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Apr 14 2010

Arrest the Pope for his crimes, not for any cause

I sorta feel like a parent walking into my children’s fight an hour after it started at this point, but there’s apparently a row over whether the “Arrest the Pope” movement will hurt skepticism as a whole. The issue smacks heavily of the Framing Wars. Again. It’s creating a great rift. Again. And it’s annoying the piss outta me. AGAIN.

The rundown for those not in the know: Pope Benedictine XVI (AKA Ratzinger) is in hot water over some concrete proof that emerged very recently, showing that as a Cardinal, he delayed and interfered in the investigation of a pederast priest. This amongst dozens of other allegations. The case against him is actually quite strong, as outlined by human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robinson. The defense seems to be as follows: Bush granted him diplomatic immunity in the US; as head of a state he’s got diplomatic immunity everywhere anyway; and as Pope, he’s the infallible emissary of God on Earth so all this bad press is merely Satan’s way of trying to tear down the holy church.

Smelling blood in the water, evil godless heathen Richard Dawkins and fellow baby-eater Christopher Hitchens discussed the possibility of bringing charges against the Pope to either the International Criminal Court or the Crown Prosecution when he makes a visit to beatify some crufty, old, largely unimportant theist or other of the 19th century. Between them, they came to the conclusion that a human rights lawyer would be the best person to contact, and they ended up getting in touch with the same Geoffrey Robinson of the aforementioned Guardian article.

What merely amounts to a side-note now is the fact that a Rupert Murdoch paper incorrectly titled an article on the subject that went something along the lines of “Richard Dawkins will personally cuff the Pope; Hitchens will ‘Book ‘im Dan-o’”. This caused the initial uproar and much of the retardery about Dawkins being a bomb-tosser that one wouldn’t want to be associated with. Some wags envision it going thusly, a la Bad Boys, though I prefer this imagining:

THIS IS DELUSION! NO, THIS IS JUSTICE!!!

Ultimately, the gambit as played by Dawkins was done so in hopes of raising awareness of the fact that the British government was treating the so-called “Holy See” as a head of state and the visit as a state visit, and therefore the UK would pick up the tab. Initiating a lawsuit like this one would force the government into either a) serving the warrant and seeing the Pope properly tried for his crimes, b) causing him to abandon his visit to the UK, or c) at the very very least, making the British government very uncomfortable about paying Ratzy’s way.

In case A, not only would justice be served should Ratzy find himself in the clink for abetting child molestation on a worldwide scale, the best case scenario, allowing for further justice to be pursued against individual priests involved in the abuses, but a final answer might also be decided as to whether or not Benito Mussolini’s 1929 Lateran Treaties granted the Vatican City statehood in a sense that other countries should honor. To this day, the Vatican is not recognized as a country by the United Nations, and they sit only as observers. By dint of this, the Pope couldn’t possibly be considered a head of state with diplomatic immunity, could he? Well, that’s the test, because that’s pretty much his only real defense.

Where his other major defense falls down, it falls down because it does intersect heavily with the skeptic community. The Bush pardon becomes a non-issue where the battlegrounds for this row is the United Kingdom, leaving only the claim of infallibility. And skeptics certainly don’t consider a claim of divine infallibility to be a valid defense against what amount to systemic human rights violations against untold numbers of children.

Or do they?

That, it turns out, is the crux of the current internet navel-gazing war. Some folks in the skeptical community have taken it upon themselves to beat the drum and rally behind Dawkins, in at least one case as extracurricular activities outside the field of skepticism. Some others feel that allying too closely with filthy dirty atheists will tar them amongst the religious and cause these folks to shut down and refuse to hear anything further from the skeptical community as a whole.

