The Loving Compassion of the Catholic Church

A few weeks ago, I mentioned briefly that the Catholic church had threatened to pull out of Washington, D.C., ending the social services they provide for thousands of people, if the city council passed a law recognizing same-sex marriage. Well, the council did pass the bill, same-sex marriage is now legal in D.C. (congratulations!), and the church looks set to keep its promise, starting with the termination of their foster-care program. They’ve also decided to end spousal benefits for all employees, including terminating the benefits of existing employees, rather than give those benefits to same-sex partners.

Happily, as AU reports, this story has a positive ending: Since Catholic Charities has shut down their foster-care and adoption program, the service they used to provide will now be offered by other groups, including the National Center for Children and Families, that will get the public funding the Catholic group used to receive. Well done, Washington, and shame on this despicable, bigoted church that would apparently rather see children go parentless than have to provide health insurance to gay people.

On a similar note, there’s this story of a 5-year-old who was expelled from a private Catholic preschool because his parents are lesbians:

In a statement sent to 9NEWS, the Archdiocese said, “Homosexual couples living together as a couple are in disaccord with Catholic teaching.”

…”No person shall be admitted as a student in any Catholic school unless that person and his/her parent(s) subscribe to the school’s philosophy and agree to abide by the educational policies and regulations of the school and Archdiocese,” the statement said.

Editorial note: Does this school plan to expel all students whose parents are divorced? Maybe they should also send around a questionnaire asking parents if they use birth control so they can expel the children of the ones who answer yes. Of course, since something like 90% of American adults, Catholics included, use contraception, this might lead to a fairly steep dropoff in those all-important tuition checks. It seems politically safer to only target members of relatively small minorities for persecution, rather than actually try to apply their own rules consistently.

On the positive side, it seems clear that the staff who run the school were appalled by the open bigotry and hatred of their church superiors – another clear sign that American Catholics are more progressive than their benighted hierarchy:

School staff members, who asked to remain anonymous, say they are disgusted by the Archdiocese’s decision.

…Staff members said they were not allowed to discuss the decision after it was made. Some of them said they were disheartened to work at a school that preaches peace and love, but also makes this decision.

A memo to these staff members: As this and the previous story make clear, Roman Catholicism does not preach love – at least not in the unconditional, universal sense we generally think of when using that word. It preaches conditional, selective love – love only for people who are willing to submit to its insane dictates and obey the orders of the pompous frauds in charge – and that’s a different animal altogether.

The church’s shameless bigotry against gays and lesbians is all the more outrageous considering its own continuing crimes and hypocrisy. I wrote in my last post on the Catholic church that, given the sex abuse scandals in America, Ireland and Germany, it was a statistical inevitability that more stories of child rapists among the clergy would appear in other countries as well. Now similar allegations have been made in the Netherlands. More amusingly, there’s this scandal in the Vatican itself:

The Vatican was today rocked by a sex scandal reaching into Pope Benedict’s household after a chorister was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.

Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness, was caught by police on a wiretap allegedly negotiating with Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 29-year-old Vatican chorister, over the specific physical details of men he wanted brought to him.

And lastly, less amusingly, there’s this story. The Catholic church in Ireland has racked up a $14 million bill for victim compensation after letting sexual predators in the clergy run rampant for thirty years, and the Bishop of Ferns, Denis Brennan, is asking his parishioners to pass the collection plate to cover the costs. As the Independent puts it:

In other words the Roman Catholic Church in Ferns is asking the victims of its own bitter failings to pay the price for the crime — it is a request which beggars belief.

At this point, the church’s callousness and hypocrisy has been demonstrated ad nauseam, so this no longer shocks me. The only thing that still surprises me is that a den of vipers like this one still thinks it has the authority to instruct the rest of us how we should treat our fellow human beings. Personally, I think the Pope and his hirelings ought to turn over all the remaining predators to the police, sell off the treasures of the Vatican to pay their court costs, and spend a few decades in sackcloth and ashes before they should even think of venturing an opinion on moral topics again.

Postscript: Although it’s not a sex scandal, there was one more story that came out just after I wrote this that I couldn’t omit: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has banned voluntary end-of-life measures in the more than 600 Catholic hospitals and nursing homes around the country. In other words, Catholic institutions will no longer honor patients’ living wills stating that they don’t wish to be kept alive by feeding tubes if they’re irreversibly comatose or terminally ill.

