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Religion Last Updated: Nov 16th, 2009 - 00:55:38

The Catholic Church plays victim, again
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Nov 16, 2009, 00:16

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Throughout its long history, the Roman Catholic Church has time and time again proven itself to be one of the most dogmatic, most powerful, and most corrupt institutions ever created. It claims to be following in the footsteps of Jesus and preaching his message, but its leaders have always lived in palatial splendor and are responsible for a 300-year �Holy Inquisition� that resulted in the torture and murder of tens of thousands of people.

To be sure, the Catholic Church has done some good during its reign, but in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century its true colors were once again exposed: decades of child abuse by parish priests -- in multiple countries -- covered-up by the church�s hierarchy. There were cases dating back to the 1960s, but it was not until early 2002 that the Boston Globe�s coverage of a series of criminal prosecutions of five Roman Catholic priests thrust the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests into the national limelight. And the limelight spread quickly.

The larger than usual headline of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday, September 22, 2005 read: �An �Immoral� Cover-up.� A grand jury indicted the Philadelphia archdiocese in a 418-page report detailing rampant pedophilia and sexual abuse as well as decades of well planned cover-ups orchestrated by two Philadelphia cardinals, (the late) John Krol and (then recently retired) Anthony Bevilacqua. Both Krol and Bevilacqua were outspoken critics of homosexuality and civil rights for gay and lesbian Americans.

Here are just a few of the documented examples of what predator priests did under the protection of Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua:

  • An 11-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped by a priest who took her for an abortion when she became pregnant.

  • A fifth grader who was molested by a priest inside a confessional.

  • A teenage girl who was groped by a priest while she lay immobilized in traction in a hospital room.

  • A priest who offered money to boys in exchange for sadomasochistic acts of bondage and wrote a letter asking a boy to make him his �slave.� The priest remains in ministry.

  • A sadistic priest who enjoyed having children play the roles of Jesus and other biblical characters in parish Passion plays. He made them disrobe and whip each other until they had cuts, bruises and welts.

  • A priest who falsely told a 12-year-old boy his mother knew of the assaults and consented to the rape of her son.

The grand jury found that many victims were abused for years and that many priests abused multiple victims, sometimes preying on members of the same family. Father Albert T. Kostelnick had 18 victims. Father James J. Brzyski, whose conduct the report described as a �criminal rampage,� abused 17 victims, many of them from a single parish. Father Nicholas V. Cudemo abused 16 victims and was allowed to stay in his pastoral role for decades after the first abuse report in 1966.

And how did the Philadelphia archdiocese -- and the church as a whole -- respond to the grand jury�s painstakingly documented report? In a truly disgusting display of perverted self-interest and bunker mentality, they claimed to be victims. Even more disgusting is that, given the statute of limitations, no criminal charges could be filed against the priests or against �Princes of the Church� despite the evidence presented in the Philadelphia grand jury�s report.

Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church has time and time and time and time again vehemently opposed legislation that would allow pedophile priests -- and their co-conspirators -- to be prosecuted beyond the statute of limitations. Is that opposition based on morality or self-interest? Meanwhile, the Vatican and its minions have continued to pontificate on �moral issues� despite the fact that they seem not to have any idea what �moral� means.

One of the Vatican�s �proactive� responses to the child abuse scandal was to screen prospective seminarians: suspected gays were out, as if being gay meant automatic pedophile. How sad when �people of faith� use stereotypes and lies to promote their agenda. As Kathryn Conroy, assistant dean of Columbia University�s School of Social Work, pointed out in her September 24, 2005 New York Times piece following the Vatican�s action:

What is forgotten in all of the hysteria about priest sexual abuse is that pedophilia is about a sexual attraction to children (most often, regardless of their sex) and about access. . . .

Reliable studies show that pedophiles (those adults who sexually abuse children) are overwhelmingly heterosexual. In fact, homosexuals are statistically underrepresented as those who sexually abuse children. . . .

Further, women have far lower rates of sexually abusing children than men do. So if the church were really serious about protecting children from sexual abuse by priests, gays would not be excluded from the priesthood and ordination would be extended to women.

The Catholic Church claimed �victim� again when dioceses were ordered to pay damages to the victims of priest pedophilia and child abuse. Some dioceses went into bankruptcy in order to delay trials and/or court-ordered payments to victims. That seemed more than a bit odd, given the monolithic nature of the Roman Catholic Church, especially since various dioceses and Catholic organizations such as the Knights of Columbus -- that reportedly contributed over $1.2 million to the campaign to revoke the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans in California (Prop 8) -- seem to have considerable funds readily available:

Archdiocese Donated To Defeat Maine Gay Marriage
The Associated Press
12:54 PM CST, November 12, 2009

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Archdiocese of St. Louis says Archbishop Robert Carlson used $10,000 in discretionary funds to support the successful effort to prevent legalization of gay marriage in Maine. . . .

