Originally Posted by Diemen
I can't decide what's more appalling, that an organization that is supposed to be populated by disciples of a loving, just God would be set up in such a way that its first instinct is to cover up any wrongdoing, or that the Church views child abuse as a sin, but not a crime.
Sexual abuse of children is one of the most serious crimes I can think of, and all the Church has cared about the entire time is their image. They have lost so many people, including my 80 year old Irish Catholic grandparents.
I never had much use for the Church, my mom was raised Catholic but didn't push it on me, and my Dad was raised Albanian Orthodox, taught Sunday school in his 20s to keep his Dad happy, but never believed in any kind of institutional religion. My parents are 2 of the best people I have ever met, and they often get compliments from numerous people for how classy they are and how well they have raised my brother and I. So I am not much for the notion that good parenting, good values, doing the right thing and respect for others needs the Church to develop.
I went to Catholic High School, loved it. I loved my theology classes and teachers, loved learning about the history of the religion, the disciples, the big guys like Augustine and Aquinas, the watershed events like Vatican II, etc. In fact, my favorite teacher in High School was a theology teacher, a guy who was about 15 years Bono's senior but looked almost EXACTLY like him and was a huge U2 fan. In fact, he introduced me to "40" and would often tell us stories of the 10 U2 shows he saw on the 1st leg of the Joshua Tree Tour. He is from South Philadelphia, was raised as a devoted Catholic and left in disgust in 2004.
I also went to Catholic College(though we were often jokingly called Catholic in name only, and I agree with that) not because I required it or was committed to Church or anything, just because I liked the campus, the location, the people, etc. I only took the required 2 theology classes in college and both were with the same GREAT guy(if you overlook the fact that he left the priesthood to marry SOMEONE ELSE's wife!). One of the classes was "work, capital and God" my junior year, all about how the Church views economic relationships as well as issues like immigration, poverty, etc. It was awesome, and I think one of the things that sets the Catholic tradition apart is its commitment to truly understanding the whole person and society in meaningful ways. Everything we read from the Bishops or others on economic thought was always well thought out, researched, etc.
Throughout high school and college, I never went to Church except for holidays, weddings, funerals, etc but learned to respect what the Church had to say on many issues. Catholic social teaching, just war, care and service to others, economic opportunity, etc. My freshman year of high school, January 2002 to be exact, was when the clergy sex abuse scandal first broke with a front page story in the Boston Globe. It started with the "big 2" so to speak of Fathers John Geoghan and Paul Shanley; Geoghan was strangled in jail and Shanley is still there. It only got bigger from there, and the net result in Boston was Cardinal Bernard Law, who had knowingly shuffled pedophiles around for years, resigning(late 2002) but being promoted to a better job at the Vatican. This enraged many people, myself included, and showed the Church as an institution for what they were. The fallout was brutal- many victims were traumatized all over again, the most prominent one committed suicide and attendance at Church plummetted never to recover.
This period of widespread sexual abuse revealed coincided with what I term the emergence of Church as political hack movement. Just when they were losing all credibility by enabling child molestation, they started to deny communion to public officials who did not want to outlaw abortion for all of society, despite their personal views on the topic and the 1st amendment's clear language on separation of Church and State. At the same time, the Church said nothing of politicans who openly opposed them on the death penalty, just war, economic justice, the list goes on.
This singular focus on sexual celibacy is in short, exactly the problem in the Church and as someone else said, it speaks to the ultimate futility of going against nature. The Church leaders do not even follow it themselves, and one could argue that the reason many are so sexually deviant in the Church is their insistence on celibacy. If the church cared about abortions being reduced, they would let priests marry, realize that Jesus said nothing about condoms, etc.
I still like what Catholic teaching has to say about alot of things, but the institution is dead to me. I have plenty of respect for many individual priests I know, and a few at my college helped me out greatly when my Dad passed away last year. I also like what Bono says about the nuns in Africa. So not everyone associated with the Church is bad, quite the opposite.
Christmas eve, I will still go up to Mass with my grandparents. They live in the Charlestown section of Boston, a neighborhood that is gentrified to a great extent but historically Irish Catholic. Catholics committed to the Church still exist in Charlestown to more of an extent than alot of other places. Even with family members in from the suburbs for the night, people who do not usually go to church joining for Christmas and the Church full as a result, going to Catholic Mass in Boston today is sad. The priest who is excellent and has known my family for years, has to preface the appeal for donations for health care for retired priests by saying all of the "good, sick and retired priests" emphasis of course on good. Then he goes on to say how the scandal should have been handled and was not. As the Mass ends, he always laments how if we had half of the attendance we had on Christmas eve every week, that would be unbelievable.
This is Boston, one of the most Catholic cities in the US. Go on a typical Sunday and its quiet, stark, sad, 1/5 full. The damage to the Church and to its devotees from sexual abuse is palatable. It can literally be sensed, touched, felt, etc in the Archdiocese of Boston. I would imagine a big reason why this is so is the widespread and continuing cover ups reaching now to the highest levels of the Catholic Church.
Arrest the Pope? I doubt it will happen going on Law's precedent, but he should probably resign. I have never been a fan of him, and most Catholics I know who are more familiar with the Church than me have always strongly disliked him. Again, I have never been a real devotee of the Church and find some of their teachings absurd, but John Paul II was a great man and an inspiration to the entire world. This guy is an embarrassment at the time when the Church needs a savior.