Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stop Defending the Catholic Church: Day 5

Day Five: Apologism Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

I know there are still people reading this--if they haven't defriended me over it--who insist that the real intolerance here is mine, that the real bigotry, hatred, and harm comes from compiling these links and not from the organization whose actions have been reported on. These people are apologists, who will say and do anything to defend their church because that is what they have been taught they must do. Is it loyalty? Is it fear of being cut off from salvation without the church? I don't know, you tell me.

But here's my problem with this sort of apologism. When someone says, "A priest molested me as a child and shamed me into silence," apologists are the ones who say, "Yeah, but not all priests are like that, so try to express your pain in a way that doesn't make Catholics uncomfortable." When someone says, "I was locked in a workhouse and assaulted physically and sexually when I wasn't actively engaged in forced labor," apologists are the ones who say, "That's really sad honey and Imma let you finish, but the church does a lot of charity work and I'd like to derail this conversation to talk about this other thing for a while." When someone says, "Scientific journals have criticized the RCC for their habit of lying to at-risk populations about AIDS," apologists are the ones who say, "Yes, but a condom is just like a cigarette filter! What do doctors know about epidemiology that the College of Cardinals doesn't?"

In short, apologists are the ones who take a conversation that makes them uncomfortable and put their own feelings at the center of it so that rather than talking about the victims of the RCC's wanton callousness, racism, and unvarnished cruelty... we're talking about how sad it is that victims' advocates hurt Catholic people's feelings by pointing these things out. The real problem with apologism is that when you come into this discussion defending the Catholic church, what you are really saying is that you don't like us talking about harsh realities and would rather we discuss a comforting fantasy. Well, you can save that horseshit for church where it belongs. This is the real world.

In the real world, the Catholic Church probably hates you. Stop defending it like a battered wife who's sure her husband really really does love her, he's just got a funny way of showing it and you're sure that if you stay and show the church love and don't make trouble and be everything it asks you to be, it'll understand what it's been doing to you and everything will turn out like the RCC promised you it would be.

It's pathetic. Stop it.

If you missed it, here's Day One: The Church Hates Gays, Day Two: The Church Hates Women, Day Three: The Church Hates Africa, and Day Four: The Church Loves Child Rapists.

Hope you've enjoyed my blog series. This is a topic I've gotten tired of hashing over again and again and again, and now at least I have something I can just link to people when I'm too lazy to deal with the same regurgitated apologism. Feel free to do the same, if you're so inclined. Just link back to me so that I can pat myself on the back and feel useful.

Love, peace, and suchforth,


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stop Defending the Catholic Church: Day 4

Day Four (the day you were waiting for): The Church Loves Child Rapists

A 9 year old Brazilian girl was repeatedly raped by her stepfather and impregnated with twins: a pregnancy for which the word "dangerous" might as well have been invented. The local archbishop didn't see fit to excommunicate the rapist, but the mother and doctors who terminated the pregnancy clearly had grievously offended god. And no, this wasn't just some outlier whacko. The Vatican backed him up on it.

WI bishops opposed Wisconsin legislation to repeal the statute of limitations on child abuse cases. Whom does that one help, eh? They don't like sex abuse legislation in Connecticut or New York or the D.C. area or Denver or basically anywhere.

New Report Shows Extent of Priest Abuse in Chicago

The percentage of parishes and institutions ministered by credibly accused priests approached 25% in the mid-1990's. In 2009, one in five institutions in the archdiocese still had a credibly accused priest in residence.

"This study raises deeply troubling questions about the way credibly accused priests were sent to parishes and residences. The concentration of assignments in certain areas, the clustering of multiple pedophiles in the same place, and the total absence of assignments to parishes or institutions in other areas, all suggest that assignments were not made strictly in response to changing pastoral needs. The question of what criteria were applied to the assignment of these priests remains to be answered. It is painfully clear that these assignments were not accidental."
Another article on the RCC's habit of relocating predator priests to unsuspecting communities rather than firing them.

The Kansas City Catholic Diocese chooses not to tell the police that one of their priests--who, it should be noted, had received complaints about the way he behaved around children--had a stash of kiddie porn on his computer, and on his very own personal camera.

