Religion and Child Support have historical links. There was a famous case involving disputed paternity and an absent father about 2000 years ago.
Claimed reply to a Child Support Agency form: “ I have never had sex with a man. I am awaiting a letter from Pope confirming that my son's conception was immaculate and that he is Christ risen again. ”
Leslie Lothstein: “ I treated priests who had two children. I treated priests who got women pregnant and got them abortions. I said to one of them, 'Why didn't you just use a condom?' And he said, 'Because birth control is against the law of the church.' ”
The Higgs Boson walked into a church.
The priest said to him, “ I'm sorry, you are not welcome here. ”
The Higgs Boson replied, “ But without me, you can't have mass. ”
How do you get a nun pregnant?
Dress her up as an alter boy!
David Letterman: “ I read this in the paper this morning: New York City has a priest shortage. So you see, there is some good news in the world.... To give you an idea how bad it is, earlier today in Brooklyn an alter boy had to grope himself. ”
Jay Leno: “ As you've probably heard, the Pope has asked all the Cardinals to return to Rome. You know how they got them all to come back? They told them that there was going to be a performance by the Vienna Boys Choir. ”
Jay Leno: “ The U.S. Cardinals said they are going to develop a code of ethics to help them deal with the sexual scandal. Wait a minute, I thought there already was a code of ethics, it's called the Bible. ”
A catholic goes to heaven and asks Mary: “ Why do you always appears in paintings as a bit sad? ”
Mary responded: “ Oh ... it's just that we had always wanted a daughter. ”
“ What time does the priest go to bed? ”
“ When the big hand touches the little hand. ”
“ In Western Europe today, the closer a woman lives to the pope, the fewer children she has. ”
German sociologist Ulrich Beck
Stephen Fry compred the church's obsession with sex to food:
“ The majority of us enjoy eating and afford ourselves the indulgence now and again. But the only people who are truly obsessed with food are the morbidly obese and the anorexics. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Catholic Church in a nutshell. ”
The Church's devils
Crimes against children
What is the Catholic Church for?
The Roman Catholic Church competes with Islam as the world's most objectionable religious influence. (If I were given the choice of eliminating the influence of Islam or eliminating the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, whichever I chose I would feel guilty afterward for not choosing the other).
The Roman Catholic Church is a morally-incompetent organisation masquerading as a moral authority.
This page is not about Christianity in general, nor about the other Catholic Churches. Neither is it a criticism of lay catholics who have been taken by surprise by the revelations of child-rape in the Church. (As long as they do not make themselves part of the problem by denying the harmful nature of the Church, or by denying the wrongdoings of the men in the Church hierarchy).
In a genuine spirit of enquiry:
Given that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (section 1376) states that transubstantiation means that the bread and the wine literally, not figuratively or symbolically, become the flesh and blood of Christ, how is this different from cannibalism?
Islam versus the Roman Catholic Church
The malign influences of these are very different from one-another:
Islam is a toxic ideology. It began with Muhammad, who was an unenlightened delusional warmonger with a medieval attitude towards women. It has inherent resistance to change, and so "in its natural state" it is still at best medieval and at worst intolerant and barbaric.
The Roman Catholic Church is unenlightened by institution rather than by original ideology. Its ideology doesn't in principle resist change, but change is under the control of corrupt unenlightened men.
Deep problems with the Church
The saying "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" was coined by Lord Acton as a warning about certain regressive changes to the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church is still one of the world's best illustrations of this dictum. It is, quite literally, "a law unto itself", with Church Law often taking precedence (in the minds of the hierarchy) over national laws.
This is not confined to the child-rape activities of many priests in many countries, and the subsequent carefully-planned cover-ups by bishops and those higher in the hierarchy. It even applies to more mundane cases such as the failure of some priests to pay child support for their children. For example, William J Levada, (who has since become Head of the Inquisition, or more properly "Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith"), argued that the "birth of the plaintiff's child and the resultant expenses ... are the result of the plaintiff's own negligence" because she engaged in "unprotected intercourse". "Unprotected intercourse"? Is he saying she should have used contraception? Hypocrite!
The four main reasons why the world would be better without the Roman Catholic Church are:
- The policy and lies about condoms which are killing vast numbers numbers of people from AIDS. (During November 2010, this policy started to change for the better).
- The restrictions on women's reproductive rights, which are devastating in the developing world as well as unreasonable and unenlightened in the developed world.
- The unenlightened, irrational, attitude towards LBGT people, who typically behave according to their true nature without harm to others.
- The rape, beating, and other abuse of children, and the subsequent cover-up activities which deny justice and closure to the victims.
Sam Harris summarised the deep-seated centuries-long evil of the Roman Catholic Church:
"The Catholic Church has spent two millennia demonizing human sexuality to a degree unmatched by any other institution, declaring the most basic, healthy, mature, and consensual behaviors taboo.
