Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Priorities and Reversals of the Godly Males

[Trigger warning: rape, child abuse]

From The New York Times:

"Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit."

Note, the article doesn't say that the bishops warned the Vatican out of a concern that the abusive priest might harm more boys in the future, but rather that the bishops did so out of a concern that a failure to remove the priest might embarrass the church. Indeed, the Vatican's first priority appears to be its own image, as it has now "gone on the defensive" in light of these new revelations, which the Pope unbelievably calls "petty gossip."

The more that comes to light about this insular institution whose leaders have endowed themselves with godly male authority, the more its actions continue to speak louder than its words about its reverence of life. The article continues:

"The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal....Father Murphy not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims....In 1993, with complaints about Father Murphy landing on his desk, Archbishop Weakland hired a social worker specializing in treating sexual offenders to evaluate him. After four days of interviews, the social worker said that Father Murphy had admitted his acts, had probably molested about 200 boys and felt no remorse."

In a world wherein the well-being of children is a significant concern, bringing these misdeeds to light is hardly a round of petty gossip. Indeed, I read many of the documents posted by the Times pertaining to this case and, not only did the priest confess, but after he died, the Archbishop of Milwaukee expressed hope that they could "avoid undue publicity that would be negative toward the Church."

This same institution, which has been known to fail to defrock known pedophile men from its priesthood, opposes the ordination of all women. It opposes female ordination by claiming that Jesus' manhood was essential to him and that this manhood is something no woman can represent. Yet, I'm also somewhat certain that, although Jesus the historical figure was likely a man (assuming he existed), he also wasn't a pedophile. And so it goes. When it comes to ordination, this institution makes special exceptions for men. Images must be upheld, after all.

This same institution, you will remember, has this to say about gay adoption:

"Allowing children to be adopted by gay couples would do violence to these children. Their condition of dependency would stunt their full human development."

At this point, what is the appropriate response when confronted with such projection and hypocrisy?

The late critic of Catholicism Mary Daly, liked to note that patriarchs "always are the reverse of what they claim to be." Isn't that fun to think about when the godly males claim that it is they, and not women, who are closer to Jesus? And that it is gay couples, and not they, who do violence to children?

With these obvious reversals in mind, perhaps St. Epiphanius sums it up best:

"For the female sex is easily seduced, weak, and without much understanding. The devil seeks to vomit out his disorder through women.... We wish to apply masculine reasoning and destroy the folly of these women." St. Epiphanius, Adversus Collyridianos, in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 42, cols. 740f., third century CE.

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