On the Crimes of Catholics

Pray for us … (Graphic: Bellator Dei)

A VERY different, hurried and experimental kind of blog entry from me here. Just in the last few hours, I received two blog responses – from ReXteryalizer and Mark – completely unprecedented in my experience.

Superficially, they might look “Anti-Catholic”. More deeply, I suspect they reveal real compassion and concern for human welfare.

Originally, I started replies in the comments boxes. But I am putting these into a perhaps long-winded blog entry. (Though, accordingly it is written in the more off-the-cuff style, I normally reserve for the comments boxes.) ReXteryalizer, Mark, I will treat your remarks together. First, yours, reXteryalizer:

“Just 70 yrears ago ROME & Catholic Italy had just attacked & launched a massive, hellish WAR on its neighbors.

Butchering & murdering Millions & MILLIONS of innocent peaceful people…JUST for not JOINING up with HITLER ~

for NO REASON…… MURDERING Thousands of Africans, Egyptians , Greece & others …
ROME & Catholic Italy had JUST Joined up with Hitler,

IT took 22,000 { twenty two thousand}…..]
US American tooops DYING, IN ITALY, for
the USA to defeat Catholic Italy….

~~~~~~~~~Millions of Catholics IN Germany & Italy….. murdered Millions of OTHER CATHOLICS & Non Catholics round the planet..

Simply for not joining up with The Catholic Hitler..

This was just 70 yrs ago…..

What is the Lure & thrill and unified UNBROKEN chain of unity and love and respect that the catholic church has bestowed upon the earth..

Are we missing something… ?”

And then Mark not long after, I found you had posted this succinct line about a book about sexual abuse in the Church:

“A book most people interested in Catholicism should read is “Hell on the way to Heaven.”

Saint Michael
Saint Michael, defend us … (Saint Michael Vanquishing Satan by Rafael).

I treat both comments together because at bottom, both show a similar concern. And perhaps at root, real anguish and compassion for those who have suffered – suffered deeply at the hands of Catholics.

Now I just said at bottom – because this is the bottom line– Catholics have indeed molested, tortured, waged warfare, killed countless numbers …

This is the bottom line and I hope that I fully participate in the root feeling of pain which prompted your each replying at this Catholic site.

That being said, there is another level – less profound – that I discern in your post reXteryalizer.

I might call it the level of our interpretations of the facts of the relationship between the Vatican and Nazi Germany.

My interpretation of those facts is very different from yours, reXteryalizer. And it would easy at this level to just refute what you say. But such refutation would not address the underlying bottom line …

So I think we need to go to that most important level, that level of depth …

But if you will bear with me being more superficial for a moment, I think it must be said that the view of the facts that you have is, to say the very least, open to interpretation.

“The Catholic Hitler” you write. Hitler as an Austrian coming out of an entirely Austrian Catholic culture may have been baptised Catholic. At present something like one sixth of humanity is baptised Catholic.

As can be readily seen, vast numbers of such folk in no way identify themselves with Catholicism. To call Hitler a Catholic when he was manifestly anti-Catholic is problematic to say the least …

Again reXteryalizer, I feel that your core concern and compassion is deeper than such particulars.

But staying at this level – bear with me – identifying ROME (in your large capital letters) as the aggressor in this terrible, terrible conflict remains problematic.

Without knowing the sources of your analysis, it is easy for me to imagine that you have absorbed some of the media reports around Ven. Pius XII in recent years. Ven. Pius XII was of course the Pope during World War II.

I can’t unpack this Papacy too much now. But suffice it to say, there is great scope for interpretation here as well.

Years ago, John Cornwell wrote a book with the memorable title: Hitler’s Pope.

Of course, such a title immediately draws the conclusion that Ven. Pius XII was a puppet for Hitler.

I have not read the book. Yet without being able to check this right now, I believe I am right in saying that John Cornwell later admitted in effect that there was not enough evidence to support his conclusions in that book.

I wish to stress my words: “I believe I am right in saying …”

I am a blogger writing comments off the cuff. Noone should give them more authority than this. But if I do recall John Cornwell’s admission correctly, then the damage is done.

A flashy memorable title like “Hitler’s Pope” becomes embedded in public consciousness. And if John Cornwell is wrong – and I think he is very wrong – in the afterlife, he will no doubt have to deal with having flashed that catchy title into millions of people’s minds.

To be lodged forever in many cases, without court of appeal.

Meanwhile, the Vatican interprets the facts very differently. Ven. Pius XII would appear to be on his way to canonised sainthood.

An advocate of his cause at Rome recently said that this Pope had one of the strongest cases for sainthood that he had seen in four decades on the job. The Holy Father has also spoken of the overwhelming evidence for the cause of Ven. Pius XII being considered.

Personally I tend to buy all this, more than I buy John Cornwell.

Obviously you and I have very different interpretations of the Rome-Nazi relationship.

But as I said above, even if I think you are wrong on a relatively localised level – you are clearly not wrong to feel anguish and compassion for those who have been molested, raped, tortured, slaughtered at the hands of Catholics.

And I guess Mark, this is where your comment comes in.

For a quick look at the book title you supplied us, indicates that it involves the terrible true story of those who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of clergy.

No, I have no wish deny that in countless, untold ways, people suffer at the hands of Catholics right up to the modern day.

This is the real – truest – point of what you are both saying, it seems to me.

