That Damn Pope

So I’m scrolling through The New York Times Saturday morning when, much to my horror, I read that Pope Benedict is again apologising to one more group of victims for having been sexually abused by priests when the adults were innocent children in the eyes of his church.

This time it’s in Ireland but the land of St. Paddy is simply another entry on a rapidly growing list of places where rampant sexual abuse was given a wink and a nod by the church hierarchy.

How many times does the Pope think he can get away with doing this and still have any moral standing in the world, let alone among Catholics?

It’s not that apologies aren’t needed and decades overdue, and goodness knows how many tens of millions of dollars have been deservedly paid by the church in compensation to its hapless victims. But come on! When an institution has a serious problem that keeps repeating itself in one part of the world after another, does it occur to anyone in the Vatican to ask, “Has anybody else wondered if we ought to be be doing stuff differently?”

It’s not enough that the supposedly celibate priests running the Catholic Church demand girls remain virgins until they get married, or men who’ve never had to support a family tell parishioners – from impoverished peasants in third world countries to working class Irish in Boston scraping by from paycheck to paycheck – to not use birth control.

It’s not enough that the Vatican is so wealthy its bank willingly laundered money for the Nazis and Fascists during the war and apparently did so willingly because it took a slice of vigerish for its Christian kindness, yet by not distributing that same wealth it allows followers in many parts of the world to starve to death or die because they don’t have clean water or access to medical care.

It’s positively obscene that a church supposedly devoted to the followings of Jesus, Peter, Paul and Mark – the modern world’s first community organizers for social justice and equality – excommunicates priests fighting for social justice in unjust parishes and nations, and sharply scolds those it doesn’t just boot out altogether.

For how long will the Pope and Tiger Woods and John Ensign and Mark Foley and scores of other hypocritical politicians, and damn near every celebrity, real and pretend, think they can keep saying “Whoops, sorry! Didn’t mean it.” to make all well with the world again?

charley-james.jpgProtestants aren’t much better and evangelicals are the worst. Damn near every one of the sex scandals in the US Congress over the past four or five years has involved a so-called “born again, evangelical, I found the true path” Christian fundamentalist. Some evangelical sects may speak in tongues but the tongues are forked.

Maybe this makes more sense to sociological anthropologists than it does to me. All I’m able to do is shake my head in angry disgust.

Charley James
The Progressive Curmudgeon


  1. Elly Fuchs says

    Here is the thing about the Catholic Church’s decades of repeated sex scandals (keep in mind that I grew up Catholic): Anyone who trusts their priest enough to leave a child with him is a fool. I was raised with “Father Dickie” jokes and it was common knowledge that your priest is a pillar of the community who will molest young boys when given the chance.

    I’m not saying that the victims are responsible for what happened to them but I am saying that at some point parents or the child welfare system also needs to be seen as having failed these children. This has been going, with plenty of media attention, for decades and I think it is one place where the power of the Church is visible.

    So while I agree that the Catholic Church continues in its long tradition of horrific acts, I do think that at some point the other people or forces that be that are responsible for these children need to be seen as putting these children in danger.

    Now, about the whole celibacy issue, no one has ever been able to convince me that celibacy leads to homosexual pedophilia. Instead I see the position itself, the intimacy that accompanies it, as attracting the kind of sick individuals who would do these things to children.

    Tell me this: Why is it that there appears to be no sexual abuse by nuns, yet female teachers in the public school system all over the USA have been taking their male students into bed with them? Nuns also live a life of celibacy and devote themselves to the Church and the Lord, so why aren’t they assaulting the children that are in their care?

    I believe it is in the roles the Church has created that change needs to occur; not a few aspects of the positions, but the positions themselves.

    Having said all this, it will never happen. Capybara are still considered fish though they haven’t complained too much about it, the Pope was likely a Nazi, and John Paul is dead. Parents would rather sue a school for their child’s broken arm, taking away the childhood right of tag at recess, than just accept the fact that their kid is bound to get hurt. Someone must be responsible for what happens to your child and it most certainly isn’t you, right?

    The judgment of Child Services should never be questioned as they have the child’s well being in mind. Right? The Church is easily capable of change and has shown numerous examples in both policy and rhetoric. Right?

    We can and should scream loudly about these things. They are terrible acts done to those who have so little control over their lives. They are in that indescribable period of true innocence and while many things can take that innocence away (adulthood, divorce, factory work, etc.), it should never be a person in a position of trust, a position of faith, a position of love. But, like I said, the beasts don’t change. Venting and law suits are all we have, along with feelings of anger and disgust. Sadly, it’s when this is all there is that you realize it isn’t enough.

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