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← ‘Rendering unto God that which is Caesar’s’: the fatal flaw at the heart of the Vatican

‘Rendering unto God that which is Caesar’s’: the fatal flaw at the heart of the Vatican - Comments

quarecuss's Avatar Comment 1 by quarecuss

Paula Kirby on fire!

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 00:58:20 UTC | #514295

Darwinorlose's Avatar Comment 2 by Darwinorlose

I wish there was a God so I could say, "Oh my God!" Paula, you have opened up doors of understanding for me on this pernicious organization. That one sentence, "The Vatican is not interested in crime. The Vatican is only interested in sin", puts it all so simply and succinctly in perspective. Everything follows in place. Thank you.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 01:25:26 UTC | #514309

RDfan's Avatar Comment 3 by RDfan

Well done Mr. Robertson, a true champion of human rights if ever I saw one. Well done to Ms. Kirby, too, for a well told story that needs telling and retelling.

Canon Law. Canon Law? Someone please remind me what century we are in? I remember reading about it in my medieval Europe class...back when burning women alive was the "legally done thing"! I fail to understand what relevance these so-called-laws have in the (post) modern world. Those Italians and Catholics who support this ridiculous institution, the Vatican, ought to be ashamed! Suffer the little children indeed.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 01:40:32 UTC | #514314

Drosera's Avatar Comment 4 by Drosera

The answer, it turns out, is simple. The Vatican is not interested in crime. The Vatican is only interested in sin.

I would go one step further, and say that the Vatican is only interested in the Vatican. People who so openly betray the teachings of Jesus in the most cynical fashion can't really believe in all that nonsense about sin and Heaven and Hell. They are parasites pure and simple.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 01:41:04 UTC | #514315

frax71's Avatar Comment 5 by frax71

I find it somewhat illuninating that Britians leading politcal catholics have remained on the "side lines" during this sad, sorry and disgusting saga.I refer,of course,to that rancid coupling the Blairs and (who could forget her)Widdecombe ,although she did manage to promote her drivel via a channel 4 documentary.It is self evident that it ts the preservation of the rcc's reputation(such as it is) that is important to these people.Well, they can indulge in meaningless verbiage all they wish, it is the anguished cries of the abused that will be the loudest of all voices, the rcc will answer for it's crimes against children.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 01:42:19 UTC | #514317

Tiende Landeplage's Avatar Comment 6 by Tiende Landeplage

If I steal, rape or murder, it is merely a matter of worldly, materialistic concern - thus, no secular court has any real mandate to pass judgment on me. Right, Ratzo?

if you are a victim of child-rape you can be excommunicated for breathing a word of your suffering outside clerical walls; but you cannot be excommunicated for raping children, even if you do it by the dozen.

It is still baffling to me how any apologist for the church, no matter how brainwashed, can blithely dismiss such a blatantly distorted idea of "moral imperative".

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 01:50:40 UTC | #514321

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 7 by Ignorant Amos

Well done Paula....get this article out there and perhaps raise the sales of this book and the awareness of Joe Public.

I will look forward to spmccullagh and Alive, our two resident catholic apologists, coming to this thread for comment.....whoooovvvvveeeeesssshhhhh! (the sound of tumble weed blowing past and a chapel bell)

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 04:03:21 UTC | #514349

EvN's Avatar Comment 8 by EvN

Excellent article. Well worth reading.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 05:18:15 UTC | #514359

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 9 by Roland_F

And what is more important: putting a rapist right with his earthly victim and with outraged society as a whole, or putting him right with God?

Of course Paula – you can sin only against god and the confession accompanied by the payment of tithe/ donations/ indulgences wash you white in front of god for the only thing that matters : eternal life in heaven sitting on a cloud and playing harp.

the perceived abuse of a wafer counts for more than the actual abuse of real, human, flesh and blood.

Surely the raw flesh (wafer) and divine blood (wine) of the holy Eucharist - the union with god - are way more important than the blood of the torn sphincter of a little altar boy in his ‘union’ with the raping priests.

Now you start to understand the concept of ‘absolute morality’ from Christians- which a wicked priests from the Scottish highlands were promoting here on RD.NET some years back : temporary earthly life is useless, existence is all about sin against god. That’s why Catholic Adolf Hitler was never excommunicated – because he believed he is doing gods will, revenge Jesus with the holocaust and with Jesus everything goes (robbery, theft, rape, murder....) as long you only continue to believe.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 05:31:02 UTC | #514360

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 10 by Stevehill

Excellent piece Paula. I only wish I had the power to require it to be read out loud from every pulpit in Christendom.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 06:59:12 UTC | #514374

jaytee_555's Avatar Comment 11 by jaytee_555

A clear, well-written and thoughtful piece of writing.

However, I think that in attributing the Vatican's totally inadequate response to child sexual abuse as being primarily due to a sincere but mistaken perception of what is most important, Paula is being too lenient.