Now, reXteryalizer you ask me:

“What is the Lure & thrill and unified UNBROKEN chain of unity and love and respect that the catholic church has bestowed upon the earth..

Are we missing something… ?”

May I be frank with you reXteryalizer and say that I think you may be missing several enormous things at once.

And perhaps yourself as well, Mark. Your line is so succinct I cannot tell – but in pointing us to the horror of abuse, you would seem to be suggesting that Catholicism loses credibility(?).

My assumption here – you of course did not say that.

But to answer the question – what do I think is being missed here?

First of all: the immense depth of human evil in general.

For again without needing to criminalise Ven. Pius XII, we can find countless cases of Catholics individually and collectively commiting atrocities.

We can find the same of course in countless other human arenas.

If we look at the immense horror of Stalinist Russia, we would have to say that untold numbers of those guilty – even if only by doing nothing – were or had been Orthodox Christians.

If we look to the American massacres of the indigenous people, we would find mainly Protestant Christians.

There are people (many New Agers spring to mind here) who say: “Ah – you see religion and maybe particularly Christianity is clearly the problem here”.

What such conclusions miss is that vast collectives everywhere have immense blood on their hands. And they need not be religious. I think of Mao’s China; I think of the genocide of the French Revolution …

It seems to me that people who fault religion Catholicism, Islam whatever – are in some kind of denial of what human nature is.

The Enlightenment has bestowed on the West the notion that we human beings are relatively innocent by nature. New Agers in particular tend to lap this up.

As for myself, whenever I see people very angry at the Church, I have two reactions.

First: I respect their compassion. Its shows that their hearts are ALIVE.

They are not just numb, desensitised.

Hurrah for hearts that feel in a world that grows cold …

In this sense, the anger is good news.

Second: I tend to think they are in denial of human fallenness. Without realising it, they may have fallen for Enlightenment thinking.

And there is a nasty non-Enlightenment truth that must be confronted.

It is this: that terrible powers of darkness are at work through human beings. And that it is simply inevitable that all vast collectives will do terrible things, Catholics, Hindus, Capitalists, Communists etc.

Seeking the source for human evil in the Church is naïve.

So this is my first point, as to what you might be missing reXteryalizer.

Similarly Mark if you are suggesting Catholicism loses credibility because of certain evil priests, I would say this is also naïve …

It is indeed undeniable that [the abuse] has been happening. And terrible cover-ups have followed.

That being said, I remained unconvinced that sexual abuse is a particularly Catholic thing. Though this would seem the foregone conclusion in much of the media. But shallow thinking seems operative here.

There are four hundred thousand Catholic priests on this planet. And I know not how many more Catholic religious …

There are not say 600,000 ministers of the United Reform Church or 600,000 Rabbis say …

Statistically, one is far more likely to hear ‘Catholic-Catholic-Catholic-Catholic’ and not hear for example, ‘URC-URC–URC-URC’ or ‘Catholic priest-Catholic priest-Catholic priest’ than ‘Rabbi-Rabbi-Rabbi’ etc.

I have heard word that Catholic abuse outpaces that of Protestants. I have heard opposite reports.

My imagination based on some reading around – not more! – is that probably sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy has been marginally higher than other sectors of our society, say secular, say Protestant, say workers in institutions for the vulnerable.

But it might be there are other sectors with a marginally higher rate than the Catholic clergy. Who can say?

Whatever the truth of the matter, none of it excuses the horror perpetrated by Catholic priests, nor the terrible cover-ups.

I only say that it is unclear to me, whether the terrible tragedy of children being violated is particularly Catholic or not.

Over the course of my forty seven years, numerous people have revealed childhood abuse to me. I was also once in a situation, engaged with the justice department, where I came across harrowing cases. It is a miserably depressingly and terribly common thing. The people I encountered never mentioned Catholic priests.

My point is: It happens everywhere.

Again this fits with what I am saying in general here: human beings are prey to far more evil than the Enlightenment or New Age philosophies would have us believe …

Let me now move into one last piece of territory regarding what might be being missed here.

So far the temptation here is that we are largely focussed in terms of QUANTITIES.

So many people murdered, raped, violated – damaged for life by Catholics …

But it is a temptation. How is it possible for anyone to COUNT things up like this?

What of quantities, statistics like all the starving people fed by Catholics? All the naked clothed by Catholics? All the people treated in Catholic hospitals? All the people counselled and loved by Catholics?

In my years since my conversion, I have been astonished, absolutely astonished by the vast reach – throughout history and throughout the world – of the Church in this way.

But of course “Catholic paedophile” makes better media fodder than “Chilean nun clothes and caresses street children”.

If you are advising people Mark to read about the evil that is at work in the Catholic Church, I wonder if you should consider also texts that give the other side of the picture?

But I said this was a temptation. And maybe I just succumbed to the temptation.

Because we are not going to arrive at a true judgment of the Catholic Church through counting numbers, through amassing statistics – again through quantities.

No we will arrive through something different than modern fetishism for quantification.

And this is where I would say reXteryalizer you are missing the greatest thing of all …