Although the law protects patients from being subjected to any medical treatment against their will, it’s easy to see how this decision could be used by Catholic hospital administrators to coerce grief-stricken families and patients who may not be capable of expressing their desires. Even in the best case, it will almost certainly lead to more pointless suffering as patients who don’t want to be kept artificially alive try to find another hospital to transfer to that will respect their wishes. We need to publicize the evil and tyrannical pretensions of the bishops, and I suggest this slogan: “If you want to have a feeding tube forcibly crammed down your throat or run through a hole cut into your stomach so you can be kept alive to suffer, then make sure you go to a Catholic hospital!”

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • ThatOtherGuy

    It’s pretty much like you said… It’s disgusting and appalling, but I’m really not surprised anymore.

  • http://lostaddress.org ray

    You need to fix the tags around this bit:
    And lastly, less amusingly, there’s a href=”http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-02/irish-bishop-asks-parishioners-to-help-pay-sex-abuse-bill.html”>this story.
    (feel free to delete the above)

    The Catholic Church believes that it is far and away superior to any laws or rules of common human decency. So really it has retained it’s default position ever since it was founded and doesn’t see a reason to change.

  • Caiphen

    Protestantism may use this to show how right they are about Catholicism……. until they’re caught doing the same thing. They’re just the same, a bunch of tyrants.

  • Wednesday

    Other blogs (such as The Blend) are also reporting that the Pope recently met with Ugandan bishops but said absolutely nothing on the kill-the-gays bill. Looks like the church teaches a conditional “culture of life” too – one where the lives of gay Africans don’t matter.

    All that said, I’m really glad you mentioned that the staffers at the school were very unhappy. I think it is really important that we note when groups of “lay” Catholics and others take a stand against the prejudices being handed down by the upper tiers of the hierarchy – not just to acknowledge their efforts, but because they are potential allies in the fight for social justice. And unlike us, they may be able to change the Catholic Church from within.

  • http://weneedus.tumblr.com/ Ted

    In my daily cruise for religious heroism (I do find some. Occasionally.) I’d been hitting a lot of Buddhist hypocrisy and stupidity, so it’s refreshing to find the RCs are still on top of their game.

  • 2-D Man

    If you want to have a feeding tube forcibly crammed down your throat or run through a hole cut into your stomach so you can be kept alive to suffer, then make sure you go to a Catholic hospital!

    Careful! ‘Forcibly crammed’ doesn’t really convey what’s going on. Keep in mind, these victims are typically comatose. The language you’ve used here isn’t significantly different from anti-choice wackaloons characterizing all abortions as ‘brutally ripping babies from their mothers’, or somesuch.
    I think this is much better:

    If you want to have a feeding tube down your throat or run through a hole cut into your stomach so your suffering can satisfy the whims of the Church, then make sure you go to a Catholic hospital!

    Always remember, suffering is Jeebus kissing!

  • Valhar2000

    The staff members that are disgusted by this decision should tender their resignations. Having the school suddenly bereft of staff might give pause to the ass hole- that is to say, the Bishop who make that decree.

    I do realize that the economy may not allow them to do so, and that they may otherwise like their jobs. Still, dreaming is cheap, right?

  • Valhar2000

    Always remember, suffering is Jeebus kissing!

    God bless Mother* Teresa!

    * -fucker.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com/ Steve Bowen

    Catholic Care (oxymoronically) are an adoption agency in Leeds U.K who are currently in the high court challenging a charities commision ruling that they cannot discriminate against same sex couples when placing children for adoption. They have support for this from four prominent bishops. If they lose they too will close the agency rather than continue to serve their community. Pathetic!

  • Katie M

    Wow. I don’t consider myself a hateful person, but day by day my feelings about the Catholic church grow worse and worse.

  • Brock

    I was just on the Secular Web and spotted this quotation. I felt it was apropos, if not dealing specifically with the contents of the thread.

    “Why is every utterance of the Pope considered to be worthy of worldwide attention and respect? It’s like the fawning reverence that was accorded every banal platitude ever uttered by the late Mother Teresa. But the Pope is not exactly on the cutting edge of world events — or anything else, for that matter. It was only a little over a year ago, in October 1996, that John Paul II announced that the scientific theory of evolution could be said to be valid. That message was received with enthusiastic approval in many circles throughout the world. Warm congratulations were offered to John Paul, just as they had been in 1979. In that year he declared that the Roman Catholic Church had been mistaken when it sentenced a 70-year-old Galileo to house arrest (with threats of the tortures of The Inquisition) for insisting that the Earth orbits the Sun, not vice versa. Mistaken?! No, not mistaken. A mistake is when you slip the wrong key into your front door. The Church’s treatment of Galileo, one of the world’s few geniuses, was viciously cruel and betrays the unenlightened, progress-impeding attitude that has dominated the Church since its inception. And they were as wrong as it is possible to be.” Judith Hayes, “The Papacy Comes of Age!” The Happy Heretic February 1998

