At the time, few understood Sinead O’Connor’s decision to tear up a picture of the pope during her 3 October 1992 appearance on Saturday Night Live. Now, evidence of the church’s child-abuse scandals—which have spread from the United States through South America to Western Europe—is there for all to see. And, according to the most recent reports, it has arrived at the doorstop of the highest level of the church hierarchy, both past and present.
O’Connor has just published an essay describing what it was like to be raised in the Catholic theocracy of Ireland and challenges Pope Benedict’s apology—”of sorts”—for past church abuses in that country.
Benedict’s apology states that his concern is “above all, to bring healing to the victims.” Yet he denies them the one thing that might bring them healing — a full confession from the Vatican that it has covered up abuse and is now trying to cover up the cover up. Astonishingly, he invites Catholics “to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.” Even more astonishing, he suggests that Ireland’s victims can find healing by getting closer to the church — the same church that has demanded oaths of silence from molested children, as occurred in 1975 in the case of Father Brendan Smyth, an Irish priest later jailed for repeated sexual offenses. After we stopped laughing, many of us in Ireland recognized the idea that we needed the church to get closer to Jesus as blasphemy.
Meanwhile, the Vatican has gone on the offensive, “attacking the media for what it called an ‘ignoble attempt’ to smear Pope Benedict and his top advisers ‘at any cost’.” All of this has been happening at the same time that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops went on the offensive against health care reform in the United States. Perhaps they should spend as much time guarding the kids already under their care instead of chasing down nuns and politicians over the kids not yet born.
And Matt Taibi is even tougher:
That’s all the church is. They’re a giant for-profit company using predatory salesmanship to sell what they themselves know is a defective, outmoded, basically unnecessary product. They’ll use any means necessary to keep their market share and if they have to lie and cheat and deflect and point fingers to keep the racket going, they’ll do it, just like any other sleazeball company.
But I think it’s time we started considering that what the church is is even worse than that. It’s possible we should start wondering if the church is also a criminal organization that in this country, anyway, should be broken up using RICO statutes.