Unethical Quote Of The Month, And Also KABOOM!: Pope Francis

“Because of our sins, the Great Accuser always takes advantage – we read in the first chapter from Job – he roams looking for someone to accuse… he is accusing us strongly, and this accusation becomes persecution as well. …And there is also another type of persecution, of continuous accusations to dirty the Church: the Church must not be dirtied. The children yes, but not the mother, and the mother defends herself from the Great Accuser with prayer and penance. That’s why I asked to pray the Rosary, Our Lady, Saint Michael the Archangel. It’s a difficult moment because through us, the great accuser wants to attack the mother. And you don’t touch a mother”.  

—- Pope Francis, addressing the closing session of a synod of bishops at the Vatican yesterday, claiming that the Catholic Church has been persecuted through accusations related to the clerical child sex-abuse scandals that have undermined the credibility of the papacy and church hierarchy.

I’m really mad at my head for exploding over this. Surely it isn’t a surprise, not after the ongoing accountability-ducking and finger-pointing the Pope and his Church have been engaged in while innocent children are buggered by priests worldwide. Yet somehow I did not, and apparently my head did not, believe that the Pope would be so callous, tone-deaf and, frankly, stupid as to play the victim card when it is not only invalid but guaranteed not to work. “How dare anyone accuse us of covering up child abuse when we have been covering up child abuse for decades, and probably centuries! How dare anyone imply that the Church is accountable when its priests molest children and its leadership choose to protect the molesters instead of the victims!” This is essentially what the Pope is saying (it sounds different in Italian), and he really seems to be oblivious to how awful it not only sounds, but is.

Heaven forfend that the Church be “dirtied” by the fact that it facilitated the sexual abuse of hundreds of thousands of kids! (Okay, now that I’ve thought about it, I forgive you, Head. You were right to explode.)

What we are watching is a desperate institution resort to chicanery, emotion and lies to protect its power, wealth and influence, as it exposes itself to be willing to distort the very values it was created to serve for pure self-interest. In this it is a useful case study of unethical organizational behavior, and how at some point organization cultural rot is irreversible.

19 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month, And Also KABOOM!: Pope Francis

  1. The man is an absolute menace. Which I think is actually a good thing. He’s an idiot and is beclowning the Church and the centuries old gay cabal that runs it as a cushy pederastic playpen. I’m glad I left the church, literally and figuratively, as soon as I got my driver’s license.

  2. Ahh liberation theologians running the store and attempting to paper over real crimes against humanity as opposed to the fake ones they make up but cultivate so well about capitalism.

    I still go to mass with my wife, but often find myself thinking very cynical and unkind things about the whole theology being portrayed and espoused before me. It all seems too contrived and, well, desperate.

  3. There’s a bit of authentic frontier (religious?) gibberish in there as well. I read through it a number of times trying to be generous with the interpretation, but couldn’t make heads or tails of the mother vs child.

    I’m not Catholic, but a member of the church catholic – and it angers me what he’s doing to the reputation of Christians. He’s acts more like a politician than a religious leader; cover up instead of repentance.

    • I thought he was saying that the agents of the church (i.e. the people) could certainly be to blame, but the church itself could not be accused. That is, the idea of the “church” should remain unsullied because it’s an ideal, whereas the individuals inside the church (even so far up as the pope) can be accused if appropriate, but the church itself should be considered immune from said accusations.

      I’m not saying I agree with that, only that this is how I read the statement.

      • Remember that this is a speech to a synod of bishops. It is not a statement addressed to the world at large. When Francis says that Satan is dirtying the Church “because of us” and “through our sins,” he is speaking specifically about his own sins and the sins of the bishops. He was distinguishing in this passage between the sins of mere human beings and the purity of the universal church as an embodiment of God. He didn’t dwell on the abuse scandal at length in this particular prayer and homily, but that was not the subject of his speech. This was a worldwide synod that was planned long in advance of the latest revelations for the purpose of exploring how to reach out to young people and how to encourage young people to enter into vocations as priests. It was attended by many, many young people from around the world. The synod lasted for more than three weeks, and a great deal was said there about the sexual abuse crisis, but it was not the central topic of discussion. Much of the conference was devoted to meetings with young people and to listening to their ideas and concerns in both formal and informal settings. The young people did not come to the synod because they wanted to talk about sexual abuse, but in order to celebrate their faith, and there were many other issues that they wanted to discuss. The statements that Jack is quoting are from the Pope’s closing remarks, which were intended to address the central purpose of the synod, to thank the bishops for their work, to thank the young people for their participation and to offer hope for the future. Sexual abuse is an important topic but it is not the topic of every gathering of the faithful, and speeches centering on sexual abuse are not appropriate for every occasion. The crisis will the the main topic at the US Conference of Bishops next month, including specific measures that bishops and clergy should take to prevent future recurrences.

        That said, the Pope’s public response to the crisis has been extremely unsatisfying, and if he is taking any concrete administrative steps to address it, he is doing so very quietly, because as far as I know, there have been no public announcements about any such action.

        • One word: Persecution. Justify that, Greg, please.

          An academic institution that had the Church’s record regarding sexual abuse would be put out of business and burned to the ground. How is the Church being “persecuted”?

