I came into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church on Easter Vigil 2001. Can you think of anything else that was really getting going in the American church in that time period?
Yep. The abuse scandal was gaining momentum then and came to its peak not long after. Needless to say, my entire time and experience in the Church has been in the shadow of this scandal. And it gains fresh energy every so often thanks to some discovery somewhere in the world, although it gets and keeps most of its life from half truths, exaggerations, and outright lies.
There are people who use every and any opportunity to bring it up again. Anything they don't like about the Church becomes a reason to drag this decayed horse out and beat it again. Even things that have little to no connection beyond the mere fact that the Church is involved. And it is with the blind, bigoted, fever pitch of utter self righteousness that the criticism is hurled.
And every time it is brought up, the reality is distorted, blown way out of proportion, and generalized to the entire hierarchy, the entire Church, despite the fact that the Church has acted decisively to prevent these things from happening again, despite that the Church has paid enormous sums in reparation, despite the sincere efforts to reconcile with those hurt many times, even by the Pope himself.
So it is a relief when you find someone in the media outside the Church try to bring the tiniest bit of realty and balance to the issue. I shared this on G+. And in the whole article, do you know what my atheist friend pulled out to quote and comment on?
Was it that not one single case of abuse was found at the laundry that had been maliciously misrepresented? No, it was this: "That is a horrific number as it is; why embellish it?"
Seriously? Excuse me, but What.. The.. Fuck?!?
What all these amazingly self righteous people seem to conveniently forget is that DUH. I mean, we Catholics have a very demanding moral code that is fundamental in our religion. We know that child abuse is a horrendous offense. We know it 1000x better than you, I promise.
Guess what else we know. People, yes even priests (or as a certain priest friend of mine would say--especially priests) are inherently sinful. (That means not morally perfect for those who don't grok the idea of sin.) So we're gonna screw up sometimes, just like every other human being. Sometimes, we screw up royally. And we have to make reparations. It is part of our belief system--there is no get out of jail free card. And yes, that's true even though some churchmen tried to avoid it.
We as a society are way, way, way, way beyond any kind of proportional response to this problem. When journalists suggest that it's okay to distort the facts, that's not ok. When movies and art are made that impugn the good name and character of every priest, that is not okay. When comedians think its funny to imply that all priests are child molesters, that's not okay. When every Tom, Dick, and Jane thinks they have a carte blanche to dismiss, malign, and cast aspersions on the entire Church, that's not okay. When anyone who tries to bring some semblance of proportion, level thinking, and basic fairness gets characterized as a molester sympathizer, That. Is. Not. Okay.
Our society has become hypersensitive to this issue. And no, that's not okay. Justice carries the concept of proportionality within it, and we are far beyond that. We need to deal decisively with the individuals who perpetrate this crime. We need to take steps, as the Church has long since done, to prevent it. In short, we need to practice real justice and prudence. But demonizing an entire institution, an entire profession and all those individuals who practice it, as well as those who speak up for justice is just plain despicable, even evil, and it needs to stop.