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Discussion 2 to Meditation 53
Pell and the Lack of Morality. A Rant.

by Rev. Len

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The previous Meditation editorializing on Archbishop Pell's sermon was most welcome. Pell addressed the World Youth Day (week) in Toronto, stating the Roman Catholic Church's position on morality, specifically that the sexual abuse of children by priests is a lesser sin than abortion.

I had the questionable pleasure of being in Toronto at the time of this gathering, though not for the purpose of attending the festivities. In fact, when I learned (through the UCTAA message board) that one of my favorite cities would be invaded by John-Paul II and his minions, and inundated by up to a million faithful, I nearly cancelled our plans. It was my wife who suggested that I could provide "philosophical balance" to the pope's visit, which of course is a bit overstated, but appealing. Besides, we had already purchased train tickets.

I read Pell's views in the Globe over what had been until then a pleasant breakfast. My appetite spoiled, I proceeded to rant. It is completely irrational to claim that raping children is can be placed on some sort of moral scale in comparison to personal choice, and about this man's presumption to determine what was an what was not moral or ethical behavior for other people. WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

Then I realized: That's his job! Making proclamations determining what the faithful must think and do is not only something he was trained to do, but something he evidently has a talent for and enjoys doing. More than this, dogma is what the Roman Church is all about, and not only for the benefit of Catholics, but is intended to shape the opinions of billions of non-Catholics. To accomplish this, they use their considerable influence, and that of their members, to create legislation that conforms to their views, based on their religious beliefs, which if enacted requires non-believers and those of other faiths to adhere to the Catholic view by law.

This is an ethical system I am opposed to.

The Roman Catholic Church may be powerful enough to at least partially accomplish this, but the have no moral high ground, and in fact their moral system is based on the assertion that it was handed down by God, which no-one has yet proven, and there is considerable evidence to the contrary anyway. Aside from this, their current lack of credibility is due to the fact that the rampant abuses of the Roman Catholic clergy have been condoned as policy by the Catholic hierarchy. These priests (the ones who were caught anyway) were usually, but not always, removed from their parish duties, ordered into a few weeks of therapy and returned; or sent on retreat and returned; or relocated to other parishes who were not informed of the criminal behavior; or were transferred to administrative duty. The abuses of individual priests are well known to Bishops, are covered up by the Archdiocese, and protection was until recently provided to abusers by a vast conspiracy of secrecy. This conspiracy kept parishioners ignorant of the facts, and kept civil governments and their laws ignorant of the crimes being committed, and out of what the Vatican considered to be its own business.

News of pedophilic (and raping of girls, and a long list of other abuses) priests is no longer a secret, and to their small credit the Church is no longer protecting the ones who have been caught, and is providing prosecutors with relevant documents. But there are still several problems here: The fact that these documents exist at all is evidence that this criminal behavior was known to Church hierarchy; documents consistently ordering treatment and transfers for priests, and buying the silence of injured families is de facto written policy.

The bottom line here is that only some of the criminals within the Roman Catholic Church are being sought out and prosecuted. Prosecutors are relying on church officials to turn in their brethren while at the same time their own criminal activities are being overlooked. The criminal scandal in the church is comparable to, but on a much larger scale as, the Watergate cover-up of thirty years ago, the only differences being the nature of the initial crime (burglary vs pedophilia), and the institution involved (the US President vs the RC Church). The rest has striking similarities: cover-up, conspiracy, intimidation of witnesses, manipulation of the media, manipulation of the Justice system, obfuscation and denial by high-ranking officials of a major world power including its highest official, and the considerable resources of that major world power being used to make all this happen.

Pell has created a false dichotomy in comparing abortion to "problem priests". For one, abortion is legal, safe and highly regulated. The decision to have an abortion is also one of personal choice, hopefully preceded by considerable contemplation. Pedophilia on the other hand, is not legal, and the sexual and mental abuse of children, is made more heinous by the fact that the perpetrators used their position of trust to commit these crimes. These crimes by individuals are only the tip of the iceberg of related criminal activity involving a vast conspiracy of cover-up, manipulation, dissimulation and obfuscation, and of using their theology as a defense as well as a weapon.

There is no comparison.