First off, sorry for the prolonged absence. I presume the blogosphere has endured without me as I wait for the good people of Virgin Broadband to favor me with their services. (Note: expect an an angry blog post soonish re: Byzantine bureaucracy and the philosophy of obstructionism which seems to characterize UK business practices).
In the interim, to keep up my function as philosopher general and finger in the eye of all unworthy of institutions, I thought I’d dash off this quick post to throw my support behind the New York Times for its thorough and continuing coverage of the Catholic church sex abuse scandal.
According to an editorial from the Public Editor today, The Times has come under attack on many fronts for its pursuit of the story and, in particular, for its coverage of the Pope’s involvement. I’m happy to see the paper stand firmly behind its coverage, despite the criticism. When an institution with the size, power, and reach of the Catholic Church is caught with its pants down, it is utterly critical that the media be there to report in full. Fear of offending catholics must never supplant a newspaper’s responsibility to speak truth to power. If the truth is ugly, then those who feel smeared by it ought to do some soul searching. If, for example, upon hearing the story of a priest who sexually abused hundreds of deaf children then solicited sex IN THE CONFESSIONAL, you find yourself worrying about the church’s image rather than the welfare of those children, perhaps your moral compass needs a bit of tuning up.
The Church stands accused of serious and widespread criminal and immoral acts. Though responsibility for the acts of sexual abuse belong squarely with the priests who committed them, responsibility for enabling further abuse clearly belongs to any church official who chose to relocate rather than prosecute an abuser. Moreover, the decision to cover up allegations rather than bring them to the attention of legal authorities can not be justified by any Christian moral doctrine I can think of.
Thou shalt not smear a priest? Perhaps that was Commandment # 11, inadvertently omitted by an overworked scribe.
I have long believed that, for a good many people, allegiance to the Church has far less to do with the Church itself than with a desire for familial continuity and tradition. But the fact of the matter is that it gets harder and harder for ethical people to sustain allegiance to a church whose practices and beliefs are so far out of the mainstream of modern morality. And I believe that what we are seeing now is a church in its death throws.
As a woman who was raised Catholic and who, after much serious contemplation, chose to reject the Church wholeheartedly, I can only say: come on in, the water’s fine. It may not be holy, but at least it doesn’t stink of hypocrisy.