Ungodly sins

On Wednesday, the New York Times ran a front page article detailing the release of yet another garish laundry list of 75 years of deception, obfuscation, buggery and rape, this time in Los Angeles. Again we see a systematic cover-up of predatory sexual abuse, hidden behind semen-stained velvet curtains and sententious demands for forgiveness. It’s the same sick, old story.


As I read the article I grew angrier and angrier. Many of my friends, teachers and co-workers are Catholics and are intelligent, honest people. Unlike their church "leaders," real Catholics use their faith as a base, a moral guide, a community with which to unite and celebrate the Divine. The Catholic Church as a temporal entity, on the other hand, uses its "faith" as a loophole, an abutment to crouch behind, a justification for the worst, lowest types of violence and dishonesty. To call this hypocrisy borders on euphemism. It’s long past time that the Vatican live up to the ideals they promote.


Now that these acts and their concealment by Church administrators have been exposed, the same priests, bishops, and cardinals who turned a blind eye to the chronic rape of defenseless children, at the hands of those whom they should have been most able to trust, now ask us to do the same. Utterly and disgustingly unconcerned with the physical well-being of the least among their flocks over decades of sexual coercion, they now rush to guard the coffer doors when these selfsame victims rightfully demand that things be made right.


Understand that my anger is in no way directed towards Catholics, or even against Catholicism, although many of the tenets of that faith are, to me, insupportable. I’m angry with the Pope and his lackeys in the Vatican. The leaders of a religion whose deity said, quite explicitly, "It is easier for a camel (or rope, according to the Peshitta text) to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," are living in wealth so opulent that it would make Paris Hilton blush, and their flock is supposed to accept it. After waiting almost half a century to apologize for their refusal to stand up and condemn the Holocaust, they turn around and elect an ex-Nazi as pontiff. And while AIDS and starvation move like a brush fire through the ranks of the poorest, these "celibate" aristocrats refuse to condone the use of condoms. Friends, come on now, is it really more sinful to fuck your wife while wearing a rubber than to rape little boys in a palace?


All right, I’ll calm down. I have no doubt in God’s capacity for infinite forgiveness, and it might surprise you, given this article, to find that I pray many times every day. However, I’d suggest that in this case, we leave the forgiveness to God, and take care of the accountability our own damn selves. There’s a Sufi axiom to which we should take heed: Trust God, but tie up your camel. God gave you hands and an asshole; don’t expect him to hand you the TP as well.


I’d propose two radical reforms to help alleviate this situation: allow priests to marry and allow women to be priests.


The first addresses a number of points. One huge impact would be on the role of priest as counselor in matters involving marriage and sexuality. It’s ludicrous to think that a person who’s been celibate for thirty years could substantively comment on such matters. But of equal importance would be the release of testosterone, and I’m not kidding here. An intense focus on sexuality while denying its release even through masturbation? Who could ever think this a healthy situation? We might as well appoint 13-year-old boys to guard the girls’ locker-room showers!


And allowing women into the priesthood would not only rectify 2000 years of baseless sexism (maybe we can thank the first Letter to Timothy, 2:9-15 for that bullshit), but it would put those vastly less likely to succumb to impulses of pederasty and rape at the reins.


God is good, God is great, but her representatives at the Vatican and its subsidiaries are often neither. It’s time the world’s Catholics demand that their church look more to the spiritual and physical health of its congregation, and less to slavish obedience to archaic, bass-ackwards dogma or the turning of an indulgent blind eye when grotesque crimes are committed again and again.


When the Catholic Church honestly focuses on righteousness rather than self-righteousness, it will at last become the immense force for good, which has always been its potential.