How To Win an Argument With a Catholic

In the delightfully crunchy world of debate, it seems apparent to me that the closer you are to the tactics of the Westboro Baptist Church, the closer you are to being entirely stupid, and — as a shockingly direct result — entirely wrong. This is a concept towards which I have no doubt the new-atheist-hipsters-who-get-groovy-on-the-internet will nod in earnest. After all, the level of intellectual destruction it takes to reduce one’s entire theology to the slogan “God Hates Fags” is embarrassing, to the point that the entire universe feels stupider for WBC’s very existence, Christians and heathens alike.

So it is odd — and I pretend with a passion that it is not simultaneously and sickeningly fascinating — that we so often see the New Atheist and the WBC member skipping through the same intellectual field, exchanging small, sloppy kisses and awkwardly holding hands — those that aren’t already holding signs, of course. What could unite such an unwieldy couple? What dark power could possibly exist on earth strong enough to bring about such a cosmic convergence? Why, The One Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church!

While bringing about the New World Order, it's all very impressive of us.

You see the Church — may She blossom, build more cathedrals and continue being the world’s largest charity — has the remarkable habit of unifying friends and enemies alike. Thus we see record numbers of Anglicans and Lutherans becoming Catholic, incredibly improved relations Eastern Orthodox Church, and — in general — great strides towards Christian unity, while Evangelicals, Agnostics and New Agers all sit together on the sidelines with identically incensed “you-don’t-allow-birth-control?” expressions on their faces. The Wiccan and the Darwinist can set aside their mutual contempt for each other and smoke a few bowls over the Church’s position on abortion. It happens. My point is that these days, any argument with a Catholic can be neatly avoided by devolving to the Westboro Baptist Church’s self-proclaimed “air-tight, three word case against the Catholic church,” that priests rape boys.

Reason to be Catholic #1334542 -- We have all the right enemies.

This is a fact that we Catholics have come to terms with, to the point that we can judge how good our arguments are by how fast our opponent does The WBC and calls the Catholic Church “the most well-funded and organized pedophile group in the history of man.” 10 minutes? We should be clearer on our metaphysics. 30 seconds? Catholicism ftw.

The issue being that it is a completely stupid argument against the Church. Actually, it is not an argument at all, it is specifically the avoidance of any argument. But nevertheless:

If a man commits a crime as heinous and hideous as child molestation, he deserves all the mistrust and disgust thrown at him. If that man is in a position of care, as a priest is, that same man deserves all the more mistrust, excommunication, and punishment prescribed. But if a stereotype is to be applied to an entire group of men, it follows that that group of men must commit the act more than any one else. To use a benign example — if the stereotype that “women are great multitaskers!” is to be a sensible stereotype, women must be greater multitaskers than men. If men are equally good at multitasking, or better than women at multitasking, the stereotype is stupid. All well and good, but apply that logic to priests and watch the world flip out.

Because the truth is that child-molestation is not a Catholic problem. It is a problem of Western culture in general. As Newsweek pointed out in their 2011 article Mean Men, “experts say there’s simply no data to support the claim [that the Church is “a refuge for pederasts”] at all …. based on the surveys and studies conducted by different denominations over the past 30 years, experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue. ‘We don’t see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else,’ said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.”

Dr Thomas Plante a Professor of Psychology and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine says “available research suggests that approximately two to five per cent of priests have had a sexual experience with a minor” a percentage which “is lower than the general adult male population that is best estimated to be closer to eight per cent.”

A child is more likely to be molested by his parents, his neighbors, or family friends than a priest, yet there exists no stereotype about these groups. According to the US Department of Education’s report on the issue, entitled Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by [Catholic] priests.” Why, one wonders, in the ever-present debates over the pay of teachers, public school programs and the like, is there no brilliant, hip man who stands up and says, “Yes, but everything you’re saying is suspect because teachers rape children,” as many have said about priests on this blog. Why is there no stereotype against public-school teachers?

First of all because, unlike American public schools and the culture in general, the Catholic Church has made an unprecedented effort to destroy the evil culture of child molestation. If you’ve ever worked for your Catholic church, you know of what I speak. It can be hell, going through the various training programs in place to completely rid the Church of child molestation. Ninety-four percent of the abuse incidents reported to the Catholic Church from 1950 through 2009 took place before 1990, and there’s a reason for it. Already having less of a problem than the general culture, the Catholic Church has done more than any other institution to get rid of the problem entirely. All of this meant staying in the media spotlight. We did not avoid evil, we fought it, and we let the world see, because we are held to a higher standard than the world. So the Church bore the brunt of the blame, and has ‘cleaned house’ tremendously, while the public-schools are rarely discussed, and are still a major problem. And this is good, because one abuse-case is one too many, and I don’t give a damn how embarrassed it makes Catholics, all this attention the Church has paid to the issue — if it’s what it takes to keep children safe, it’s worth it.

But I fear that the real reason there exists a completely stupid stereotype against priests is the same reason the WBC has a stereotype against priests: It’s easier to make up a stereotype and name-call than deal with the claims of the Catholic Church. If the New Atheists, Embittered ex-Catholics, Feminists, Modernists and all the rest wish to do The WBC, let ‘em. It’s so obviously ridiculous it can only ever mean a Catholic has won the argument, and his opponent is simply flailing about in intellectual death-throes. So how to win an argument with a Catholic? Try arguing.

  • Jay E.

    Ha, I think even less than 30. :D Of course, it doesn’t help that the majority of what people know about the Catholic Church consists of “They killed thousands of people in the Inquisition, started the Crusades and killed innocent Muslims, rape minors, and they don’t like condoms”. Give or take a Galileo or homosexual.

    • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

      You forgot paganism. That one’s my favorite.

    • John

      Only 0.024 of catholic pastors vs: 5% of other Christian pastors 319 times the likelihood of a priest doing that. Priests are 0.00252% of Catholics which are 25% of us population. Most abuse occur by family members and relatives 48%, 36% rarely a stranger 7% or teacher 10%. 
      - http://www.usccb.com

      Paganism had abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and the degrading of men and woman
      The church condemned their sins
      You jealous?

  • Mbroute66

    Most of us, or, at least, I , acknowledge there exists the same incidence of pedophilia in society at large as within the ranks of priests. Fine. The problem wasn’t that there was sexual abuse, it is that it was coverd up, winked at, etc. for years while victims piled up. The incidence of pedophilia is approximately the same from a perpetrators standpoint, but because of the good ol boy system, more victims per pedophile priest were allowed to suffer. No prelate has yet been jailed, nor have they all put into place the exacting standards to protect children which you describe. Just cast your eyes toward Kansas City, MO.

    When the Church acknowledges the past, takes financial and criminal responsibility for the cover up and re stationing of pedophiles, and puts into place a zero tolerance policy toward bishops who refuse to follow directives…the Church will continue to be in the spotlight.

    • Rugratmd

      When the Church acknowledges the past, takes financial and criminal responsibility for the cover up and re stationing of pedophiles, and puts into place a zero tolerance policy toward bishops who refuse to follow directives…the Church will continue to be in the spotlight.

      I suppose you meant “until” rather than “when”, but unwittingly you have said the truth, that no matter what the Church does, her enemies will most assuredly keep Her in the spotlight.

      One other thing, cover-up is not unique to the Catholic Church as the Penn State scandal has proved.

      • Edith Legrand

        Precisely, these people have no bottom, it will never be enough.

        • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

          Why would you want the people who abused children, to be the ones who get to say “that’s enough”?

          • Edith Legrand

            I think you demonstrate what the trouble is with certain gay people, they are frustrated. Not the fact that they are gay is the trouble, but that they hate the world for being created as gay.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            You really think the only reason anyone could possibly have for being frustrated about the cover-up of child abuse by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is … that they’re gay?

            In your view, heterosexuals are never frustrated by child abuse being covered up?

          • Edith Legrand

            Why is it you are so preoccupied with sexual abuse of a very small number of elderly ‘children’ 30 to 50 years ago while there are small children who are getting abused by secular people day by day. The sexual abuse cases where priests were the perpetrators were only 1% of the total amount of sexual abuse cases. Why so obsessed with the Catholic sinners, and why so totally indifferent to the others?

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            “Why is it you are so preoccupied with sexual abuse of a very small number of elderly ‘children’ 30 to 50 years ago ”

            Why aren’t you?

            I know why I can’t just put them out of my mind: I’ve heard too many personal stories from the people who were abused then, who can’t just forget it. I’ve heard (at second hand – from Catholics who knew and who were inexpressibly distressed) about priests who, known for liking little boys or girls, got transferred to Ireland to reduce the risk of their victims causing trouble.

            “Why so obsessed with the Catholic sinners, and why so totally indifferent to the others? ”

            What makes you think I’m “totally indifferent” to any instance of child abuse? This blog is discussing specifically the incidence of child abuse by priests who were then sheltered and protected by the Catholic Church. Those abusers crimes are no less because secular abusers were also committing crimes.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christian-Gjernes/1400126950 Christian Gjernes

            You realize that the abuse rate for priests is lower than schoolteachers, and yet no one ever says anything about that anymore?

          • psywar

            You realize that when school teachers are found to have abused children, they are prosecuted… not simply transferred to another school district. Nice analogy.

          • psywar

            You realize that when school teachers are found to have abused children, they are prosecuted… not simply transferred to another school district. Nice analogy.

          • Ronk

            No, the vast majority of teacher child abusers are never caught or prosecuted. They are transferred to other schools, move interstate or overseas or take up other jobs and their former bosses claim (not always truthfully) that they don’t know where to find them.

    • Edith Legrand

      It was never covered up, that is a hostile myth. The question is what do you prefer to believe, the truth or are you in need to hate.

      People are the most vulnerable when it comes to their sexuality, and back then in those days around 40 years ago there was little known on the scientific level, and people were afraid to even speak about sex. When in 1989 I was part of a group of parents to organize information days in schools I was the only one who was not afraid.

      The church indeed will stay in the spotlight until those, who are in need of hatred will ultimately puke due to their own behaviour. That is what happened in the past history of mankind, and what will happen again.

      • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

        “It was never covered up, that is a hostile myth. ”

        And that, right there, is why the Catholic Church is still not in the clear. So long as the Pope and everyone else involved in the cover-up will not acknowledge their crime and repent it by undoing it, we know not only that child-abusers were shielded and protected, but we know that we don’t know how many are still being shielded and protected. By your attitude, as much as anything else, Edith.

        • Rugratmd

          argumentum ad ignorantiam.

        • Edith Legrand

          The church will never be ‘in the clear’ for people who choose to live their life in the obscure. The Pope IS NOT involved in a cover-up. He never committed a crime, it is hard to acknowledge a crime you did not commit. You DO NOT know that ‘child-abusers’ were shielded and protected, that is what you choose TO BELIEVE.

          And for the record, I am not a Catholic, I merely am a multiculturalist.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            “The Pope IS NOT involved in a cover-up. ”

            Well, if he wasn’t before he became the Pope, he is now. Sorry, but there it is.

            The Catholic Church is a hierarchical institution. There are still adult survivors of abuse by priests and nuns who know the evidence of their abuse exists somewhere – but the Church is holding on to it. Whether or not the Pope is directly responsible for any instance of covering up after an abuser when he was a bishop, he is absolutely finally responsible, as the man at the top of the hierarchy, for continued cover-ups of abuse.

          • c matt

            Evidence please? Oh yeah, forgot that little technicality.

