Pharyngula

It’s all my fault

PBS has a crew in the Vatican, looking to see some signs of light from a secretive organization. Here’s an account of one audience — it sounds hopeless. First some flunky came out to make this declaration:

The last couple of months have been very difficult, he went on, with so many questions being raised about things that happened long ago. But he said, “This is the time for truth, transparency and credibility. Secrecy and discretion are not values that are in fashion at the moment. We must be in a condition of having nothing to hide.”

Ah, now it’s all in the distant past. Once again, they are not going to take responsibility, but push it off. That is not promising.

When the Pope himself spoke, it was no better. No mention of the sex abuse scandals, just another slow swivel to another target in the blame game: the internet.

“The times in which we living knows a huge widening of the frontiers of communication,” he said (according to our Italian fixer/producer) and the new media of this new age points to a more “egalitarian and pluralistic” forum. But, he went on to say, it also opens a new hole, the “digital divide” between haves and have-nots. Even more ominous, he said, it exacerbates tensions between nations and within nations themselves. And it increases the “dangers of … intellectual and moral relativism,” which can lead to “multiple forms of degradation and humiliation” of the essence of a person, and to the “pollution of the spirit.” All in all, it seemed a pretty grim view of the wide open communication parameters being demanded by the Internet age.

The rejection of modernity is not just the provenance of yokel creationists, I guess.

Comments

  1. #1 Th0th
    April 28, 2010

    Maybe the problem is the Vatican’s creation of a celibate clergy who is either unequipped or unwilling to rise above the temptations of the flesh, especially now since they can get it online in ways never before imagined.

    This also assumes that potential molesters don’t seek out these positions as a way to operate on their desires with impunity.

    I keep going back to my childhood in the 70s and 80s, when inviting the local priest to your house for supper was a huge deal and a position of status. To accuse Father Friendly of any bad touching at that time was anathema and invited scorn of the worst kind.

    Then I found out in the 90s that our diocese became a dumping ground for at least 4 problem priests, one of whom (a Jesuit) was cloistered at Saint Louis University and kept out of the public eye. All this behind closed doors, and very likely none of it would have come to light had a group of adults abused as children not come forth to face their molesters.

    Either way, the Vatican’s response is a basic shell game; it only took them what, 320 years to absolve Galileo? I don’t see them taking full responsibility of this until sometime in the next century.

  2. #2 Valdyr
    April 28, 2010

    Moral relativism? You mean like how it’s okay not to tell the police when a priest rapes a child, but you should contact the authorities if someone else does it?

  3. #3 Ol'Greg
    April 28, 2010

    So how does the internet explain all the child rapes in the 70′s when there was no internet?

    I’m confused.

  4. #4 vanharris
    April 28, 2010

    And it increases the “dangers of … intellectual and moral relativism,” which can lead to “multiple forms of degradation and humiliation” of the essence of a person, and to the “pollution of the spirit.”

    Sure it does. It will help destroy the religious nutjobs’ absolutism. And they are the ones likely to suffer degradation and humiliation.

    I don’t understand about “pollution of the spirit”. Do they mean that their holy fucking ghost gets polluted by something? Anyway, in the real world, there isn’t any reliable evidence for such things as spirits.

  5. #5 Doug
    April 28, 2010

    Moral relativism. Is that Vatican code for ‘thinking for yourself and arriving at non-approved answers’?

  6. #6 RamblinDude
    April 28, 2010

    “This is the time for truth, transparency and credibility. Secrecy and discretion are not values that are in fashion at the moment. We must be in a condition of having nothing to hide.”

    And if there’s one thing men in dresses know, it’s being “fashionable.”

  7. #7 Prometheus
    April 28, 2010

    The first clergymen was spot on. The first part of morality is being able to justify yourself and one should have no need for covering up the “complicated truth” for the protection of others.

    And then Benedict gets up there and says the Catholic Church is having problems because knowledge is scary and the Church can’t hide anymore. The Catholic Church has lots of problems, but if it can managed to get rid of that clown it deserves a medal.

  8. #8 Rorschach
    April 28, 2010

    So how does the internet explain all the child rapes in the 70′s last 2000 years when there was no internet?

    Fixed.

  9. #9 detrius
    April 28, 2010

    Ratzinger: “dangers of … intellectual and moral relativism”

    Fuck you, asshole, you’re the epitome of intellectual and moral relativism. Is it really still necessary to point that out after you criticized Irish bishops for following your orders?

    “multiple forms of degradation and humiliation”

    You mean as in coercing underage rape victims into silence by threatening them with excommunication?

    “pollution of the spirit”

    Yeah, because the internet has the power of time travel and affecting the minds of child-diddling priests before it was even invented.

  10. #10 Rogut
    April 28, 2010

    “things being raised about things that happenned long ago” ??? Isn’t that the whole basis of religion ?!