The Cloyne Report describes the failures of one particularly nasty diocese.
At the launch of the report, the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald expressed “sincere sympathy with those who have suffered”; offered an apology “for the failings of the state”; and condemned the response of the Cloyne diocese for displaying a culture of “astonishing non-compliance”. Fitzgerald also criticised the Vatican’s response to the crisis, saying that that it was evident its “sole concern was the protection of the institution – not the children”.
When, yeah. I think we knew that.

Cardinal Egan, former Archbishop of New York, once said, “If in hindsight we also discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.” But ten years later he's decided that actually no, he never should have said that because he isn't fuckin' sorry. Cute!

Some 200 Catholic priests suspected of sexual abuse--but not convicted--are living undetected in communities across California, according to an attorney who represents hundreds of plaintiffs who sued the LA Archdiocese alleging molestation they say was inflicted on them by priests and clergy of the church. Trigger warning for explicit ddescription of sexual abuse.

An Australian Bishop indicated that an inquiry into the suicide rate of victims of Catholic priests' sexual abuse was not needed. Here's the money quote: "I think we've learnt a lot of things about what is appropriate behaviour and what's not appropriate behaviour," Bishop Connors said. I'm glad that it only took twenty six of a single priest's victims committing suicide to get to this point! They just didn't realize before that a priest shouldn't be having sexual contact with children, but they get it now, honest, so they're quite sure no investigation is needed.

A German Catholic priest has admitted 280 counts of sexual abuse involving three boys in the past decade, saying he did not think he was doing harm. Oh, well, okay then. I mean, if nobody told him that this wasn't cool I guess I can sort of NO. NO WHAT THE FUCK. What's he waiting for, some arbitrarily-large number of his victims to commit suicide?

The Vatican is arguing the following things as reasons why Benedict shouldn't be deposed: "that the pope has immunity as a head of state; that American bishops who oversaw abusive priests weren’t employees of the Vatican," etc. Not "we didn't do this and you have no evidence," but "the pope has diplomatic immunity so nyah."

Another good defense: Blame the Jews! ...Somehow. There are some other hilarious scapegoats listed here.

But you know what, even if they refuse to accept any responsibility or accountability from outside organizations or governments, the Catholic Church puts the right people on the job to investigate these things when they can, people who really care about protecting kids. Oh wait no.

If you missed it, here's Day One: The Church Hates Gays, and Day Two: The Church Hates Women and Day Three: The Church Hates Africa.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stop Defending the Catholic Church: Day 3

Day Three: The Church Hates Africa

Scientists at The Lancet are really sick of the Pope distorting the evidence---AKA lying--about AIDS.

It is evidently the official position of the South African RCC that condoms have not prevented a single case of HIV ever, and that's what they're teaching vulnerable African populations. What could possibly go wrong?

Cardinal who heads the Pontifical Council for the Family suggests that condoms in Africa be labelled as unsafe and ineffective, comparing a condom to a cigarette filter. Way helpful, guys.

The RCC has such a problem with Africa that they're willing to let priests rape African nuns. Presumably they're less likely to get AIDS that way than if they rape African children. Or something. Of course, this plan doesn't work as well if you're still also raping the children. But more about that on Day Four!

If you missed it, here's Day One: The Church Hates Gays, and Day Two: The Church Hates Women.

Someone's Got to Set an Example

Thousands of people in Finland have left their church over recent anti-gay remarks.

This is what it looks like when a church is held accountable to members for its anti-gay rhetoric. Huge love to the former members of Finland's Evangelical-Lutheran and Orthodox Churches for actually DEMONSTRATING that this matters to them instead of whining and making excuses like Americans.

Meanwhile the suicides of two more gay teenagers have hit the news.

17-Year-Old Gay Teen Terrel Williams Kills Himself Following After-School Attack

Corey Jackson. 19. Gay. College Student. Killed Himself on Tuesday.

I want all those people who wore purple two days ago to think long and hard about what they're actually willing to do to show solidarity with these kids, or whether they were just looking for a pat on the back and an ego boost for themselves on Wednesday.

