As I am sure you have already heard the Pope has once again been offering up reasons why the sexual abuse of children by an alarmingly large number of Catholic priests isn’t all that bad after all. This time he has gone for the “Well they did it first” defence.
In his Christmas speech the Pope addressed the subject of child abuse by saying that “In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children”. Yup, apparently in the 1970 everyone was just fine and dandy with the sexual abuse of children and so the Catholic Church, I’m guessing in an attempt to try and seem relevant and keep with the times, decided to start abusing children as well. See, it is all the secular worlds fault, they did it first, the Catholic Church was just going with the crowd. Seriously Catholic Church, if the secular world jumped off a bridge would you do it too?
Now I myself wasn’t born until near the end of the 1970s so I have no first-hand knowledge of whether child abuse was just considered run of the mill and acceptable during that time, but somehow I don’t think that was the case. But it does raise an issue about morality that the Pope seems to have missed. He went on to talk about the growth of child pornography saying “We cannot remain silent about the context of these times in which these events have come to light…that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society’. So it is acceptable to society so the Church cannot be held fully to blame if they did it as well, is that what you’re saying? Now one thing I remember clearly from when I was a Christian is the whole “in the world but not of it” line. Christian’s are called by Jesus to live up to a higher standard of morality than everyone else. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the world is a bunch of lying, stealing, murdering child rapists, as a follower of Jesus you are to be above such things and set an example by the moral life you choose to live. Seems the Pope may have forgotten this point when offer up his “well they did it first” argument.
Strangely all this got me thinking about Ray Comfort’s latest post over on his Atheist Central blog. Here Ray attempt to explain how you can have perfect justice and perfect mercy when mercy is, pretty much by definition, a suspension of justice. Once again, given that he only actually has like three lines of argument, he offers up the highly flawed analogy of a man in a court of law being found guilty and told to pay a $100,000 fine only for the judge to pay the fine himself because “he cares about the man”. According to Ray this would be an example where both mercy and justice were satisfied.
Now if you are anything like me you will find yourself scratching your head at this line of reasoning and being amazed by the fact that anyone could say such a thing with a straight face. This, like the Pope’s defence of priestly kiddy fiddling, only seems to work as an argument if you are already completely convinced that you are in the right. No one would watch a judge pay another man’s fine, or to make the analogy more accurate have someone else serve another man’s sentence, and say justice had been done, just as no one would accept the statement of “well everyone was doing it back then so why make such a big deal about the children buggered by priests” as a reason to forgive the Catholic Church for the horrors it inflicted on hundreds of innocent children. But then maybe I just don’t get religious morality.
I would love to hear your thoughts on either of these matters.