13 April 2009

The Pope Did What?

So, we all know about the many cases of Catholic priests sexually molesting and abusing their church members, in most cases young boys. According to this AlterNet article there's been nearly 5000 priests officially accused of abusing children. When I first read that figure I wasn't sure I believed it, but this study commissioned by the US Catholic Church confirms it. While the number of cases investigated, and successfully prosecuted, is much lower that figure of 5000 accused priests is still pretty resounding. Imagine it: thousands of kids sexually abused by their only link with their God: a priest. And, lest we forget and the report points out, that abuse wasn't limited to inappropriately suggestive conversation or the viewing of pornographer. There was actual forced penetration being done against these children and some of them were younger than 7 years of age! And out of all those priests accused none of them have been excommunicated by the Pope. Some voluntarily went to counseling, some went to jail, some quietly retired from their posts and some just went on to find a new batch of victims in a different parish. But NONE of them were ever kicked out of the Church. Now, keep those facts in your head while I go on to the next bit.

From the AlterNet article:
"Nearly 5,000 Catholic priests [in the U.S.] have sexually abused over 12,000 Catholic children…but they were not excommunicated," says Father Roy Bourgeois, who faced the latter scenario after helping celebrate what the Vatican considers to be an illegitimate ordination mass in August 2008. Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran with a Purple Heart who became a prominent peace activist, stood with the trailblazers of the female ordination movement in Lexington, Ky., to make Janice Sevre-Duszynska a Catholic priest.

For thumbing his nose at one of the most sacred tenets of the conservative hierarchy -- that only men are worthy of the priesthood -- Bourgeois was swiftly rebuked by the Vatican in a letter two months later, telling him he had 30 days to renounce his actions or face excommunication.

Yep, you read that right the first time. I had to read it a few times myself. It's apparently okay to willfully abuse a sacred trust by molesting and raping small children but if you place a woman, A FEMALE, on the same level as a man then you're out of the Church! Can you believe this shit? Perhaps I'm oversimplifying in an explicit way but what the Catholic Church is essentially saying is this: if you are a male, and a priest, it's perfectly okay to take a five-year-old boy into the confessional, strip his clothes off, hold him down, ignore his cries and pleas and purposely insert your penis into his anus with bloody force but if you dare to ordain a woman as a priest(ess) of the Church you will go to Hell and suffer eternal damnation. But go on permanently and irrevocably destroying the minds and bodies of children cuz that's just fine. Humiliate the kids, abuse them, dehumanize them, warp their developing minds, scar them physically and psychologically and as long as you keep women out of the Church it's just fine and dandy.

Obviously, it makes absolutely no sense at all. And so I have come to a perhaps radical conclusion: the Pope is trying to destroy his own Church. Think about it: Church attendance is in the toilet, churches are closing down left and right and the country, the world, is becoming more secular every day. So what does the Pope do? Why, give the child molesters and rapists a slap on the wrist and denounce with holy fervor a priest who dares include women. According to the AlterNet article well over 60% of American Catholics favor the ordination of women as priests so I guess the Pope is also getting the extra benefit of alienating the remaining faithful. So, what gives? What's the answer, the reason? Well, I figure there's only one of two possible answers for this craziness. One: the Pope is trying to destroy his own Church. Or, two: the Pope is batshiat insane. Or both.


beweaver said...

I'm going with both. Destroy and nuts. As far as my opinion on the former, that he is trying to destroy the Catholic church, all I can say is how can I help? The church has been destructive from its installation and frankly, good riddance to bad rubbish.

Livia Indica said...

Yeah, I think you're spot on there. Don't get wrong, I'm not rooting for the Catholic Church; I think it doomed itself centuries ago. But I do feel bad for those Catholics who are good people and must now watch their Church devolve into such crap.

And, of course, I'm amazed at the Pope. He's supposed to be so brilliant, so what the hell is he doing?

Griffin said...

Well I did wonder when I heard that his name was Ratzinger... a Jewish pope?!

So maybe he really is trying to destroy Catholicism.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church has never quite got the whole 'woman' thing. I think they are a bit confused as to what women actually are... but then they are religious so confusion is a given in my humble opinion.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...


The whole no women as Priestesses makes no sense of itself.

The molestations I say we take care of by allowing the congregation...

No, not them. I want a priest, a baseball bat (wood, not finished. Yep--splintered.), some K-Y, and a confessoinal booth. And as much "punishment" as the "fathers" get when I'm done.

That's it. Cygnus.

Oh-- some sand, too. Because proofreading above, I decided the K-Y is too kind...

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Or, Pope Ratzi is in fact the long-awaited AntiChrist.

Terri in Joburg

Livia Indica said...

Griffin, yeah you're right. The Catholic Church has a long, twisted history of not understanding and then persecuting women. I agree, it doesn't make sense. Hell, I've always thought that is religious views did make literal sense than they couldn't be that religious. (My one included.) But this just blows my mind.