          • Betsy

            Well, if anyone actually took the time to be an informed responder, they would have read the pages and pages of recorded speeches, documents, etc. of the Papal & Church’s response to it all. Note: the Media thrives on drama and hates the Church. So anything you may hear on the news or opinion pieces are just that…the media’s opinion.

            Specifically addressing that Cardinal Ratzinger knew about the scandal prior to becoming Pope and took action is here:
            *http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_arrieta-20101202_en.html
            *http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_arrieta-20101204_en.html

            Then, for a complete listing of all of the Church’s response. Here’s the link, but it is on the very front page of the Vatican’s website, very clear to anyone looking. They really are covering it up.

            http://www.vatican.va/resources/index_en.htm

          • c matt

            So if a Wal-mart store janitor in Wichigami, WI “covers up” a slip and fall incident in the local store, Sam Walton is responsible? You have a very distorted view of responsibility of top level officials that is simply (1) not feasible in any organization of significant size and geographic distribution, and (2) not recognized in any jurisdiction (at least not on this planet).

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            A Wal-Mart store janitor rapes a child in a al-Mart store.

            The Wal-Mart store manager decides to transfer the janitor to another store in a different area where he’ll still have access to children. Wouldn’t want it come out that children get raped when they go to Wal-Mart.

            The area manager finds out what the store manager did, and decides that it’s more important to protect the store manager than to protect the children the janitor may be abusing.

            The next store manager does the same thing. And so it goes, until the janitor finally retires.

            Sam Walton finds out what the area manager did and decides not to do anything.

            Police investigate – eventually – and Sam Walton fights the police investigation all the way – willing to allow that the courts should prosecute the janitor, but unwilling to lose the store managers who covered for the janitor and the area managers who covered for the store managers.

            So, Matt: Is Sam Walton responsible?

            (I note your thinking that for a priest to rape a child is just a “slip and fall incident”.)

          • Lily

            Actually, Cardinal Ratzinger knew about the abuse scandal before he became Pope. His particular group, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was the one that really wanted to set penalties in stone, find the abusers, and prosecute them.

          • Edith Legrand

            Whatever he knew or did, or else, it is not the press he owes accountability to.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            Everyone includes the press.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            “Actually, Cardinal Ratzinger knew about the abuse scandal before he became Pope. ”

            Yes, so did his brother.

          • Edith Legrand

            What kind of legislation do you have over there, are human beings children? For our laws anybody is responsible for what he or she does as soon as one is 18. The Pope is not the dad of all the priests, priests are accountable for what they do themselves, and they do not run to the pope if they sinned. I don not think you would shout your mistakes from the roofs.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            So in your view, if you know that someone is raping a child, your reaction is that hey, they’re over 18, they’re responsible for what they do, it’s not a “cover-up” if I just don;’t bother to tell anyone?

          • Edith Legrand

            You are crazy. I am no longer replying to you.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            Ad hom. Well, that’s one way to end an argument when you realise you’ve just claimed it’s no one’s responsibility but the abuser to stop the abuse.

          • Edith Legrand

            It means there is no way to get through to you. For some reason I have a few guesses based on my experience with people, you cannot allow yourself to accept reality as it is. Bye, Bye!

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            Certainly there is no way to get me to just ignore reality in preference to your fantasy, and there is no way to get me to just ignore the painful personal stories of adults who were abused as children.

        • Jeff

          does one ‘ undo’ what’s been done? Just curious to that particular comment…

    • c matt

      You mean just like all the other organizations that cover up the same problems? Has your local school district ponied up?

    • Anonymous

      So why isn’t it a problem when your local school board covers it up?

    • Anonymous

      So why isn’t it a problem when your local school board covers it up?

  • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

    Bravo.

  • Edith Legrand

    I did some research too, the motivation beneath the demonisation of the church and priests, is the same reason why people used to hate the Jews. People are afraid of their inner demons.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

    “If a man commits a crime as heinous and hideous as child molestation, he deserves all the mistrust and disgust thrown at him. If that man is in a position of care, as a priest is, that same man deserves all the more mistrust, excommunication, and punishment prescribed.”

    So why do you suppose the Pope and so many other people in the Catholic hierarchy do not share your views?

    Indeed, you are arguing with Catholic doctrine when you claim you think a man deserves to be excommunicated for raping a child. Not according to your Church he doesn’t. No priest has been excommunicated from the Church for child molestation.

    • Aldespertarelclarin

      EdinburghEye:
      It seems that you don’t know a lot about the Church.
      When we talk about things like these: Condoms, P.Rape Children and stuff like that, there is space for discussion (and how it may be punished).
      Now, if we talk about “dogma” stuff like the Holy Virgin, etc etc, that’s a NO NO.
      Plus, how do you know that no priest has been excommunicated from the….?
      Entendido?

      • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

        “Plus, how do you know that no priest has been excommunicated”

        For rape? Well, okay, fair point to you. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve never heard of it happening, and I have never heard of anyone senior in the Church hierarchy suggesting it should or could happen, and I have never read anything in Catholic doctrine suggesting that a man who rapes a child should be excommunicated, any more than a man who murders his child should be excommunicated. Rape and murder are not sins for which the Church will excommunicate, not even if the rapist murders his victim and not even if she’s just a child whom he’s made pregnant.

        But if a doctor in the hospital to whom the rape victim is taken, if she survived the rape and attempted murder, if he then performs an abortion on the rape victim whether to save her sanity or save her life – the doctor is excommunicated. The rapist is not.

        • Rugratmd

          You really really don’t understand the concept of excommunication, do you?

          • Edith Legrand

            The excommunication is meant to exclude, a very bad thing to do. It is very unchristian to excommunicate. Christ stood for openness, for reaching out to fellow human beings, not for primitive behaviour like excluding people.