  • Katie M

    I spent part of my childhood in Italy, and so was exposed to Catholicism really for the first time. I even saw John Paul in the Sistine Chapel. To me, it was just a nice (if odd) religion that created beautiful buildings. I went to a DODDS school that had a Host Nation teacher. I remember her almost CRYING with happiness when she informed us that the blood of San Gennaro (patron saint of Naples) had not solidified and that Naples would be safe for another year. Of course, being an impressionable youngster, I bought into it. I was thrilled to know that Vesuvius would stay quiet for a while longer.

    I think she sincerely believed that, but it was still wrong to exploit a child’s fears.

  • http://www.daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com Danu

    “The only thing that still surprises me is that a den of vipers like this one still thinks it has the authority to instruct the rest of us how we should treat our fellow human beings.”

    Hear hear!

    Or even to instruct the rest of us on how we should act in our private lives.

    I was raised Catholic and now I feel nothing but revulsion for them. I’m in the process of offically leaving the Church (defecting as they call it).

  • Thumpalumpacus

    In other words, Catholic institutions will no longer honor patients’ living wills stating that they don’t wish to be kept alive by feeding tubes if they’re irreversibly comatose or terminally ill.

    Because that’s not tampering with God’s plan.

  • Libby

    The sad thing is that they don’t even try to hide their goal of suffering. In my Social “Justice” class at my Catholic High School, the textbook (and the teacher) both explicitly say suffering is good. Euthanasia is condemned because it seeks to avoid suffering. Hmm. I definitely trust these people with my medical care.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    That’s pretty incredible, Libby. Could you post an excerpt from your textbook? I’d be very interested to see exactly how they word this.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    BTW, link is fixed – thanks, Ray, for pointing that out.

    Careful! ‘Forcibly crammed’ doesn’t really convey what’s going on. Keep in mind, these victims are typically comatose.

    Typically yes, 2-D Man, but not always. The Times article I linked to starts off with the story of a woman, becoming incapacitated from Parkinson’s disease but fully conscious, who deliberately decided to stop eating and drinking so she can die in peace.

    If there are other people like this, as there surely will be, then this decision has ominous implications for them. Imagine a terminal patient at a Catholic hospital who wants to stop eating and drinking so they can die in peace, but also wants pain control or other comfort care that isn’t available at home. If they can’t find another hospital willing to take them, or if there’s no such hospital near their family and loved ones, what then? What if they won’t voluntarily cooperate with treatment they don’t want? Are their doctors and nurses going to drug them or put them in restraints and put a feeding tube down their throat against their will? I feel a terrible certainty that there’s going to be a case like that sooner or later if this decision stands.

  • John Nernoff

    On the matter of the Catholic Church endorsing evolution, keep in mind natural selection depends in large part in the production of many more progeny that could possibly survive. These unfortunates are usually eaten alive, if not hunted down and tortured. Such a scenario is incompatible with a beneficent deity and entails a profound contradiction in Church dogma.

  • Katie M

    Child abuse claims hit Catholic institutions in Germany

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/03/09/germany.catholic.abuse/index.html

  • Libby

    While talking about why mainstream culture is a “Culture of Death”…

    “As a result, euthanasia- the intentional killing of someone whose life is deemed to be no longer worth living- is preferred over a natural death that may involve suffering.”

    “If we try to escape suffering in a way that causes death, than part of who we truly are as an image of God dies too. But when we accept suffering in love so that others might live more fully, then paradoxically, we become more fully alive. This is the paschal mystery of Jesus’ suffering, death, and Resurrection, which saved human beings from sin and death. We share in this mystery when we imitate his loving self-gift.”

  • Alex Siyer

    Well, according to the Pope Benedict XVI:

    …euthanasia is a false solution to the drama of suffering, a solution unworthy of man. Indeed, the true response cannot be to put someone to death, however “kindly”, but rather to witness to the love that helps people to face their pain and agony in a human way.

    This link, second paragraph:
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20090201_en.html

    The pope needs psychological help.

  • Dan

    All the more reason that your living will and/or health care directive contain language that specifies you DO NOT wish to wind up in a Catholic hospital, and that if an emergency places you in one, you are to be moved as soon as possible.