"Indeed, this organization still opposes the use of contraception: preferring, instead, that the poorest people on earth be blessed with the largest families and the shortest lives. As a consequence of this hallowed and incorrigible stupidity, the Church has condemned generations of decent people to shame and hypocrisy - or to Neolithic fecundity, poverty, and death by AIDS. Add to this inhumanity the artifice of cloistered celibacy, and you now have an institution--one of the wealthiest on earth - that preferentially attracts pederasts, pedophiles, and sexual sadists into its ranks, promotes them to positions of authority and grants them privileged access to children. Finally, consider that vast numbers of children will be born out of wedlock, and their unwed mothers vilified, wherever Church teaching holds sway - leading boys and girls by the thousands to be abandoned to Church-run orphanages only to be raped and terrorized by the clergy.
"Here, in this ghoulish machinery set to whirling through the ages by the opposing winds of shame and sadism, we mortals can finally glimpse how strangely perfect are the ways of the Lord."
The Church's reaction to criticism
Many people object to, and criticise, the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes the Church has to accept that the criticisms are legitimate, for example in the case of well-established cases of child crimes. But many lay catholics and many in the hierarchy claim that there are extra reasons for attacking the Church, and criticism is beyond justification. Typical claims are:
From Catholic Online:
One reason the Catholic Church is being attacked is because, in spite of the weaknesses, sins and even crimes of a few members of the clergy, the Church is still the greatest herald of truth, beauty, goodness, and unity in the world. As such, she is also the gatekeeper of morality, and there are many people in the world, often having immoral intentions, who hate the Church and what she represents.
Ed Koch wrote in the Jerusalem Post:
"The reason, I believe, for the constant assaults is that there are many in the media, and some Catholics as well as many in the public, who object to and are incensed by positions the Church holds, including opposition to all abortions, opposition to gay sex and same-sex marriage, retention of celibacy rules for priests, exclusion of women from the clergy, opposition to birth control measures involving condoms and prescription drugs and opposition to civil divorce."
They are probably correct to say that opposition to the Church is often because it holds these positions. But many critics don't accept that the Church's positions really are uniquely moral while opposite positions are immoral. Quite simply, many people believe the positions of the Roman Catholic Church are immoral and unethical, and it is legitimate (and even desirable) to attack them for that. (See "Evidence of the Church's incompetence for their own mission" below).
The church does not suffer “heretical” thinking well and is extremely slow in altering its doctrines to be consistent with scientific progress as well as changes in cultural mores regarding acceptable human behaviors.
Child Support and related topics
The Child Support Analysis website covered topics such as contraception and paternity testing as well as parents' payments for supporting children.
From 2003 to 2006 I blogged news about child support on that website. Some of the news concerned the Roman Catholic Church. Because of the scope of that website, this news didn't cover the full range of objectionable activities of the Roman Catholic Church.
The main topics were:
- Roman Catholic priests trying to avoid paying child support for their children.
(Given that priests would surely never break their vows of celibacy, these must surely have all been virgin births!)
- The Roman Catholic Church's official attitude towards condoms and AIDS.
(Some priests made the news by defying the Church's official line).
What is the Roman Catholic Church for?
A lot has been published about ongoing crimes against children committed by people in the hierarchy of the Church. Most of the discussion concerns the prevalence of these actions among priests, and the cover-up by those above them. Much of the analysis is about who is to blame, and what should be done to those people. Some of it is about how to avoid such crimes in future.
This section gives a different, and more important, perspective.
Some defenders of the Church make the point that such crimes against children occur elsewhere too, as though it makes sense to judge the Church according to the same criteria as other organisations. But the Church is supposed to have special authority about morality, and therefore must be judged to a higher standard. (We would hold British Airways to higher standards than the Catholic Church for the ability to fly airplanes around the world, but to lower standards for matters of morality).
The heading above came from a brilliant retort by Stephen Fry at the the Intelligence Squared debate on the motion "Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world?". After Ann Widdecombe's defence of the Church not condemning slavery because it was acceptable at the time, he said "And what is the point of the Catholic Church if it says 'we couldn't know better because nobody else did'. Then what are you for?"
The Church's mission - what they are for
The Church defines its mission as "spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity". Apart from "exercising charity", the obvious question is "why do those things?" What is it about "the gospel of Jesus Christ" that is important enough to need such an organisation? Why does the Church think that it is better qualified than other organisations to do this? (These questions are about the Church itself, not about the lay people who practice catholicism. But a question for them is "what value is added by catholicism compared with other ways of living one's life?")