"As soon as we understand that canon law deals only with sin and the 'drama of redemption'.......everything about the shameful non-response of the Vatican falls into place and becomes clear"

I tend to think that 'Drosera' (Comment no. 4) has it about right;

".....the Vatican is only interested in the Vatican. People who so openly betray the teachings of Jesus in the most cynical fashion can't really believe in all that nonsense about sin and Heaven and Hell. They are parasites pure and simple".

The idea that the Vatican protects itself from scandal for the ultimate benefit of the 'souls of the faithful' is to overlook the fact that the Roman Catholic Church is a cynical Mafia-style protection racket concerned with money, power and the vested interests of its hierarchy.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 07:08:51 UTC | #514378

Karen Hill Anton's Avatar Comment 12 by Karen Hill Anton

Paula Kirby, I find your writing always a mix of fire and fresh air -- wonderful. Thanks so much! Karen

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 07:42:52 UTC | #514388

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 13 by scottishgeologist

Roland_F mentions:

absolute morality’ from Christians- which a wicked priests from the Scottish highlands were promoting here on RD.NET some years back

WOuld that be a certain minister who happens to share the same surname as the author above?

A certain minister who has plagiarised the term Fleabytes, which Paula herself used in a thermonuclear bonfire of Fleas a few years ago

Check this link and you'll see what I mean

http://www.youtube.com/user/SolasCPC

WARNING: ITS GRIM!!!!!

Imitation the sicerest form of flattery? Or in this case, jusr cheek!!

Brilliant article Paula, kudos again. :-))))) SG

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 07:53:12 UTC | #514392

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 14 by Stafford Gordon

This article should be on the front page of every newspaper in Britain.

Stafford Gordon.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 07:57:44 UTC | #514393

mixmastergaz's Avatar Comment 15 by mixmastergaz

Excellent article as ever Paula. Is this the 'digested read'? Should I read G. Roberton QC's book?

I'd be interested to read some Catholic responses to this.

I know there are one or two who post here - what say you chaps?

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 08:34:13 UTC | #514411

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 16 by Bernard Hurley

The answer, it turns out, is simple. The Vatican is not interested in crime. The Vatican is only interested in sin.

Well, blow me down! Who would have thought it! Does anyone really need to read Geoffrey Robertson's book to find this out?

Maybe I'm being a bit uncharitable here, but I can remember points things being discussed in religious instruction lessons back in the 60's. This is just a statement of standard Roman Catholic position. What do you think members of the Catholic hierarchy mean when they when they say a bishop acted out of concern for the spiritual well-being of abuse victims? Do I have to spell it out? I will anyway:

  1. The victim may have cooperated in some way. This sin on the part of the victim is far more important than possibility that the abuser broke the secular law.
  2. Since it is guaranteed, by God himself, in Matthew 16:18 that the Church as a whole cannot (not does not but cannot) err, it is grave sin for a Catholic to bring its name into disrepute. The victim must be protected from committing this sin even if this involves breaking the secular law.

Most of them are not being disingenuous when they speak of spiritual well-being etc. They trained to think like that; that's what seven years study in a seminary does to them!

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 08:41:21 UTC | #514415

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 17 by Oromasdes1978

Just brilliant.

Paula, yet again you have decisively and brilliantly summed up what would take me a whole book to explain!

This concept of the Vatican't and Darth not being able to recognise the danger of their attitudes towards the horrible things they do because of their preoccupation with sin is a very insightful and intelligent one.

I have been so frustrated and appalled at the actions of the Vatican't - especially the casual and incredibly arrogant way they address many dangerous and deadly issues - especially insisting that Canon Law be used to investigate problems like child rape in place of Civil Law, this does help explain things in a clearer light.

Scottishgeologist - please do not post such horrible links - I need to wash my eyes now! :D

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 08:51:34 UTC | #514419

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 18 by Tyler Durden

Excellent piece Paula, great structure, informative, and drills right down to the core of the issue: The Vatican, and all who sail in her, think the rules within society simply don't apply to them, due to rules they've created for, and by, themselves:

This one line sums up the piece concisely:

"The Vatican is not interested in crime. The Vatican is only interested in sin"

Kudos!

Comment 7 by Ignorant Amos :

I will look forward to spmccullagh and Alive, our two resident catholic apologists, coming to this thread for comment...

@Amos, I may have to avoid posts from the likes of spmccullagh and Alive regarding this one, my patience only goes so far in such matters. Perhaps before posting any thoughts here, they could at least read the Murphy Commission Report which Paula mentions above.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 08:58:19 UTC | #514429

dulcie's Avatar Comment 19 by dulcie

What an excellent article. You are a writer of enormous talent, Paula, and I'm so glad and thankful that you turn the spotlight of your attention onto these hugely important issues. Keep going! With Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and yourself, we have a formidable team!

