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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

This is why we call it the Cult of Misery

The Ryan Report, which examined the psychological and physical abuse of young children within Irish industrial schools over a period of decades, found evidence of horrible suffering inflicted by cold-hearted priests, brothers, and nuns. Many children suffered severe sexual abuse, including rape. Countless numbers endured relentless hardship, terror, and emotional deprivation - and this went on day after day for years. This is (yet another) disgusting episode in the history of the Catholic Church, demonstrating yet again how little effect its teachings have in producing compassion for real, suffering people. In this case, it was young children who were able to feel enduring pain and misery, leading very often to life-long mental scars.

Clearly, the Church just doesn't get it. This is just the kind of monstrous thing for which we justifiably reach for the extreme word "evil".

But they never learn. Now we have the news story of a senior Vatican official, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, claiming that all this inhuman treatment of real children is nothing compared to abortions. He is quoted as saying "What happened in some schools cannot be compared with the millions of lives that have been destroyed by abortion. It (abortion) has legally destroyed 40 million human lives."

Yes, this is why we call it the Cult of Misery. This is why the Catholic Church is an evil institution, which is not to say that all the individual religious and lay members of the Church are evil, which would be nonsense. But they just don't get it at the very highest levels of the Church. They seriously believe that it is worse to destroy a fetus in a quick operation - either at a sufficiently early stage of pregnancy that there is no pain involved for the fetus, or in any event long before there can be misery, terror, or the slightest understanding of what is happening, or any feelings of confusion if it comes to that - than to inflicting terrible physical and mental harm upon real children ... on young, confused, defenceless people who are old enough to suffer exquisitely, day after day, for years that must feel, at that age, as if they will never end. No words of condemnation are strong enough for this, but Cardinal Canizares evidently doesn't see it that way. This is a kind of moral stupidity or sickness.

Don't believe the Church's propaganda. Its so-called morality is not about avoiding and relieving suffering; it is about absurd moral rules that are applied in a mindless fashion, irrespective of their consequences for human happiness.

The Catholic Church holds itself out as having moral authority, as being able to give us moral leadership, as being a respectable source of guidance to individuals and even governments. It is nothing like that. It's the opposite of all that. Yes, it has some good people amongst its membership. But as an institution, it is not only intellectually bankrupt; it is morally contemptible. The sooner it is totally marginalised in all societies, the better.

25 comments:

luke said...

Russell Blackford

---"They seriously believe that it is worse to destroy a fetus in a quick operation - usually at a sufficiently early stage of pregnancy that there is no pain involved, and in any event long before there can be understanding, misery, or terror - is worse than inflicting terrible physical and mental harm to real children who are old enough to suffer exquisitely, day after day."---

Actually, you play into their hands framing it that way. There is no comparison, the comparison is done to drag someone like you into a bogus debate so they/he can refocus attention to try and claim the moral high ground, when in fact they are wrong on both counts.

Russell Blackford said...

It's good to see you on the job, Luke. I was still fiddling around with the wording when you commented, so the post is worded slightly differently from what you quoted.

But I am not "framing" it. The real point - not some point that I'm making up for presentational purposes - is that their morality is not about compassion for suffering.

Steve Zara said...

Russell - I think they do get it. When they resort to the feeble "but we aren't as bad as abortionists" defence, that at least means they realise that what they have done is on some scale of wickedness.

I don't think they are stupid, or that their moral rules are applied blindly. I think what has happened is far more awful than that.

luke said...

Russell Blackford

I don't see that the wording is much different. You are still allowing what is a false comparison that is used for self-serving purposes. It is a way to deflect and as I said, to refocus attention so to make it appear they are claiming the high moral ground even while being targeted for immoral behavior.

In that instance, you are framing. Your objection to "framing it" doesn't really follow, you say your not framing then describe how you are framing the debate, the problem of course is what you say in the quote (which hasn't changed significantly enough in my opinion) plays into their hands. The point I'm making is that there is NO comparison, it is false and it a way to frame the debate on his/their part (and I'm sure we'll other such manuevers).

Tony Smith said...

Half-overheard conversation between some of our controversy-wracked councilors today that seemed to suggest some pressure for them all to attend that church in the morning.

How we can ever hope to get from there to it being "totally marginalised in all societies" I just cannot imagine.