The justification for this mission is that the Church has special authority and/or expertise not available elsewhere. (That is a theme of Apostolic succession). Either it knows better than others what the gospel actually was when first produced, or it has added better analysis at a later stage, or both. In effect, it claims to have a better "channel to Jesus" than others. But what evidence do they offer for this?
Evidence of the Church's incompetence for their own mission
Here is counter-evidence to any claim that the Roman Catholic Church has a better "channel to Jesus":
Knowledge of the universe: The Church never credibly tells us "we learned from Jesus about the nature of the universe". It doesn't make useful predictions. The Church is repeatedly wrong-footed by science, and sometimes takes centuries (if at all) to catch up. In fact, it displays "special ignorance" rather than "special knowledge".
The 10 Commandments: This is covered in depth in another article here. Some of the most important Commandments of the 21st Century are not in the Church's own list: Do not commit genocide; Do not rape; Do not own slaves; Do not abuse children; Do not commit incest; Do not discriminate on grounds of ... (various); Do not deny the nature of the universe.
How does the Church now know that child-rape is a serious offense, when it isn't in the 10 Commandments? Because it learned from non-Church sources!
Communicating morality: Events prove that, whether or not the Church actually knows what the Commandments should be, (and the above shows they don't), they are incapable of communicating them via clear words or by example. The Church is a clear illustration of the claim in another article that "religions are not good at morality and moral codes". So it neither has a good moral code nor can it adequately communicate even what it has.
Eternal beliefs : Either their doctrine / ideology / beliefs are eternal or they are not. (A point made by one of the audience at the Intelligence Squared debate). And it is clear they are not, see above. So what authority can their doctrine have? What causes it to change? What new evidence is there, and where did it come from? And why didn't Jesus set them right from the start?
The visible nature of the Church is indistinguishable from that of an organisation with no special relationship to any supernatural and/or specially-aware being(s). It simply adds none of the value that would be expected of such a special relationship. It is indistinguishable from an organisation that exists because it began under false pretenses and since then has worked primarily to perpetuate itself.
Incompatibility with the gospels
Matthew 23 verse 9:
New International Version: "And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven."
King James Version: "And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."
Wrong attitudes about child crimes
It is now well known that the Church handled the crimes against children very badly. (It is known to have been doing so since 1871). This is sometimes attributed to an instinct to protect the Church at all costs, and there was much of that. But it was only part of the story, and probably a later part.
The typical process appears to be:
A priest rapes a child;
his bishop finds out, probably after a period of disbelief;
the bishop then focuses attention on helping the priest overcome his sins;
to do so, the priest has to be protected against the criminal justice system and the media;
hence the priest also has to be protected against the word of the child, who must be silenced or discredited.
Any cover-up appears to happen later, when it is realised that this process is unacceptable to people outside the Church.
In other words, after the occurrence of the child-rape, the Church behaves as though the primary objective is to handle the priest's sin and repentance according to Jesus's injunctions about forgiving. The injury to the child is treated as "merely" a side-effect of the sin of the priest, and is not considered to be important for the Church to handle. The fact that it is a crime covered by secular laws is perhaps an "inconvenience", because the criminal justice system would impede the repentance and redemption of the priest. Or perhaps it is simply never even thought about, because it belongs to a different world-view from that of the priest and bishop.
Nearly all statements and actions by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church are consistent with having a "different world-view". The law and the media inhabit a world that the hierarchy is in dispute with, because it is not (their interpretation of) the world of Jesus.
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos:
... defended the Roman Catholic Church's practice of frequently not reporting sexual abusive priests to the police, saying Thursday it would have been like testifying against a family member at trial.... "The law in nations with a well-developed judiciary does not force anyone to testify against a child, a father, against other people close to the suspect. Why would they ask that of the church? That's the injustice. It's not about defending a pedophile, it's about defending the dignity and the human rights of a person, even the worst of criminals."
Next steps for catholics
The problems caused by the Roman Catholic Church arise from the mismatch between what it claims and what it delivers. Its claims come from its authority according to Apostolic succession - "do as I say, because I have the authority of Jesus to say it".
Individual catholics need to get past what the Church claims, and see it for what it actually delivers. And take into account evidence about whether it is even inherently capable of ever delivering what it should. Many have done so, for example Sinéad O'Connor. She says she is a catholic and she loves Jesus, yet she sees the (current) Church as a problem and an obstacle.
Catholics should reject any attitude of "do as I say", and treat the Church according to "do as I do". Instead of displaying authority, the Church must display leadership. Unfortunately for the hierarchy of the Church, what they "do" is completely incompatible with normal life! (And nearly always has been). The concept of professional celebates moralising about sex and sexuality and dictating restrictions on sexual practices cannot be taken seriously by rational people. Ditto the mismatch between the obscene wealth of the Roman Catholic Church and the poverty of so much of their (prospective) congregation.