I’ve been trying to think of the right word, and I think I’ve finally managed it – “stupefying”. This is in connection with Fr Cantalamessa’s remarks comparing the current criticism of the Roman Catholic church hierarcy with anti-semitism, this in relation to the on-going child-abuse scandals that are rocking the Roman Empire.
I don’t like to kick a man when he is down, and Fr Cantalamessa is clearly challenged on a wide number of fronts, including cerebrally.
The Catholic Church is in a totally indefensible position on the abuse front; the Pope himself is accused of failing to take action (always the easy course) in his earlier career when presented with clear evidence of wrong-doing.
No, the only possible reaction was to assume great humility and sorrow and issue grovelling apologies. No doubt the usual politicians’ standby soundbite would not have gone amiss: “Lessons have been learned.”
I give Fr Cantalamessa some credit for saying what he thinks instead of passing his comments through a gruesome PR spin merchant, but unfortunately he has got it completely wrong. And it’s no good the Vatican claiming that these remarks “did not represent its official view”. They were after all printed in full on the front page of the Vatican’s own newspaper “L’Osservatore Romano.”
As Peter Isely of SNAP (survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) put it much better than I could:
“They’re sitting in the papal palace, they’re experiencing a little discomfort, and they’re going to compare themselves to being rounded up … and sent in cattle cars to Auschwitz? You cannot be serious.”
Porr old Fr Cantalamessa should get out and about into the real world a bit more. Someone should send him a copy of Mother Theresa’s biography or “Five Chimneys”
Has he seen “Schindler’s List”, even though what was shown there was extremely mild compared to the horror of the reality?
Sorry Fr Cantalamessa, you score nul points on this one ….
Is this a need for change that will become unstoppable for the Catholic Church?
I approach this subject with some hesitation. It’s a free world, and how people choose to organise themselves is basically their affair; freedom of association and all that. However, all freedoms are both a personal matter and an absolute right as long as they do not impinge on the rights and freedoms of others. So, in for a penny ……
The Catholic Church’s insistence on celibacy for their priests’ is obviously absurd. It is all very well in theory – “they can then concentrate on serving God” – if you (somewhat bizarrely in my opinion) choose to make that argument. The problem is that Man is NOT a theoretical animal. Sexual abstinence is alien to most models of Homo Sapiens that roll off the production line. It may be the preferred CHOICE that works for some, or even many, but forcing it on priests just DOES NOT WORK.
In recent years, there have been endless scandals in the Catholic Church about the abuse of children by priests, to the point where their policy in fact makes a total mockery of the vast edifice and bureaucracy that their Church is.
There was (or rather is) the dreadful case of the abuse in Ireland going on for decades and involving the most appalling abuse covered up at the highest levels. Now there is an on-going crisis in Germany, with churches and priests all over the country suspected of child-abuse. There are plenty of other examples we know about, and no doubt many we don’t.
And the word “cover-up” is deadly, of course. As soon as an organism evolves – and I find an amoeba, the Church, a company, a political party all alike in this respect – its first instinct is to survive and multiply. And so we have today the grisly spectacle of a Bishop apologising for covering up a priest’s paedophilia. The (usually wrongly) perceived needs of the organism almost ALWAYS take precedence over the law, humanity and decency. Rather than deal effectively and openly (and THAT is what this Blog is all about) with a real problem, the Church very often sweeps the problem under the carpet in the hope that it will go away.
Only of course (like the toxic effects of sub-prime insanity) a serious problem does NOT usually self-heal. Would the Bishop try out this policy with a toothache? I doubt it; he’s know it would only get worse and whack him in the midriff at some stage. So WHY do they do it with abuse cases in their own Church?
No, as long as you have this absurd dogma in the Catholic Church, you will have abuse. And the point is, as soon as you get abuse, it concerns us ALL. We then DO have a right to stick our nose into the Catholic Church’s affairs, or so I maintain. No man is an island ……
Unfortunately, the larger the institution and especially where it concerns beliefs, creeds or whatever (and companies are often similar) the more difficult it is to give up a long-held shibboleth even in the face of the most overwhelming evidence that it is time to “move on”.
If the Pope thinks that all this is helping his particular organism to survive, he is – I believe – sorely mistaken. Celibacy is unnatural – period. Man is HUMAN (sorry to state the obvious). Sex is an integral part of humanity (for the vast majority). But all that is theory and opinion; the point is, the policy JUST DOES NOT WORK, thus leading to multiple and repeated cases of abuse. There may be hand-wrenching, apologies, investigations and promises to put the house in order, but as long as the Pope insists on celibacy, there will be abuse.
And what for? It is all so POINTLESS! Is the Catholic Church maintaining that , for example, the Church of England (CofE) is in some way heretical? If marriage for priests works OK for the CofE, then why not for Catholics? In reality, this dogmatism is only the dead-weight of centuries of tradition, but we should cast off dead weights in the interests of innocent children – and of course (they are human, too) of priests themselves.
Though not a believer, I also sometimes wonder what God would think. In fact, trying to empathize with God is one of my favourite pastimes. Looking down on all this, wouldn’t he be inclined to think the Catholic Church is barmy? How could he POSSIBLY (if he is the God I think he must be) want his humanly-frail priests to be celibate if it means (AS IT DOES) the regular and repeated abuse of children?