            You make it clear where you stand for.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            “. Christ stood for openness, for reaching out to fellow human beings, not for primitive behaviour like excluding people. ”

            And yet, so many Christians spend so much time making a case for how same-sex marriage is wrong and lesbian and gays should be excluded. This is the topic that led me to this blog – the primitive behaviour of Christians excluding people whom they claim to perceive as their inferiors.

          • Edith Legrand

            If a person, who claims to be Christian, condemns same-sex relations – I don’t see what is so important about marriage – then he only proves he is human. You do not acquire the divine perfection by getting baptized. Realizing oneself is a lifelong duty. A Christian education can be an important help, but it does not provide immunity to the smugness-trap.

            If you are gay, the text in the bible on which gay-haters base their excuses to discriminate gay people was about promiscuity. There is nothing wrong with sincere love between people of the same sex, nor with the expression of their feelings.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            Thank you. That’s a lovely answer.

          • Anonymous

            However lovely you think it is, it’s also incorrect. I’m borrowing this from someone from another comment thread on another site. I don’t think they’d mind; they just said it much better than I could:

            “Marriage is a sacrament because it is an image of God’s love towards us, which is unconditional, eternal, and fruitful (yes, I read “Theology of the Body for Beginners”). In this triple context, sexual acts are an expression of the marital love. Homosexual acts never have the potential to fulfill this triple requirement, and hence are illegitimate just like premarital sex would be for a heterosexual couple.”

            THAT is why the Church is against gay marriage. I recommend you visit Steve Gershom’s blog. He offers incredible insight as a gay, Catholic man. I love him.

            http://www.stevegershom.com/

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            “”Marriage is a sacrament because it is an image of God’s love towards us, which is unconditional, eternal, and fruitful ”

            Plainly if your God will only love lesbian and gay people if they live in frustration and/or celibacy, your God does not love unconditionally.

          • Edith Legrand

            Queen is wrong. He turns God into an instrument to serve selfish purposes. If you genuinely love your partner, then it is OK with God. All you need to do is see whether you act in accordance with the golden rule.

          • emma

            PLEASESTOP SPEAKING AS A MOUTHPIECEOF THE CHURCH. It is endlessly frustrating. Your views are yourviews, and you have the right to speak them in this comment section, but theyare NOT Catholic and theyare morally wrong.

          • Mahondennisj

            Do you even know what love is?

          • Anonymous

            No where does it say God will not love that person. God loves sinners immensely.
            And when I say sinners, I’m not just talking about gay people. We each have our own vices, some more or less serious than homosexuality.

            But that doesn’t mean we can just do whatever the hell we want and expect God to be happy with what we’re doing, if it goes against His law.

            Again, if you think gay Catholics are repressed or frustrated by being celibate, you didn’t actually read any of Steve’s blog.

          • emma

            That is not true at all. If you are going to spout doctrine that is in direct opposition to Catholic teaching, please identify yourself correctly. It seems some people would take your previous statement as speaking for the Church. Same sex marriage is against natural law. It is wrong. However, gays should be included and nurtured in the Church, and should always remain chaste. THIS is Church doctrine. Just as a scared pregnant woman needs love and support, NOT abortion, those who have same sex attractions need support and care, NOT marriage to ratify those urges.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            Perhaps I don’t.

            But whether or not rapists are excommunicated for raping, or murderers excommunicated for murdering, is a matter of recorded verifiable fact. They are not.

          • Lily

            Excommunication is meant to be a wake-up call, basically a “Hey, stupid! Stop what your doing! No more sacraments for you until you get your head on straight!”

            It generally has to do more with doctrine and scandal (the dogmatic kind) than with hideous crimes against humanity like rape and murder. Yeah, we like when rapists and murderers repent, but I personally don’t think excommunication would have that effect on them, you know?

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            It’s an interesting insight into Catholic morality, isn’t it?

            If a man kills a pregnant woman, and thus also kills her fetus, he isn’t excommunicated. Even a serial killer who murders pregnant women by preference isn’t subject to excommunication.

            If a doctor performs an abortion, at the woman’s urgent request, in order to save her life, he and the woman are both excommunicated.

            So it’s okay to kill fetuses and still be welcome in the Catholic Church, providing you do it by killing the pregnant women.

          • Edith Legrand

            This reminds me of the fact that a substantial percentage of all men cannot have sex but by rape. That may be behind all this fanatic, but baseless accusations.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            “That may be behind all this fanatic, but baseless accusations. ”

            *raises eyebrow*

            Fanatic, baseless accusations, indeed.

        • CatholicAmongProtestants

          Bad Catholic is definitively “Catholic” (capital C, implying Roman [not Romish] Catholic Church), not “catholic” (lowercase C, meaning “universal”).

          And furthermore, Catholics do believe that we hold the fullness of truth, so even though ecumenical talks can go so far as to agree on certain aspects of the faith, we will never back down on the Eucharist, Sacraments, the Immaculate Conception…and well, at least the Evangelicals I’ve worked with are loathe to even get near those subjects. Just sayin’.

        • Edith Legrand

          What if people would believe all gossip about you? How would that make you feel.

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            I’ve been reading Marc’s blog posts in which he makes clear he believes all the gossip anti-gay hate sites pass on to him about me. How does that make me feel? Angry.

          • Francis

            dear EdinburghEye:

            we all appreciate the ignorant way you roll in and mis-characterize everything the Church teaches, and everything Marc writes. (i especially liked the above artful dodging of a direct question!) could you kindly link Marc’s blog post that outlines the post in which he references gossip about you? thanks! (looking forward to you dodging/ignoring this question!)

        • KC

          Actually, any priest who abuses a minor is guilty of a delictum graviora , or a grave delict in Church parlance. That change in law occurred I. 2001 and mostly due to the efforts of then Cardinal Ratzinger to deal with this crime.

          Currently, the law has been further toughened, calling for dismissal from the clerical state ( which was the penalty back then too, it’s just been streamlined) and latae sententiae or automatic excommunication.