  • http://stripeyunderpantsbiblestudy.blogspot.com/ Lois

    “Protestantism may use this to show how right they are about Catholicism……. until they’re caught doing the same thing. They’re just the same, a bunch of tyrants.” ~ Caiphen

    It does not matter which denomination we look at, they are all corrupt and rotten under a thin, shiny veneer of good works and sermons about God’s love. Some, such as the cult of Pat Robertson, don’t even make an effort at hiding their contempt of all humans other than those who attend their particular church. Every day, one can find news stories of child abuse, murder, rape, stealing of church funds, and a whole slew of other debaucheries in some church or other. The amazing thing is that there is no lack of people willing to ignore these crimes or to make excuses for them. The preachers are always given the unconditional support of the congregation, while the victims are left out in the cold. The sooner Christianity becomes extinct, the better off everyone will be.

  • Scotlyn

    Ebon (OP):

    The Catholic church in Ireland has racked up a $14 million bill for victim compensation after letting sexual predators in the clergy run rampant for thirty years, and the Bishop of Ferns, Denis Brennan, is asking his parishioners to pass the collection plate to cover the costs.

    This is somewhat factually incorrect, as I shall relate.

    In fact the Catholic Church in Ireland has, so far, racked up a bill of around €1.2 billion (in our local euro currency). Let me explain how it is that the Catholic Church has been able to duck out of its liability for the vast majority of this bill, and how it is that the Bishop of Ferns (one of only 26 dioceses in Ireland) came to decide that such pennies as are left for the Church to shoulder, might conveniently be met by passing the plate (or is it passing the buck) to his diocesan flock.

    In the dying days of one Irish government, on the eve of a national election, and at a time when the joint body representing the religious orders of Ireland was aware that investigations into their running of schools, orphanages and borstals were getting cranked up, these orders met with our then Minister for Education Michael Woods and sealed a deal (for details see the “controversy” section of the wikipedia page). Minister Woods took it upon himself to agree with the religious orders that the Irish state, which had always allowed such institutions to flourish with the Irish “light regulatory touch,” should assume around half of the liability. The total bill then was calculated at around €250 million, and the Church pledged, for its part, to put together a package valued at €127 million – partly cash, partly land and buildings (some of which the state was already using – ie schools, hospitals, etc).

    What made this deal infamous, was that Minister Woods then said, thanks very much, we will now indemnify you forever against any further compensation bills. And then signed the whole mess onto the new incoming government. And that is how our Department of Education, still struggling to provide primary schools with such basics as working toilets, running hot water, remedial teachers, school books, etc, has had to pay out over €1.1 billion and counting to the victims of industrial school abuse, and the Catholic church is not only sitting on its indemnity, but is looking for around €40 million to pay for all the lawyers that represented its members through the Ryan and Murphy investigations.

    First they raped and tortured the children of previous generations, and now they are sticking the bill to this generation of Irish school children, who are paying for it in the currency of teachers, books and classrooms.

    The €10 million (your $14 million figure) or so that has fallen to the Diocese of Ferns to contribute, is only a drop in the bucket of the total bill. The fact that he would ask his parishioners to shoulder even this small drop is obscene, but all of a piece with what has gone before. They lie and they steal, and they have no moral authority, whatsoever.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Thanks for the correction, Scotlyn. I wish I could say that surprised me to learn, but I’ve long since passed that point. There’s truly no end to the church’s arrogance and corruption – just when I think I’ve learned the depths of what they did, I find something even more outrageous. The only thing I wonder is that they still have the audacity to preach repentance and humility for their followers, when their behavior has been the clearest possible example of the opposite ethic.

  • Demonhype

    @Danu

    Ditto. I have printed out the form (and I’m hoping it’s the right one). Only problem is there is a space for a witness, and I’m wondering if that witness can be a family member and if the need for a witness implies a need for a notary. I also need to figure out where to send it, though I’m assuming it’s to the parish you “belong” to. There’s not a whole lot of direction included.

    Any ideas?

    My mom sure pulled a grim face when she saw the form, even though she has turned from the Catholic Church herself (due to the child rape scandals, of course.) She thinks it’s childish and pointless. I told her about how they use their rosters, which are inflated with non-attending Catholics, to influence the government, but she still declared me “childish”.

  • Scotlyn

    Hi Demonhype/Danu. The Irish website Count Me Out has a lot of detailed info on the official process for “defecting” from the Catholic Church – and it is generally relevant info, whatever country you are in.

    If you are Irish and reading this now – may I make a plea that when next year’s census comes around, you answer the “religious affiliation” question truthfully. If you are not a Catholic in the fullness of your conscience and belief, then please do not say you are on the census form. We need concrete evidence, such as that provided within the census, that the Church no longer holds the mandate it use to in order to argue the case for removing its influence from our schools and hospitals.


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