About Gary Alton Russell

While occasionally engaging in the frivolous, I prefer to spend my time engaging in pursuits that enrich my life and the lives of others.

Church’s Chicken

In Child of Vision, I noted that the findings in the concluding observations on the second periodic report of the Holy See were eclipsed by outrage over the UN’s suggestion that the Catholic Church’s attitude toward gay people is harmful.

Following the report’s release, “Pope Francis named [a victim of childhood sexual abuse by a priest] and seven other people to a new panel to help the Catholic Church combat sexual abuse of minors by clerics.”

That’s good news, but that good news should not overshadow the damning findings of the UN report.

The Committee is particularly concerned that in dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse, the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above the child’s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry (p. 4).

The report charges that the Holy See has not “taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have enabled the continuation of sexual abuse by clerics and impunity for the perpetrators” (p. 9).

For instance, “[w]ell-known child sexual abusers have been transferred from parish to parish or to other countries in an attempt by the Church to cover-up such crimes” (p. 9).

The committee claims that there is “a code of silence imposed on all members of the clergy under penalty of excommunication”; as a result of this code of silence, “cases of child sexual abuse have hardly ever been reported to the law enforcement authorities in the countries where the crimes were committed” (p. 10).

Because the church “place[s] the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above the child’s best interests (p. 4), [. . .] [c]hild victims and their families have often been blamed and discredited by the religious authorities, discouraged from pursuing their complaints, and in some instances humiliated” (p. 14). “Confidentiality and silence” are “a precondition for compensation” (p. 14).

As I reported in Child of Vision, the Church’s obsession with homosexuality has had detrimental effects.

[T]he Committee [on the Rights of the Child] is concerned about past statements and declarations made by the Holy See on homosexuality, which contribute to the social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples.

[. . .]

The Committee also urges the Holy See to make full use of its moral authority to condemn all forms of harassment, discrimination or violence against children based on their sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of their parents, and to support efforts at the international level for the decriminalization of homosexuality (p. 5).

At least Pope Francis seems to be taking a more compassionate view toward gay people: “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.” He doesn’t think gays should marry; in his view, “the male-female bond is established by God.” Still, he muses, “it is not necessary to talk about those issues all the time.”

In Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, (University of Chicago Press, 1980), John Boswell notes the selective application – and misinterpretation – of biblical code.

If religious strictures are used to justify oppression by people who regularly disregard precepts of equal gravity from the same moral code, of if prohibitions which restrain a disliked minority are upheld in their most literal sense as absolutely inviolable while comparable precepts affecting the majority are relaxed or reinterpreted, one must suspect something other than religious belief as the motivating cause of the oppression (p. 7).

In fact, “the word ‘homosexual’ does not occur in the Bible[.]”

There are of course ways to get around the lack of a specific word in a language, and an action may be condemned without being named, but it is doubtful in this particular case whether a concept of homosexual behavior as a class existed at all (p. 92).

Perhaps those with antigay views are looking for passages to support those views and twisting text to suit that purpose. Those with such an attitude will probably find it easy to shrug off any research that contradicts their view – particularly areas of research still in their infancy. In this case, views toward homosexuality can be so ingrained that contrary research is presumed to be the fault of a biased researcher. The fault, however, may lie with those who read their entrenched views into the text: “a great many people believe they already know where the trails ought to lead, and they will blame the investigator not only for the inevitable errors of first explorations but also for the extent to which his results, however tentative and well intentioned, do not accord with their preconceptions on the subject” (p. 39).

Research that demonstrates gay people do not necessarily make bad parents and notes the harmful effects of denying marriage equality can’t be true because the Bible states otherwise. Or does it?

If it’s true that one should love the sinner but hate the sin, why is so much hate directed at the sinner? Shouldn’t the attitude be “I love gays but marriage is ordained by God for a man and a woman” instead of “gays are after your children and intent on destroying society”?

In fact, it seems that priests are after your children. What does the Bible say about that?