Cygnus, ouch, that hurts. I imagine they deserve it.

Terri, finally, someone said it! I was waiting for it but couldn't bring myself to type those words.

Moonroot said...

Yep, both.

And can I just say, I love how your mind works? :-)

Livia Indica said...

Hey! That's a first. No one has ever said anything like that to me before! Thanks, you've made my day!!

Spiral Dancer said...

Great post, if you get he chance to watch this http://www.deliverusfromevilthemovie.com/index_flash.php
I did the other night..I am amazed there is not more disclosure here in the UK as I am sure its been going on here for centuries..maybe its just so suppressed and embedded in the culture..

Livia Indica said...

SpiralDancer, wow, that's pretty powerful stuff.

Anonymous said...

I can understand your anger, and I can agree absolutely that molestations are abhorrant and, though I believe in the mercy of God, I don't understand how men like that will be forgiven. But there are a few points you've made that I think you might like to know more about.

Priests aren't a Catholic's only link to God. We read the Bible and see Christ modeled in many different people. So, though it's disgusting that these men would abuse their position of respect, it's not as though we see a priest as a earthly God any more than we see any other human being as God's representives. That is to say, every person represents Jesus to a Catholic, none more than others.

I think you might be misinterpreting the purpose of excommunication. To the church, excommunication is the last resort of showing a Catholic the error of their beliefs. If those priests were teaching from the pulpit that children were meant to be sexual objects, then they would be excommunicated if they did not recant. But if a priest (or any Catholic) commits a sin, and repents, that person is forgiven by God, and so the Church, as God's representivie must forgive them too. Excommunication is in no way meant to be a permanent punishment, it's a teaching tool and it can't be meted out as a vindictive punishment or retribution.

Now, regardless of whether women priests are a good idea or a bad idea, women are not allowed to be ordained, and ordaining women is in direct contradiction to church laws. So, if there is not repentance or a recant-ment of that action, the church excommunicates as a final extreme measure. The point is, that calling for the ordination of women is one thing, and discussing the theology in an attempt to bring about change is allowable. But breaking the doctrine of the church and showing no remorse or repentance is what gets you excommunicated.

I have to say that I agree with your sentiment, but I thought you might be interested in the reasoning behind rulings like this. The rules are there for a reason, and as much as I'm sure a lot of the other priests and bishops would like to do unspeakable things to the molesting priests, the church must live as Jesus would, and forgive them. Honestly, it seems to me you'd have to be God to summon up that kind of mercy.

I enjoyed visting your blog, and especially like the pics of the sculptures in your sidebar. Beautiful!


Livia Indica said...

Thank you Bethany for enlightening regarding excommunication, etc. I guess I technically understand what you're saying about forgiveness but I still have a big problem with any powerful body that accepts an "I'm sorry" and "please forgive me" for a horrible, insidious, disgusting crime(s) but won't accept a perfectly harmless female priest(ess). I'm not the only person to take issue with this and it makes me wonder what the future of the Catholic Church will be. Will it change and grow and survive or will it stagnate and fade away? I wish you well on your path but I cannot myself walking it.

Livia Indica said...

That's: I cannot imagine myself walking it.

Anonymous said...

Of course I wouldn't expect anyone to become Catholic or Christian who wasn't absolutely convicted to do so, but the Church teaches that salvation is a mystery and is equally open to all human beings, and that it's not up to us humans to try to name who will be saved and who won't be. You won't get any of that convert or go to hell talk from me.

As for the church accepting an "I'm sorry" for disgusting crimes there are two points to that. One, we have to. As any person anywhere trying to live as Christ lived has to. Jesus could see men's hearts and knew their minds, but we can't, so we follow his example as best we can. Anyone claiming to follow Jesus can't be unforgiving. And second, that's the purpose of a penace, which the priest assigns to us when we go to confession. So we have more to offer to make up for our sins than just an "I'm sorry". As for the fact that these priests may not have been given heavy enough penances or have not been dealt with severely enough, I can agree in most cases. But the church, unfortunately, is made up of humans, though founded by God, and I truly believe that Satan has influenced the molesters and the evil men who conspired with them, not only to hurt children, but to bring stain upon the church and to bring doubt into the faith of many people, Catholic and others.

But as for excommunication, it is not like being fired. It has much to do with doctrine, and what a Catholic, especially one with responsibility, such as a priest or nun, teaches regarding our beliefs, not what sins they may commit and then repent.

Hopefully the church will change for the better, as it has in the past, and can't help to again, but it is slow to change for a very good reason. The church must do it's best to stay of God, and not change because of earthly opinions. The traditions we follow truly do reach back to Jesus and His apostles. Change does take place in the Church, sometimes for good and sometimes for worse, but that's not always for humans to decide either. God guides the church, and though men make mistakes, I believe most try their best to listen to Him.