    Rog

  11. #11 Katharine
    April 28, 2010

    It boggles my mind why anyone hates sex.

  12. #12 Rorschach
    April 28, 2010

    It boggles my mind why anyone hates sex.

    Remind me what that comment has to do with this thread??

  13. #13 Pierce R. Butler
    April 28, 2010

    But there was an internet during the ’70s – it was unavailable to the general public, being mostly a Pentagon project.

    Perhaps it’s time for a review of Vatican involvement in the US war on Vietnam, in which, after all, local Catholics were the predominant American cat’s paw. Maybe the Swiss Guard, with their extensive knowledge of catacombs, were brought in by Usenet to advise on the tunnel warfare which stymied US grunts.

  14. #14 Victor
    April 28, 2010

    The only thing I see when I read the Pope’s statement is, “And I’d do it again!”

  15. #15 Walton
    April 28, 2010

    It boggles my mind why anyone hates sex.

    Did you post this on the wrong page by mistake? It could be considered a little tasteless, in light of the topic of this thread. :-/

  16. #16 iambilly
    April 28, 2010

    Moral relativism — could that be changing the mass to reflect modern consumption patterns? or changing 500 years of anathema and admitting that Protestants may really be Christians (of a sort)? or suddenly (around the 11th century) deciding that it is not okay for priests to marry? or suddenly discovering (in about 1860 or so) that a Pope is infallible only when speaking ex cathedra?

    Or does changing tactics to reflect the political or cultural morality of the day not count as relativism? The Church keeps preaching unchanging absolutes and then changing the absolutes to reflect the new unchanging morality.

    Given the constant changes in the unchanging Church, how is anyone in the upper heirarchy of the Catholic Church still sane?

    Or is that a loaded question?

  17. #17 Brownian, OM
    April 28, 2010

    so many questions being raised about things that happened long ago.

    He’s right; it was all so long ago.

    I’m willing to forget about any and all so-called ‘crimes’ that happened in the past if the Vatican is.

    Let’s say this: everybody agree to never bring up any acts of molestation, abuse, rape, torture, theft, or murder (including by tortuous methods such as crucifixion) that happened before 1950.

  18. #18 Th0th
    April 28, 2010

    #3: I wasn’t implying it all began with the Internet, only that it’s made the issue of temptation and “trigger” elements more prevalent than before. You can use the Internet as an easy source of blame for a lot of things, but it still comes back to someone’s individual choice.

    I am sure there are people well into their senior years who were abused in some fashion; what about the legions of sadistic nuns wielding yardsticks of flame like some sort of habit-wearing Balrog?

    YOU SHALL NOT PASS…THIS CLASS!

  19. #19 Blake Stacey
    April 28, 2010

    Secrecy and discretion are not values that are in fashion at the moment.

    And then:

    And it increases the “dangers of … intellectual and moral relativism,”

    Heh heh heh heh.

  20. #20 iambilly
    April 28, 2010

    Damn, Blake, I missed that one when I read the OP. D’oh!

  21. #21 tms
    April 28, 2010

    It’s interesting to hear the pope condemn the internet. Didn’t the church use similar language to condemn Gutenberg’s invention in the 14th century?

    T

  22. #22 Null
    April 28, 2010

    So how does the internet explain all the child rapes in the 70′s when there was no internet?

    Let’s see; the creation of the Internet caused an inverse tachyon wave that travelled backwards through time and corrupted the priests before the ‘net was even created. The only way to correct this is to travel to the very moment in time that the ‘net went active for the general public, and release a wave 180 degrees out of phase, thus negating the effect.

    On a more serious note, I can’t possibly be the only one to read this as “That stupid internet… It makes it so hard to maintain a cover up.” The Catholic church’s position that reporting abuse is a greater crime than the abuse itself is mind boggling.

  23. #23 Th0th
    April 28, 2010

    #22: So reversing the polarity of the neutron flow in priest abuse is retrograde ejaculation?

    You’re getting too Star-Trekky :-). Next we’ll see a joke about the Captain giving Beverly Crusher a visit to the Ready Room so he can show her the REAL Picard Maneuver.

  24. #24 viggen
    April 28, 2010

    Ugh. The pope comes off sounding very “holier than thou.” I do not like people putting up fronts that are intended to make them appear better than everyone else, especially when the front is soooo obvious. That is the one thing I truly hate about religion: the people involved take a license to elevate someone above their due place in humanity.

    Sorry Ratsi, sage speak doesn’t convince me you have any idea what’s going on.

  25. #25 Cuttlefish, OM
    April 28, 2010

    The Church is a constant; unchanging; a rock;
    The foundation of morals; the source of true light
    The views of society shift like the sand,
    But the church remains solid, and fixed in God?s Sight.

    (Abuse is something we?d never allow?
    Well, maybe before; that was then, this is now.)

