More details on the sordid behavior of the Catholic Church hierarchy in covering up the sexual abuses cases by its clergy keep emerging. The latest is this revelation that the church paid priests accused of such abuse to leave. The church, of course, denies that this amounted to a secret payoff to keep the matter quiet by quietly getting rid of the priests rather than reporting them to the authorities.
The payoffs were authorized by then-Milwaukee archbishop Timothy Dolan who later became president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2010 and was promoted to cardinal this year. He has become the smug public US face of the church, piously talking about how having health insurers cover the costs of contraception for the employees of Catholic institutions violates his conscience, a curiously discriminating organ that seems to go on alert only when there are calls for equal rights for women and gay people.
Meanwhile a jury in Philadelphia is currently deliberating in the case of Monsignor William Lynn who is the highest ranking church official to go on trial on charges of conspiracy and child endangerment, accused of moving suspected abusive priests around in the diocese, allowing them to continue preying on young people. Another priest James Brennan is accused in the same trial of attempting to rape of a 14-year old boy. Lynn has courageously invoked the ‘I was just following orders’ defense, pinning the blame on his then boss Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, now conveniently dead, whom he says was the only one who could make the decisions on the fate of the priests.
These people are disgusting.
Meanwhile, the Catholic nuns who comprise the Leadership Conference of the Women Religious, who had been attacked in a report issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (a bunch of bishops who act as goons to enforce the Papa Ratzi’s orders) for paying more attention to serving the poor and the sick than carrying out his vendetta against abortion and same sex marriage. Oh, how terrible. But the nuns are not backing down. They issued a sharp statement on June 1 rejecting the criticism.
Board members concluded that the assessment was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency. Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission.
The board recognizes this matter has deeply touched Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the world as evidenced by the thousands of messages of support as well as the dozens of prayer vigils held in numerous parts of the country. It believes that the matters of faith and justice that capture the hearts of Catholic sisters are clearly shared by many people around the world.
They also pointedly said that it is they who are really in touch with the concerns of people, and the support expressed for them and against the church hierarchy across the country should be a warning to the pope and his goons that these nuns are not to be trifled with. Vigils were held across the country in support of the nuns and Cleveland had the largest one, with 650 people attending and giving a standing ovation to the nuns.
The Vatican is also coming down hard on a Catholic nun and theologian Sister Margaret Farley because her 2006 book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics suggests that she “thought masturbating was OK, that being gay was OK and divorce was sometimes OK.” What is the matter with these nuns, that they think they know better than the men? Aren’t they aware that that Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” What part of that don’t they understand?
Given that I think that the Catholic Church as a whole, like all religious organizations, is a negative force in society, why am I expressing support for a group within it? Because one must support those who are fighting injustice even if they are part of an unjust institution. And the nuns definitely deserve that support. The Catholic Church has for far too long been allowed to get away with its openly misogynistic views, which feeds its other awful views. I think it would be a far less pernicious influence on society if the women in it were treated with respect and had full equality.
But the male Catholic Church hierarchy seems to be digging in. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2008 announced new guidelines for the teaching of religion and the Cleveland diocese just announced a new religion curriculum for all Catholic high schools based on those guidelines “that will feature more traditional Catholic teachings on subjects such as sin, heresy, mystery and divine revelation.”
‘More traditional’, eh? You can bet that means that the ‘sin’ they focus on will be homosexuality, masturbation, abortion, divorce, and contraception; that ‘heresy’ will consist of anything that anyone says that the pope and his bishop enforcers disapprove of, and ‘divine revelation’ will be interpreted as anything that the pope says.
What they should really focus on is the ‘mystery’ of why anyone takes what the Catholic Church hierarchy says seriously anymore.