Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Let's Get Ready to RumbleChild sex abuse. Bishops covering up crimes. Men need to take charge and wipe out this plague. The man's topic of the week in the bloggerhood. It reminded me of this study from a few years back. Women are just more engaged than men in religion. Doesn't matter if the religion is male dominated in leadership or not. Doesn't matter of women are more "manly" in the sense of career over family. We men, it seems, just don't have it. Rod Dreher also says men don't get it, firing a first shot in what Dale Price calls a Sergeant's War. A few other blogs have picked up on the theme, which, if I may paraphrase, runs like this: 1. Thanks to Vatican II, Priests abused children and teens and bishops looked the other way. This was bad. Very bad, especially since all the "good men" were chased out of the seminaries. 2. The last forty years have been all about emasculating men. The ones that don't turn into sex predators, homosexuals, lawyers, VOTF groupies, spineless bishops, or even the pope, are too busy with the tv remote and defrosted microwaved quiche to do much of anything about it. This means that if you're not a) a journalist, and/or b) an ortho-blogger on a mission, you're part of the problem. 3. It's time to get really angry about this problem. Your new age drumming didn't do a damn thing for the Culture of Life. Let's get out some baseball bats, guns, and nukes. Okay. And so it goes, supposedly good Catholics talking about shooting predators (like the prison population isn't going to hand out some slap downs themselves), forming armies, or the like. I've read a few people who jump on the wagon to prooftext that this saint or that saint said anger is actually good. Let's ponder a few items before we swallow this puffery: 1. Child abuse, even sexual abuse has been going on for a very long time. It wasn't new to the 60's or even the 50's and 40's. It wasn't new to the Church, its priests or bishops. Some years may have been worse than others. If you believe statistics, we're long past the worst of it in the US. That's not to say it's Miller Time and we can relax. People have always preyed on children. Why? Because they are weak. Rod Dreher is right to say it is the responsibility of men (and women) to protect the innocent. This is also a Christian duty. 2. Attractive people abused children and covered up. Sexual addiction shows no respect for a person's orthodoxy, virtue, or appearance. In fact, socially clumsy and inept people don't become predators. Their victims would be weirded out long before they got close enough to cause damage. Accused pastors and bishops have large crowds of vocal defenders. Good people have 'em too, but so do sex predators. It's why they were able to wear away at the defenses of children and their supposed protectors. 3. On that theme, some bishops were just plain fooled. Duped, if you will. I imagine a few bishops were outright criminals, but they'll be gone fairly soon. The average parish priest has to live with the aftermath, and new bishops, guilty or not, will also deal with a legacy that will bring up their failures at every turn. My opinion: it's time for nose to the grindstone work for bishops. All are tainted by the sins of a few and the foolishness of the many. 4. Anger has not disappeared from 21st century America. Addicts of a different stripe indulge in it. You see it in professional sport, where it has leaked down into unseemly displays of crudity from parents of kids who compete. You see and hear it in music. As much as I enjoy rock music, I cannot deny too much of it is far too angry for my tastes. You certainly see it in film and television. Anger is a thrill. It sells. Anger can be justified, if used as a tool for achieving good. One apt blog commentator noted he didn't want his children around priest perps, bishops, or the self-described Catholic vigilante who wants to get some guns and start shooting. I think anger is overrated and far more pervasive than these commenters seem to think. Get angry if you must, but cool heads will achieve more in the long run. 5. I think one potential good to come from the power morass of the clergy scandals is that lay people are indeed too engaged to permit things to happen on this scale again. Conservative Catholics are just waking up? Great. You're only about twenty years behind Tom Doyle, the NCR, and other distastefully non-conservative folks. These people were not only getting angry, but also exposing sin and crime, all while some now-outraged Catholics were still singing the praises of Cardinal Law "and Order," and giving thanks that they were not the sinners like those gay seminarians who chased away all the "good men." Have I captured it?