The Christian churches are the conscience of our country
Lawrence Lessig notes that the pope told victims of priestly rape in Malta last week that the church “was doing all it could to investigate abuse accusations and find ways to safeguard children in the future.”
But it’s not, Lessig says. In fact it’s doing the opposite. It’s defending a New Jersey statute immunizing charities against negligence even if their employees acted “willfully, wantonly, recklessly, indifferently — even criminally.”
What was truly astonishing was the appearance of the New Jersey Catholic Conference in the case. As its Web site explains, the conference “represents the Catholic bishops of New Jersey on matters of public policy,” because “the Catholic Church calls for a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable.”
Yet the “well-formed consciences” of the conference had not entered the case on behalf of the weak and the vulnerable. The Catholic Conference had filed a brief in support of the insurance company, to defend a rule that would have left institutions — like the church — immune from responsibility even if employees “criminally” protected an abuser.
Meanwhile in New York state there is an effort to reform the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, which currently gives victims all of five years after turning 18 to sue.
At the core of the opposition to this bill is heavy lobbying by the New York Catholic Conference; according to published reports, the conference has hired top-dollar lobbyists to kill the bill. At least one bishop is reported to have threatened to close schools and parishes in legislators’ districts if they vote for the bill. And as Marci Hamilton, a law professor at Cardozo University, has written, bishops “publicly rail against statute of limitation reform as though it were the equivalent of mandatory abortion.”
Once again we find that there is no bottom to this story. It just keeps going farther and farther and farther down. The Catholic church is a sanctified Mafia, which means it is a Mafia with enormous political power and clout. It is a Mafia that gets to veto women’s rights in the US by writing health care legislation to exclude abortion. It is a Mafia that exhales endless fraudulent rhetoric about its concern for the weak and vulnerable, all the while grinding the weak and vulnerable to powder.
The Christian churches are the conscience of our country, always ready to bear witness to the truth and to remind us of our responsibilities to what the Bible calls ‘the least of these’. I am incredibly grateful for all that you do to ensure our public square is more than a place of transaction and exchange and remains always, as it should be, a place of shared values and social justice.
No bottom in sight; bullshit all the way down.