Suicide of an entirely different form

The Catholic Church says that they’re opposed to suicide. They say they’re very angry about it and those advocating it should cut it the fuck out:

The Catholic archbishop of Vancouver is calling on the provincial government to appeal a landmark B.C. Supreme Court decision Friday that struck down the law that makes physician-assisted death illegal in Canada. Friday’s decision to strike down the law against euthanasia “sadly reflects a distorted view of equality rights that emphasizes autonomy over human dignity and the value of life,” said Roman Catholic Archbishop J. Michael Miller, in a statement.

“True liberty means the freedom to live one’s life secure in the knowledge that those who care for us are in dedicated to the service of life, not the taking of life.” Miller then urged the government to appeal what he called an “extremely flawed and dangerous ruling.”

As a side note, we should definitely explore the feasibility of attaching some sort of dynamo to George Orwell’s grave, because the “Freedom is Slavery” line from a repressive organization like the Roman Catholic Church trying to dictate to the rest of us what “true liberty” means could probably inspire enough spins out of the old boy to generate a few million megawatt hours.

But back to the topic at hand. I don’t think the Catholic Church is actually opposed to suicide. I’m not talking about their fetishization of martyrs – the apologetics that allows them to side-step that bit of seeming hypocrisy is not exactly that difficult to figure out. No, I think the Catholic Church is opposed to everyone’s suicide except their own:

Pope Benedict XVI told Irish Catholics on Sunday it is a “mystery” why priests and other church officials abused children entrusted in their care, undermining faith in the church “in an appalling way.”


“How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord’s body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way?” the Pope said, referring to church staff who abused children. “It remains a mystery,” he said. “Yet evidently their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ. It had become merely a matter of habit.”

I mean… this goes beyond the realm of ‘leading with your chin’ and rather invites comparison to putting your own neck in the noose and kicking out the stool. “Gawrsh, I just dunno why our employees abused children in dozens of countries over possibly centuries of history. It’s totes mysterious, you guys!” Never mind the fact that it’s totally not a mystery, and that it’s becoming abundantly clear that being a Christian is no safeguard against any kind of bad behaviour – let’s ignore all of that, shall we? Let’s pretend like it was because they didn’t have enough Real Jesus™ in their lives. That’ll satisfy the hundreds of families looking to you for moral guidance and leadership.

At this point, the Vatican’s refusal to engage with the facts and admit the possibility that they might be human beings like anyone else has moved from the realm of the bemusing to the truly bizarre. While the sine qua non of faith is belief that contradicts observed reality, the level of denial on display by the Pope in labelling abuse “mysterious” is enough to make even a staunch adherent perform and double-take. In a time when the Church is facing steady drops in attendance, the only “mystery” is why on Earth, if there really was a god, it would allow a miserable and absurd nincompoop like the Pope claim to represent it.

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  1. jolo5309 says

    Actually, I just read this as a reply in camels with Hammers:
    Let me give you an example- the child abuse sex scandals. We know for an absolute fact that it is the priests who did not believe, that committed the crimes. We know this because if they did believe, they wouldn’t have been naked with another person in the room AT ALL, let alone a child- the vow of celibacy forbids those kinds of interactions. So let’s consider- you have a misbehaving priest who has harmed children. What do you think the best way to handle it is? Should we make the priest face his accusers, and give him a chance to reoffend? Have you ever read what the victims of rape say about the criminal court process? Or do we keep it as quiet as possible, to protect the victims? And let’s take a look at how the current Pope handled it as head of the CDF- case after case he recommended dismissal from the priesthood and sometimes even locking the guy up in solitary within the church under a vow of silence.

    Apparently they have moved on to the atheist priest meme

  2. Randomfactor says

    Or do we keep it as quiet as possible, to protect the victims?

    I know! Let’s not say ANYTHING and just transfer the guy to find new, unwarned victims.

    And let’s take a look at how the current Pope handled it as head of the CDF-

    “CDF” = “Inquisition.” No, not kidding at ALL.

  3. Ysanne says

    “How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord’s body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way?”

    I’m seriously confused if the Pope actually believes that eating wafers while pretending it’s human flesh makes you a good, honest person who would never abuse a kid… or if he had to practise it in front of a mirror, so he wouldn’t collapse laughing when saying it in public.

  4. says

    I thnk in some cases moving the priests was based on victim blaming. They thought that the problem was the “temptation” of the specific person or persons who were abused, and if the priest was removed from their presensce they wouldn’t sin anymore.

  5. says

    I’ve long questioned how the Pope could possibly believe half of what the church claims. I wonder how many popes were ultimately atheists.

  6. Musical Atheist says

    The Pope speaks of each abuser as an isolated individual who lost his own relationship with Christ. Of course each is an individual acting for their own reasons, but in an organisation with a rape problem the size of a ducal mansion it’s pretty damn disingenuous not ever to be willing to examine the context in which the abuse took place, as if context and environment had nothing to do with it. Like, you know, if a police officer or prison guard is abusive it’s because they’ve just lost their way as an individual, not at all because the culture/system they are in frames their interactions with prisoners/suspects in ways which tacitly condone and increase the possibility of violence.

