Yesterday I posted about the recent slew of child molestation revelations in the Catholic Church. I was specifically focused on the lack of intelligent discussion around why someone would want to molest a child, but the question lots of people wanted to address in the comments was "Why did the Church allow it to flourish?"
GrrrlRomeo made a great point:
Abuse obviously happens outside the Church as well. What's scary about it happening within the Church is that it has the ability to act outside and above the law. Except for a handful of states, we pretty much let them because we assume they're more moral.
We give religion exceptions in anti-discrimination laws, child abuse reporting laws, taxes and more, and I see no rational reason for it.
Indeed, we regularly treat churches in the US as though they're above the law. We also treat people with power as though they're above the law as well. Just look at the lack of prosecutions for any of the previous administration's illegal actions, or to cases of police brutality where only an internal investigation that surprisingly lets the officers in question off the hook was conducted, or any number of cases of celebrities caught breaking the law that precipitate "What are we going to do without this person's art/athletic ability/talent?"
The lawlessness of the Catholic Church is at the intersection of these factors, religion and power, as even law enforcement officials ignored signs of abuse because they were weary of investigating the church. And just today, Britain's Foreign Office apologized to the Pope for insulting him:
The Foreign Office has apologised for a leaked document that suggested that Pope Benedict XVI be invited to bless a gay marriage, open up a hospital abortion ward and be presented with his own "Benedict" brand of condoms while on his controversial tour of the UK this September.
The document was described as "foolish" by the Foreign Office and was a "brainstorm" exercise rather than official Government policy.
The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon told the BBC: "I think it's a lot worse that we invite someone into our country - a person like the Pope - and then he's treated in this way.
"I think it's appalling manners more than anything else."
You what else is appalling? Putting known child molesters in jobs where they will work closely with children and refusing to dismiss them, much less contact secular authorities. Heaven forbid the Pope be the subject of a light-hearted joke that doesn't really even insult him! I mean, that's worse than rape!
The Vatican is taking every opportunity to milk this event before the Pope's visit by wagging their finger at the UK:
Cardinal Renato Martino, former head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said: 'The British Government has invited the Pope as its guest and he should be treated with respect.
'To make a mockery of his beliefs and the beliefs of millions of Catholics, not just in Britain but across the world, is very offensive indeed.'
Another senior Vatican source said: 'This could have very severe repercussions and is embarrassing for the British Government. One has to question whether the action taken is enough.'
You know what's embarrassing for the government of the Vatican (since they're claiming their a real nation now): convincing people to put their children in their care and then covering up child molestation and rape for decades in other countries. But, no, they shouldn't be treated that disrespectfully.
But the most galling statement (from just that quote, the Vatican has been putting out galling statements right and left these past few weeks): "One has to question whether the action taken is enough." You know what? We know action taken by the Vatican wasn't enough.
One would think they'd be in no position to talk, but they know they're above the law. If anyone ends up getting arrested for the cover-up, it'll be someone low on the hierarchy that they'll blame. But I doubt even that much will happen.
The US particularly, but all the countries affected generally, has a multi-tiered justice system. Some people do whatever they want and they won't even think of doing time. The rest of us are subjected to the most punitive criminal justice system in the world.
I don't know whether it's more annoying when people on the lower tier try to justify the system or when people on the upper tier scold everyone else for being immoral. But they seem to be part and parcel with the idea of unequal justice.
Anyway, here's more from that memo.
In the document, staff who were asked to propose ideas for the 'ideal' visit suggested Benedict XVI could launch a new range of 'Benedict' condoms or back a Miss Developing World beauty contest.
Sources in Rome said the document also proposed that the Pope might sing a duet with the Queen to raise money for charity. The pair are due to meet during the Pontiff's visit in September.
The memo, which has dismayed Church leaders in Britain, is also understood to suggest that the leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics could apologise for the Spanish Armada, reverse his ban on women priests and visit an old people's home.
A graphic attached to the document listed 'positive' people who could be associated with the trip, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair and the singer Susan Boyle, and 'negative' ones, such as England footballer Wayne Rooney. All three are Catholics - with Boyle a former singer in her parish choir and Blair converting to the faith two years ago.