… may be close enough to pass as a Bible quote, but I don’t think it says, anywhere in that book, that clerics get to say that to kids so they can rape them with impunity, with the aid of the Church in keeping them out of prison (or other trouble)… and I don’t think it’s specified anywhere that when this institutional crime comes out, the biggest cleric of them all gets to pretend nothing’s going on.I want to leave aside the fact that this is an obvious, and pathetic, public gaffe which can only serve to harm the Church’s reputation more. Not much more, mind: Catholic laypeople have long known to be cautious of priests alone with little children. Having been raised Catholic, I was quite aware enough to be careful. (Though, I can happily add, I was lucky in never meeting a pedophile priest myself.) Yes, the ball has been dropped. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What I want to highlight here is the internal hypocrisy. Faithful Catholics are expected to do penance, and at least in the Catholicism in which I was raised, penance involved at least a little effort towards making things right. If you punched a friend in the face, and confessed it, you had to apologize to the friend. If you stole something, you’d have to return it in person and tell the owner you were sorry. That’s the kind of “reconciliation” penance I was taught to perform: you had to make things right, not just “apologize” or say a few prayers in solitude and feel sufficiently guilty. Penance and reconciliation were public affairs, relatively public anyway. Continue reading