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Jun 23 2010

RCC gets even closer to a real apology

Regular readers will remember two weeks ago when I gave credit where credit is due to the Pope for finally admitting that the abuse and its systematic and deplorable covering up of that abuse are the fault of the Catholic Church itself, and not a cabal of people trying to ruin a good organization. It looks like Benedict thinks that blaming ‘Sin’ was enough, and is now asking Catholics worldwide to forgive the Church:

Pope Benedict XVI has begged forgiveness from clerical abuse victims and promised to “do everything possible” to ensure priests don’t rape and molest children ever again.

I have a question for you, dear readers. Have any of you been in, or been witness to, an abusive relationship? Have you ever been stuck in a vicious cycle with some asshole who swears “I can change, I swear I’ll do whatever it takes” as long as you take him/her back? I’ve seen it, and believe me it isn’t pretty. We’d all like to believe that people can change if they love you enough – that their feelings for you are so strong that they’ll move Heaven and Earth just to keep you.

What ends up happening in those situations? I’ll tell you: the change lasts for about as long as it takes for you to stop being angry, and then everything goes back to the way it was before. People don’t change. As much as they’d like to believe it, people don’t suddenly become better people by sheer force of will. It takes years for us to form our personalities, and it will similarly take years to change those personalities. Press the apologizers for details on how they’ll change, and you’ll find that they have no plan, no specific behaviours, no real concrete idea of what they’re going to do. But they’ll do it!

So whenever I hear someone say something vague like “do everything possible”, I roll my eyes and say “sure, tell me another one.” Organizations don’t change wholesale, especially in the absence of real ideas for reform. When a change is proposed that offers zero specifics on how to make it happen, it’s the equivalent of saying ‘I don’t think what I did was wrong, but you’re mad, so I’ll feed you a line until you stop being mad.’ I’ve done it to my parents, I’ve had friends do it to their significant others, I’ve seen friends’ significant others do it to them, and I’ve been on the receiving end more times than I care to recall. It inevitably ends the same way.

So while I’m willing to believe that the Pope (and the Church by extension) feels really really bad about what happened, I’ll withhold any talk of forgiveness until I see real change. Asking for forgiveness does not oblige me to grant it to you. Seeing as the abuse happened for decades and was rife throughout the entire organization, it’s going to take a lot before I’m willing to believe that any progress has been made.

3 comments

  1. 1
    Colin Kerr

    So, what’s the deal then? Shoot people who hurt our feelings? People don’t change, right?

    Oh, by the way, the Pope never committed the crimes he is apologizing for, so he doesn’t really fit the profile of the chronic abuser.

    Part of the criticism of the homosexual lifestyle you defend is that it is more prone to violence than heterosexuality. Statistics back this up, so face it. Your ‘no forgiveness – nobody changes’ policy does not bode well for homosexuals, does it?

    So, in the end, we should line up all priests and either jail them or execute them because the institution is intrinsically abusive? Hate crime, dude.

  2. 2
    Crommunist

    For those of you readers who are new to comment threads, or the fine art of rhetorical analysis of argument, this comment contains several classic examples of what is called the “straw man argument”. Basically, the technique of the straw man is to set up a false argument that is supposed to sound equivalent to your opponent’s argument, but is different from their argument in a meaningful way, and then knock that argument down. It relies on your audience not being able to tell the difference between actual refutation and something that just looks and sounds like refutation. Your straw man meter should immediately start pinging whenever someone uses “line them up and shoot them” as part of their argument.

    Mr. Kerr, it appears as though your go-to solution for problems is jail or execution. I am concerned, as this suggests an unhealthy and unbalanced mind. Nowhere have I said anything about killing anyone. My preferred solution for people who repeatedly show no regard for my feelings (if that’s the example we’re using – again, not what I said, but why ruin a perfectly good euphemism for abuse?) is to not trust them. Yours is apparently execution or jail.

    “Statistics back this up, so face it”

    No they don’t, so I don’t have to face anything. Even if they did (which, and I cannot stress this enough, they don’t), football is more prone to violence than badminton. Therefore… what? Therefore football is an abomination? Therefore you’d like to execute the Toronto Argonauts?

    “the Pope never committed the crimes he is apologizing for”

    Tony Hayward didn’t go out on an oil rig and blow it up, causing a spill. However, he was an administrator during the time when the company rules allowed the circumstances that caused the spill, and as the administrator he is guilty of the negligence that resulted in disaster. Also, the Pope did commit the crime of covering up the abuse and directing the church in a policy of silence rather than open admission and change. Oh, and since you missed… well, just about everything in this post, I’ll point out to you that the Pope hasn’t apologized for anything, he’s just shifted the blame to “Sin”.

    To close out what was much more civil a response than your word-vomit of a comment deserves, while I have not suggested that priests who have committed no crime be jailed, I think you severely misunderstand what a hate crime is. Going after an organization whose members have committed crimes and whose internal policies openly encourage such crimes to continue is not a hate crime – it’s police work.

    You had a lot of options on what to be in life. You’ve apparently chosen ‘stupid’. That makes me sad.

  3. 3
    Crommunist

    Incidentally, there are a lot of other things wrong with your comment, but I got bored :P

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