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:01:20 UTC | #514431

jel's Avatar Comment 20 by jel

Excellent summary Paula. Thank, you have once again nailed it.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:06:25 UTC | #514432

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 21 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 4 by Drosera

I would go one step further, and say that the Vatican is only interested in the Vatican. People who so openly betray the teachings of Jesus in the most cynical fashion can't really believe in all that nonsense about sin and Heaven and Hell.

There is no doubt there are those in the Catholic hierarchy who are cynically exploiting the situation. But has it occurred to you to wonder why so few clergy have broken ranks and condemned the church's actions? Many of them think they are acting in accordance with the teachings of Jesus and can quote you passages of scripture to back up this claim. It is Catholic doctrine that is the real problem. It creates a fertile ground for the exploiters to exploit, a camouflage for their actions, and a convenient object for them to hide behind. Is it just coincidence that the only prominent Catholic theologian to openly criticise the RCC over its handling of child abuse is one who disagrees with the standard Catholic interpretation of passages such as Matthew 16:18?

It is all very well to say that a Catholic cleric acts out of concern for his job or concern for the Vatican or the reputation of the church. There are such people in all sorts of other organisations all round the world. The difference is that in these other organisations those around them see them for what they are. In the Catholic Church, however, such concerns are seen as being mandated by God himself and acting out of such concerns is seen to be the only possible righteous action. To say that someone put the reputation of the Church above concern for the well-being of victims of abuse is not, according to Catholic theology, a criticism; it is merely to say they acted as they should have done.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:14:19 UTC | #514440

opposablethumbs's Avatar Comment 22 by opposablethumbs

Extremely informative - great piece, thank you Paula Kirby!

re Comment 16 by Bernard Hurley, for me the crime-vs-sin point was a new thought. It adds another dimension of double-think to the whole business of closing ranks, protecting their interests and instituting a cover-up.

The way you put it makes it clearer. Never having had any contact with Catholicism up-close-and-personally, I find it pretty hard to get my head around it.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:15:10 UTC | #514441

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 23 by Diacanu

Excellent piece, Paula.

A slice of the good old days of this site. :)

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:27:19 UTC | #514450

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 24 by cheesedoff17

It is an interesting article. However, Drosera ( Comment 4) is most probably far nearer the truth. The more one learns about the inner workings of the Vatican the harder it is to believe that it is anything but a self serving organization that seeks to preserve itself at all costs.

Why be surprised that a man(?) who has never shown the slightest interest in the well being of the children, he has after all been knowledgeable of these cases for 20 years, should suddenly show some compassion for them. The priest is part of the brotherhood of the "Holy Mother Church". He is one of them. The children are nothing.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:30:32 UTC | #514453

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 25 by Carl Sai Baba

How many politicians or corporations have been able to bring themselves to say, ‘You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry’?

Lots of them. The question should be, "how many of them say that without adding 'Now can I go play with my sail boat?' at the end?"

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:34:07 UTC | #514457

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 26 by Oromasdes1978

A question - how can the Mussonlini Pact be revoked?

Would it be a concerted effort on behalf of many countries or would it simply require the Italian Government to do it?

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:38:22 UTC | #514463

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 27 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 6 by Tiende Landeplage

if you are a victim of child-rape you can be excommunicated for breathing a word of your suffering outside clerical walls; but you cannot be excommunicated for raping children, even if you do it by the dozen.

It is still baffling to me how any apologist for the church, no matter how brainwashed, can blithely dismiss such a blatantly distorted idea of "moral imperative".

It is built in to RCC Canon Law that excommunication is for doctrinal matters not for sin. A priest who rapes two hundred children is not challenging the Catholic doctrine that this act is a sin. In fact he probably goes to confession regularly and prays for strength to overcome his "weakness". In doing so he is acknowledging Catholic doctrine. However victims of abuse who go to the police are openly challenging the bishops right to instruct them not to so do. They are not only sinning but they are challenging Catholic doctrine, and for this they can be excommunicated.

Roman Catholic doctrines and Canon Law have to be formulated in such a way as to explain how people such as Pope Alexander VI can exist in an organisation that was designed by God himself, whose very bureaucratic structures are holy, and which, taken as a whole, cannot err. In view of this how could they be other than perverse? But the real problem is not those who would exploit the system, but the doctrines and laws themselves and the billions, including many of the clergy, who are duped into believing these doctrines and laws are divine.

Without these billions the RCC would be nothing, but it is incredibly patronising towards them. I can remember a priest warning the congregation against reading Bertrand Russell, not because Russell was an "evil atheist" but because we should value our "simple fath" and we might be "lead into error" by "clever intellectual arguments" we could not understand.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:51:44 UTC | #514471

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 28 by Mark Jones

Superb Paula.

Ye shall know them by their fruits.