  7. jamessweet says

    “It’s a mystery!” has been the Catholic church’s get-out-of-jail-free card for centuries.

    That trinity business doesn’t make any sense. “It’s a mystery!”

    Dude, theodicy. “It’s a mystery!”

    Rank pedophilia. “It’s a mystery!”

  8. Sethra says

    The Catholic Church says that they’re opposed to suicide.

    They’re in the midst of committing institutional suicide. I wonder if any of them other than the nuns they’re currently trying to punish have realised that?


    The RCC’s position on most moral issues is highly subjective and has changed multiple times over the millennia. They have no scriptural basis for most of their pronouncements – they make this crap up as they go, but still pretend they have the moral high ground because JESUS.

    Most of my family is Catholic and I didn’t think too badly of them until a recent trip I made back to my hometown. The church had erected a tombstone/memorial out front to all the babies killed by abortion. I don’t know how much local money went into that, but it’s pretty repulsive that they’d stick that there to try to bully people into popping out kids for the Church to abuse. Because JESUS.

    IIRC, Pope John Paul II wrote a treatise stating that children who had been sexually abused by priests were as much at fault for the “sin” as the priests who harmed them. And then the RCC turned him into a saint. It’s one of those epic moments when you wonder if the entirety of their ecclesiastical group could fit inside a clown car.

  9. says

    sadly reflects a distorted view of equality rights that emphasizes autonomy over human dignity and the value of life

    So apparently “human dignity” includes grasping on to life at all costs, no matter the pain or loss of… well, I was going to say “dignity”…

  10. John Horstman says

    My thought as well: in what worldview is autonomy not a necessary part of ‘human dignity’? And then I remembered: a worldview where humans are sycophantic slave-creatures that must constantly beg Yahweh to not squash us. I don’t really follow how “dignity” is part of constantly grovelling for one’s very existence, but then I never did understand the appeal of authoritarianism, whether it’s enacted by a human, a nation, or a god.

  11. John Horstman says

    As for the spinning-Orwell generator, I think it’s a great idea: zero emissions AND putting a corpse to pro-social use instead of just letting it rot!

  12. left0ver1under says

    The opposition to legal suicide is not about “morality”, it’s about control. You can’t force a dead person to obey, hand over money or join a religion. There’s absolutely no concern for the person’s well being.

    And it’s not just martyrdom. During the crusades, suicide attacks by christians were commonplace. If they cars and bombs had existed back then, there certainly would have been catholic suicide bombers.

  13. sceptinurse says

    Pretty much what I was going to say as well. Having been in nursing for a number of years and seeing quite a few people not being allowed to die when they wanted to I find it hard to equate what I have seen with “dignity”. Or maybe that is what it was. It just wasn’t dignity.

  14. 'Tis Himself says

    Actually the pedophilia isn’t a mystery. It’s just something the Church hierarchy doesn’t want to address.

  15. sc_5b5039dd39eec895ccc71934d4e6783f says

    “True liberty means the freedom to live one’s life secure in the knowledge that those who care for us are in dedicated to the service of life, not the taking of life.”


    True liberty means the freedom to end one’s life.

    It does not include some authority being able to punish one for even thinking of doing so.

    Of course I don’t want every thought of suicide to be let past and thereby to lead to a life full of potential being cut short. I’m referring to some ideal world in which people have calmly and rationally considered every possible aspect and have found the possible benefits of continuing life to be too small in comparison to its drawbacks – so, probably for medical reasons in most cases.

    But even if the individual’s decision were ‘wrong’, it would not be up to some church to override it. Their family or friends, with love and logic, ideally. Real things, real reasons – not a paternalistic, controlling, cynical angle of ‘Father knows best’.

  16. F. Bacon says

    Apparently simply living “christian” is not enough for them. Their new priority is to seek unlimited power through and upon those they can manipulate. They wish to commit illegal acts with no loyalty to humankind, but only to their god.

  17. F. Bacon says

    I wonder how much methane fuel is wasted on decomposing corpses. I would gladly rather donate mine to freethought charities than to the Catholic Church.

  18. justsomeguy says

    It seems the foundation of opposition to self-termination in any circumstances (even in the case of a person being incredibly ill/vegetative/whatever) is that simply being alive is more than enough reason to continue living. A person can calmly and rationally debate the pros and cons of self-termination all they want, but to the opposition, it’s not about opinion or preference: it’s about fact… and they believe it is a fact that being alive is always preferable to being dead, so to reach any other conclusion is to demonstrate the type of delusion that makes you a threat to yourself, to the point where societal intervention is mandated.

    I suspect this would also be the philosophy behind anti-choice organizations. If being alive is inherently better than being dead, then being alive but horribly deformed and in constant agonizing pain is automatically better than preventing the pain and agony before it happens. Ditto for people who support the death penalty.

  19. Qwerty says

    I grew up Catholic and it’s just like mother church to call anything it can’t or won’t explain away as “a mystery.”

    I find it “a mystery” that anyone remains a Catholic in this day and age.

    I did like what Christopher Hitchens said about this in a IQsquared debate. He said that the pope said the victims of abuse needed pastoral care and added, “Sorry, they’ve already had that!”

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