A Magnitude of Horror, Inhumanly High

One of our human failings is that there are plenty of things we can know intellectually without feeling them viscerally.

You can go to a dozen funerals, and not be very deeply touched by it all, until someone you really love dies. You can read or hear about the Holocaust in high school history class, and even see pictures of death camp inmates, and not really have any least idea about what the whole thing means until you walk through the Holocaust Museum, holding the card of a little kid who was sucked into the horrible maw of it, touring through the nightmare exhibits and waiting to see whether YOUR child lived or died.

You have to be touched in your own deep places before things hit home to you.

I’m trying to picture how to illustrate one of those things, to properly describe something I feel after reading a certain news report. It’s a feeling of disgust, but disgust on steroids, so that it amps up into horror.

Okay, how about this:

Imagine a Better Homes & Gardens layout, a double page spread of a palatial living room with white shag carpet, white drapes, white walls and ceiling, comfy cloud-white angora sofas and chairs. On the white lacquer-finish coffee table centerpiece of the room is a small but pricey collection of exquisite blown glass pieces.

With me so far?

A short distance away, in two spotless bays of a 3-car garage, are a restored 1960 candy-apple red Corvette Convertible, right next to a fully-restored auto-show-quality 1964 Ford Mustang pony car in metal-flake sky blue.

Nearby is the restorer’s workbench with all his tools, including a ball-peen hammer used to pound out dents early in the restoration process.

Now for the kicker:

This is YOUR home. All that stuff is yours. To say that you and your wife (or you and your husband) take pride in it would be woefully inadequate.

One more thing: You’ve just rolled up in the driveway after a long weekend away, and have discovered the beat-up van of your heavy-drinking brother, Dusty. A coal-miner tossed out by his second wife, he’s come for a visit, bringing along his mischievous 4-year-old, Dusty Too (who loves hammers, and banging on pots with them), and his big slobbery non-house-trained St. Bernard, Digger. Dusty took the time, during that long weekend, to change the oil in his Ford Econoline beater. Considering that it rained all weekend, he did the work in your garage, napping and watching TV afterward in your living room, while Dusty Too let Digger in and out from your newly-sodded back yard.

Imagine the worst possible scene as you come home. Start with the garage door rolling up to reveal your bright-eyed, leaky-diapered nephew standing with the ball-peen hammer in hand and an enormous grin on his face.






Yeah, it all sounds funny, reading about it, but you can probably still pick up on some of what you’d feel if it really happened to you.

That thing you’re feeling is something like what I’m getting when I read this (and in both our cases, what we feel is a pale shadow of what should be felt):

Cardinal Edward Egan Just Withdrew His Apology For The Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal

A decade after that letter, the former archbishop of New York, and former bishop of Bridgeport, now describes the handling of the priest-abuse crisis under his watch as “incredibly good.” He said of the letter, “I never should have said that,” and added, “I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

“I never had one of these sex abuse cases.” he said, before adding pompously, “If you have another bishop in the United States who has the record I have, I’d be happy to know who he is.”

This line just fucking awes me:

He also claimed that the Church had no obligation to report abuse to the civil authorities.

I’m picturing a man so successfully untouched by any real human feeling that he can no longer understand or relate to other human beings at all. Someone who does not even know INTELLECTUALLY that any wrong was done to those hundreds or thousands of kids, or that the Church had any responsibility to them.

In short, a monster.


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  • Nomen Nescio

    i’d rather have Dusty and his brat. their dog, at least, might be trainable. this juju-man in the funny hat? a total loss.

    i’m seriously trying not to say something horrible like “not worth the bullet to kill him with”, but pretending the church had no obligation to report violent crimes to the authorities… i’m having to try really hard.

  • MichaelD

    I wish I could say I was shocked or something but this falls perfectly inline with my thoughts on the catholic church. A decrepit old institution well beyond its time that can’t see its own atrocities and moral failings but keeps telling everyone else how to be moral. The only thing that boggles my mind is that anyone would seriously listen to them on morality.

  • http://thoughtsofcrystaleye736.blogspot.com/ Crys

    I have no words. Just recently I had a youtuber arrogantly telling me (among other things) that Crimen Sollicitationis clearly states that offending priests should be denounced to the authorities and that it is a heinous lie to suggest that Catholic clerics think otherwise. I will be blogging about this story as a follow-up to my first rebuttal of his misinformation.

    Thank you for sharing this story, as difficult as it is to read it falls into the category of stories that are too important not to share

  • rikitiki

    The Catholic church is like the epitome of our own corrupt corporate businesses — maybe today’s corrupt businesses learned their stuff at the church’s knee. Deflect, blame others, minimize, spin-the-truth, hide evidence, toss the innocent in the path of outrage whilst running and hiding yourself. Disgusting!

  • F

    These ratbags should be in prison.

    The first comment on the article there sure is a winner.

  • http://wanderinweeta.blogspot.com Susannah

    Disgusting. So much for any “apology” issued by a church or its spokespeople; they wait a bit, until the media focus dies down, then say, “I didn’t mean it.”

    Because it’s just too awful to contemplate that a Christian organization could ever be party to anything that’s not good and true. After, all, it’s the “body of Christ”. And Christ, by definition, is without sin.

    I’m so angry, I don’t think I’m coherent.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    “I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

    You didn’t do anything wrong? YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG? You people aided and abetted child rape. You and your fellow bishops decided the prestige and dignity of your organization were more important than the welfare of children. And then you have the unmitigated chutzpah to pretend your church is the supreme moral authority on Earth.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    A link to Tim Minchin’s “Pope Song” is appropriate.

  • davidct

    I think I would like to take my oily boots and clean them on his robes and then piss in his funny hat. I would not consider that doing anything wrong – Oh yes I would but then I’m not a bishop.

  • Jet

    To paraphrase Stephen Fry’s classic remark,
    “we couldn’t be expected to know that it was wrong.. THEN WHAT ARE YOU FOR!”

  • fastlane

    If anything violent happened to this bishop, I also wouldn’t expect one to feel morally obligated to report it to the authorities.

    Goose, gander, all that.

  • http://peicurmudgeon.wordpress.com/ peicurmudgeon

    What is needed is one of those infallable statements from the Pope stating that committing and endorsing child abuse is wrong, then this might stop. I don’t think many church leaders will support slavery any longer, but that didn’t change until the decree in the 1890s.

    It won’t be wrong until God changes his mind and tells the Pope that it is wrong. It’s the logical consequence of morality determined by God’s will.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

    I can’t even. No words.

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