I've argued for some time about the logical connection between spirituality and harm in this world, and you highlight it here:

This is what happens when people surrender themselves to the pernicious idea that ‘spiritual’ matters should take precedence over earthly ones.

To be honest, I think their position is entirely understandable; if one believes in the soul one should value it over the flesh. But one shouldn't believe in the soul unless one has a very good reason to! And they don't, which renders their position wicked.

This is interesting:

The Vatican is not interested in crime. The Vatican is only interested in sin.

Is it a little hyperbolic? I'll wait for my copy of the book to arrive before pronouncing. I'm sure Catholics by and large are interested in crime; they just rate it less important than sin for the reasons given above.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:58:09 UTC | #514475

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 29 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 28 by Mark Jones

I'm sure Catholics by and large are interested in crime; they just rate it less important than sin for the reasons given above.

Of course Catholics are interested in crime and many of them think, contrary to all available evidence, that crime rates would fall if we all converted to Catholicism. To the RC Canon Law takes precedence over Secular Law. For instance a Catholic who sued his parish priest over £50 he was owed could, in theory, be excommunicated if he had not first obtained his bishop's permission. In this case it would be unlikely to happen because even to most crotchety old theological pedant would appreciate that this would be almost universally ridiculed. However the RCC still asserts its "right" in principle to do this and does assert and act on this so-called "right" and does threaten to excommunicate those who would take action against in Secular courts - and, I believe, not just in child-abuse cases.

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 10:25:09 UTC | #514494

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 30 by Paula Kirby

Thanks to everyone for the generous responses.

Mixmastergaz - no, my article definitely isn't a substitute for reading the book. The book is full of detail, examples, and closely reasoned argument that deserve to be read and digested properly, and which simply don't lend themselves to a short summary. This applies especially to the sections dealing with the statehood issue and the various options for prosecution or civil suits that may be available: they deserve a close reading. So please do read the original! I had thought I was reasonably well up in this whole business, but I learned a huge amount from the book, and have emerged feeling even more outraged and scandalised than I did before. This despite the fact that Geoffrey Robertson bends over backwards to distance himself from out-and-out Catholic-bashing and to emphasize that the RCC does good charitable work too. But still, the facts as presented in the book speak for themselves.

Bernard Hurley - I love your comments: they underline the very thing I picked up from Robertson's book: that the RCC simply views such things through a different filter. As I was writing my article I suspected that people from a RCC background would find this insight less startling than I had! I and, I think, others had been viewing the whole saga through non-Catholic eyes - no wonder none of it made sense! Who was it who, after reading On the Origin of Species for the first time, said, 'Of COURSE! How very stupid of me not to have realised that before!', or words to that effect? That's how I felt on reading this part of Robertson's book!

Mark Jones - no, I really don't think it's hyperbole. The observation about the Vatican not being interested in crime doesn't, OF COURSE, apply to Catholics at large. It's a simple statement of fact about the law in force in the 'state' of the Holy See: that's canon law, and canon law is about sin and 'the drama of redemption', not about crime and its punishment. The Pope has, as recently as July of this year, underlined his insistence that this law alone must be applied to cases of priestly sex abuse.

Oromasdes - as I've understood it, I don't think the Lateran Treaty needs to be revoked: other countries just need to stop making the mistake of thinking it had the power to confer statehood on the Holy See. Robertson explains very thoroughly why the HS's claim to statehood is highly dubious. All that needs to happen is for a country whose law gives it international jurisdiction in cases of crimes against humanity to initiate an action against the Pope. The Vatican would immediately claim diplomatic immunity based on statehood, and a court would then have to adjudicate on the validity on that claim.

Thanks again to everyone who's commented so far. Please do read the book: it's a remarkable eye-opener in all kinds of ways. I include this extract as a taster:

In 2001, the Vatican actually congratulated Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux for refusing to inform police about a paedophile priest and for giving him parish work despite his confession of guilt. “I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration”, wrote Cardinal Castrillon Hojos, with the personal approval of John Paul II and other senior Cardinals, including the Head of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger. This came to light after the priest had been sentenced to 18 years for repeated rapes and assaults on 10 boys, and the bishop received a 3-month suspended sentence for not reporting the abuse, contrary to French law. The Papal commendation had been copied to all Bishops, to serve as an encouragement to them to defy such laws. There could be no clearer example of the Holy See deciding that its own law should trump the criminal law of another nation, or at least requiring its spiritual adherents - nationals of that other nation – to breach the law of their land. Castrillon Hojos, then the Vatican Cardinal responsible for the priesthood, was applauded by senior churchmen – in March 2010 – when he said at a conference that “after consulting the Pope... I wrote a letter to the bishop congratulating him as a model Father who does not hand over his own sons... the Holy Father authorised me to send this letter to all Bishops...”

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 10:45:21 UTC | #514513