I am opposed to organized religion. It harms individuals with delusional fantasies. It harms society with sectarian division and hatred. The excuse that it gives people comfort is a lousy justification when weighed against the harms it both inflicts and that which it covers up rather than address. The argument that it provides a moral code is not only false, but insulting given the horrible actions that have been committed by far too many monsters cloaked in the robes of faith.
Well now…NOW…there is a perfectly good and decent reason to be finished, as a species, with one of them.
This history of child abuse within the Catholic church is long and shameful, and now that it has finally been exposed as going all the way to the top, it is time something final was done.
The sex abuse scandal enveloping the Catholic Church moved closer to Pope Benedict XVI today with revelations that in the 1990s the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger failed to defrock an American priest who molested hundreds of deaf boys, despite receiving letters from a number of American bishops pleading with him to act.
The case, against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, involves the Reverend Lawrence Murphy, who worked at the St John’s School for the Deaf in St Francis, Wisconsin, from 1950 to 1974, starting as a teacher and rising to director.
He allegedly molested up to 200 pupils, preying on his victims in their dormitories, on class excursions and even at his mother’s country house.
According to The New York Times, in 1996 the case was forwarded to the the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office which decides on canonical trials, which Cardinal Ratzinger led at the time.
The cardinal apparently failed to reply to two letters about Father Murphy from Rembert Weakland, then Archbishop of Milwaukee.
Although Cardinal Ratzinger’s second-in-command, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican’s secretary of state, went on to instruct Wisconsin bishops to begin a canonical trial for Father Murphy with the intention of having him defrocked if found guilty, that trial was stopped after the priest wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger begging for leniency on the grounds that he had already repented and was in poor health.
“I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood,” Father Murphy wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger. “I ask your kind assistance in this matter.”
What possible explanation? What possible excuse?
Ratzinger received letters begging him to get rid of a priest who was known by his superiors to molest young boys. He did nothing.
Ratzinger received a letter from the priest begging that justice not be done; he desired to live out his life within the church that had given him opportunity and cover for his crimes. Ratzinger was apparently moved. For the priest he had sympathy and concern, but none for the innocent, defenseless victims.
That this man is still the head of a church – a spiritual organization supposedly concerned with morality, right and wrong, social justice, concern for the weakest and poorest – is disgusting. That the church itself is permitted to continue at all is offensive.
It’s as if the hypocrisy of Catholicism has not been on display for more than 1000 years. Many popes have engaged in less than secret behaviour which is not merely unholy, but by any definition evil.
The vast accumulation of wealth within the walls of the Vatican while so many of those who daily intone Hail Marys and Our Fathers lack the common necessities of life, health and comfort should have been enough to make sane persons simply turn their back. And yet, the robed leader of the Catholics is welcomed everywhere with pomp and ceremony, bowed heads, bent knees, kisses on his ring. He is revered and treated with fawning respect, and continues to be so adored even as the inescapable facts come out: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – Pope Benedict – did nothing to protect victims of child sexual abuse. Pope Ratzinger covered it up. Pope Ratzinger moved priests to other parishes where the abuse continued. Pope Ratzinger failed to notify the proper authorities that serious crimes had been committed, by his employees, against children.
Those who fail to follow the doctrines of the church may, in certain cases, suffer excommunication. The church strips the offender of membership in the cult and (supposing that individual truly believes in the dogmatic shit espoused by their laws) suffers the psychological pain of knowing they are condemned to eternal hell; that the kingdom of god – their promised and longed for reward for submitting to the pope, and through him to their imaginary magical Jew – is lost.
Now we are faced with a sadly all too common truth, but a unique opportunity. The church itself, from the top down, is engaged in an organized effort to cover up child abuse and protect the criminals responsible. Such a violation of moral law, not to mention civil and criminal law, ought to earn a singular and final result: The excommunication of the Catholic church. For the pope, his cohorts in this evil endeavour, and each and every priest, this should rightly be a shameful end. Those who abused anyone in their charge, and any of those who covered it up, ought to further face criminal and civil prosecution. For the rest of the Catholics – those kneeling before shrines to the Virgin in South America, and those singing in choirs throughout Europe – it will eventually come to be remembered as the moment of their emancipation (at least in part). They are still free to believe, to pray, to hope, to read and follow their holy book…but they will no longer be required to pay vast sums of treasure to support an aging gang of pedophiles and those who provide them cover.
No organization that prefers to sacrifice children on the altar of their public image more than to provide justice to a child has any claim to moral authority.
No organization that commits such evil ought to be permitted to turn around and say, “But look at all the good works we do! Look at all the people we help!”
No organization that displays such contemptible hypocrisy ought to be permitted to claim any sort of authority derived from god. If that’s what Catholics believe god calls them to do, they are no different than the religious terrorists who fly planes into buildings and our species will be much improved when they are no more.
Though in my view desirable, it may be impossible to eliminate religiosity from the fabric of our societies. That is not, however, to say that all religious faiths are either good or equal.
When great, unrelenting and unrepentant (despite the pleading claims of a caught priest) harm is identified; where the continued existence of a religious order can logically and demonstrably be linked to the infliction of further suffering, one would hope that its adherents would walk away in sufficient numbers to bring about its withering demise. Sadly, the Catholic religion folds into its hypocrisy the dual notion of forgiveness and redemption, providing just the sort of guilt ridden twisted logic that permitted the cover-up in the first place, and permits those most deeply deluded to believe such sins may be washed clean.
The sins shall not be washed clean from the victims. That the church would offer such fantasies to innocent victims by advising prayer is shocking – as if the very organization that inflicted the harm might be trusted to guide the victims through their pain.
Not even god dare the arrogance to suggest the church deserves to continue. In fact, were there such a being, and were the book allegedly containing his word remotely accurate, one would have expected the Vatican to suffer the fate of Sodom, and Pope Ratzinger that of Lot’s wife.
It will fall, as perhaps it must, to secular society to ensure this evil is finished once and for all. The tools exist. Where the priests are alive, they must face trial. The church, responsible for its agents and complicit in many of their crimes, must be sued – dragged into court, held liable for its actions and drained of the financial ability to continue; forced to disgorge the land, the buildings, the art, the sculpture, the precious metals and gems, the light fixtures, doorknobs, silverware…all of it. This shameful, disgusting web of criminal behaviour, lies, dark secrets and global grifting must, quite simply, cease.
Filed under: Atheism, Law, Lies, Philosophy, Religion, Social Commentary, Theology, Truth | Tagged: Cardinal Ratzinger, Catholics, children, excommunication, morality, Pope, Pope Benedict, Reverend Murphy, sexual abuse, Vatican |