Would those �discretionary� funds have been better spent on compensating the victims of priest abuse? Or how about feeding the hungry?

When Massachusetts reaffirmed that all citizens are equal and have equal access to civil institutions such as the state-licensed institution called �marriage,� the Catholic Church -- still fighting pedophile and child abuse actions in the courts -- conjured its perverted version of �morality� and closed it adoption services in the state. God forbid they should have to place homeless children with two loving same-sex parents. Better to leave the kids homeless and without parents or a family. How very �moral� of those Catholic agencies.

And now they�re at it again in Washington, D.C.

Dogma trumps charity
Erwin de Leon
November 13, 2009

Catholic Charities, the social services agency of the Catholic Church, has threatened to stop providing services on behalf of the District if the D.C. City Council approves legislation to legalize same-sex marriage next month. The organization is concerned that if equal treatment of gay people is codified, they will have to provide benefits to same-sex couples just as they have been doing for different-sex couples . . . More importantly, the nonprofit�s representatives argue that to see LGBT individuals and families as no different from others goes against Catholic dogma.

The Associated Press report confirmed:

Lawmakers defy church pressure on DC gay marriage
By The Associated Press

(Washington) The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is threatening to stop providing social services, including management of city homeless shelters, unless lawmakers change a proposal to legalize same-sex marriages.

So far, most city council members have refused to do that.

Catholic Charities has city contracts to provide services to about 68,000 people. The marriage bill would not require churches to perform same-sex weddings, but because Catholic Charities uses city money, the archdiocese fears it would have to offer employee benefits and adoptions to married same-sex couples. . . .

True to form, the Catholic Church is again claiming to be a �victim� of civil law that the church hides behind when it comes to protecting rather than prosecuting pedophile priests and the co-conspirators. From Focus on the Family�s CitizenLink:

Catholic Social Services Will Go if D.C. Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
Steve Jordahl

A Washington, D.C., City Council committee voted Tuesday to move a same-sex marriage bill on to the full council, but shot down language that would have protected faith-based private businesses or nonprofits. The bill has some exemptions for churches.

Susan Gibbs, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., said Catholic Charities of Washington will likely be the first victim of the policy.

�To contract with the city, to provide official services with the city,� she said, �we would have to certify that we promote and recognize same-sex marriage, and we can�t do that.� [italics added]

Better to stop all services because some of them might benefit gays than continue to serve �68,000 residents of the capital.� How very �moral� of the official Catholic Church. But they do have opposition from within their own ranks:

Gay Catholic group urges D.C. to defy church
Archdiocese threatens to end services for needy

Lou Chibbaro, Jr., Nov 14 2009

The gay Catholic group Dignity USA is urging the D.C. City Council to reject a demand by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington that it amend a pending same-sex marriage bill to allow its charitable arm to discriminate against gay employees.

�It�s shameful of the church to put its dogmatic position above the needs of the needy people receiving these services,� said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Dignity USA�s executive director. . . .

Using religious dogma as justification for advocating and practicing civil discrimination is not only the modus operandi of the Roman Catholic Church. Their Protestant theopolitical brethren have adopted the tactic, and together they�ve convinced Americans it�s �American� to vote on civil rights and civil equality.

Civil courts -- from lower ones to state Supreme Courts -- that have adjudicated the basic question overwhelmingly ruled that the state-licensed civil institution called �marriage� must be available to all citizens, equally. But so-called �religious� leaders say such civil equality is against God�s will and must not be allowed, and they succeeded in convincing people in more than half the �United States� to alter their constitutions in order to outlaw that form of civil equality.

Given that religion, its beliefs, doctrines and dogma are, by definition, �irrational,� one has to wonder why Californians passed and then upheld Prop 8 and why Maine voters revoked the civil right to marry by passing Ballot Question 1. To see a picture of people cheering civil discrimination�s �victory� over civil equality is . . . well, disgusting.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin put it succinctly when he asserted that civil rights are not a popularity contest. K�llia Ramares made an excellent point and asked the pertinent question in her November 9, 2009, OnLine Journal article �The dangers of voting on civil rights�:

It is very easy to shout �majority rules� and �the will of the people� when you are in the majority. You won�t be so glib about that when you are in the minority. And someday you may be. Political passions wax and wane; majorities shift. . . .