Anonymous said...

For much of church history priests could be married men, but that's changed, for some good reasons and some not so good reasons. The good reasons have to do with a priest being able to devote himself wholly to his calling and his flock, without the equal commitment to a wife and family. And the bad reasons have to do with inheritance laws, and church property being lost to priests' children through inheritance. That's just one example of a change, and the reasons they happen, and in my opinion it wasn't a change for the better, but my point is that it took more than a thousand years for that change to take place. An institution like the church can't embrace change quickly and must be built on bedrock beliefs, because it's meant to be enternal and represent God's kingdom.

I guess I just get frustrated when I hear people saying that the molesting priests should be excommunicated becasue it's not the same as being fired, it's more like a tool to keep heresy and sin out of the doctrine of the church or to help guide people back to what the church teaches is true, and no person can judge that someone has sinned too much to be saved. And no sin, no matter how big or heinous, is too much to keep us from God's grace if it is truly repented. We are all children of God, and as hard as it is to wrap my mind around it sometimes (esp. concerning molestors, murderers, etc.), He loves every one of us as much as the other and more than we could possibly imagine.

I appreciate your reply to my comment and you allowing it to be seen on your blog, I know it can be difficult when others disagree with you in your own space. I just wanted to clear up what I saw as a misunderstanding of my faith. It's painful to be Catholic sometimes, when there are so many people who believe such false things about us and our doctrine, and I really appreciate the opportunity to share. I'd never tell someone they're wrong about what they believe, but sometimes I just have to let them know when they're wrong about what I believe. :)


(I must be too long winded, I had to split my comment into two. Sorry!)

Livia Indica said...

Hi Bethany and welcome back. No problem with being long winded around here. One of my greatest pet peeves with the blogosphere is the tendency for bloggers, and those writing in to comment, to cram big ideas into two sentences providing no explanation. And I think it's pretty brave of you to post here in a definitely non-Christian space.

And thank you for pointing out that the Catholic Church takes a long time to change rules/doctrine, etc. I studied Christianity for a time when I was younger and should have remembered that. I kinda really did think that excommunication was like being fired. I wonder if the popular media, including films/tv, is what led me to think that?

I'm glad you brought up penance, another idea I've never really accepted. I just don't get it I guess, especially in the case of major crimes/sins. How can saying X number of prayers make up for a horrible crime perpetrated against another person, let alone a child?

Bethany said...

Hi again, thanks for the welcome. Sorry I didn't respond sooner, it's been busy here. Funny that you thought I was being brave, because I'd purposely hidden my blog address and posted as anonymous just in case you'd decided to take my comments the wrong way and respond with anger. So not really all that brave, lol. I'm grateful you didn't.

I think that people get the idea that being excommunicated is like being fired from popular culture and media. The article you linked to implied that it is. I don't know if this misrepresentation on the part of reporters, writers, and movie producers is a deliberate misunderstanding on the part of some to distort the truth and find fault in the Church, or if preconcieved notions of the Church as automatically corrupt lead people to readily assume these things, or if it's really just an innocent misunderstanding of a doctrine that most people aren't educated on. Probably a combination of all three.

As for penance, I'm afraid I misspoke when I said that it can make up for sin better than "I'm sorry" can. I meant that only on a human level. All God needs is the "I'm sorry", in fact, His mercy is infinate, and he forgives us without that. But when we don't acknowlege our sin and ask forgiveness, we block our relationship with Him. Now, as for penance, it answers a wholly human need. By doing a penance for our sins, we reinforce that there are consequences for all our actions. Also, by praying or following other penances, we find ourselves closer in the presence of God, hopefully surrounding ourselves with His grace and love in such a way to help us to keep from committing sins in the future.

As for penances being x number of prayers, that's another idea that's promoted in popular culture. It's not always the case. Of course it can be, and the idea is that the time spent in prayer will help us to come closer to a point when we won't sin as much, but there are other penances. As a personal experience, I once confessed that I was having problems with a family member, feeling anger and resentment toward them. As a penance, the priest suggested that I call them and have a conversation at least once a month. This kind of constructive penance not only helps build our relationships with God, but also with all others. Relationships with other people are a priority in the Church because our earthly relationships express our relationship to God.

Anyway, I hope you'll feel free to visit my blog now as well, if you want to. I apologize for staying anonymous till now, but you never really know how people will react until you get the chance to dialogue with them. I'm enjoyed our exchange, and your questions have really helped me think through the reasoning of some things I'd been just assuming. Thanks.

Livia Indica said...

Thank you Bethany for more clearly explaining penance and such. I think it's great that a priest would have you regularly contact a family member to get over issues. And I do better understand that penance is for human benefit as opposed to making your deity or Jesus happy. It makes more sense now.