People like PZ Myers are naturally more than happy to claim that skeptics who are sympathetic to religion are not taking their skepticism far enough, and that if they can’t step up and support a movement to beat down the pederast-enabling head of the most influential single religious faction on the planet, that they’re not true skeptics. Meanwhile, people like Phil Plait are suggesting skeptics handle the situation like it’s a minefield, acting only as necessary while wearing the mantle of “skeptic” to counteract any supernatural claims, while simultaneously saying every person on the planet should be rightly outraged about this on behalf of the victims no matter what their primary self-identifier. Rebecca Watson doubts there’s a “skeptical movement” that can be hurt by advocating the arrest, and otherwise agrees with Phil on the outrage.

This deep rift isn’t really so deep, in other words. Everyone’s talking about how important it is that the Pope be meted some measure of justice here on Earth (since, at least as far as the atheists are concerned, he ain’t going to get any justice meted out in any other life), but all anyone’s worried about is the collateral damage of being associated with a supposed bomb-tosser like Richard Dawkins. We’re getting fractious over being associated with someone who waves a specific banner other than skepticism proper.

Stephanie Zvan has it right, in my opinion. We are a diverse group unified under a number of banners and as such we should not be forced to give up one banner (e.g. skepticism) in order to fight under another (e.g. human rights advocacy, atheism, or whatever other banner you want to wave in this particular fight) just to avoid accidentally implying sympathy toward atheist advocacy in those that don’t swing that way. Frankly, I’m getting tired — VERY tired — of saying, over and over, that we need every kind of troop on the field. We don’t need to excoriate our archers just because they’re not pikemen, nor do we need to drive them off the field, weakening us all. Throwing elbows at the others in our boat is just going to get us dragged to the wrong side of the lake.

Just because we’re atheists doesn’t mean we’re wrong about the Pope deserving jail for his crimes, no matter how strongly you believe in your deit(y/ies) and no matter how you’ve rationalized your theistic skepticism or accomodationism. And just because Richard Dawkins started the ball rolling doesn’t mean it’s rolling in the wrong direction, or that it should be slowed just to spite him. If you believe the Pope’s crimes are heinous in systemically favoring the good of the Catholic Church over the good of the victims of the rampant sexual abuse, or in repeatedly slapping the wrists of the pederasts then putting them in positions of power over other children in other areas, then you should say so, regardless of what your other beliefs are, and whether they clash with the beliefs of those that are most vocally calling for justice to be served.

To answer Phil Plait’s hypothetical question — no, I probably wouldn’t rally behind Sylvia Brown if iron-clad evidence came forward that James Randi embezzled the million dollar prize. If she was the one making the claim, and the only one doing so, I’d be strongly suspicious of her motives and of the truth, if any, behind her claim. But if she pointed the appropriate lawyers to the evidence and the lawyers took it upon themselves to act on that evidence, I’d rally behind those lawyers if said evidence was indeed iron-clad.

I’m not rallying behind Dawkins, nor do I support this cause because I’m a skeptic or an atheist. I’m personally rallying behind Geoffrey Robinson and the solicitor Mark Stevens who are leading this charge, because they have built, in my estimation, an excellent case that the Pope has committed criminal human rights violations in providing cover for the systemic abuse that their corrupt organization has perpetrated over the last century plus. And while I personally don’t care if I offend or upset those Catholics who feel like cornered, wounded animals about their faith in their Pope, I’m not going to throw the accomodationists out of the fight just because they want to play nice with said wounded animals.

Now for Baby Jesus’ sake, can we put our eyes back on the prize here, and make sure that these evil men get what’s coming to them, for the evil acts we know them to have committed? We might not get another shot at this! I’m sick and tired of seeing bad people get away with doing bad things and somehow convincing half the world they’re the good guys while we sit around bitching at each other.

Oh, and the tl;dr:

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-

19 comments

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  1. 1
    Glendon Mellow

    I’m sick and tired of seeing bad people get away with doing bad things and somehow convincing half the world they’re the good guys while we sit around bitching at each other.

    Hear hear!

    I often think Richard Dawkins is a victim of his own success. By agreeing with most of his positions, but saying “tut, tut” when he speaks smacks of a lame attempt by some skeptics & atheists (and freethinkers and other dandy labels) to appear superior.

    “Oh yes, I’m an atheist. But not one of those Dawkins-atheists, you understand…no no no…”

  2. 2
    Bob

    I’m so tired of the crybaby bullshit of fragments of the pro-science and now fragments of the pro-skeptic forces publicly wetting themselves over those GODDAMNED LOUD ATHEISTS WHO JUST WON’T SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    It doesn’t matter if it were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Nick Griffin, or an anonymous Muslim kebab shop proprietor in Hackney that set the legal wheels in motion. This issue is plainly about human rights and the Pope’s personal hand in conspiring to cover up a pattern of child rape and to protect rapists from prosecution, or at least to protect the Church from scandal and financial damage.

    It should not matter ONE WHIT who initiates the process of bringing the Pope to justice and the urine-soaked mewling of certain skeptics is just fucking embarrassing.

    To me, public atheism is more about attaining civil parity with believers and working for a secular society in which no religion (or lack thereof) holds a privileged status. I agree with both you and Stephanie – most of us that identify as atheist or skeptic or secularist or humanist identify under multiple banners. It is not helpful when (say) some skeptics complain when some of us raise the atheist flag and go tilting after some political windmill that has nothing to do with skepticism but irritates them because they feel they’ll be tarred by whatever backlash occurs. It’d be like a faction of atheists complaining about atheist feminists campaigning for (say) reproductive rights hurting the atheist movement.

    I believe there’s this immature hyperfocus that you can only belong to one faction or another and if you divert your effort from the safe mainstream to a divisive and unrelated one, you’re a liability. I don’t believe this is specific to skeptics; as I said before, a pro-science faction (Chris Mooney, et. al.) royally shit themselves over PZ Myers and Crackergate and again over getting expelled from Expelled. When they shrieked “YOU’RE DAMAGING OUR CAUSE!”, I looked at the situation and concluded they were mostly pissed off that an atheist was getting too uppity somewhere and getting more press than they were.

    This case is not analogous because it clearly falls well outside our fairly insular atheist/skeptical/humanist/secularist/progressive/cat-fancier community into the very serious world of human rights and international law. I have my beef with religion in general and Catholicism in particular but that pales with my desire to see children grow up safe from the threat of rape and violence. That’s a much larger and more important issue to me than niggling bits of doctrine or delusions about the existence of a sky fairy.

    I want the Catholic Church to stop conspiring to protect child rapists from prosecution. I want the organization investigated to find those who engaged in this conspiracy and to try them under international law for human rights violations. If that means arresting the Pope, putting him on trial, and imprisoning him, so be it. And I don’t give a flying fuck who starts the process – they could be Nazis, Scientologists, homeopaths, telemarketers, or (Skeptic(tm)-forbid!) atheists. Someone needs to break this conspiracy and bring the criminals to justice.

    If that causes a few outspoken skeptics to soil their drawers, that’s just Too. Goddamn. Bad.

    And if people think I’m a bad person or a bad skeptic for saying such a thing, then I guess I’ll have to live with the consequences of that. I won’t presume to tell others what’s more important in the grand scheme of things but personally, I find conspiracy to conceal child rape far more disturbing than upsetting a handful of skeptics. Sorry, but that’s just how this arrogant asshole atheist/skeptic/humanist/secularist/engineer/improvisor/programmer/sysadmin rolls.

  3. 3
    Tyler DiPietro

    I’m always puzzled by the implication that “we” need some kind of self-imposed ideological uniformity in “our” “movement”. Why we can’t simply be individuals of diverse opinions is just beyond me.

    In this case, it doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore atheist or a wishy-washy agnostics or even an unreconstructed Catholic. This Pope has committed crimes that need rectification through our secular system of justice. Skepticism has squat to do with it.