    The Church is unwavering, ethically bound,
    The Lord?s representatives here on this earth
    Committed to God, to The Word he revealed,
    The Church has not altered a bit since its birth

    (Abuse has happened, yes, we know,
    But such a long, long time ago!)

    The Church is a shoulder on which you can lean,
    The best source of solace; a comfort in grief
    Its unchanging nature is part of its strength,
    You bring us your troubles, we?ll bring you relief

    (Some priests? behavior may have raised fears,
    But why bring those up, after so many years?)

    The Church is the teacher of absolute morals,
    Of ethics not bound by the whims of the day;
    The laws set in stone by Our Heavenly Father
    Which never will alter one bit, come what may

    (That cover-up of which you speak?
    That?s not us now, that?s us last week!)

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2010/04/on-constant-and-unchanging-absolute.html

  26. #26 Brownian, OM
    April 28, 2010

    The Catholic church’s position that reporting abuse is a greater crime than the abuse itself is mind boggling.

    Really? The idea of an widespread and wealthy organisation out of Italy that engages in criminal acts and punishes those who speak up or go to the police is beyond your understanding?

    Ratzi couldn’t do a better impression of Fat “What’s a Moider?” Tony if he spoke with Joe Montegna’s voice.

    Those who are critical of the Vatican’s vast wealth will be relieved to know they never intended to collect so much. It fell off the back of a truck, see, and it woulda been a real shame to just leave it lying there in the road.

  27. #27 Peter Ashby
    April 28, 2010

    The Vatican’s problem with the internet of course is that they can’t control it, or even keep up with it. It is one thing to declare a book anathema but even that has got beyond them since we publish a few more than in Gallileo’s day. But how do you declare every offensive internet site anathema? Not even Google is your friend, you need an army of Indian graduates on peppercorn rates even to deal with the most egregious examples.

    So of course the Vatican doesn’t like the internet. Just like the closed Brethren or any type of fundie religiot who wishes to keep their kids pure, sorry in deep ignorance needs to keep them well away from it, and modern mobiles.

    Information does indeed want to be free and nothing is more frightening to the religious than truly free and open discourse. Where do you hide?

  28. #28 sophia-daniels
    April 28, 2010

    so the sex abuse of children is a thing of the past. and the church wants to get back to that past. it’s like getting away with child abuse was an important (internal) symbol of the power of the church.

  29. #29 RickR
    April 28, 2010

    Let’s see; the creation of the Internet caused an inverse tachyon wave that travelled backwards through time and corrupted the priests before the ‘net was even created. The only way to correct this is to travel to the very moment in time that the ‘net went active for the general public, and release a wave 180 degrees out of phase, thus negating the effect.

    This could also be accomplished by detonating a hydrogen bomb at the exact instant the net went active. But it creates an alternate timeline where the Catholic church never existed in the first place. However, this timeline is unstable, leading to results no one could have possibly predicted.

  30. #30 inajeep
    April 28, 2010

    I just can’t get the political taste out of my mouth after reading that. Carefully worded misdirection perhaps more so than politics but calculated smoke and mirrors just the same.

  31. #31 Blake Stacey
    April 28, 2010

    Next we’ll see a joke about the Captain giving Beverly Crusher a visit to the Ready Room so he can show her the REAL Picard Maneuver.

    “Don’t try to fight the forcefield, Wesley,” said Robin Lefler, tapping the agonizer she held in one hand against the other syntholeather-gloved palm. “Law 104, Wesley: You get one shock from this every time you act like a pretentious twit.” . . .

  32. #32 puzzledponderer
    April 28, 2010

    Why on earth is there a man in a most ridiculous outfit in the back of the image? Is it carnival already?

    .. never mind. Ratzi’s outfit (and that of the clown next to him) is at least as ridiculous and I think he wears it habitually.

    Silly, silly, babbling people in even sillier outfits. If I was this guard, I’d feel so dumb and ridiculous, made up to look like a jester.

  33. #33 Ing
    April 28, 2010

    “Ugh. The pope comes off sounding very “holier than thou.”

    YA THINK!?

  34. #34 dexadog
    April 28, 2010

    You guys are ignoring the most important fact: We live in a Top Male world, aka The Pharoah, The Emperor of Rome, The Pope, Wall Street CEOS, and of course, The God of the Old Testament. These guys ain’t Top Male for nuthin’! They get to do whatever they want to whomever they want, and there’s nuthin’ you can do about it, unless you are Top Male material yourself.

  35. #35 puzzledponderer
    April 28, 2010

    Okay, I couldn’t help it – after being reminded of how ridiculous Catholic outfits are (especially the guard!), I googled and browsed some and came up with the

    Top 10 most ridiculous Catholic clothing ever

    These men in dresses and big hats are hilarious!