          • He is not talking about accusations by human beings that persecute bishops. He is talking about accusations by Satan that persecute the universal Church. Satan as the Great Accuser persecuting the Church seems to be a particular theological interest/obsession of Francis. He talked about it in his first homily as Pope, and he returns to it over and over again. I will bet that if you could find some of his homilies from before he became Pope, you would find him talking about it back then.

            Satan as the Great Accuser accuses people of being so vile that they do not deserve God’s mercy. He makes these accusations before God and he makes them to people in an effort to tempt us into further sin (because we believe we are so vile that God will punish us anyway), to persuade us to disobey God’s command to love our enemies as ourselves (because we believe they are so vile that not even God can love them) and to persuade us that God’s promise of salvation and forgiveness is false. In this way, Satan persecutes the Church by trying to lead people away from faith. We are called upon to reject Satan’s accusations, to love other people regardless of their sins and to accuse ourselves of sin, responding with prayer and penance, having confidence in the possibility of redemption through God’s love and mercy.

            There’s a brief discussion of the topic here: https://www.gotquestions.org/Satan-accuser.html. But there have been treatises written on the subject.

            This language about accusation and persecution is, of course, unfortunate and tone-deaf when spoken to the world at large under current circumstances. Even many clergy who are less immersed in theological speculation and dogma than Francis appear not to grasp his point. But Francis seems either not to understand that or to believe that convincing people of the existence of Satan and exposing his wiles is so important that he must hammer the point home at every opportunity anyway.

            • But it’s a cynical dodge to cast the actual accusers into negative territory on the Cognitive Dissonance Scale! They are emulating Satan! Moreover, the argument that the organization/institution/entity/”mother” is blameless and only the human beings within it are not is the most transparent of ploys. Without the humans, there is no institution. It’s empty buildings and tracts no one reads.

            • My point isn’t that Francis is doing a good job addressing the scandal. He’s doing a lousy job. I’m just saying that at least he’s not saying people should stop accusing the bishops of misconduct, which is the way this story is being reported.

  4. The Catholic church has always been a little ‘cultish’ for my tastes. By this, I mean when asked about an interpretation of scripture, Catholic friends will often say “We’re not supposed to read the Bible, the priests tells us what it means” . However, now I am seeing it go straight into cult territory. I have read numerous articles lately by Catholics about the pedophile and pederasty scandal in the Catholic church. The arguments are always the same: yes, this is terrible, only the church hierarchy can do anything about it, the church hierarchy (including the pope) seems to be supporting the abuse rather than fighting the abuse, but you can’t leave and go to a different denomination. So, their argument always boils down to the idea that you need to continue to support the abuse of children and seminarians with your tithes and offerings. So, why can’t you leave the Catholic church? Because the most important thing in Christianity is the Eucharist and only the real, authentic, name-brand, Catholic church has it. If you get the Eucharist anywhere else, it isn’t real and you are missing the most important thing in Christianity. That just seems unhistorical, unbiblical, and really, really manipulative. Now, maybe the articles I have been reading are all from a weird sub-group of Catholics, but it is still disturbing.

    • At the risk of engaging in the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, the view you’re hearing (“We’re not supposed to read the Bible, the priest tells us what it means”) isn’t the message Catholics are supposed to be carrying. We even have a name for that sort of thinking, “Clericalism” (which is a general term for an improper focus on the importance of the Clergy and includes things like assuming a priest is the ultimate authority, a focus on protecting the authority of the clergy by hiding abuses, etc).

      The stance of the Church is that Catholics should be reading and praying with the Bible directly, we just ALSO place a great deal of importance on the traditions of the Church, writings of the Saints, etc. Priests go to a lot of school to learn ABOUT the bible to help interpret and explain it but aren’t supposed to be replacing it or rendering it irrelevant.

        • The individual acts of molestation, of course, must be laid solely at the feed of the molesters. I’d also argue that you can’t actually prevent them from happening- you can take steps to make it less likely, but if someone wants to molest a child you’d be hard pressed to make it impossible.

          Clericalism takes the blame for the policy of shuffling offenders and covering it up, fueled in part by the idea that it’s unacceptable for a priest to be exposed as a criminal. It’s seen as more important to protect the priesthood as moral authorities, and to not allow enemies of the faith to tar the entire church by the crimes of some members (of course, the coverup makes it EASIER to say the rot is systemic…)

          A priest writing about the abuse scandals in our Diocesan magazine put it very well, I paraphrase: “If you know a priest has done something wrong, pursue it. Don’t let your respect for us turn into deference in the face of sin. Demand that we adhere to our vows, and push us to be saints.”

            • The bitter irony is that, in an effort to “protect the Church” by not allowing ANY cracks to show, the bishops plastered over the cracks and allowed the rot to spread so much further.

      • Well, I only know a dozen-or-so Catholics well enough to know their view on this and I think all of them are affected by Clericalism. Since they live in many different states scattered over the US, I would say Clericalism is a widespread issue, or I am a magnet for it.

        • You won’t hear any argument from me on that front, it’s a real problem with no easy answer (how do you acknowledge clergy as highly educated authorities of the faith without letting your mind slip into thinking of them as not merely authorities, but the ARBITERS of what makes the faith)? Just letting you know that we at least recognize it as a problem and it’s not *supposed* to be that way.

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