Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Catholic League's red herring

According to Bill Donohue of the Catholic League—an organization that likes to portray itself as the Catholic B'nai B'rith—there has been no pedophilia crisis in the Catholic Church. Really, he says in an ad in this week's New York Times, it's a "homosexual crisis".
Now, whether coverage in the Times and elsewhere has been fair or evenhanded or not—and there may be good reason to think it hasn't been and that Maureen Dowd's columns may also be over the top—somehow coming to the conclusion that because more of the incidents have involved boys than girls indicates that the perpetrating priests are homosexuals (not pedophiles, per se, apparently), is a beautifully executed red herring. 
It's not pedophilia, there's no problem with coverups, it's just those damned gays again. What do you expect? It couldn't be that pedophiles in the priesthood—and again, there are probably no more per capita than in the general population, indicating the real problem is the culture of coverup—just had more access to boys rather than girls? No, that's not possible. It's just that homosexuals can't control themselves.
I've known some homosexual priests, and none of them were child-rapists. Why? Because molestation and sex aren't the same thing and pedophilia and homosexuality aren't the same thing. No matter how comforting it may be for some conservative Catholics to blame all their problems on gays, we won't be and can't be the scapegoats for this one. Put down the stones and look at yourselves, fellows.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Family values

I know people who occasionally get a drink at Voyeur though I never have and can't imagine myself doing so, but none of them claim to support family values and probably almost none of them are donating to the GOP. I guess we can trust the RNC to protect traditional values because they say they will.

Nothing to be proud of

So, Ricky Martin has come out. His career in undetectable, everyone has known he is gay for at least a decade—a friend of mine in South Beach was hit on him eleven years ago in a department store—and the only possible reason for his coming out at this point is to get on the gay party circuit. 
Had he come out when there was some cost to him, it might have been noteworthy or praiseworthy. As it is, given his past stories of having an imaginary girlfriend, he is in Sean Hayes and Rosie O'Donnell territory, willing to lie and obfuscate until it just doesn't matter anymore or is utterly impossible. Ellen came out when it cost her something. You didn't. When it mattered, you lied. Now it doesn't and I don't care.
If it doesn't cost you anything, you don't earn anything.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

On the possibility of considering oneself Catholic

Cardinal Caffarra of the Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for the Family recently stated that it is impossible to consider oneself Catholic if one believes that there is a right in any way—presumably, given the context of his statement, even in the merely civil sense both of "marriage" and of "right"—to same-sex marriage.
Since I consider myself Catholic and yet I believe that, in the strictly civil sense of both terms, there is a right to same-sex unions and marriages, he is wrong about this possibility. Anything that is, is possible.
But, much more importantly, it is interesting, to say the very least, that one apparently can think that one is a Catholic at the same time one is covering up the abuse of children. In fact, as in the case of Cardinal Law, one can even be promoted to Archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, having done that very thing and then having done everything but lie under oath about it.
Of course, I am very aware that the powers that be both in the Vatican and in the diocesan chanceries around the world are busy blaming the sex-abuse crisis either on gays or on Vatican II or on secularization of society—ignoring the fact that it is isn't openly gay men who are molesting children, but men who claimed to be regular, old heterosexuals; that, for instance, the case most recently come to light in Wisconsin of a priest who molested at least 200 deaf boys began in 1950, more than a decade before Vatican II, a not atypical case; and, that the massive molestation and abuse in Ireland, covered in the Ryan and Murphy Reports, occurred in the most religious (i.e., least secularized) country in Western Europe, the only one in which lay people were likely to trust the clergy,  and went back many decades, including systematic abuse of a non-sexual nature in the Magdalene laundries—but this is nothing more than a red herring, designed to pretend that the real problem isn't the way that bishops in power have done all they can to protect the Church, by which they mean themselves and not the people. Clearly they are wolves positioning themselves as shepherds. 
There are probably no more molesters in the Church than there are in the general population, and I am genuinely sad for all those who have dedicated themselves to the Church and have now had themselves put under suspicion for nothing more than their vocation. The problem—and the one that the pope and others are unwilling to address—is that the hierarchy has acted like so many American CEO's, protecting the leadership, acting in the interest of the corporation, and blaming all failings on a few and never on the structure of unconnected, uninterested, power-hungry leadership. 
Most recently, there has been a spate of claims that every institution, whether it is a school or a scout organization, has the same culture of coverup and corporate-think, as if the claim to represent the teaching and body of Christ is absolutely meaningless, as if the Church shouldn't be held to a higher standard, as if it really were just a corporation that should be expected to fail and shouldn't even feel particularly bad about it, because, after all, such things happen.
Now, I'm not a Donatist, but before members of the hierarchy start telling me which moral and political beliefs I may have and still be a Catholic, they may want to get their own moral house in order. Ordination and consecration may have sacramental effects, but moral authority doesn't come with imposition of hands or the donning of the purple. It must be earned; and not many are earning it these days.
Christ said, "But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea."