Thursday, April 15, 2010

The kangaroo court of public opinion

Mark Shea, doing what he does best here:
The state-owned media in Australia offers a sober assessment of the Church and a clear-headed and calm way forward in dealing with Benedict XVI:
Why then do we not bomb the Vatican and obliterate Italy for harbouring this criminal mastermind, this known protector of evil predators? Why do we not pursue him through the sewers of Europe and riddle his corpse with bullets?
Turns out the answer is not, "Because that is the demented spewing of a mind warped by insane hatred of the Catholic faith" but rather "Because Benedict is white."

This, among many other reasons, is why I find it so hard to credit the constant recommendation of MSM journalists that I get down on my knees in gratitude to them for their sterling and knightly high purpose of Reforming the Church. To quote Robert Bolt's St. Thomas More, "This is not Reformation. This is war on the Church." And it is using abused children as human shields. These people have not the slightest interest in knowing or caring what they are talking about. Point out that a slanderous misrepresentation of Pope Benedict has not a dram of truth to it, and the reply is: "So, once again, you fail to see the real issue here, and are more concerned about the problems of the Church and its survival, than of ridding the organization of pederasts and their enablers." Because, of course, the only way to Save The Children is to lie about the Pope. Conversely, any attempt to say, "But the Pope is not the Bad Guy here" is to ignore the victims. It's classic mob mentality. [...]

Me: I don't buy any of this media BS. Once the frenzy is over, we will be pretty much where we were before the frenzy. There is simply no evidence at all that Benedict transferred pedophiles, covered up acts of perversion, endangered children, or did any of the other hideous things that our lying journalist class has now convicted him of in the court of public opinion. The day, I pray, will come when the public will wake up with a hangover and realize they have participated in the maligning of a very good man. Similarly, the day will, I pray, come when Catholics stop stupidly believing that the key to reformation of the Church is "listen to those who wish to destroy the Church and sow salt on Her ashes." This, like those stupid revisionist accounts of the gospel were Jesus says to Judas, "You're the only one who really understands me" is, what's the word?, oh yeah, "idiotic". Reformation will come by living out the teaching of the gospel. [All links in original--E.M.]
As Mark--astonishingly!***--admits, believing that Pope Benedict XVI is a good pope who is doing his best does not mean that Catholics are obligated to believe our Holy Father never ever made any prudential errors during his tenure at the CDF, or indeed, at any point along the way of his life of ministry.

But being a halfway decent human being, let alone being a good Catholic, requires one to, you know, actually pay attention to details and weigh evidence and look at these cases in context, not pontificate that we know the Pope was involved in cover-ups, because we know, because everybody knows, because it's common knowledge, because the New York Times said, because we heard it from somebody somewhere, etc. The Court of Public Opinion is a kangaroo court; it makes daytime television look balanced, and reality TV look intellectual.

Nobody is denying that the Scandal has been devastating, first and most of all for the innocent victims for whom we should have the greatest concern. Nobody is denying that it would be a good idea if the Church would universally adopt rules not unlike the Dallas Charter (taking into consideration local conditions and needs, of course; in countries where the victim is likely to be more in danger from being publicly identified in a court case, for instance, it might not be good to mandate handing things over to state authorities). Nobody thinks that reform is unnecessary.

But siding with the "any stick to beat the Church" crowd has never turned out well for the Church, or for Christianity generally. And scapegoating the one person who has both the power and the will to effect reforms in the Church would be an act of cutting off the nose to spite the face--an act of stupid futility.

***Because, of course, only rigid clericalism which thinks that no priest anywhere has ever been in the wrong could be behind an attitude which says the pope isn't a bad sort, at all, and ought to be given a chance to fix things.


Magister Christianus said...

This is why I have a link to a prayer for the Pope on my blog. The link is:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

We can certainly agree that Mark Shea is an idiot. May I note that Hitler was also white, and some significant resources were (belatedly) devoted to invading his empire and destroying his government?

It is highly likely that pedophilia among Roman Catholic priests was NOT the result of a deliberate conspiracy emanating from the Vatican. It is probable that pulverizing the Vatican would not decrease, and might even increase, the incidence of pedophilia among clergy, including the leaderless fragments of the Roman Catholic church which would no doubt continue to function in many lands, now without the supervision they are used to. Accountability means something.

I think however that The Economist said rather well, "There is also abundant evidence that the Catholic hierarchy remains addicted to secrecy, and that it instinctively sees as its main task the safeguarding of the reputation of the church, rather than co-operation with the civil authorities or protecting potential victims... It doesn't help much when all concern about the Vatican's approach is dismissed as mere 'chatter'."

And so, fools rush into print, where angels fear to tread.

Red Cardigan said...

Um, Siarlys, with whom do you "agree" that Mark is an idiot? I tend to think Mark is seriously awesome on this and other issues, particularly the evil of torture.

And "concerns" about the Vatican's approach have, as far as I've observed, been linked with calls for the Vatican to immediately ordain women, married men, etc., along with calls for laws mandating that bishops do things which are in point of fact illegal in many countries (e.g., at the first sign of a non-verified accusation turn over personnel files to district attorneys so the latter can root among them for their amusement and profit, and so on). We may not *like* that the accused and possibly guilty have rights, but they do.

c matt said...

There is also abundant evidence that the Catholic hierarchy remains addicted to secrecy

Because, of course there is no other organization on Earth that wants to maintain secrecy of its internal workings. Nope, only the RC. Every other organization - private, public, secular or religious is completely 100% transparent, like our Executive Branch.

Pauli said...

Mark Shea is *not* an idiot. To claim that is about as silly as saying Obama is an idiot just because you don't like him or his policies.

I don't necessarily like a lot of Shea's writing--especially on his blog--but on this topic he is spot on and his latest take down of Rod Dreher is a must-read.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

It would appear that Mark Shea is NOT the one who said "Why then do we not bomb the Vatican and obliterate Italy for harbouring this criminal mastermind, this known protector of evil predators? Why do we not pursue him through the sewers of Europe and riddle his corpse with bullets?" ???

Because, the presentation I read gave me the impression those were his own words. The phrase "doing what he does best" sounded very much like sarcasm. Well, my words have from time to time been mistaken for sarcasm when I meant them as a sincere compliment, so I can't in the least say its all your fault I misread the connection here. But the notion of bombing the Vatican is what I meant to characterize as idiotic.

As I type this note, Benedict has been in the news taking some very positive steps, which were not yet on record at this time of your original post -- meeting with sexual abuse victims in Malta, and statements issued following that meeting.

Rod Dreher has a great deal more respect for the Roman Catholic church than I do, and I haven't found his critique of the pedophilia scandal off the mark at all. I think the church has a right to set its own doctrine on matters like ordaining women, married priests, etc., but he thinks it is vital to the future of human civilization, whereas I think it is likely to be around, likely to make some positive and some negative contributions. He is genuinely motivated by the pain of seeing something he believes vital literally destroying itself.

Of course most humans and human institutions caught doing something they shouldn't react defensively. Jimmy Swaggart certainly did. But it is a bit worse when a church is the perpetrator (not of the pedophilia, but of a pattern of covering for the crime over many decades). Is all that still going on like always? No -- and that is one thing the media are missing. There have been some real steps taken to make sure the operation of the church is not complicit, and men likely to commit such crimes are not assigned to positions where they can do so with impunity.