Apr 11, 2005

Cardinal Sin

The Vatican Doesn't Get It, Or, It Has Adopted a Page from Bush's Playbook
I don't claim to fully understand religion, but the concept of forgiveness is well within my grasp. However, it seems that the Vatican has borrowed a page from G.W. Bush's playbook of in-your-face politics. You know, the concept of rewarding failure, appointing unqualified persons to high office, not taking responsibility for mistakes, distorting the truth, lying, and ..forgiving oneself for past (and why not, future) sins!
Thus, the Vatican is sticking to these Bush principles while talking about moral values from one side of its mouth. Over the weekend, I've heard several religious figures, some speaking on behalf of the Vatican, who told us that forgiveness is a good thing to dispense. I agree. Forgiveness is necessary sometimes but should not be given blindly; not to repeat offenders and the unrepentant. Some people deserve a second chance, some people simply deserve shame & punishment.
What infuriates me is the way those "pious" people talk about forgiveness. Excuse me, but it is up to the victim to forgive! It is not up to the perpetrator to invoke forgiveness and move on! Let's apply this concept in the case of the former Archbishop of Boston,
Cardinal Bernard Law who resigned due to the sex scandals in the Catholic Church, particularly in Massachusetts.
To put it bluntly--as we should, to make the harsh point--many priests, in many districts, for many decades raped many boys and sexually harassed god-knows how many thousands of children. Cardinal Law resigned, not out of shame or self-critique, but only after a judge decided to unseal court records that included a letter from the cardinal commending priests even though he knew there was so much evidence of them being child molesters! Law stubbornly refused to resign for a year, until he was pushed out by public outrage and pressure from ..below, including his parishioners!
Similar sex crimes took place in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and I'd bet in every other state. What did the Church do? First, it tried to deny and hide it. Finally, it admitted that its priests sexually abused the children of its faithful, and it is now paying millions of dollars to the victims. The amazing thing was that, although the church hierarchy knew about the abuses, it did nothing to protect the children! For the most part, it just shuffled the perps around when the rumors got out of hand in the local parish. So, the wolves got to chew on some fresh meat elsewhere. And, they did, because those sick persons couldn't stop, and the church didn't stop them.
Which brings us to the big brother, the pope John Paul II and his cohorts at the Vatican. Instead of acting quickly, like God striking down a sinner (as if this ever happens!) they remained publicly silent. Actually in private, many cardinals expressed their dismay at those Americans who blow things out of ..proportion and have the "audacity to sue their own Church!"
Like Bush, the Catholic Church doesn't punish anyone, no matter what their crime, as long as they pledge allegiance to the chief and follow the official line. Not only they don't punish the failures or, at the very least, shoo them away, but instead they reward them!
After Cardinal Law resigned in 2003, he was given a spacious apartment and a prestigious post in the Vatican! His pompous title? Get this: Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major! Wow! Well done brother Bernard! Bring your expertise to Rome now! Oh, and since you're here, why don't you take a high-visibility role in the pope's funeral? Good boy. You're the kind of image we want to project to the world, especially to those Americans back home. We might confuse them a bit more...
As the New York Times observed, by permitting Cardinal Law to take the limelight in Rome just when the church is mourning the death of John Paul, the cardinals have reminded American Catholics that their most painful recent chapter barely registered in the Vatican!

By conservative estimates, like the John Jay study, there have been at least 10,000 sexually abused persons within the Catholic Church since the 1950s. The number of incidents is many times higher that that since many children were abused repeatedly for several years. Many parishes and other church officials refused to participate in the study. The Catholic Church in the U.S. has paid anywhere between $600 million to over a billion dollars to the victims. Sexual abuse should be dealt as one strike and you're out! Unfortunately, too many Church leaders,like Cardinal B. Law, failed to exercise their authority to correct the problem. They, instead, revealed a vacancy in the moral department.


Anonymous said...

I shouldn't browse the internet so late at night, because I got upset reading your post and won't be able to go to sleep now....
I recently moved to Frisco from Boston, so I know that bastard cardinal Law first hand. I'm Catholic but also a liberal Democrat.

This sinner banned advocates of women's ordination from meeting on Church property and urged Catholics to vote against the Democratic White House candidates in 1984, Walter Mondale-Geraldine Ferraro, because of Mrs Ferraro's support for abortion!

Not to forget that even in this last presidential election, the Church campaigned against kerry and other pro-choice Democrats.

This by itself should make a great argument for removing the tax-exempt status of the church since it gets involved directly in politics.

Harold, SF

Anonymous said...

This further proves that people who claim they speak for God are really scoundrels, out for their own profit.

Anonymous said...

The sex abuses in the Catholic church are endemic. The question is why are they so prevelent in this institution? The answer might be two-fold: the screwed up idea religion has about human sexuality,and second, if you take immature men with raging hormones, put the in a seminary and try to tell them celibacy is the moral of their lives, these persons can never sexually mature into healthy adults.

Ken Ross, NH

Anonymous said...

This from AP (Europe) today, Monday, 11 April '05.

Police broke up a small but symbolic protest staged by two victims of sex abuse at the hands of American clergy, escorting one of them off St. Peter's Square as she was preparing to distribute fliers.

Several uniformed officers walked Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, behind barricades set up at the entrance to the square. The officers did not explain why they escorted Blaine off the piazza, and she had no immediate comment.

Blaine and another leader of the group brought their campaign for reform to the center of Roman Catholicism, demanding that Vatican officials bar Law from celebrating the important Mass mourning John Paul.

They arrived in Rome just hours before Monday's service at St. Peter's Basilica to condemn what they called the Vatican's "hurtful decision" to choose Law for the honor. The Mass went ahead without disruption.

Anonymous said...

How can you forgive yourself for future sins?
If you know a crime has been committed, you do nothing, and you let it happen again in the future, then you generously forgive all your past, present and future sins! I suppose raping children is not a big deal if you serve God!

Julius Caesar, Emperor of Rome & Embodiment of God on Earth.

Gill said...

Hi, your blog is my 'blog of the day' today over on http://sometimesitspeaceful.blogspot.com/

Tuli said...

So, Pope John Paul II is being discussed for possible canonization. This is the very same Pope who protects and promotes a criminal, Cardinal Law.

Would this have happened during Vatican II? What would Pope John XXIII have done? Or, are all of the boys who wear black and red dresses the same by degrees?

Anonymous said...

You can be excommunicated for divorcing your spouse, but not for child molestation!