April 16, 2008

Pope's Vast Conspiracy

I was considering letting this one go, but it’s bugging me too much.

Pope Benedict XVI chose to address bluntly the sex scandal that has torn at the church here even before he landed Tuesday on his first official visit to the United States, saying he was “deeply ashamed” by the actions of pedophile priests.

That’s an interesting way to put it; you’re ashamed of stuff that someone else did. Simultaneously distancing yourself from it and appearing to express regret.

The only regret that’s worth anything is regret that changes future behavior. He can’t promise that children won’t encounter pedophiles, so it seems odd to focus on shame for actions that he, ostensibly would never have condoned. And that’s my charitable assessment of that mixed message. I won’t go into the less charitable interpretation.

It would reassure me a lot more if he expressed shame for his role, and the role of the Church in exacerbating the problem through a “cover your ass” attitude, continued secrecy, and actions that exposed more children to abuse. The abusive priests bear the largest responsibility, but the Pope’s statements should worry anyone who wanted to believe that there has been real change.

This Pope has, in the past, expressed the opinion that the scandal itself is nothing more than a conspiracy of Catholic-bashing, That’s a troubling place to start when you’re seeking to renew people’s faith in your organization. The Pope’s deflection of the issue is worse than if he had not said anything at all, because you can still see the seeds of denial planted deep.

Bottom line: the Church had, in the past, placed self interest (exposure to the possibility of litigation) over the interest of children in the organization. Forget even apologies (which have not happened). What is necessary is a clear statement that the Church places the welfare of children above its own legal interests, and then actions that back up the statement.

Is he setting the stage for such a statement, and actions which back up words? I guess we’ll know soon, but I am not holding my breath.

Posted by James at April 16, 2008 11:02 AM
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Right on James!

The administration of the Catholic faith always seems to take this kind of approach to things. It's easy to say what Benedict said. I'm sure everyone agrees that the pedophilia is bad.

However the Church administration seems to believe that they are above accountability. Hell it took them almost a millenium to apologize for AND try to repair relations with Muslims and Jews as a response to the crusades.

Posted by: jay at April 16, 2008 12:04 PM

James, what the Pope said is almost a non-apology apology (he looks like a vampire, by the way). Grow some balls and take responsibility for your organization, would you please?

You all might find this article from last week's Boston Globe intersting and enraging. There are some good people in this story and some idiots, not all of whom are from MA. Who knew there was such a thing as the Catholic Medical Association?

Not all parishes are 'Talking About Touching':
One in five shuns program aimed at preventing abuse

But one in five parishes in the archdiocese has either refused to implement the program or has seen it fall apart, and O'Malley is struggling to get everyone to commit to a curriculum that some argue is too explicit and others contend is just impractical.
Most of the criticism suggests either that the program, by referring to the possibility of inappropriate touching of genital areas, is too explicit or scary for young children or that the subject of abuse prevention should be discussed at home, and not in parish religious education programs. Some critics have called the program sex education, although it includes no discussion of sexuality or procreation. An organization called the Catholic Medical Association has criticized the program, and a bishop in Oregon has also come out against it.

Posted by: Patti M. at April 16, 2008 12:31 PM

Bill Maher had a screed at the end of his Real Time show 4/11 that has gotten him a lot of vitriol in the Interwebs, and as I watched it Friday night I knew his rhetoric was dancing back and forth on the line marking satire and bad taste as he compared the Fundamentalist Mormon raid for child abuse vs. how the RC Church has been treated around child abuse. This stuck out as a pretty solid observation:

"Far be it from me to criticize religion. But, just remember one thing: if the Pope was, instead of a religious figure, merely the CEO of a nationwide chain of daycare centers where thousands of employees had been caught molesting kids and then covering it up, he'd be arrested faster than you can say, "Who wants to touch Mister Wiggle?""

My husband, who's RC, feels the Catholic Church as a whole and the Pope(s) in particular have not adequately addressed the child molestation issue appropriately or adequately. His brothers don't attend church any more, partially because of this issue. It's sad that all the Pope can do is say he's embarassed by what some of his "employees" did and move on to the next question.


Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at April 16, 2008 1:25 PM

whoops - Real Time link :

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at April 16, 2008 1:25 PM

BTW, I agree that the Catholic Church has been an easy target for criticism from other Christian denominations who may have a luxury of secrecy through obscurity.

However, that would be a conversation to have after doing the right thing on this scandal.

Posted by: James at April 16, 2008 2:24 PM

MJ, that's a good point that Bill Maher makes, thank you for posting it here. Dawkins-esque if I may, in its implication that religion gets a kid-glove treatment that nobody else is privileged enough to enjoy.

Will somebody please remind me again why this child-molesting freak show of unremarkable magic you can't see but must imagine has tax-free status?

Posted by: Maggie at April 16, 2008 2:59 PM

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