to do so (I’d hope).

Pope Francis (who was looking so promising) came out this weekend with (Huffington Post):

“The church would like to offer specific contributions on profound issues … not only in an anthropological and social circles, but also in political, economic and cultural ones,” Francis said, according to a Vatican statement.

Parliamentarians should legislate according to “a spirit, a soul, that does not reflect only the fashions and ideas of the moment”, he said.

Quite frankly, I think the Catholic Church has specific contributions on the profound issues of priest abuse, money laundering, women’s rights, and LGBTIQ rights.  Specifically rethinking their current positions, accepting responsibility for their actions and the harm they’ve caused, apologising for the wrong they’ve done, and making recompense where required/requested.

The Pope, if you haven’t read the article link, was condemning the recent laws allowing same-sex marriage in France, and has also recently suggested that there is a “gay lobby” in the Vatican which is a “current of corruption“.  It’s clear that the Vatican are continuing their condemnation of anyone who isn’t heterosexual.

And it’s not just the queers that the Church has their controlling eye on  (no salvation for non-celibate queers, questionable salvation for celibate queers), they’re still ultra invested in controlling women’s bodies.  Only very recently was a woman in Ecuador denied a life saving abortion thanks to the Catholic influence in that country.  Thankfully another medical solution was found (one which was significantly risker), so the mother survived, with the same outcome for the foetus as if she’d had the abortion. Libby Ann reports further in “When Protecting Scruples Comes Before Women’s Health“.

Tie this to the excommunication of a mother of a 9 year old girl who became pregnant after her father raped her, and the excommunication of the doctors involved in the quest of saving that child’s life, and you have an organisation which clearly cares more for a cluster of cells which might potentially become a person than the person already existing and standing in front of you.  The father didn’t get excommunicated by the way.  (The Telegraph)

Australia’s highest ranked priestly dude, Cardinal George Pell came out and stated (The Age):

A Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, has reported the Sydney Archbishop as saying that abortion was a more serious moral crime than sexual abuse by clergy.

Asked what Catholics should say when discussion turned to the sex scandal afflicting the church in the US, Dr Pell is said to have lamented the prominence given to the issue at the apparent neglect of others.

Clarifying why he used abortion as an example, Dr Pell is reported to have said: “Because it’s always a destruction of human life.”

That’s right, because a cluster of cells being removed from a woman is FAR more serious than the rape of a child, the abuse of the trust that child has in the authority priests have, and the ruination of their entire life.  It’s not like people who have been abused by priests and members of other religious orders haven’t committed suicide (oh wait).

I do love how the Catholic Church puts potential people above actual existing people.

I especially love how instead of taking responsibility for sheltering serial rapists and paedophiles, discouraging people from going to the police, and belittling victims, the church blames everyone else for the issue (Los Angeles Times):

Blame the flower children. That seems to be the chief conclusion of a new report about the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal. The study, undertaken by John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the request of America’s Catholic bishops, links the spike in child abuse by priests in the 1960s and ’70s to “the importance given to young people and popular culture” — along with the emergence of the feminist movement, a “singles culture” and a growing acceptance of homosexuality. It also cites crime, drugs, an increase in premarital sexual behavior and divorce.

The problem with this conclusion isn’t that it absolves molesting priests of responsibility. Even the study’s authors wouldn’t go that far. Rather, the flaw with the theory is that it’s unsupported by any data or evidence. It thus detracts from the report’s other findings, which are based on empirical research. Indeed, aside from its implausible indictment of the ’60s counterculture, the report is an enlightening analysis of an abominable chapter in the Roman Catholic Church’s history.

The report has generated criticism from Catholic conservatives, who object to its denial of a relationship between abuse and homosexuality, and victims’ advocates, who fault it for insufficiently emphasizing the complicity of bishops in covering up priestly abuse, and for its conclusion that abuse is essentially a thing of the past. Liberal Catholics will be discomfited by the finding that there is no link between celibacy and abuse. The critics need to confront the study’s evidence, not just its conclusions.

There are no moral shades of gray in the abuse of minors by Catholic clergymen, or in the concealment of such heinous behavior by the hierarchy. But it doesn’t excuse the abuse or the abusers to explore the realities of the phenomenon. That’s what the John Jay study was designed to do. And, with the exception of its broadside against the 1960s, it succeeds.

And if that wasn’t insulting enough, the Vatican has also decreed that it is equally sinful to ordain women than it is for a priest to rape a child (Guardian):

It was meant to be the document that put a lid on the clerical sex abuse scandals that have swept the Roman Catholic world. But instead of quelling fury from within and without the church, the Vatican stoked the anger of liberal Catholics and women’s groups by including a provision in its revised decree that made the “attempted ordination” of women one of the gravest crimes in ecclesiastical law.

The change put the “offence” on a par with the sex abuse of minors.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, called the document “one of the most insulting and misogynistic pronouncements that the Vatican has made for a very long time. Why any self-respecting woman would want to remain part of an organisation that regards their full and equal participation as a ‘grave sin’ is a mystery to me.”

Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “We are sure that the vast majority of the general public will share in our abject horror at the Vatican’s decision to categorise the ordination of women as an ‘offence’ in the same category as paedophilia – deemed to be one of the ‘gravest offences a priest can commit’.

“This statement follows a series where the Vatican, an institution which yields great influence and power not only in the Catholic community but also wider society, has pitched itself in direct opposition not only to women’s rights but to our equal worth and value…”

Where an organisation as big and influential as the Catholic Church exists, and uses their power for their own self interest and power (it’s such an undemocratic organisation – quick USA go and force them to be democratic), actively works against advancing the cause of the marginalised and works at maintaining the staus quo, I think they should be held accountable.  Where they fail in morals or ethics, they should be held accountable.  Where they fail at being fair and reasonable to the people that make up their institution, they should be held accountable.  Where they lie, deceive, work against the rights of others, and cause harm, they should be held accountable.

There may be many good things that some segments of the Catholic Church do, but that does not counter the evil acts that they have hidden, their continued fight to remove/restrain rights from women and the LGBTIQ community, and their false promises of salvation or condemnation.

The Catholic Church needs to remember far more about the book they hold sacred (Source):

Matthew 7:3-5

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

When the Catholic Church has cleaned up all the skeletons in their closet, then I might consider listening to them about how the rest of the world should be shaped.

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