The people of those 31 states that have voted down same-sex marriage ought not to be celebrating. They ought to be very frightened of what they have done . . . to themselves. For where does this end? . . .

Those who oppose civil equality for gay and lesbian Americans have succeeded in their campaigns by wrapping the state-licensed, civil institution called �marriage� in religious dogma and by tapping into people�s fears and exploiting stereotypes about gay Americans.

In their November 8, 2009 Opinion piece, �Divorcing Religion from Marriage: The U.S. government should remove the term �marriage� from its laws,� the staff of The Harvard Crimson summarized and posed a rational solution. Unfortunately, dogmatic Catholicism and radical Protestantism are anything but rational:

The recent passage of Question One in Maine has struck a blow against gay marriage and against supporters of equal rights. Yet much of the popular acrimony directed at gay marriage could be caused by confusion rather than discrimination. The gay marriage debate is now so tangled in religious terminology that questions of legal equality can get easily lost in the language. Fortunately, there might be a way for gay couples to gain the same legal status as straight couples that sidesteps this incessant fighting in courtrooms and polling booths.

Today it is much too easy to conflate the awarding of rights to gay Americans with a government takeover of religious institutions. One fundamental problem is that our laws employ the religious term �marriage� to define what should be solely a legal concept. From Uncle Sam�s perspective, a union of individuals
-- gay or straight -- should be treated as strictly part of the legal apparatus, and not related to a religious ceremony. If we can divorce religious terminology from our legal system, we can afford gay Americans equal rights -- while leaving religious groups the ability to determine the meaning and rules of their own private services.

Somehow I doubt that would appease those clergy who rely on religious dogma to justify hate and promote violence:

Pastors defend their �right� to incite hate crimes against homosexuals
November 6, 11:14 PM

On November 16th, pastors and other clergymen . . . will be congregating at our nation�s capitol to publicly defame homosexuals, in order to �challenge� the Matthew Shepard Act, a congressional act which protects citizens against hate crimes committed because of the victim�s perceived sexuality. The pastors don�t have a problem with hate crime legislation itself, but specifically with this hate crime legislation, which
limits their god-given rights to incite violence against gay people.

Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamantion League . . . had this to say about what happens when hate crime laws include homosexual victims: �Christians are singled out for prosecution, with threats, imprisonment and fines simply for refusing to stop doing what Christ commands: proclaiming the truth.�

The article was accompanied by a photo of a man holding a sign that read, in part, �Death Penalthy for Homosexuals As Prescibed [sic] in the Bible.�

How much did rhetoric like that contribute to this:

Suspect: God Made Me Hate Gay People
Julie Bolcer November 06, 2009

One of three suspects in an antigay hate crime that occurred early Sunday on Long Island in New York told police, �God made me hate gay people.�
. . .

And what does this silent shout from an evangelical leader say?

Rick Warren Won�t Oppose Ugandan Bill Proposing Death Penalty For Gays
T.C. Jackson
November 5, 2009

Rick Warren -- the fundamentalist preacher tapped by Obama to pray at the President�s Inauguration earlier this year -- won�t work against a law being considered in Uganda to make being gay a crime punishable by death. . . . Here�s proof . . .

While the march toward civil equality for all Americans is bound to succeed eventually, there will always be those who will use whatever means necessary to justify hate, even if those means are a religion that supposedly encourages love, tolerance and understanding, and whose founder never said a word about homosexuality. But Jesus did say a lot about cherishing and nurturing love. And he did champion social outcasts and those persecuted by the civil law of the time.

�Protect marriage� was the battle cry of those campaigning against marriage equality. Well, it seems that at least one �Christian� has taken a real step to �protect marriage�:

Move afoot to outlaw divorce
Charlie Butts - OneNewsNow - 11/12/2009

A California man wants divorce outlawed.

John Marcotte has filed for a ballot initiative to protect traditional marriage in the state of California as an extension of the work related to Proposition 8, the voter-approved constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. In essence, Marcotte�s project would legally ban divorce.

�Marriage is an important and sacred institution, and I�m just trying to safeguard it in really the most direct way possible,� he states. . . .

Good for you, Mr. Marcotte. Let�s see how all those holy Catholics, Protestants and other �people of faith� respond to your initiative.

And Thank You.

If those holy, faith-based folks don�t flood you with signatures, and if they don�t rise up and support you and pass legislation that would make divorce in California illegal, well . . . then, I guess you and they will have confirmed your collective hypocrisy and the fraud that the battle cry to �Protect Marriage� really is.

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