The Catholic Church Should Put Its Own House in Order

By Betty Caplan
Daily National
March 26, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has now left the continent having preached to thousands in Angola and Cameroon. But doesn’t the epithet that “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” apply to him?

Scientists have agreed that it was nothing short of irresponsible for him to claim that condom use actually increases the rate of HIV infection. It encourages promiscuity, the church believes.

This stance is immoral on two levels: first because it is plainly untrue, and goes against the advice of trained personnel. The church must recognise that it has failed in this mission.

SECONDLY, BECAUSE IT contradicts the kind of philosophy that has due regard for the health of our ailing planet. On the day the Pope arrived in Africa, the Nation featured a picture of dozens of beautiful children, all in the care of the police, their parents unwilling or unable to claim them.

The church fathers are stuck in a time warp; living in medieval times; they are totally out of touch, especially with youth.

Not only does the Vatican refuse to admit that its policies have not worked, but it will also not face the immorality which continues to fester in its own ranks.

Cases of sexual abuse of minors have been reported in countries as far apart as Australia and Mexico. The Pope himself suppressed publication of a report which revealed the extent of this exploitation.

In 2007, child sex abuse cases cost the church $615 million (Sh49 billion), an increase of 54 per cent over the previous year, most of which went towards settling in court. Therapy for the victims and the accused took care of $23 million.

New allegations of abuse in 2007 totalled 689, most of the sufferers being young males between the ages of 10 and 14 when the abuse began.

A Charter for the Protection of Children has done better at protecting clergy from exposure.

In 2007, on his first visit to the USA, the Pope avoided Boston for fear of the protests about sex abuse scandals there.

The numbers of men in the West willing to repress their sexual needs and become priests has been decreasing rapidly; calls for the obligation to remain celibate have gone unheard.

But Africa, as in colonial times, is unfortunately ripe for conversion: only here is the church growing — an “opiate” as Marx called of desperately poor “masses” whose lives are made bearable by the unprovable belief that the next world is better than this one.

One cannot avoid the suspicion that underneath this pattern of behaviour is a fear and dislike of women who are particularly disadvantaged in the Catholic Church and prevented from holding high office.

Compare to the Anglican Church, which has tried hard to move with the times and accept homosexuals as being as worthy of love and respect as all men and women.

OR WITH HINDUS OR BUDDHISTS. The Catholic ideal is a Virgin, painted in centuries of European art as a (lily-white) maiden flying high in the clouds, well away from the grasp of men whereas she would have looked much more like an Arab or a Swahili.

Is a female to be nothing but a vessel for a man’s sperm?

Witness the shocking case of the nine-year-old girl in Brazil whose family and doctors were ex-communicated because the foetus was aborted.

No compassion was shown for the girl, traumatised and subjected to incest, yet meant to bring up another child though not past childhood herself.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.