  4. 4
    Greg Laden

    As far as the internal struggle among “skeptics” I have to say this … if you are going to spend a lot of energy building a wall between a group or movement that you are loosely affiliated with and a general trend towards taking a stand on a major issue, then one has to worry. So what if skepticism is not specifically designed to make the argument regarding the Pope’s complicity and guilt (though I would agree with Rebecca that it is) … is that a reason to explicitly draw the line-that-we-must-not-cross? That’s close to sophistry and is counterproductive and uninteresting.

    Skeptics should support action against the Vatican because skeptics should want to do the right thing even if it is something that they did not think of, or that their philosophy did not require of them. Why? Because it is the right thing. No other reason need be found. Insisting that one NOT do the right thing because it is percieved as not interdigitating with the core philosophy of the group is stupid.

    At the same time I don’t think we should expect the skeptics to lead the way. Frankly, they are not competent to lead the way on this. (As you point out!) But to TURN away is absolutely asinine.

  5. 5
    Paul S.

    Comparing Catholics to “wounded animals”? See, this is where the whole anti-Catholic crusade loses me. It’s one thing to want individuals who have committed crimes to be prosecuted. I’m certainly in favor of that. It’s another thing entirely to use the crimes of some people to justify hate of an entire belief system and the hundreds of millions of people who belong to it. Anti-Catholicism has a long history, and a lot of the hostility that is directed against the Catholic church and Catholics in general now seems to be basically a revival of an old prejudice. I doubt that any other organization that is guilty of the same things that the Catholic Church is (protecting its own people who have committed criminal acts from prosecution) would provoke the same level of outrage that the Catholic Church has, and this extra hostility is almost certainly tied to a pervasive anti-Catholicism in the culture of many countries.

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    It’s almost like you enjoy intentionally misreading me. You do it so often and with such aplomb. And always to the same end — to say “well I’m as atheist as the next guy but stop being so mean to the religious folks!”

    And in this specific case, you’re taking a well known phrase — “wounded animal” — and using the wrong word as the operative word, the “animal” part. Rather than taking the words at their meaning, indicating a person who’s blinded by his injuries and more likely to lash out in the wrong directions (as the Catholic flock are prone to do in fighting Dawkins rather than their pedophile-enabling institution!), you decide that it must be an attempt at dehumanizing all Catholics. And that instead of this whole fight being about the Pope, his clergy and everyone else complicit in abusing little children, it’s about destroying Catholicism as a belief system, and an “anti-Catholic crusade”.

    Do you take courses to achieve this level of misdirection?

  7. 7
    Miranda

    I have the distinct feeling I may regret this, but here goes:

    I’m … astonished. Truly astonished at how the molestation of raping of innocent children has been turned into an issue of the religious vs. the non believers. It is pure insanity. I feel like the character in The Simpsons shouting “won’t somebody please think of the children!” to deaf ears.
    I truly don’t give a rat’s ass what organization you are the head of, you covered up and aided the atrocities you knew were occurring by those under your employ. If this was the CEO of a major company instead of a religious institution there would be no debate over whether he should/could be prosecuted.
    In a perfect word the church would serve its function as a bastion of spirituality for those who want it and those who run it would be spiritual people who are living examples of what the church is supposed to be. Too bad the world isn’t perfect.
    You can believe that the Pope is God’s spokesman on earth all you want, but look closely at that word. “SpokesMAN”. He is still a man and as a man he is subject to the laws of man.
    I stand by what I have said before. Those who do such horrendous things to innocent children should be strung up by their balls and left to the crows. With that done we should have our minds turned to the needs and recover of these children. This is hardly something that can be done while those who should be aiding in that recovery are finger pointing at why it happened in the first place and which institution is to blame.

  8. 8
    Paul S.

