Another Roman Catholic higher-up has been caught in yet another sex scandal. This one has a bit of local flavor for me, being that Bishop Raymond Lahey hails from and runs a diocese in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. In the shadow of the settlement of one scandal, in fact, another has emerged, and it doesn’t look like this guy’s going to heaven any time soon, no matter how respected and God-fearing he was (notwithstanding heaven’s non-existence). There’s something I really can’t comprehend about this — why does anyone who thinks they have the right to cover up these crimes, have any authority at all over morality, civility, civic-mindedness, or of who is morally pure or impure enough to make it into some mythical paradise after death?
Lahey recently “retired” over the $13 million settlement (pdf) that the diocese has just had to undertake to atone for the absurd amount of sexual abuse that has happened over the past 60 years. If you’re a local, and you’re one of the folks that got molested by a clergyman during this time frame (and I know there’s apparently quite a number of you poor folks), here’s the form to fill out for a piece of the class-action settlement fund. Small consolation, I know, but it’s better than nothing.
Shortly thereafter, while traveling by plane, Lahey was apparently randomly selected for a laptop search. This is a practice I don’t particularly agree with — the randomized search and seizure of laptops for illegal software or mp3s or whatever else incriminating there is on your personal property is a gross violation of privacy rights. What they found on the laptop, however, makes me glad that — only in this one instance — they performed said search, as the insufferable asshole was carrying around kiddie porn with him. I guess just in case he needed to rub one out while he was traveling and didn’t have any local boys he could use his influence over. He’s now facing charges, but has been released on bail.
As though that weren’t enough to color the public’s already damaged perception of the church, we have a well-documented history of Catholics circling the wagons where it comes to sexual abuse, only owning up to their crimes when they are dragged kicking and screaming to justice. I mean, even Pope Ratzinger himself, while Cardinal and second in power only to the Pope at the time, helped cover up the molestation of three boys. Bush later granted him immunity against lawsuits that were being brought forward (sorry for the Faux News link) on request of His Holiness himself.
The Catholic Church claims that they need to stamp out this problem by weeding out gays, as though homosexuality leads naturally to pedophilia — forget that there’s zero evidence for this hypothesis. The more likely scenario is that, as such clergy are given absolutely no outlets for their sexuality, which is as basic a human drive as hunger or thirst, and there are a great number of them. Some proportion of Catholic priests are probably only about as likely to be pedophiles as members of the general public, though the figures the Catholic church has released suggests between “a mere” 1.5% and 5% of clergymen being involved in sex scandals. The difference here is, members of the general public are allowed to marry, have sex with other adults, masturbate, or generally attempt to express themselves in the exploration of other fetishes. Some unknown percentage of pedophiles or potential pedophiles are able to subsume that aspect of their sexuality and may never molest a child. The fact that they have other outlets is very likely a factor in this self-mitigation.
The Church also claims other religions are as badly off as theirs is with regard to pedophilia. While an obvious and laughable bit of misdirection, I’d tend to disagree, not the least reason which being that Catholicism is one of the only religions, much less orders of Christianity, with full-on proscriptions against ANY sexuality whatsoever, when performed for any reason other than procreation. Condoms are a sin against the Catholic concept of sex for procreation, so even God’s Appointed Emissary (who is supposedly perfect in all things) is more than willing to lie like a cheap rug about condoms’ efficacy against STDs.
Back to Bishop Lahey himself for the moment. In 2004, he’d written a letter to parents about petitioning to the government to have the gay marriage laws repealed.
“It is not often that we get a second chance to do the right thing,” he said in a letter to diocesan parishioners.
He was talking about Parliament revisiting the matter of what constitutes marriage.
“The people of Canada will . . . have their second chance to do the right thing, by expressing again their conviction that, by definition, marriage is the union between husband and wife.”
He appealed to people to contact their members of Parliament about their affirmation of the church’s view of marriage.
“Today, we have so many problems with our social structures,” Bishop Lahey wrote in his letter, “that the second chance to correct one of them by reaffirming the specific nature of marriage is a wonderful opportunity for us.”
There’s no word whether the child porn photos he had were of boys or girls, so we only know he’s a child molester, not his sexual orientation — because, despite what the Vatican would have you believe, you can be a child molester without also being gay, and you can most certainly be gay without being a child molester. His orientation wouldn’t make a lick of difference in the prosecution of the case — minors are in no position regardless of gender to resist the advances of someone in power and trust like Lahey was — but it would shed some light on whether Lahey’s anti-gay-marriage crusades were motivated by him being horrified by his own cock-preferring nature, or if they were merely a function of the Catholic indoctrination. Either way is unacceptable, but the former lends credence to my suspicion that the religion makes promises to help pray away the gay that just doesn’t work and, in the small portion of the population prone to pedophilia, emerges in that behaviour when they find themselves in such a position. (The hilarious part is, the response from everyone up and down the chain whenever someone is caught in such a situation is always, “we’ll pray for you”. As though a lot of people thinking really hard at an omnipotent deity that apparently has your life planned out for you, will prompt said deity to change his mind.)
There are a few questions I have about this whole fiasco, mostly about the Catholic organization itself. First, why would any organization that demands of its followers that they either be straight or be excommunicated (e.g., consigned to Hell by the clergy themselves, not even by the deities in charge!), also suggest that the only way you can right yourself is to enter the clergy, take a vow of celibacy and devote your life to God, knowing that the most successful members will inevitably gain the respect and trust of not only parishioners but of the self-same young boys that become potential victims later? How is it that a religion so blatantly anti-sex and anti-gay manages to attract people who already have difficulties with their sexuality — is it specifically because they falsely promise that belief in an imaginary sky daddy will somehow confer upon them the wherewithal to resist their urges? Is this a kind of Stockholm Syndrome with regard to gays, and a false hope for pedophiles who know what they do to children is vastly immoral? And how is it that the Catholic church, in the face of all the immorality that comes from it, has any moral authority left in this world? I’m looking for honest answers from apologists and theists — someone out there must have a good excuse for why Catholicism exists today, and why it should continue to exist.