Gideon's Blog

In direct contravention of my wife's explicit instructions, herewith I inaugurate my first blog. Long may it prosper.

For some reason, I think I have something to say to you. You think you have something to say to me? Email me at: gideonsblogger -at- yahoo -dot- com

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Friday, April 12, 2002
I have declined, so far, to opine on the Catholic church's ongoing pedophilia scandal, basically because I am not Catholic and so this is not my problem. But it does strike me that both liberals and conservatives within the church seem more interested in using the scandals to advance their ideological agendas than in the real substance of the scandal. The scandal is not that there are pedophile priests. There are pedophile teachers in the public schools, pedophile rabbis and pedophile scoutmasters and so forth. In all cases, we're talking about a small number of deranged individuals who seek out such positions precisely because they provide them access to potential victims. The scandal is that in several instances the church heirarchy knew about the pedophilia and not only did nothing to end it but actively covered up the evidence and kept the individuals committing these crimes in positions where they could continue to commit them (here's a piece from the WSJ on the latest revelations). I leave it to the Church to debate whether its sexual teaching is faulty and must be corrected or whether infidelity to that teaching is what must be corrected. Neither is germane to the real problem: an bureaucratic structure that has repeatedly failed to act with minimal responsibility because, like most bureaucracies, it has always been concerned first and foremost with its own survival.

In this, the pedophilia scandal seems akin to the ongoing debate over the Church's and the Pope's activities during World War II with respect to the Jews. This piece of history has also become a political football, with Opus Dei types lobbying for the canonization of Pius XII and liberal activists lobbying for the opposite, and Daniel Goldhagen arguing that Catholicism itself is implicated in the Holocaust because of its anti-Jewish roots. But all this seems to me to be beside the point. It is generally acknowledged that, where Pius XII failed to speak out or act strongly to protect Jews, he did so because uppermost in his mind was the concern to protect the institutional body of the Church, which might have come under threat had he directly antagonized the Nazis. Similarly, today, where the Church has been less than forthcoming about opening up its archives to independent research, the reason given is the desire to protect the Church from its enemies. This is, once again, the institution looking first to its own self-protection rather than to fidelity to its mission and to basic justice. The latest word is that Cardinal Law will remain in office. The message being sent is that he did right in protecting the heirarchy rather than defending the innocent under its charge. What a horrible message on which to found a ministry.