    Sorry for the long delay in responding …

    Maybe I’m just paranoid after reading too much about the history of anti-Catholicism, but what troubles me is the level of hostility directed at the entire Catholic Church by the general public, and how eerily reminiscent it is of earlier waves of hostility toward Catholicism and Catholics. I apologize if I overreacted to the “wounded animals” phrase – it’s just that comparisons to animals in one form or another have such a long history in dehumanizing rhetoric against many groups that the term just set off all kinds of alarm bells in my mind, even if it was not intended in a hostile way.
    Ask yourself this – if any other organization was potentially guilty of the same crimes, would it be subject to as much public hostility as the Catholic Church is? Would people be so eager to arrest the leader of any other organization before the facts of the case were even clearly established? I very much doubt it. I tend to agree with the saying that anti-Catholicism is one of the last “respectable” prejudices, and suspect that real criminal conduct on the part of some members of the church is being used to legitimize a resurgence of a very old kind of bigotry with a fairly ugly history.

    Miranda – I was trying to make it clear that I am not defending anything that the Catholic Church has done, and that I think that members of the church who have committed criminal acts should be tried for their actions. The concern about this becoming an excuse for anti-Catholicism is a separate issue, and being concerned about one does not mean that I am not concerned about the other.

  9. 9
    Jason Thibeault

    I’m an equal opportunity justice-seeker. If you can point me to another arbiter of morals who claims a monopoly on objective good, who is committing and covering up more empirical evil, I will rail against them.

    A good for-instance: the Bush administration was complicit in incarcerating and torturing hundreds of innocent people for political reasons to keep their cooked-up war going, and Obama’s totally letting it slide and is thus complicit as well. The difference here is, nobody’s yet considered sending Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld to the ICC in all seriousness, outside of the “liberal moonbats”, and no matter how right they are about it, the Overton Window’s been pulled so far to the fascism end of the spectrum in the States that a bare few Republicans recognize the situation as being as problematic as it actually is.

    In the case of the Pope, he’s about to land somewhere that he’s actually within the reach of the law’s arm. We’re not railing about Catholicism itself — it’s just another flavor of theistic bullshit, frankly, and there are as many flavors of God-belief as there are God-believers. We ARE, however, railing about the fact that the institution has provided institutionalized cover to some very evil men’s very evil acts. And the Pope is DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE COVER-UP, and therefore an accessory after the fact.

    We have proof. We have a legal opportunity. And we have people yelling just loud enough that someone in charge of the law might actually do something about this metastatized cancer once and for all.

    Besides, don’t sidetrack the issue with the “prejudice” bullshit. Name a single time in American history when people would knowingly elect an atheist before they would elect a Catholic, I dare you. It certainly ain’t today. If there’s a “last respectable prejudice” look no further than the anti-atheist tripe on Fox News that they never get called out on. And consider the response to Sinead O’Connor ripping up a picture of the Pope back when the ongoing pedophilia scandal first waxed into the media’s consciousness then subsequently waned as rapidly as possible back out.

  10. 10
    Paul S.

    Besides, don’t sidetrack the issue with the “prejudice” bullshit. Name a single time in American history when people would knowingly elect an atheist before they would elect a Catholic, I dare you.
    Try any time between the late 18th century and the early 20th century. I don’t think that you have any idea how strong anti-Catholic prejudice used to be in much of the USA.

    Bush, Cheney, etc., are actually a good example of why arresting and trying heads of state or former heads of state is probably a bad idea in most cases. Such an arrest would, I believe, be motivated mainly by the politics of anti-American sentiment, and would rightly be seen in the US as a gesture of hate toward the entire nation and its citizenry. Likewise, an arrest of the pope would be rightly seen as motivated primarily by anti-Catholic hostility, not by an actual concern for justice.

    (If you have no special hostility toward Catholicism or Catholics in general, I don’t understand the use of a term like “metastasized cancer”. Is that meant to refer to the pope or the church hierarchy? I’ve always seen it used as a dehumanizing term used for a large group of people who are considered a danger to society by the mere fact that they exist and have certain beliefs.)

  11. 11
    Bob

    Oh please, Paul. The American public would have elected an atheist over Al Smith? When was this magical time in American history when poor Catholics were less electable than atheists?

    Don’t get me wrong – the Catholics got their share of abuse, but realistically, so did every other religious and ethnic minority in this country so you can put away the hanky and dry those crocodile tears.

