Pastoral care of the victims

There’s this guy Scott Stephens, who is the editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Religion and Ethics.” Just like the BBC and the Washington Post, the ABC stupidly puts religion and ethics together as if they were a natural pairing, thus implying that ethics is inherently religious in some way and that religion has something, or perhaps everything, to contribute to ethics. That’s all crap. They’re two very different things and it’s not a time and labor-saving device to combine them, it’s a brainless travesty and confusion.

An unpleasant side effect is that you can’t trust the ABC (or the BBC or the WP) to discuss ethics independently of religion.

This Scott Stephens is furious that journalism hasn’t fallen face-down in deference to the report on child-rape in the church.

what coverage the study did receive – especially in Australia and the UK – was haughtily dismissive. It was brushed aside as somehow tainted, inherently flawed, or otherwise implicated in some malign Catholic apologetic. All this because the Causes and Context study was neither as salacious nor as simplistic as the media’s own favoured cadre of disaffected priests – each one a variation on the preposterous Hans Kung – and anti-Catholic jingoists.

No, at least not solely. It was also at least in part because the study was commissioned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops along with the Justice Department. As many have noted, this is as if a study of mafia crime were commissioned by the mafia along with the Justice Department. It would be suspect for that reason. Catholic bishops are not (does Stephens really need to be told this?) seen as disinterested parties. They are not seen as neutral or blameless. They are seen as implicated, in the decades of secrecy and obstruction of justice at the very least. They are seen as people at the top of a secretive hierarchical closed all-male organization with huge and uncheckable powers over people.

It is precisely this form of sneering, stultifying pseudo-morality so often adopted by the modern media – whose self-promotion to the status of judge and arbiter of what warrants public attention, coupled with its fickle affections and compulsive dalliance with social media – that represents the realisation not just of Belloc’s predictions, but of Kafka’s nightmares.

Is Stephens really so stupid or so biased that he doesn’t realize that the Catholic clergy are also self-appointed judges and arbiters? If he’s going to complain of self-appointed judges and arbiters, you would think he could manage to notice the most succesful and lasting examples of all.

… only someone who is wilfully naive or intractably bigoted would refuse to acknowledge that the social antinomianism and fetishisation of sexual liberation in the 1960s and 70s, along with the valorisation of the pursuit of individual pleasure and free experimentation with transgressive sexual practices, created the conditions for a dramatic escalation in deviant behaviour – including paedophilia – both within and without the Church.

That’s exactly how the church does it – it treats child-rape as deviant, as a perversion, rather than as a harm against the child. It views it through the lens of “doing something naughty with the naughty bits” rather than the lens of “doing harm to another person, one who is much smaller and more vulnerable than the agent.” It looks at it as the wrong kind of whoopee instead of the wrong way to treat a child. Stephens is obligingly echoing the church’s line here.

While the reform of a priesthood that had become increasingly dissolute was one of John Paul II’s most enduring legacies, it has fallen to Joseph Ratzinger to carry out reform among the bishops.

Same thing. He just doesn’t get it – in the same way that a lot of French men totally failed to get it about DSK. It’s not about being dissolute – it’s about raping children. Rape is not just another branch of sexual fun. Sexual fun isn’t evil the way rape is, and rape isn’t harmless the way sexual fun is.

Benedict XVI’s determination to purge the Church of what he has repeatedly called the “filth” of abuse and concealment, his pastoral care of so many of the victims of abuse, and his insistence on the Church’s “deep need to re-learn penance, to accept purification, to learn on one hand forgiveness but also the need for justice,” distinguishes this pope not merely as the person who has done more than any other to eradicate sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Pastoral care of the victims? Pastoral care of the victims? The victims don’t think so. The victims think he pretty much spat in their eye.

And this is the guy who covers ethics for the ABC. That’s tragic.

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