You may think I’m just an anti-Catholic moron who’s posting these things just to discredit the Church (I have been much more vocal on the issue on facebook than here). To a certain extent that’s true; I think this is a good opportunity for people to drop this particular brand of superstition and examine their beliefs, just like if, for example, an altmed practitioner was convicted of causing death by negligence or something, I’d use that to show how dangerous some beliefs can be. When I left the Church, I was exposed to a way of thinking which helped me raise my critical thinking skills significantly, not just on the issue of religion but on many others too, and I think that would undoubtedly be a force for good if it happened to more people.
But there are other reasons to reign in on the Catholic Church right now. I’m not naiive enough to think the Church is completely rotten and that there’s a much higher rate of paedophilia* amongst the priesthood than in the general population, or amongst other professional groups, so why am I concentrating on the Catholics? Is this a form of persecution?
Well, one thing is that many of the priests have abused children whilst they were carrying out their duties. It’s not just a paedophile who happens to be a priest as well like it would be in many other professions, it’s a paedophile who used his status, authority and position of trust to rape or molest children. That said, that would also be true of a paedophile who worked in an orphanage or a school, for example, so that alone doesn’t justify it.
Another thing is the widespread nature of the abuse. Now let’s hypothesise a large chain of orphanages in many countries around the world, with an abuse problem as big as the problem that the Church has now. You would think that in such a big organisation the problem would have been picked up and measures put in place to make absolutely sure that similar things didn’t happen again. The same is true of the Church now. Now I probably wouldn’t focus on that because it doesn’t really have much to do with religion, and I like to focus on counter-apologetics, but the press would have every reason to attack that organisation. The fact is, however, that there has never been an abuse scandal that has been as widespread as the one the Catholic Church is facing now.
On a similar vein, the way the Church has dealt with this problem is very different to the way a different kind of organisation would. If the directorship of our hypothetical orphanage chain discovered it had an abuse problem, and that throughout the management system the problem had been covered up, heads would roll and people would be facing court proceedings. Not so with the Church. And if the orphanage did handle it as badly as the Church has, then the press would be all over them in the same way they have with the Church.
The current scandal also raises a very interesting question which is very particular to the Vatican and no other organisation, in that the higher echelons of the Church are dealt with under canon law and not under secular law in many countries. As I understand it, the guidelines in place in most of the countries now state that priests accused of abuse should be reported to the state authorities, but not so with people accused of covering-up the situation. Ordinarily they’d count as an accessory, they’d be aiding a paedophile, but AFAIK noone has ever faced a trial for that. Instead they are tried according to canon-law, which only laicises priests and doesn’t seem to exact any real punishment or justice.
Sometimes it is reasonable to concentrate on a specific organisation when you are going to contradict something that someone in that organisation said. So for example, although it is nothing to do with the Catholic Church to deny the link between homosexuality and paedophilia, it does bear some relevance when the President of the Catholic League, that prat Bill Donohue, keeps spouting lies about it. And mentioning that the Catholic Church had a paedophile problem all the way back in 305AD isn’t all that relevant, since presumably other organisations back then will have had similar problems, but it does become relevant when the Pope implies in his apology letter that the abuse scandal is a modern phenomenon, and that the Church has had a long, happy history in Ireland.
And so finally we get to the main reason why I think it is perfectly justifiable to concentrate on paedophile priests rather than on paedophiles within other organisations. The reason paedophilia within the Catholic Church is so sickening is because the Church above all others claims to be a moral authority. Their leader claims to be God’s representative on Earth. The Church is constantly peering into other people’s private lives and telling people what they can and can’t do in the privacy of their own bedrooms. It is obsessed with sexual ‘morality’, attacking things that I and most rational people don’t consider immoral – homosexuality, divorce, contraceptive use, abortion – whilst the whole time their own members have been raping children behind closed doors, and other members have been letting them get away with it! That’s why the Church is fair game for attack, and that’s why no matter how much the press concentrate on them over other organisations, you cannot call the media coverage persecution, or a conspiracy against the Church or the Pope.
*As I pointed out in my last post, I am fully aware that the abuse scandal is not merely about paedophilia, sexual abuse or even just abuse of minors, but seeing as a lot of the press have been concentrating on the sexual abuse of minors, that’s what much of what I’ve posted on Facebook has been, and it’s easier to talk about ‘paedophilia’ and ‘paedophiles’ than ‘the sexual abuse of minors’ and ‘the sexual abusers of minors’.