    The anti-Catholic c(an)ard is being played by the Vatican and batshit cranks like Bill Donohue. I haven’t seen any of the typical papist-bashing over this debacle – just normal people outraged over a conspiracy to protect child rapists from justice. However, the Vatican has been doing an admirable job of blaming everything on gays, Jews, the secular media, and Satan, never once breaking the from the party line. In short, it’s everyone else’s fault but theirs, as if Teh Sekrit Gay CaBaL not only was responsible for pedophilia within the church but the decades-long cover-up probably including then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s signature on a note telling a California diocese that their young pederast of a priest shouldn’t be defrocked until he’s fucked his quota of little kids. At least the diocese tried to do the right thing, which is more than I can say about the higher-ups.

    And I’ll humor your neutron-star-level of density: a reason one might refer to the Church hierarchy as a ‘metastasized cancer’ is that they are rotten to the core, an insular group of ossified old virgins that considers Church reputation and assets more important than the safety of children or worldly justice. Nobody gives a two shits about their eschatology, ritual, or dogma, stupid as it may be; the focal issue is their international conspiracy to protect child rapists from facing justice. So please, stay with the topic here: Conspiracy to evade justice.

  12. 12
    Glendon Mellow

    Paul,

    What I find upsetting are your continual cries of worry for Jason’s “dehumanizing” name-calling. He’s name-calling.
    To me, your comments seem to be very common amongst people who want atheists to change their tone. Jason is name calling and exhorting (probably)legal arrest. And he’s doing it because an institution (allegedly) actively tried to cover up the brutal rape of children (really; calling rape ‘brutal’ should be superfluous).

    Religious or not, keep your eye on the ball. Atheists and non-Catholics -and some Catholics- using nasty words on the internet and in the mainstream media is not where your outcry should lay. Some of us find nasty words an appropriate and cathartic response to the monstrous rapes of children, the cover-ups afterwards, and the inept attempts by the RCC to now lay the blame elsewhere.

    We want legal justice, not mob-lynchings. Don’t expect everyone to be polite when our outrage at the horror is described as “petty gossip”.

  13. 13
    Paul S.

    Oh please, Paul. The American public would have elected an atheist over Al Smith? When was this magical time in American history when poor Catholics were less electable than atheists?

    Like I said, between the late 18th and early 20th centuries. Thomas Jefferson was frequently accused of being an atheist by his political opponents, and it didn’t stop him from being elected to two terms as president, with heavy support from the extremely religious as well as the not-particularly religious and the outright skeptical. (In fact, Jefferson was more of a deist than an atheist, but for many of the devout belief in an impersonal god was considered almost the same as no belief in god at all. Apparently the majority didn’t care.)

    So please, stay with the topic here: Conspiracy to evade justice.

    Religious or not, keep your eye on the ball. Atheists and non-Catholics -and some Catholics- using nasty words on the internet and in the mainstream media is not where your outcry should lay.

    Like I said above, I think that the potential for a surge in anti-Catholicism is a separate issue that raises a separate set of moral questions from the crimes of the Catholic hierarchy. My concern about one does not mean that I am not worried about the other. I’m just bringing up this issue because it has been largely overlooked or dismissed.

    To avoid further derailing I’ll make my own post about this, probably tomorrow (well, actually later today).

  14. 14
    Jason Thibeault

    Oh, I love your logic there. Obama was frequently accused of being a Muslim by his political opponents (though mostly the batshit insane ones). That didn’t stop him from being elected in a practical landslide. Does that mean America would elect a Muslim as President? I seriously doubt it. So if, say, atheist DuWayne Brayton were to run for President, do you figure he’d get a lot of votes despite being “out”? You can cross-reference against the known religious affiliations of all past Presidents here.