          Therefore, EdinburghEye, your ignorance and bias are showing!

          • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

            “Currently, the law has been further toughened, calling for dismissal from the clerical state ( which was the penalty back then too, it’s just been streamlined) and latae sententiae or automatic excommunication.”

            I didn’t know that. Thank you for enlightening me. Can you link me to a site which clarifies how this works? At what point in the discovery process is a priest who rapes children excommunicated?

  • Alex

    As you wrote, Priests are (and should be) held to a higher standard because of their status “in persona Christi”. I think it also makes a big difference that the Catholic Church’s unity seems to work against it in this case- when one priest is accused, the entire Catholic priesthood is accused with him. Conversely, when one Protestant minister does something evil, no one in the media is going to accuse the “Protestant Church” of being full of evil ministers because nobody sees the Protestant church as one unified group. It seems a little disconnected to compare the rates of preists with teachers, but it might be more appropriate to compare Catholic priests with Protestant clergy and see if there is much difference.

    • Edith Legrand

      If one employer of a company makes a mistake, then is the entire company prosecuted?

      • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

        If the company takes no action against the employer, but protects him and ensures he doesn’t pay any penalty for his “mistake” – even to moving him to another state in order to ensure his “mistake” isn’t investigated – then yes, the company can be prosecuted. Covering-up after a crime has been committed in order to shield the criminal, is also a crime.

  • M Bill

    “Thus we see record numbers of Anglicans and Lutherans becoming Catholic, incredibly improved relations Eastern Orthodox Church, and — in general — great strides towards Christian unity, while Evangelicals, Agnostics and New Agers all sit together on the sidelines with identically incensed ‘you-don’t-allow-birth-control?’ expressions on their faces. The Wiccan and the Darwinist can set aside their mutual contempt for each other and smoke a few bowls over the Church’s position on abortion. ” I like how the author impliedly limited the term “Christian unity” to uniting under the Romish church, excluding other religions despite the fact that they hold to the creed of our father’s of True Faith: the Apostle’s Creed, Niecene Creed, etc.. To me that is a sign of a schismatic spirit, and is condemnable, especially when the author appears to bear the name “Catholic.”

    Now, on point about pedophiles… The media doesn’t focus on the Romish church and doesn’t stereo type Priests as pedophiles because they commit that sin more than others. The media focuses on the issue because of they did not publicly excomunicate, chastise, and support the civil governments in the prosecution of the priests. Whatever was done is not commonly known public knowledge, and therefore (true or untrue), they are accused of cover ups.

    Furthermore, everyone looks to the Church to see if she will stand firm and love God’s law, or merely call it good for show and moral prowess. The church is supposed to be watchful and diligent, keeping herself doctrinally and morally chaste. The members are to be watchful of their leaders, to question them (respectfully), and the leaders are to watch over and sheppherd the flock (lovingly), in order to stay chaste. But, ultimately the burden of keeping the Chruch chaste falls on the clergy.

    God promises to chasten those whom he loves. He certainly loves his bride, and wants her purified. If our clergy drop the ball, God will send SOMEONE to do the job… shame on our clergy for giving the world a chance to pick up that burden. Therefore, the public and media are rightfully hyper sensitive and ready to criticise the Church when God’s law is hipocritically and loosely observed. Thus, the wayward clergy of the Church (in Evangelicals and Romish denomination alike) is properly lambasted and derided by the world for tolerating sexual immorality.

    What is the solution? It is not to hide, cover up, or give showy apologies, but to punish and condemn- by full ecclesistical authority- those who are guilty of such sins. Those who are discovered to be wolves and unrepentant ought to face ecclesistical capital punishment, ie excommunication. (IMHO I think civil capital punishment ought to be given as well to all pedophiles and in qualified cases to unrepentant adulterors–those who cause the destruction of a marriage–but that is a question of laws for civil principalities, not ecclesistical ones).

    A pastor who commits adultery, a priest who molests another, and a member of the church who does either ought to face civil and ecclesistical punishment. There are those who ask “but where is the place for forgiveness and tolerance?” The answer is that ecclesistical forgiveness can still be given to the person in jail and on death row. Ecclesistical forigveness is still available to the ecclesistical authority who has been permanently defrocked and stripped of ecclesistical authority, but the option to be restored to that ecclesistical authority ought not be an option.

    All apologies are mere show and hippocracy if a church leader is allowed to regain his authority after such a sin. Forgiveness of sin is one thing, but the option to be restored to ecclesistical authority ought not be an option. (Titus 1, 1Tim 3, 5)

    • billybagbom

      “Furthermore, everyone looks to the Church to see if she will stand firm and love God’s law, or merely call it good for show and moral prowess.” Just curious: to what “Church” would you be referring? And why would everyone be looking to her, instead of to “other religions despite the fact that they hold to the creed of our father’s of True Faith: the Apostle’s Creed, Niecene Creed, etc.”? Perhaps you meant “everyone looks to the mystical, invisible church that includes God-only-knows-who,” but somehow I doubt it. It would tend to diminish that-which-I-take-to-be your point.

  • Anonymous

    “the most well-funded and organized pedophile group in the history of man”

    Nah, everybody knows the most well-funded group in the world is the athletics department of any given state university.

    (Too soon?)

  • TeeSip

    I KNEW THAT BXVI is a Longhorn fan!! HOOK
    ‘EM Papa Bene!!!

  • Mahondennisj

    In Reply to Edith Grand:

    All you need to do is see whether you act in accordance with the golden rule.

    But the Golden Rule is not love; it is, at best, an ethical derivative of love.

  • Lily

    Yes! I think this is your best post yet, for snarkiness as well as logic and facts :)

  • http://www.sanmateocarpetcleaner.com/ Carpet cleaning San Mateo CA

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  • Anonymous

    fddf

  • Anonymous

    I think the issue that the article failed to address, is why is it that the Catholic has and continues to fail in turning over the results of their study on child abuse within the Church. I do not think the Church is filled with pedophiles, but I do think it that actions of the Church makes them appear sympathetic to pedophile priest.

    In my small town, when word broke that our Catholic priest had a girlfriend–of legal age–he was shortly after asked to leave his position. How is this not the course of action taken in the cases of the priest accused of child molestation? I think, this is a case of the Church saving face, and trying to avoid a controversy rather than taking the correct course of action. Paying off families, moving priest and not reporting or supporting families to pursue legal action against the accused was a major misstep by the RCC.

    The Church appears to be doing lots to curb the incidence of future abuse and for this I am grateful, but that does not excuse them for acknowledging the mistakes of the past. If they can issue an apology for the imprisonment of Galileo, they can admit they were wrong in how the Church handled the child abuse scandal. Additionally, they can properly cooperate with the authorities in the investigations.

    • Francis

      first of all, each Diocese operates on its own in these cases. many Dioceses handled these cases badly, but it is certainly difficult to paint this as “The Roman Catholic Church” doing a bad job. In my own Diocese of London, Ontario, for instance, when there were reported cases of abuse, the Diocese paid to send the priests to a recovery centre called Southdown. This facility worked with these priests, and reported to the Diocese that they had been rehabilitated. So, they were returned to ministry in parishes. Is it the diocese’s fault that they trusted leading experts in the field of sexual deviancy at that time? I don’t see how some little diocese in Canada could be expected to have knowledge of psycho-sexual development that the country’s leading researchers didn’t have. Once the diocese was hit with lawsuits that have cost millions of dollars, they were encouraged to simply sue Southdown for the damages as they were in essence more responsible than the diocese was. however, the diocese chose not to sue because a) it isn’t the appropriate Christian response to wrongdoing, and b) it would effectively bankrupt and shut down an institution that continues to do good work in the field. and for these reasons, uneducated people can go around the internet yelling “the Roman Catholic Church shuffled around pedophiles?”

      further, if you don’t think the Church has apologized and acknowledged wrong-doing in the abuse cases, you have obviously not seen anything that pope benedict has done throughout his papcy.

  • LB60

    You still don’t understand what the sex abuse _scandal_, the sex abuse _crisis_, is, do you?

    You’re still trying to pretend it was “just some people”, a random series of isolated events…

    If you want to discuss this intelligently, perhaps it’s _you_ who needs how to learn to discuss with the grownups.

    You also need to learn humility, compassion and decency.

    You’re a very sad young person (I’d say “man”, but that term would imply the humility, compassion and decency you lack).

    You will face God one day, alone, without your blog buddies rah-rah-ing you on, and you will be asked to explain your cold, cruel words one day, to justify them.

    I feel sorry for you. You lack the most basic sort of human kindness, human compassion, but I realize that seems to be the norm for internet Catholics, and a lack of true humility and compassion is a requirement for Patheos Catholics.

    • Francis

      LB60 – i’m glad you’re so unbelievably confident in God’s positive judgment of your mean-spirited attack upon a teenager who is trying to authentically live out his faith and bring other people to God’s Church. I hope you know that there are many people within the Catholic Church who have been touched by abuse of a sexual nature, but who accept God’s command to forgive. The fact of the matter is that people have used this horrendous chapter in the Church’s life to further their own anti-Catholic agenda, and this does the greatest disservice to those Catholics who have suffered abuse.

  • http://twitter.com/CaffdCatholicMa Karianna

    I never really realized how, when arguing points of doctrine, the priest scandal comes up all. the. time. I was reading comments on whether a Catholic School had a right to fire a teacher who became pregnant via artificial insemination. And I think it was comment 3 or 4 who brought up the sex abuse. I’m sorry, I missed the part in the CCC that makes it OK to molest children, since obviously it’s part of Catholic doctrine now. Sigh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=144902595 Libby Marie Barnes

    Dang you’re a good brother to have. Thanks for my defense-in-a-url.

  • jeff

    Afl this talk about excommunication…it seems to me like not many people actually know what excommunication is. For starters, we excommunicate ourselves when we commit mortal sin (whether that’s fornication, murder, our other sin of grave matter, knowingly and freely) the Church only acknowledges the excommunication that has already taken place because of the persons actions. When one goes to reconciliation they are brought back into communion with the Church. That does not mean in any way that the heinous crime is all better, and does mean there should be and are other consequences that follow, one of them being removal from duty to avoid relapse.

    One thing I find beautiful and a precious gift is that honest men still chose to become priests despite the persecution they know they will cop from society

    Peace

  • Sanctus3x

    Interesting read.

    Yet, I have worked within a diocese. I know the statistics are higher, but unreported, due to the fear factor or gag orders, by the Catholic Dioceses. I have been silenced, so I know this occurs. I know too much. I am also, still Roman Catholic.

    Since the 1960′s, the advent of immodesty, legalization of contraceptives, divorce, porn, abortion occurred. And, in 2011 the legalization of bestiality & sodomy in the military, by the US Senate, I think the US has hit rock bottom. I agree, the Westboro Baptist Church hates not only the sin, but the Catholic Church, they sense should know better.

    They are right, in that “sense of the faithful.”

    HOWEVER, you are right in your survey of other denominations, other sectors like public schools, families, friends, etc, that pedophilia also seems, to have a foot hold in. I liked your statistics, however only God knows the complete tally. We Catholics are not guilty of the sins their wayward priests commit, anymore than they are guilty for the sins we commit. We Catholics are not more sinful, than the greater population, so the known statistics, that have come to light, you are right about, in any demographic, be it Catholic or other denominations, or public society, at large.

