I’ve decided that, at least in the United States, the religiously devout really do have the interests of rationalist nonbelievers at heart, at least as far as providing us with (a sick, unseemly sort of) entertainment goes.
They strive ceaselessly and tirelessly, without remiss, on holidays, weekends, and during the work week, to provide us with new episodes of the tragicomic—though mostly tragic—reality-show farce that is religion, and at their own expense. We might just as well call them the Falstaffs of Faith.
In the Roman Catholic cult, aging, supposedly celibate yet surely (concupiscently) turgid priests in frocks and beanies hide behind screens in confessionals and eagerly (probably pantingly) parse accounts of the sexual misdeeds of their flock members, and have the nerve to impose “penance” on them, even as dioceses continue to declare bankruptcy to get out of making payouts to their own sexual abuse victims. In the United States alone, by 2012, the Catholic Church’s victims numbered as many as 100,000, and payouts to them had amounted to as much as $2.2 billion.
Presiding over an obscenely wealthy institution with a documented history of mafia-linked bank scandals and Holocaust profiteering, the Vatican’s supreme cult master styles himself after, and even adopts the name of, a long-dead (earnest and wonderful, even if believing) penurious Italian from Assisi, and wins plaudits from the public for creating a Vatican “tribunal” at which to try bishops accused of sheltering child-raping priests. (We are supposed to consider this “progress,” as if we needed priests at all.) Last year, the Vatican admitted to defrocking 848 priests and sanctioning 2,572, in the more than 3,400 cases of child abuse it has dealt with since 2004.
No pangs of conscience played a role in the Vatican’s divulgation of such appalling figures. The admission came under pressure, as a United Nations committee overseeing the observance of the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment grilled the Holy See’s ambassador in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi. Courts may well decide that the sexual abuse of children constitutes torture, which could lead to sweeping arrests depopulating the ranks of the Catholic clergy, with shackled priests making perp walks the world over. One hopes a Nuremberg-style tribunal can be set up for them – with Nuremberg-style punishments.
The Catholic Church, in any case, and despite the Pope’s “reform,” remains a citadel of obscurantism, sexism, and social regress, pursuing, as it always has, misogynistic policies regarding reproductive rights, blatantly discriminating against women by refusing to ordain them, and inculcating a junk ideology that instills guilt and shame about sex. (Not that anyone, male or female, should want to be a priest.)
Real progress would involve the Catholic Church apologizing to humanity, with the Vatican simultaneously renouncing the statehood granted it by Mussolini’s Fascist government, abolishing itself, and donating its assets to all those whose lives the Church’s sex-crazed priests and rotten doctrines have destroyed. Any non-religious organization with such a lengthy record of employing, aiding, abetting, and sheltering veritable legions of child molesters would have been disbanded as a criminal enterprise long ago.
Feel outraged? Tell the Pope himself during his September junket to Philadelphia, to attend, of all things, something called the World Meeting of Families. Given the long child-rape record Catholic priests have racked up, you might think the last place at which their boss would be welcome would be a gathering of families. But the Catholic Church sponsors this event.
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