However dark, broken, fallible, downright monstrous any number of Catholics might be …

The Church is not making claims based on its all-too-human representatives.

And it is certainly not making the claim as you put it to of an

“unified UNBROKEN chain of unity and love and respect that the catholic church has bestowed upon the earth.”

What claim is being made?

The claim is being made that through all these dark, broken, fallen, fallible people who belong to the Catholic Church …

A Supernatural Power of the highest order is working to morally elevate us and draw us nearer to God.

Since I converted to the Catholic Church, I see the truth of that claim.

The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are uplifting, strengthening, succouring me day after day in a way that is completely unmistakeable.

I have never murdered or physically molested or raped anyone. But God only knows what I would be doing, without these Sacraments …

Whatever I would be, it would be far, far less moral.

God only knows how much worse the world would be without these 400,000 priests saying the Mass across the world every day.

Feeling these Sacraments working in me – as I do nearly every day – this is what I would say you are missing reXteryalizer …

And it cannot be counted or quantified or reduced to statistics …

Again, thank you both for your heartfelt comments at this site.

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9 responses to “On the Crimes of Catholics”

  1. Edwin Shendelman Avatar
    Edwin Shendelman

    A Hebrew Catholic response to the issue of Pius 12 can be found on Roy Schoeman’s website http://www.salvationisfromthejews.com

    I think balance in reporting is important here. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church (for political reasons) has become the media’s favorite whipping-boy.

    May what we love and what we contemplate in the beauty of the Catholic Church not be obscured. May we all have the courage to do the T’shuvah (repentance) of the recent Popes in regards to past sins of the Church.

    1. roger Avatar

      Edwin, thank you so much for posting this VERY interesting link – which I encourage others to check out ….

      As to you saying:

      “May what we love and what we contemplate in the beauty of the Catholic Church not be obscured. May we all have the courage to do the T’shuvah (repentance) of the recent Popes in regards to past sins of the Church.”

      Thank you for the great beauty in both of these statements.

      The latter expresses one of the most beautiful aspects of Ven. John Paul II’s pontificate.

      There may be traditionalist Catholics here (if I have not alienated them!) who think I am too kind to Ven. John Paul II.

      Certainly I wish he had done more to address the horrendous state of the liturgy, abuses of his bishops worldwide and other things traditionalists care deeply about (and rightly so) …

      But I feel like not only joining you Edwin – but shouting from the rooftops!- Ven .John Paul’s “courage” as you put it for public repentance is heartbreakingly beautiful … and incredibly historically important.

      “Forgive us our trespasses”, the Sacrament of Penance is at the very core of Catholic Christianity – but Ven. John Paul II took this to new levels …

      I regret I have yet to do no more than thumb through it, but there is an important book at Amazon about this here.

      And all that Benedict XVI is doing in like vein is also cause for joy in these dark times for the Church.

  2. epsilon Avatar

    A good example of current media imbalance is that in all the balanced statements on many areas, from the meaning of life to a just society, coming from the Pope in his letters addresses encyclicals books, etc. only one or two paragraphs on condoms are flogged to death and the rest is ignored.

    1. roger Avatar

      Yes indeed – thank you Epsilon. I appreciate your thinking voice here again.

      Years ago, long before I converted and still belonged more fully to modern secular liberal-capitalist society (as New Agers tend to do, without even realising it) I came across a book with a brilliant five word title:

      Opinion Control in the Democracies.

      I never read it fully unfortunately – but just these five words say so much in relationship to what you point us to here.

      In our so-called free democratic society, our thinking is being controlled in ways unimaginable to our non-secular ancestors …

      1. epsilon Avatar

        “In our so-called free democratic society, our thinking is being controlled in ways unimaginable to our non-secular ancestors …”

        Nothing demonstrates this as much as today’s The Big Question on the BBC

        Quite shocking – the bias, the mindlessness, the *lack* of free-thinking!

        1. roger Avatar

          Epsilon, thank you for this.

          Unfortunately by the time, I got to your link, it was no longer available.

          Through Google Analytics however, I could tell that I was not the only one who followed your link – so you posting it here may not have been in vain.

          I will just say I tend to watch online video very very little. No time and I have had lots of problems accessing online video.

          But thank you warmly for commenting. I remain moved and impressed by your site ( which people can get to by clicking on Epsilon’s name) though due to the same time pressure, I have not recently looked at it as I should like.

          PS. All that being said, there is pretty outrageous video that I HAVE seen lately – and which I may post here. I need to pray more about though.

  3. […] There is also the horror of the abuse against children, by a small, but terrible, proportion of the clergy, which we must consider – and will do in time (a certain, limited foretaste of what I mean to say can be found here). […]

  4. […] intend to speak further of this Irish tragedy. We intend to name the causes we see, which include the crimes of Catholics in the clerical abuse scandals of recent […]

  5. […] anger that people justifiably feel towards the terrible scandals and cover-ups that have happened – as I also do here at this site. And we plan to say more of these crimes by Catholics […]