    • Jeremy Higgens

      You support a church that hides and protects child rapists. You cannot assuage yourself of moral culpability because you don’t like the modern world and you close your eyes and heart to what YOUR church does in YOUR name.

      You sanctimonious type truly disgust me.

  • Windsor4twenty

    Two to five percent, is two to five percent too high for priests, its not the numbers that matter here its the position the molester holds. Kids parents/neibours are not the ones the general public tells their secrets to, or trusts that they are the rightful people to be single handedly holding up society or even better a religion. If your god is so great and powerful, who is he to be sharing his ‘power’ with men who cannot know right from wrong.

    • billybagbom

      You make a good point. The actions of those who claim to represent God should be held to the highest degree of scrutiny. As Saint Paul reminded certain of his Jewish brothers and sisters: “The Name of God is blasphemed among the nations because of you.”

  • Teresa

    Just wanted to mention that it is not the “One Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church” it is the “One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church.” There are several eastern rites such as Byzantine Catholic, Malachite Catholic or Syro-Malabar Catholic, described by Pope John Paul 2 as one of the two lungs of the Catholic Church.

  • Fuzzyb91

    You miss the great crime, one that the church still has not come to terms with. At the local, parish level, parishioners are doing great work to ensure that abuse does not happen in their parish. The Curia, the leadership of the church, however, turns a blind eye when one of its own is found guilty. The crime is putting lust for personal prestige and power ahead of ministering to people, feeding the hungry, caring for the poor.

    Just this year, Bishop Robert Flinn was indicted by a grand jury for hiding the fact that he covered up for a pedophile priest in his diocese. Just this year, Cardinal Justin Rigali was discovered to have covered up for pedophile priests – for a second time. In neither case has the Curia stepped in and removed either of these men from their positions or sanctioned them in any way. The Curia continues to support these men, who put their careers and desire for power ahead of the needs of children.

    Yet, at the some time, Bishop William Morris was removed from office without any public statement of wrongdoing. He still wants someone to publicly tell him what he did to be stripped of his diocese.

    Yet, at the same time, Bishop Maurice Taylor was horribly treated by the Curia after he worked collaboratively with hundreds of people to create a new translation of the Mass. Instead, the translation of the Mass was done by a small group of people, many of who don’t have English as their native tongue. We are left with “consubstantial”, “oblation”. Most troubling, we are left with words at the consecration which don’t match Holy Scripture, The Word of God (the word “chalice” was not used by Christ at the consecration).

    Until the leadership of the church is more interested in serving “the least of..” and sacrificing all they are for the good of another, than in power and influence, my church will continue to struggle

    • Parmandur

      “In like manner the chalice also, after he had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you.” – Luke 22:20

      Word of the Lord.

      New translation is great. The old one was truly awful, both as English and as a representation of the Latin. Good riddance.

    • Guest

      The leadership of the Church is pushing through the programs that combat it. It’s not on the Parish level where those programs are created and then made mandatory, it’s on the Diocesan level with the USCCB.

      William Morris didn’t uphold basic Church teaching…

  • Charles Curtis

    Well, I think your protest here is naive. I’ll echo what a few others have already said on this thread:

    The problem is that no other group in society claims the authority (sacramental and doctrinal) that the priesthood does. They are supposed to be holy, and when they are not – especially when it involves the sexual abuse of innocents, in an era of contention over Catholic sexual teaching – the scandal is inevitable.

    Also, in my eyes the problem is not the priests. It’s the bishops that committed a criminal conspiracy to cover up the malfeasance. That’s what burns me. All the apologies and prevention programs in the world will not erase that scandal. not when the men who perpetrated it (with a few exceptions, like Cardinal Law, and even he enjoying a sinecure in Rome, and not in jail where he belongs) are still in power.

    I know of no major criminal conspiracy to keep abusive teachers in their jobs. When they are caught, it seems that they are fired and jailed. That’s why there is no scandal there.

    The bishops are to blame for this. Mat God have mercy om them for their betrayal.

  • Charles Curtis

    Well, I think your protest here is naive. I’ll echo what a few others have already said on this thread:

    The problem is that no other group in society claims the authority (sacramental and doctrinal) that the priesthood does. They are supposed to be holy, and when they are not – especially when it involves the sexual abuse of innocents, in an era of contention over Catholic sexual teaching – the scandal is inevitable.

    Also, in my eyes the problem is not the priests. It’s the bishops that committed a criminal conspiracy to cover up the malfeasance. That’s what burns me. All the apologies and prevention programs in the world will not erase that scandal. not when the men who perpetrated it (with a few exceptions, like Cardinal Law, and even he enjoying a sinecure in Rome, and not in jail where he belongs) are still in power.

    I know of no major criminal conspiracy to keep abusive teachers in their jobs. When they are caught, it seems that they are fired and jailed. That’s why there is no scandal there.

    The bishops are to blame for this. Mat God have mercy om them for their betrayal.

  • Cattsallans

    As a friend of some dear papists and having great compassion for the church I have only one problem… I can’t believe the Lutherans are being viewed as being like Anglicans in near catholic-ness… I mean as a Lutheran I’m flattered by all means but really… Anglicans.*sigh* oh yea about the ridiculousness of the WBC, and the arguments that pedophilia is rampant. I know one case can hurt an institution but in the end its just the devils work and he will never prevail. <3 Keep your head up bud and just keep showing that beautiful compassion! The truth is out there and the sane know it. I think the real problem is the media. controversy sells, just keep that head focused on God and like Paul said (or was it Peter…erg I always do this!…NVM) Keep focused on what is pure and good and holy. <3 ( and now like always I'm off to figure it out and kick myself for being an idiot.)

  • G.

    I suppose this is good for those who use WBC tactics.
    What of those who have legitimate criticism of how the Church handled the charges of abuse in the past? The victims who were ignored, the alleged cover ups (can we really be certain there weren’t any, i.e. ‘shuffling’ priests around…) and the legal fees, oh the legal fees.