  36. #36 Griffintje
    April 28, 2010
  37. #37 Null
    April 28, 2010

    RickR (#29) wrote:

    This could also be accomplished by detonating a hydrogen bomb at the exact instant the net went active. But it creates an alternate timeline where the Catholic church never existed in the first place. However, this timeline is unstable, leading to results no one could have possibly predicted.

    I wouldn’t recommend creating any temporal changes that major, and that far back. Time can rewrite itself around many changes, but anything that affects so much could cause catastrophic changes to the timestream, even going so far as to cause a universe-destroying paradox. We don’t want to put the very existence of the universe in jeopardy.

    Back to the more serious discussion…

    Brownian, OM (#26) wrote:

    Really? The idea of an widespread and wealthy organisation out of Italy that engages in criminal acts and punishes those who speak up or go to the police is beyond your understanding?

    That part is most certainly not beyond my understanding. What does bother me is that not only does the rot go all the way to the head, but so many people are stepping up to the plate to defend the actions of these monsters. I’d expect those with direct involvement in the scandal to fight for secrecy, but there are so many whose only tie to the molesters is the church itself who refuse to see how this is a problem. If any other organization were to do something like this, you’d expect to see a bigger backlash than we’re seeing against the catholic church. But, because it’s the church, you see people who had no real connection to the crimes themselves attempting to defend the criminals. It’s just sickening.

  38. #38 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    April 28, 2010

    The RCC is an old boys club whose members (the clergy) scratch each other’s back and are more interested in protecting their criminial enterprise than taking any responsibility for their nefarious actions.

  39. #39 acheetahpeedonme
    April 28, 2010

    points to a more “egalitarian and pluralistic” forum

    Since when did the Pope care about equality?

  40. #40 chaseacross
    April 28, 2010

    Secrecy was great before… but now it’s out of fashion! In this case, the Pope seems to be admitting that he takes his morality a la mode.

  41. #41 BoxNDox
    April 28, 2010

    #13 – in regards to there being an Internet in the 70s, that’s not quite correct. The network you’re thinking of was the ARPAnet, and it was built on a different, and incompatible set of protocols.

    The term “Internet”, as well as the TCP protocol, were first specified in RFC 675, which came out in 1974. However, the transition of the original NCP-based ARPAnet to the new Internet did not occur until 1983.

    In regards to ridiculous Catholic clothing, I’ve always thought that if the reasoning in “A Boy Named Sue” had any merit, the Swiss Guard must be comprised of the toughest soldiers on the planet.

  42. #42 MadScientist
    April 28, 2010

    What’s a spirit and how does it get polluted? Can we save it by washing the oil off with soap? Can we burn the oil off like they’re doing in the Gulf of Mexico? Is there really a difference between religious belief and mental illness? I sure don’t see any.

  43. #43 Theadosia
    April 28, 2010

    @32, the sad thing is that the Swiss Guard outfits are descended from the clothes worn by Landsknecht in the 16th century, when they were the toughest, coolest, hardest-partying bunch of mercenaries in Europe. Landsknecht women weren’t exactly shrinking violets, either. Just think, in another four hundred years, worn levi’s and a properly worn-in leather jacket may look just as silly.

  44. #44 DaveWTC
    April 28, 2010

    @POST “… not just the provenance of yokel creationists …” When did the pope get promoted from yokel creationist? And, to what?

  45. #45 Crudely Wrott
    April 28, 2010

    Peter Ashby @27 rightly observes,

    The Vatican’s problem with the internet of course is that they can’t control it, or even keep up with it.

    Similar behavior is observed not only in other entrenched bureaucracies and political parties but in the behavior of cliques of children at recess, canasta clubs, office cubicles and regulars at the local bar. Should any “new thing” such as a person, an idea, a technique, a critique, or an oblique point of view intrude the automatic initial reaction is that the new thing is bad. A threat, even a direct challenge that must be met and resisted. This is because the club atmosphere, the inside poop, the advantages of rank within a cobbled up hierarchy, the dogma, the Real Truth are simply incapable of the mental gymnastics necessary to embrace the new, change with the times, go with the flow, love the one you’re with and keep on truckin’.

    I’d pity such unfortunate victims the more if they didn’t disappoint and piss me off so. *still, bless they pointy little heads, anyway*

  46. #46 puzzledponderer
    April 29, 2010

    The sad part is, if the Swissguards were running around in leather jackets and sunglasses today (or a complete Hell’s Angels outfit!), the Vatican would really not be happy about it – and in 400 years they’d probably only look foolish to the rest of the world. Apparently it’s just like that now. Maybe they’re just supposed to stick out at all costs, never mind looking stupid.

  47. #47 John Morales
    April 29, 2010

    To those mocking the Swiss Guards, I advise not trying to raise a ruckus around them — they may look very antiquated and ceremonial, but they’re a highly-trained and educated volunteer force, and carry deadly weapons.

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