From the religion that has brought us over two millenia of patriarchy and all of the related opression - misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and complete lack of compassion for those suffering with and dying from AIDS, to name just a few - come especially hurtful, insensitive words from one Edward Egan via the New York Times. The NYT, along with three other newspapers, spent seven years in court compelling the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, of which Egan was then Bishop, to release reams of documents related to lawsuits against the diocese for the moelstation of children parishoners by priests. Here are a few gems highlighted in the Times editorial:
Responding to one accusation involving 12 children and a former priest, he stated “I am not aware of those things. I am aware of the claims of those things, the allegations of those things. I am aware that there are a number of people who know one another, some are related to one another, have the same lawyers and so forth.”
How enlightened of him. Like so many women who have been raped, like so many people who have been oppressed by sexual or other violence, Bishop Egan responded not with Christ-like compassion or an attempt to get to the bottom of things and solve the problem, but cast aspersions on the victims instead. He suggests some sort of conspiracy or assault against the Catholic church and uses the relationships between victims, logical since they attended the same church parish, to frame them band of con-artists in cahoots with one another. Despicable.
Additionally, he gloated, “It’s marvelous, when you think of the hundreds and hundreds of priests and how very few have even been accused, and how very few have even come close to having anyone prove anything.”
I don't even have words to respond to that. I did enjoy the reaction from Father Tony over at Farmboyz; he recommends a Christmas eve call to action in which parishoners stop making donations and start placing pebbles in collection baskets instead, and do so until the church reforms itself. (Side note - Father Tony is a very cool blogger and I had the privilege of getting to know him while we were both working as extras on the set of Bear City this past August.)
In an interesting parallel story, the Catholic Church has also been reaching out to conservatives in the Anglican Communion who oppose the Episcopal church's move towards ordainging gay and lesbian ministers and bishops and to blessing gay and lesbian marriages and unions. Having been raised and confirmed in the Episcopal faith, I continue to watch this unfold with great interest.
(Quick lesson: The Anglican faith formed when King Henry VIII couldn't get a Papal anullment. The Epsicopal church is the American arm of the same and they partially broke with the Church of England, though they remained a part of the Anglican Communion, at the time of the American Revolution. The Episcopal church has ordained female minsters since the late 70s whereas Anglicans still don't. The Episcopal faith elected their first openly gay bishop in 2003.)
My question is, why doesn't the Episcopal church launch a similar campaign? They are the most politically liberal Protestant faith in America and are dogmatically and theologically closer to Catholicism than any other faith. If I designed the billboards they might say "The Episcopal church welcome you and your family....not to be diddled and cornholed by some creepy old fuck during youth group." Then again I'm a little heavy handed and will never be asked to manage a political or advertising campaign. Bottom line, if you're Catholic and you don't hate women and LGBT people, or you're a female and/or LGBT Catholic person and have moved past your internalized guilt and opression and don't hate yourself - please, stop giving them money. Stop trying to reform from within. There are already Christian religions that encourage Christ-like behavior (imagine that!) and they will weolcome you with open arms.