  • Cord_Hamrick

    I love this piece. But there was one error, I think:

    In saying that ‘Evangelicals, Agnostics and New Agers all sit together on the sidelines with identically incensed “you-don’t-allow-birth-control?” expressions on their faces,’ I think they author conflates “Evangelicals” with “Fundamentalists.”

    There is overlap between the two, but I think what’s distinctive about Fundamentalists is that (a.) they are doctrinally more stringent than Evangelicals, who by contrast tend to practice a great deal of doctrinal indifferentism; and, (b.) they are more separatist and pietist and insistent on various abstinences than Evangelicals. The Evangelical drinks wine with dinner, though not to excess; the Fundamentalists “don’t drink or smoke or chew, and don’t date girls who do.” The Evangelical couple has an occasional movie night date with a sitter to watch the kids; the Fundamentalist couple doesn’t approve of frequenting movie theaters.

    So while the Evangelical folks do look blankly at Catholics because of not allowing birth control, they usually go on to shrug and say, “Okay, whatever works for you; this is one of those doctrines we Christians sometimes disagree on but we still respect one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.” Only a Fundamentalist, I suspect, would be incensed.

    And even then, I think a Fundamentalist wouldn’t be as incensed as one might think. Consider: Not allowing birth control is an abstinence, in their view: It’s like not going to movies or playing cards or dancing or drinking or smoking.

    Fundamentalists will get incensed over faith and works, over papal infallibility, over the Eucharist as sacrifice, confession to priests, indulgences…and of course their heads explode over begging the intercession of Mary and the other saints.

    But the birth control thing? Probably pretty far down on the list.

    Of course, Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are people, and people vary tremendously. So, your mileage may vary.

    And there is one way, of course, that you’ll get an otherwise-indifferentist Evangelical woman riled up over birth control: Say, “The Catholic Church says birth control use is gravely immoral, and I think they’re right…and even if you aren’t Catholic, you, Susan, personally are committing a grave sin and dishonoring Jesus Christ by being on the Pill.” When an accusation of sin becomes personal, it becomes personal. (But you could say that about nearly any sin.)

  • Jamie

    Excellent post and extremely well-written! I will definitely be back!!

    Jamie
    For Love of Cupcakes

  • De

    Great Article – I’m not Catholic, but have had similar arguments thrown at me because of my religious beliefs – and I agree with you that condemning a religion because of a few people who practiced the religion made mistakes is ridiculous! Thanks for a great reminder to be more tolerant of others beliefs and grateful for any religion that helps us to be better people.

  • Lauren F

    I just checked out the “priests rape boys” website you linked and this is an actual quote from the website:

    “[The Catholic Church] get[s] more Bible WRONG than they get RIGHT, and they absolutely rely on the abysmal Bible-illiteracy of their parishoners. And guess what? They can rely on it, because Catholics never crack a Bible, other than to hide money in it [no joke, that's actually written there]… It would be less cruel if parents of children raised in the Catholic whorehouse would just lay their children down in the street and run over them with a truck than to take them in those filthy, God-forsaken hell-holes!” (See it here: http://priestsrapeboys.com/falsedoctrine.html)
    WHAT?!

  • John

    The purported cover-up:

    Some bishops and psychiatrists have asserted that the prevailing psychology of the times suggested that people could be cured of such behavior through counseling. Thomas Plante, a psychiatrist specializing in abuse counseling and considered an expert on clerical abuse, states “the vast majority of the research on sexual abuse of minors didn’t emerge until the early 1980′s. So, it appeared reasonable at the time to treat these men and then return them to their priestly duties. In hindsight, this was a tragic mistake.” -Wikipedia

  • Jeremy Higgens

    You must realize the argument isn’t that catholic priests rape children, it’s that priests rape children and the catholic church goes out of their way to prevent those priests from being brought to justice. From the top all the way to the festering sore of an pus filled anus holed bottom that’s been raped bloody.

    But of course if you base your religion on a book, of which you ignore a large part of, then I would suggest your religion has a bit of a logical problem. How do you decide what part of the book is right? Well, I guess we have to use our monkey brains to decide. The same way we decided that stoning children was wrong, and slavery is wrong.

    But if we use our own morality to decide what in the Bible is worth following and what is not, then why do we need God to tell us what morality we need? Can’t we just skip God and use our monkey brains, the part that tells us slavery is wrong, as apposed to the Bible which tells us slavery is just fine, and you can beat your slave as long as he doesn’t die?

    • newenglandsun

      “But of course if you base your religion on a book, of which you ignore a large part of, then I would suggest your religion has a bit of a logical problem.”

      I’m just going to dismiss whatever else you had to say as being something stolen from a trash-compactor of already-been-mocked-a-tand-severely-refuted-anti-factual arguments. Seriosuly?!? The Catholics base their religion on a book?!? LOL! Catholics REJECT sola scriptura as *heresy*.

      They base their religion on a book, some creeds, writings of Church Fathers, saints, and doctors, which have been deemed orthodox and within bounds to the Christian truth, the interpretation of the Bible as understood by these same men, etc.

      Goodness please, do some homework before making idiotic statements like the ones you’ve just made.

  • newenglandsun

    The One Holy Catholic (*no labels) Apostolic Church.
    There are Maronites, Chaldeans, Byzantines, Coptics, and Armenians amid the flock as well.

  • newenglandsun

    That whole “priests rape boys” argument is just simply…words are lacking to describe how stupid it is.

    The anti-Catholic’s entire point is “Look how the Church has done nothing to prevent this!”

    News flash: It’s been doing something about it for about…50 or so years.

  • newenglandsun

    You do have to wonder why some weren’t reported within at LEAST ten years of their actual happenings though.

    “Oh, I remember now! I really don’t like that guy because 20 years ago he called me a motherf*****!”