That’s absolutely shocking


Michael Nugent and a priest, Gearoid O Donchu, on RTE’s Liveline with Joe Duffy talking about whether priests should report child rapists whose rapes they learn of via the confessional. Michael starts briskly with

It’s one of these things where the Catholic church thinks their own internal rules trump the law of the land.

They go on to discuss a hypothetical in which X tells a priest in the confessional that X has poisoned the communion wine. The priests says shocking things, and Michael says how shocking they are and what this shows about the way religion corrupts morality.

It’s great stuff!

Comments

  1. AsqJames says

    Not exact quotes but…

    Fr: “I don’t have the authority to forgive someone who’s had an abortion.”
    MN: “But you have the authority to forgive someone who’s raped a child?”
    Fr: “Yes, I believe I do.”

    Ugh!

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    Oooh! Ask if divorce is worse than raping a dozen little boys!! And then ask if using birth control is worse than covering up for a priest who’s raped a dozen little boys by quietly transferring said rapist-priest to a NEW parish where no one knows his proclivities and there are loads of succulent little boys!!

    >>runs off to get popcorn<<

  3. latsot says

    I might be wrong because some fule had the temerity to phone me while I was listening but isn’t there a bit where the priest basically sympathises with the serial child rapist for having to waste his time coming back to confession every week when he’s inevitably going to rape again anyway? There doesn’t seem to be any consideration for the raped-again child.

    I should listen to it again to make sure, but I don’t think I can bring myself to do it. It’s one thing to know that it’s church policy to do such awful shit (I refuse to call it ‘law’ or otherwise dignify it) and another to hear it from an actual spokes-monster.

    Mick’s thought experiment about the poisoned wine was brilliant stuff, though. I’m guessing that when the priest said he’d act as though the confession hadn’t happened, every single person on every conceivable side thought exactly the same thing: “no you fucking wouldn’t.”

  4. Katherine Woo says

    Only religion could produce a moral quandary about whether to report a confessed child rapist.

  5. Crimson Clupeidae says

    The father claims he would do nothing different? I’m going to call bullshit. They are so afraid of even facing secular authorities that they use the excuse of confessional to avoid facing authority, but he would actively drink the wine knowing it would kill him or make him very sick, and poison most of the congregation? No f’in’ way.

  6. Blanche Quizno says

    What, Crimson? You don’t think a Catholic clergyman could be *THAT* stupid??? But GOD!!!

  7. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Oooh! Ask if divorce is worse than raping a dozen little boys!!

    Not to single you out, Blanche Quizno, but why gender the kids?

    I see this consistently when people are trying to display the naked immorality of certain teachings of the RCC. But what reason is there to use boys? Is raping a dozen girls less morally repugnant? I don’t think so. What about a dozen kids struggling with articulating a gender identity at all? Less morally repugnant?

    I think that any one of us might use “boys” innocently, but when it has become a consistent gender trend, there’s a gendered reason for that. As a reasonable first hypothesis, the best candidate is that people still commonly perceive rape is something done by male men, and that boys are vastly more likely to be male, and that queer sex, especially males’ sex with other males, is considered *more* immoral than males’ sex with females. Thus one gets to hammer the church for saying that divorce is worse than rape AND the icky-queer-sex.

    I don’t like it. It’s possible that some research would reveal another origin for this tendency, but until I see evidence, I think the implication that queer sex is (more) immoral is one that should make us back away.

    After all, if we win the argument that the church should come down harder on those who facilitate queer rape, what’s more likely, that they *only* come down harder on rapists and people who facilitate rape? Or that the church comes down harder on the rapists AND the queers, but never the bishops who shuffled priests around b/c what? Weren’t you telling us that we have to stomp this rape-y, queer stuff out?

  8. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I might be wrong because some fule had the temerity to phone me while I was listening but isn’t there a bit where the priest basically sympathises with the serial child rapist for having to waste his time coming back to confession every week when he’s inevitably going to rape again anyway? There doesn’t seem to be any consideration for the raped-again child.

    Sort of. The priest was talking about whether or not you had reason to believe that a person was honestly trying to better themselves when they commit the same sin again and again. Michael argued that you can’t take them seriously. The priest was saying that the very fact that a penitent comes back week after week could be evidence that ze is trying to stop, that ze wants to change.

    The priest was arguing you can’t *assume* bad faith on the part of the penitent b/c the behavior is potentially consistent with wanting to stop being a rapist/other kind of sinner. While that does seem to be sympathizing with the rapist, the priest was addressing the question on the table. I don’t think it was out of line. I certainly don’t consider that the worst part of what he said.

  9. latsot says

    Crip:

    Thanks, it is entirely possible that i misheard. I definitely heard the priest say something about the rapist’s time being wasted coming back every week to confess, though. I’m going to have to listen to it again, aren’t I?

  10. latsot says

    Crip:

    I listened to that part again and you’re right about what was said but I take a much dimmer view on it than you do. It’s hard to tell, but the reference to the rapist ‘wasting his time’ seems to be about his turning up and not being allowed the magic forgiveness spell. That would be terribly inconvenient, wouldn’t it? The priest almost but not quite seems to be saying “well, if he’s made the effort to come all the way out here, I shouldn’t waste his time by sending him home un-magicked.” It’s a shame that the host derailed the conversation at that point because Mick would have little difficulty in pointing out the absurdity and cruelty of that position.

    I understand that the priest was answering the question, but it was a disgusting answer and that’s what I take exception to. I don’t see that answering a question with a disgusting answer is somehow better than not answering the question. Really, I’m at a complete loss here. On the basis of what was said – and it’s a little unclear – the priest is saying that he’d continue to forgive the rapist, week after week, because he seemed sincere at the time, regardless of his continued raping of children. If the priest genuinely thinks blithely raping children then popping in for a get out of jail free card every week is somehow evidence of a sincere desire to stop raping children, then he’s even more dangerous than I originally thought. Which is saying something.