    If there’s a pervasive anti-Catholic prejudice, it’s from other religions, where the Pope is regarded as the Antichrist and the concept of the Trinity or transsubstantiation considered heretical teaching. My problem is with the church, not their particular flavor of delusion. If, say, the organized Orthodox Judaism hierarchy were busily covering up crimes, I would scream bloody murder about them equally. That wouldn’t make me an antisemite. The fact that you’re trying to associate anger about legitimate crimes, with a prejudice against the criminals, implies (to me) that you feel you have something at stake here. What is that, Paul?

  15. 15
    DuWayne

    Umm…My distaste for Catholicism has nothing to do with prejudice against the label and everything to do with what that institution supports. Honestly? The issue of pedophilia is a distraction from the repugnant institutions of the church. It is an important one to be sure, but for fucks sake, the Catholic church has probably managed to wreak more destruction than any other institution the world has known – with the possible exception of Islam and I say possible, because Islam has had it’s periods of relative enlightenment.

    To be clear – I tend to think that self identified, active Catholics have a fairly fucked up moral compass, but overall aren’t a whole lot different than any other theists. I am not prejudiced against Catholics – my prejudice is against the institution. And frankly, my prejudice is justified.

    I look at the issue of pedophilia in the church as a separate issue entirely and agree wholeheartedly with Miranda. String motherfuckers who are complicit in the rape of children by the fucking balls. I don’t give a shit if they are religious or are non-theist skeptics with the ability to truly change the world in significantly positive ways (or as I would perceive to be positive). I am not one for coddling children, insulating them from the reality of the world – but this is a completely different realm we are talking about. Children should be allowed to understand the world and that includes many negative aspects of the world. But they should also be protected to the very best of our abilities from sick motherfuckers who hurt kids.

  16. 16
    DuWayne

    I have a quick question here Paul. And I want to make it very clear that I have no prejudice against people who are Catholic before I ask.

    Is there some reason that I shouldn’t have a particular prejudice against the institution that is the Catholic church? If so what is it and why should that convince me that my very real prejudice against that institution isn’t justified?

    If it helps any, I have the same prejudices against most theist institutions – because most theistic institutions systemically support a belief in institutions that I find completely morally repugnant.

  17. 17
    Miranda

    I had a huge post written and ready to go. I deleted it. I will say this instead:

    Those who do not believe in a God (however you/they wish to lable themselves) have been persecuited so throughly over the years as to be afraid to speak up. That they now feel the freedom to express themselves does not automatically equal a sudden anti-religous uprising.

    I still believe the actual issue in this whole matter should be the children who were victimised because of the actions, or inactions, of one man. The fact that the issue has been turned into an attack on the church itself because the man responsible just happens to be a man who holds a great deal of religious power shouldn’t make a difference. (as I understand the issue he knew what was happening)

    Being in a position of religious power does not free you from responsibility of your actions. Seems simple enough to me.

  18. 18
    Jason Thibeault

    Being in a position of religious power does not free you from responsibility of your actions.

    BINGO.

  19. 19
    Paul S.

    I can only give you the reason why I don’t feel any prejudice against the Catholic church as a whole, which you may or may not agree with. I basically think that the Catholic church, and most other religious institutions, have probably done more good in history than evil, even though they have done plenty of evil as well. With the Catholic Church specifically, I think that its evils are the kind of abuse of power and corruption that would occur in any huge organization with lots of power. There is nothing about them that is specific to Catholic doctrine or Christian belief or religion in general. Most authoritarian organizations of any kind will often turn a blind eye to criminal acts done by “their people” and will put the interests of the organization and its leaders far above any concern for justice.

    On the other hand, I think that some of the more positive concepts of Christianity, such as the emphasis on compassion, charity, and decent treatment of others, and the belief in the importance of each individual soul, would most likely not have developed to the same degree in western civilization without the influence of Christianity.

  1. 20
    How the Pope Learned to Use the Big Lie « Lousy Canuck

    [...] with delusions of grandeur and an agenda that demonstrably runs roughshod over human rights and the innocent children victimized by the clergy under his protection, merely by virtue of having been a member of the Hitler Youth. Membership was mandatory by law when [...]

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