If your denomination has made anti-gay statements, show a little backbone and demonstrate that these stories matter to you. I'm tired of choking on the insincerity and excuses from people who claim their hearts are breaking, but won't so much as stop attending churches that preach the very hatred and disdain that feeds this bullying.

Dan Savage is a problematic figure for a lot of reasons (so I'm by no means saying I agree with him on everything forever), but he had it right when he said the following:

The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality—even if those people strive to express their bigotry in the politest possible way (at least when they happen to be addressing a gay person)—learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged, disordered, and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, or at your church, or in your workplace, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack gays and lesbians at the ballot box, nice and impersonally, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.

Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not "sinners." Gay and lesbian children. (...)

You don't have to explicitly "encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate" queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It's here, it's clear, and we're seeing the fruits of it: dead children.

Oh, and those same dehumanizing bigotries that fill your straight children with hate? They fill your gay children with suicidal despair. And you have the nerve to ask me to be more careful with my words?

Stop attending churches you disagree with about homosexuality. Stop dragging your children to churches that are teaching them to hate other kids, or themselves. Stop telling me how much you love your gay friends, and then faithfully attending lectures on how depraved and inverted and unworthy they are.

Show a little backbone and stand behind those convictions, or stop asking for pats on the back for having them. Having them isn't enough. Burden of proof is on you. Nobody is going to believe what you say if you're contradicting it by what you do--or don't do.

Much love to the Finns here. Hopefully Americans will learn from this example.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stop Defending the Catholic Church: Day 2

Day Two: The Church Hates Women

Women can't be priests. Ordaining a woman is grounds for immediate excommunication, just like heresy, schism, and laying violent hands on the Pope himself. Giving women power within the organization is a serious serious crime and they will immediately kick you out for it. Enough said, right? Well, clearly not, because there are still women attending mass who don't hate themselves, so let's continue.

An individual Catholic priest argued that sexism is bad and women should be ordained, and the Vatican threatened to excommunicate him in the hopes it would shut him up. To be fair, he actually is being a rather poor representative of the church. He's giving people the wrong idea about what they actually stand for, which is sad because I happen to agree with him.

Here's the one that'll come as a surprise to those of you who have a "personal relationship" with Christ that doesn't require you to study the Bible personally. The RCC isn't against abortion because the Bible is pro-infant. They're against it because they hate women.

What, does that sound too unfair? A Catholic hospital performs an abortion to save the mother's life and is ordered by their Bishop never to do it again. Pro-life my ass. They're just anti-woman, and they're willing to leave her other four kids without their mother on this supposedly "pro-child/pro-family" stance.

Toledo Catholic Bishop Leonard Blair has banned parishes and parochial schools from raising funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, citing concerns that the global anti-cancer giant may someday fund embryonic stem-cell research. InteractiveLeaf summarized their apparent priorities well here. "It's not like breast cancer hurts real people. Just women, mostly."

Ever hear of Magdalene laundries? The last one finally closed in 1996. Oh, and by the way, if you're curious what happened to the ones who didn't survive, sometimes they were thrown in unmarked graves. But hey! I'm sure they at least got funerals, which is more than the RCC evidently owes gay people.

So yeah! In case there were any doubt, elevating the virginal mother of Jesus does not make you any less a tool of a misogynist system. If you missed it, here's Day One: The Church Hates Gays

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stop Defending the Catholic Church

Welcome to my blog series on why you should STOP DEFENDING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

A lot of people don't realize these things are pervasive enough to reflect on the organization itself; they're still thinking it's just isolated incidents. They are wrong. They're entitled to their own values and opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. These things are not isolated.

Link the following things to people who get pissed when you talk about the Catholic Church as though it's an organization which is actively working to oppress gays, demean women, perpetuate HIV/AIDS, and shelter child rapists.

(A note to loyal Catholic readers: If you feel cornered and attacked and maligned just reading these links, try and imagine how the organization you love so much is making me feel. Oh, and gay people. And all those women they're dehumanizing. Oh, and the dead Africans. And all those kids and their families who made the mistake of trusting a priest. Yeah, those people. Try to check your feelings against theirs before you decide to derail the conversation and make it all about your hurt feelings. Don't worry, I've got an entry just for you on Day Five. So sit tight; I haven't forgotten you, honest.)