    It *is* out of line to say and do things like that. It’s not only out of line, it is *monstrous*.

    And I think it might be the worst thing the priest had to say. He was saying that he personally gets to decide whether the rapist is super-sorry or not and therefore whether the rapist is allowed to continue getting his weekly magic, officially supporting the continued rape of children. At what point does his enlightened fucking goddy sense start tingling and tell him that maybe he should stop enabling rape? Is it one child raped 30 times or 30 children raped once? And on what basis does he make that decision? That’s one of the many reasons that his analogy to lawyers, doctors etc. was bullshit.

    Your mileage may vary: there are a lot of monstrous things to choose from for the candidate of worst thing a particular hateful person said. I also found the very beginning of the broadcast extremely disturbing, especially on second listening. The priest is saying that if a child enters the confessional and says it has been sexually assaulted, that counts as a confession and must therefore be kept secret. This implies that the child is *confessing* to being raped, doesn’t it? The priest can’t confront the rapist or report him to the authorities because his victim has ‘confessed’ to…being a victim. Shouldn’t the priest say that being a rape victim isn’t a sin and explain how he will help and support the victim in any way he can to stop the rape happening to the victim or anyone else?

    Nah. The priority is to manufacture excuses to sell magic forgiveness spells to other monsters.

  11. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @latsot:

    the reference to the rapist ‘wasting his time’ seems to be about his turning up and not being allowed the magic forgiveness spell. That would be terribly inconvenient, wouldn’t it? The priest almost but not quite seems to be saying “well, if he’s made the effort to come all the way out here, I shouldn’t waste his time by sending him home un-magicked.” It’s a shame that the host derailed the conversation at that point because Mick would have little difficulty in pointing out the absurdity and cruelty of that position.

    Fair enough. It seems like I remembered more than you on first pass, but your second pass is better than my first. Yeah, it was all about, “Would you grant him absolution,” and the priest was saying that he would. I think I remember correctly that he was saying he would do that because he couldn’t prove the confession was in bad faith, but I did fail to remember this important piece of the context. I had him saying, “We can’t convict him of not wanting to change just because he’s confessed the same sin more than once,” but you correctly note that he went on to USE that statement to justify letting kids get raped.

    Thanks for the back and forth. I remember it better now, and maybe some lucky lurker won’t have to listen to 20 minutes of this now b/c of your dedication. (Listened twice! Yikes!)

    I understand that the priest was answering the question, but it was a disgusting answer and that’s what I take exception to. I don’t see that answering a question with a disgusting answer is somehow better than not answering the question. Really, I’m at a complete loss here. On the basis of what was said – and it’s a little unclear – the priest is saying that he’d continue to forgive the rapist, week after week, because he seemed sincere at the time, regardless of his continued raping of children.

    I was going to comment on this, but hell, never mind. This is good.

    finally:

    Your mileage may vary: there are a lot of monstrous things to choose from for the candidate of worst thing a particular hateful person said.

    yeah, that’s the saddest part about the whole thing, isn’t it?

  12. Blanche Quizno says

    @8 Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    The targeting of boys per se by priests, rather than boys and girls equally, is a recurring theme throughout Catholic history.

    Religious documents dating back to before the writing of the New Testament highlight problems inside the Church regarding sexual rule-breaking and the abuse of boys.

    By the Council (or Synod) of Elvira in 309, the problem of child abuse had become large enough for special punishments to be put in place. One particularly strong proclamation was as follows: “Those who sexually abuse boys may not commune, even when death approaches.”

    Leaving the earliest years of the Church, we move to Saint Peter Damian and his view of the very Church by which he was later sainted. Saint Peter described the Clergy of the Church at the time to be a veritable cesspool. He was so outraged by the Men of the Cloth that in the year 1049 he wrote the “Book of Gomorrah,” and dedicated it to the Pope. In the tome, he railed against the Priesthood of his time, specifically condemning sodomy against both children and young priests.

    Notice that the rape of a girl would not be referred to as “sodomy”.

    “Clearly, two patterns emerge: the Catholic Church has been struggling with the abuse of minors (usually boys) by members of the Priesthood since the earliest days of the church; and the Church tended to deal with the problem both internally and ineffectively.”

    See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-wilhelm/the-long-scandal-a-histor_b_560904.html for more details.

    My flippant reference of “a dozen little boys” was not chosen casually or from bigotry or icky-queer-sex revulsion. It was based in the Catholic Church’s own history of child sexual abuse and the trends the Catholic Church itself observed, based on its own records. Children were not uniformly abused; Catholic priests overwhelmingly chose boys to abuse, with gender-preferential ease of access (as in the case of “young priests”) coming to mind – I’m thinking the “altar boy” religious apprenticeship that only admitted boys, thus making access to boys much easier for priests than access to girls.

    If the priests wanted MORE or even JUST AS MUCH access to girls as to boys, it seems they would have instituted “altar girls” or perhaps “vestal virgins of the Madonna” or some such formal position for girls where they would serve the priests, which would have given the priests access to these girls much as the “altar boy” position gave them access to boys. But the Church didn’t. This is telling.

    The first discussion we need to have as a society is why we should allow religious persons to be above the law. Why should the law of the land not apply equally to every person, regardless of his/her religious affiliation or lack thereof? Since we have the separation of church and state, the state’s interest in protecting its citizens from crime trump Christianity’s desire to allow its members to answer to a different authority which invariably and automatically excuses every wrongdoing they commit :)

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