Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Anti-Catholic Madness: Now It's Digital!

Not that this is news to any of you, but absurd anti-Catholic attacks are as common online as... comment threads... since they all eventually lead to Catholic-bashing right?

I usually try to avoid comments, just out of the knowledge that these absurdities will suck up the rest of my day, but today I fell off the wagon (which isn't as bad as some of the other wagons I fall off of) and read the comments to this news story: "Pope's brother: I ignored physical abuse reports" In case you don't want to read it, it basically says that while the Pope's brother was a priest in Germany he heard complaints about physical abuse from a neighboring school, but he didn't do anything. He explains that corporal punishment was normal at the time, and he didn't realize how much more intense the situation was at this school. Understandable, given the time period, I think.

Anyway, the comments immediately began with bashing the Church. I won't reproduce them, nor will I recommend reading such misinformed bigotry, but I'll post my responses here, just cause I like to do that for some reason. You'll see that I had to deal with what seems like every typical attack on the Church, so maybe something will be of use:

I became a Catholic right in the midst of this scandal breaking. And guess what, I love my Church. It is the most Christian Church I have found (Seriously, the best Christians, and the most Biblical teachings can be found in the Catholic Church, just most people, even Catholics, don't know it). That is not to say that it is filled with perfect Christian people. It is not. I don't claim to live up to those ideals myself. When we set our standards high enough we will all fail to live up to them, but we continue to try.

To City, great post. It is certainly unfair to judge people who were doing "what was right" by the standards of their time by standards we have today.

Sueky, I don't want pedophiles to burn in Hell. I want their sins to be forgiven, just as I want my sins to be forgiven. That said, I don't want them out in the world hurting children.

Christy, there weren't even a million people in the south of France to begin with in the Middle Ages, so I doubt the Catholic Church was able to kill that many. Besides, people were generally killed by the civil leaders for activities which were thought to endanger social stability (not that I believe this cause was always justified), not just for "believing different things." Read a history book not written as anti-Catholic propaganda, and you might find out that the Catholic Church isn't just a blood thirsty, power hungry brute (though some of its members certainly are).

Michelle, Catholics go to God for forgiveness to. The scriptures tell us that Christ commissioned his apostles to forgive sins. One of the major differences between Catholicism and (most) Protestantism is that Catholics believe we connect to God directly AND through the material world, while Protestants tend to more-or-less believe that we connect to him only directly. Thus, Catholics believe that God desires we ask his forgiveness directly AND through confession to the priest. We don't go to the priest instead of God.

LTL. This is a misconception, that celibacy has anything to do with pedophilia. Yes, it is true that some priests don't keep their vows, but the majority DO keep their vows. And pedophilia is just as (or more) common in the general population as it is in the priesthood. The media doesn't report much on it, but there is a higher rate of sexual abuse by teachers in public schools, and administrators commonly cover it up (wait I though secrecy was just an evil Catholic thing!?!), and nobody requires school teachers to be celibate.

And here's my second comment:

Did I just stumble into a KKK meeting? What's with all the anti-Catholic anti-clerical propaganda? I thought thought that went out of fashion when JFK became President without enslaving America to the Pope.

You guys seriously don't get that this is typical media frenzy? The situation in Catholic churches is NO different from the situation in other religious organizations, or in secular institutions like public schools, daycare centers, etc.

The problem is that the media frenzy has a narrow focus, which conveniently fits with common stereotypes. This frenzy is just like how until recently there were far more cases of unintended acceleration in American cars, but just because of the current media frenzy, suddenly everyone thinks Toyotas are deathtraps.

When people point out that this is not just a Catholic problem we are NOT, I repeat, NOT saying that this in anyway gives a free pass to the priests or bishops involved in the matter. No. You cruelly misrepresent us every step of the way. We are appalled that our priests would do this. But our priests have been falsely accused of such things so often for so long that we had a hard time believing them when it turned out some of the accusations were true. There are no excuses for sin, except that we are all human, and we all know our own temptations, and should have some understanding of the darkness which can befall man.

What we ARE trying to say is that we are being unfairly singled out, and that it is unreasonable to say that the fault lies in our religion if the problem is just as common outside of the religion, and also just as common in other leadership structures. Media stories on this issue have been something like 10:1 Catholic vs. other organizations, when the problem is no more widespread in the Catholic Church. That is bias, plain and simple. California lifted the statute of limitations on lawsuits involving the Catholic Church, but not for other groups. Bias. Other states have heavily investigated every Catholic group, but not other groups. Bias. Media Frenzy induced bias.

Judson, pedophiles are no more common among priests than among men "allowed" to marry, so this would not fix the problem, it's just an old piece of Protestant fundamentalist bigotry which has been absorbed by even the most secular of people. This is what I mean. You can't blame the Catholic Church, saying the problem is due to celibacy, when the problem is just as common among those who are not celibate. That make no sense. Obviously, the only claim you can make is that vows of celibacy do not PREVENT pedophilia.

You cannot blame the church for intense "secrecy" if the same level of secrecy is present in similar situations in every type of organization imaginable: US government, school administration, synagogue, or hippie commune.

As for the joke about drowning/burning witches, that was quite uncommon in Catholic countries, oddly enough because the Inquisition did not allow such silliness (of course they did not avoid that level of cruelty, but applied it in less absurd ways, much like our modern use of waterboarding. Of course I do not approve of any such torture, but you see that times have not entirely changed).

To Jeff, who says, "Authority and responsibility cannot be separated, and the authority these men exercised derived from the Catholic Church." Do you suggest that every time an authority disappoints us we should overthrow the whole structure? Sounds like a lot of unreasonable bloodshed to me.

To Dave, who said, "Yes. They should try all priests to find out which ones are pedophiles." How Totalitarian of you. You'd be happy to know that in many atheist countries thousands of priests were murdered just for being priests (USSR, China, early 1900s Mexico, etc.). There is a reason we have rights in this country like being innocent until proven guilty, and limits on police searches. I guess you want the secret police bursting into your house to check the numbers tattooed on your arm?

Hopefully I'll eventually make the effort to go into more detail on some of the issues brought up here. I'm sure a few of these could go toward an installment of Craziest Complaints.

Oh, and for anyone out there who has ever said anything like, "I love individual Catholics, but I hate the Pope, and hope he goes to Hell." I think of the Pope sort of like you might think of a beloved grandfather, so try switching it around before you speak. "Your favorite grandfather is just a dirty old dress-wearing man who uses his power and money to brainwash people and abuse children." Oh yeah, well yo' mama so fat...