Day One: The Church Hates Gays

Before you can get married by the Phoenix diocese, they educate you about how awful gay marriage is and how important it is that Catholics be against it.

The church holds homeless people in DC hostage over gay marriage. Remember this little old news story? If you did, never do that again, because it tells you all you need to know about the organization's priorities.

They do the same thing in Illinois, only this time with foster kids. They claim that they don't want to place kids with any non-married people, but according to the Advocate, they don't mind single straight people people. Evidently it's just the gays! Hear that, kids? Gay parents are so toxic that Illinois Dioceses would prefer you didn't have a family at all. You can thank them later.

The Catholic Church--despite being tax-exempt--spends a lot of money lobbying against gay marriage, because they know they have enough apologists out there to keep them from ever being stripped of their tax-exempt status.

Look how much money Portland, ME's diocese alone spent lobbying against gay marriage.

The next time a Catholic apologist argues that the RCC fights gay marriage to defend religious freedom, link them this. The RCC is outraged that other religions can bless gay unions if their teachings allow for it. They don't care about religious freedom; they just hate gays.

"Gays will never enter the reign of God," says a Mexican Cardinal.

Gay tourists are not welcome at the Vatican.

Gay people don't deserve funerals.

That should keep you busy for today.

Monday, October 4, 2010


You just broke your child. Congratulations.

It's a letter to dads about being a dad, about children. I'm not usually responsive to the usual, "relink this for the children" pleas, but this was actually a goddamned good essay.

I apologize for the heatedness of my post. I believe a part of me feels like a coward for not saying something to the man in front of me at Costco. Consider this post to be my penance. Perhaps a part of me feels that if even one person reads this and decides to be a better dad, it was worth every second that I spent typing it. If one child has a better life because something in my words stirred their father to step up their game, then it was worth every ounce of begging and pleading with you to share this with others, of which I am inevitably going to be guilty.

Dads. Children are gifts. They are not ours for the breaking. They are ours for the making. So stand up with me and show the world that there are a lot of good dads around.

To the men and women who read this post... married or not... parent or not... share this post on Facebook and Twitter, even if it doesn't apply to you because you're already all these things. If you've ever seen a father break his child, share it. You never know what child might get his superhero dad back. You never know what tiny spirit might feel just a little more loved because Dad took the time to tuck her in tonight.

All because you were willing to paste one link and ask others to read it.

He asked for stories about good dads in the comments, and I'm betting that readers here will want one as well. If you've got a story about awesome dadness, I'd love you to post it here, but I'd love it even more if you went and posted it there. Here's mine.

My mother's third husband is an awesome dad. If I liked something that girls traditionally didn't, he got enthused and geeked out over his stepdaughter wanting to build a fort in the woods, or go squirrel hunting, or wanting to hit the military surplus store, or wanting to watch The History Channel all day, mall be damned. He was the one who finally convinced my mother that I needed an eye exam, and probably glasses. He was the only one who believed me when I said I couldn't see through one of my eyes, and I never forgot how jarring it was to speak to an adult and be believed.

I was once being bullied in junior high, and it almost turned into a fight. I think, looking back, that I would have been willing to do far worse to her than she would have to me, just because I was scared and she was merely pissed and insecure. It didn't come to blows, but the school was going to suspend both of us as part of their zero tolerance policy toward fighting.

He went to that administrator's office--in uniform--and asked her how in the hell she, as a woman, could tell another young woman that she deserves to be punished because she was victimized. That it wasn't just her fault, but that she was to be equally punished. I took great comfort in knowing that he made her cry.

My biological father? Eh. I could go on about him, but he's not as large a part of my life anymore. The guy I refer to when I say "my dad" is the third man my mother married, and I'm glad she had the freedom to shop around. I ended up with a guy who didn't want to silence his mouthy sharp-tongued little girl; he just made sure I could defend myself if someone brought me trouble because of it.

He taught me that it's good to stand up for people who need it, but even better to make sure it's safe for them to do it themselves. That's a hell of a good dad move right there.