My Christian wife is very conservative in her worldview. She was raised in a very loving, caring, mutually-respecting family. My family was just the opposite, so right there we have our differences. Her’s was, “Don’t argue, don’t fight, don’t rile the waters, don’t question authority, live and let live, and everyone will get along just fine.”(Which reminds me of something a man once said about not minding black people, “as long as they stay in their place.”) As she said many years ago, her life has been “No roller-coaster ups and downs.” This works for her, and as the psychiatrist said, whatever works for them is what people stick with. My challenges to her faith, via pointing out the bad perpetrated by it, is therefore seen as personal attack. This I have learned, being burned too many times. Still, the hot water examples of abuses of human rights and lives reaches the boiling point sometimes and I scream, so to speak. She sticks with faith, right or wrong.
One of the subjects we confronted was the matter of ideology, though the word was not used, and how it ends up being something which permeates society all the way to a personal belief and acceptance. I said that the Pope is a good man, doing what he did for what he considered good reasons, and she said he is a bad man, period. Maybe the reader will be willing to consider this good man/bad man argument. Did the good man do bad things for reasons justified in his mind and conscience?
In “A criminal matter, not a spiritual one” (Washington Post 4/6/10), Paula Kirby wrote of the Pope,
“In 2001, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, in his then capacity as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (what used to be called the Inquisition), wrote a letter clarifying and reinforcing the infamous Crimen Sollicitationis, which made it an ex-communicable offense to breathe a word of child rape allegations outside the church. Under Ratzinger's leadership, rape victims … “were bullied into silence, called liars, and accused of being simply out to fleece the church for money.”Another damning letter written in 1985 by then-Cardinal Ratzinger concerning a pedophile priest, Father Stephen Kiesle, reads,
”This court, although it regards the arguments in favor of removal in this case to be of grave significance [note “grave significance”!], nevertheless deems it necessary to consider the Good of the Universal Church, together with that of the petitioner, and it is also unable to make light of the detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke with the community of Christ’s faithful...”In plain language, the really grave significance is the THREAT to the future of the church.
Cardinal Ratzinger and all those defenders and upholders of the faith who have preceded him, who determined what the faithful must believe at all costs, are in all their consciences, good men acting in what they consider good faith - in fact the BEST faith, in covering up child rapes to preserve and protect THE FAITH.
What is surprising is that believers are shocked by these revelations, for this is traditional. Have not heretics and women accused of being witches been tortured and burned alive to preserve and protect The Faith? Have not differences of opinion been banned? Christians have slaughtered other Christians to preserve The Faith. Men, women, and children were slaughtered in Rwanda, goaded on by priests who participated themselves in the carnage. This was also covered up to preserve and protect The Faith. Even now, in Africa, children are suffering and being killed for being witches. Always, preserving and protecting The Faith has been more important to the church than human life.
While Jews in Nazi-occupied lands lost property and eventually lives, the churches remained silent, and their beliefs continued to be taught in schools. The faith remained intact, preserved, without challenge or scandal. Faith has its consequences. In good conscience, do YOU think the price has been worth it - to “keep the faith,” as the pope and his predecessors ideologically believed, and made certain others followed, at risk of eternal hellfire and/ or loss of career, income, and social standing?
To return to the beginning, my wife belongs to a world of small church, small God, small miracles. She does not ascribe to a marriage where a wife vows to love, honor, and obey, her husband - but her god. All these things make her a church ”family” member. She, and probably the other members of her church, sees the Pope and others like him as BAD people. I see them as mere human beings doing bad things for what they believe to be good reasons, as justified in their own minds and consciences, and I will argue that their own words are evidence for this (also, I’ll bet they sleep very soundly).
The really grave significance is the THREAT to the future of the church. One time, when I attended a church service with her, I had to ask myself, “Since there is no “God”’ who ARE they praising and praying to?” The only answer that still makes sense is: Themselves, a huge projection of their own feelings of goodness, lovingness, sense of right and wrong, and their belief that justice will somehow triumph. Since that time, it’s inevitable that I’ve come to include justifying and rationalizing behavior in their projections. If you ask anyone to describe their god, what you get is invisibility plus a list of exaggerated human attributes. Is this the bottom line, what “God” is all about - Humans? Is god made in the image of humans? Does this God, like the Pope, do bad things for “good” reasons?
Absolutely. In essence, monotheistic religions are created, built on this belief. The religious TIME-LINE is built on it, from creation through to the end times of ultimate salvation and damnation, the twin triumphs of good and evil. Anything is possible when bad things are justified by ultimate good ends. Herein, looking in the mirror, full-faced, is ’The God of the End Justifies the Means,” the god who drowns everyone in order to get a fresh start, the god who commands his spokesmen to lie, cheat, murder, slaughter, in order to protect, preserve, and continue The Faith - His absolute good and truth. Absolutely. THIS is the god they worship – themselves, the god as they say, “Above and superior to the laws of man.” Absolutely.
To understand how it came about that child abuses and rapes were covered up for a “greater good,” don’t stop with the Pope. Take it higher up - to his god.