Fr. Scapegoat

Interesting piece by an Aussie “well and truly lapsed” Catholic who recognizes that priests have become the latest in a long line of figures on whom a deranged culture heaps its sins rather than confront them:

Women were scapegoated and tortured and murdered as witches in the Dark Ages, Hitler used the Jews as scapegoats, McCarthy the communists, Muslims are scapegoated as terrorists, Marx blamed capitalism, Freud sex. When we scapegoat someone, we characterise an entire group of individuals according to the unethical or immoral conduct of a small number of individuals belonging to that group. This is also known as stereotyping. Scapegoated groups throughout history have included: genders, religions, people of different races or nations, and people with different political beliefs. The chosen individual, or group, becomes the scapegoat, or sacrificial offering, and their public flogging, exile or death becomes the redemption for the larger group’s real unacknowledged problem that remains unaddressed and dormant. Until the next time.

He has intuited the theology of Rene Girard. It is what brought him back to the Church, the recognition that Jesus willingly submits to our demand to pile our own evils on to somebody else. He lets it wash over him, absorbs it, takes it without down to the grave, and leaves it there: bringing only mercy with him up out of the tomb. It is fitting that his innocent priests do likewise. It will be through such sacrifices that the scourge of guilt and shame for these crimes against innocent children are atoned for.

Not, of course, that this excuses us for scapegoating innocent men.

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  • Andrew O’Brien

    Interesting indeed. Can you point me to where Girard explains the need for us to heap our sins on others?

  • Dennis Mahon

    Try The Scapegoat (1986).

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    Women were scapegoated and tortured and murdered as witches in the Dark Ages

    • SouthCoast

      According to some (but not, I must add, all) Pagans and Wiccans of my acquaintance, every woman who reached puberty in Medieval Europe was summarily marched straight to the nearest stake and burnt. Which necessarily begs the question…

  • Peggy R

    McCarthy was quite right. Read Venona Secrets, eg.

    • MattyD

      Yes, McCarthy was quite right. If by “quite right” we mean, “distorting a marginally legitimate truth into fanatical, demagogic and paranoid proportions”.

  • MattyD

    Not that his list was meant to be comprehensive, but the writer left off one very obvious target of scapegoating – that being homosexuals. And the perpetrators of the scapegoating were, very often, legalistic and hateful Catholics. I only say this so that we Catholics don’t too reflexively adopt only the victim position. These lamentations of victimhood are, from my POV, entirely absent from the life of Jesus, the Saints and the greatest popes.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    I believe it was Alan Dershowitz who noted the following dialogue with the then-president of Harvard. He had asked the president why Harvard did not admit Jews.
    “Jews cheat.”
    “But,” Derhsowitz countered, “gentiles cheat, too.”
    “Don’t change the subject.”
    IOW, the charge that “X does A! How terrible!” often overlooks the fact that not-X also does A.

    • Jon W

      How can a president of Harvard make such a stupid argument? That’s freaking astonishing.