Anonymous said...

There is an old joke that the Catholic Church proves the existence of God, since only a divinely inspired and protected institution could survive 2,000 years of gross mismanagement and corruption. The RCC has done worse and survived worse:

*The Borgia papacy.

*The exile in Avignon.

*Burning heretics (burning witches was a Protestant thing).

*Torturing people by the inquisition.

*Waging holy wars against Muslims.

*Committing genocide against the Albigensians (among others).

*Promoting the corrupting sale of indulgences, a major trigger of the Protestant reformation.

*Claiming until quite recently that there is no salvation outside of the church (at least we no longer have to believe in moral absurdities like Mahatma Gandhi burning in hell just because he was a Hindu).

*Opposing the lending of money at interest.

*Warning against the dread heresy of Americanism.

*Though it has tried to mitigate (whenever it could) the abuses of slavery it never opposed it as an institution, and when slavery died it did so without benefit of clergy.

*And though individual Popes have protected and sheltered Jews whenever possible, the church on the whole has until this century always persecuted Jews or connived at their persecution (JPII apologized for such sins).

And for all those sins the RCC remains as "evil" as any other 2,000 year old institution run by fallable human beings.

I find it useful to remember, when the world looks like it is going down the crapper (which is pretty much always), that the bad things and bad people you see in the news are the rare exceptions. If they weren't exceptional, they wouldn't be newsworthy. Nobody reports that a plane landed safely or that a house did not burn down. Or that a priest worked hard to care for his flock without harming anyone, let alone a defenceless child.

History is just the second draft of the news, so what you read in the history books (wars, famines, plague, assassinations, persecutions, coups, etc.) are equally exceptional.

And so the sins of the RCC are the exception, not the rule. It would be rather peurile to think otherwise. For the horrors in Boston, and in Ireland and repeated scandals (such as in the Austrian seminaries a few years ago) The RCC deserves to be punished and do penance.

Do you recall this is the same church that helped bring down the evil empire of the Soviet Union without a shot being fired? How many people remember the millions of Ibos that were saved from starvation by Pope Paul VI during the Biafran war? Who but historians recall the utopia created by Jesuits to protect Native Americans in Paraguay? The Church is both mother of the arts and father of science, modern science simply would not exist without the philosophical underpinnings of Aquinas and Augustine. For every crime committed by the RCC there are a thousand acts of simple charity, grace, scholarship, and simple day to day decency.

I have met clergy who were self serving scoundrels and others who are others who heroically tried to follow in Christ's footsteps. But its the criminals that get all the press.

luke said...

Anonymous

I think it's pretty clear that the RCC isn't going to survive another 2,000 years, in fact, if they make it out of this century I'd be surprised (unfortunately I may not be alive to see it). I tend to doubt this episode will be what finally sends the RCC into isolation, but trust me, that list of "evils" you produced will only grow longer, and it simply won't be tolerated any longer. Even among Catholics there is growing frustration and confusion, the pull back to conservatism by the church is a desperate move and one that will only work to quicken the isolation and retreat. It is time to change and expose the backwardness of some of their positions, or they will continue to suffer from greater and greater weight brought down on them by people unwilling to tolerate such "evils."

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty clear that the RCC isn't going to survive another 2,000 years, in fact, if they make it out of this century I'd be surprised (unfortunately I may not be alive to see it). This comment reveals a unique combination of historical ignorance and personal prejudice. Certainly "anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semiticism of the pseudo-intellectual". You're letting your hatred of the RCC and anti-Catholic bigotry cloud your judgement.

Be that as it may, the RCC's obituary has been written every few centuries or so, especially during the Renaissance Papacy where popes openly kept concubines, cardinals were occasionally poisoned for the accumulated wealth, and saintly men and women were executed for defying the Inquisition. Here is one example of vice far worse than what we see today:

"Once he became Pope Alexander VI, Vatican parties, already wild, grew wilder. They were costly, but he could afford the lifestyle of a Renaissance prince; as vice chancellor of the Roman Church, he had amassed enormous wealth. As guests approached the papal palace, they were excited by the spectacle of living statues: naked, gilded young men and women in erotic poses. Flags bore the Borgia arms, which, appropriately, portrayed a red bull rampant on a field of gold. Every fete had a theme. One, known to Romans as the Ballet of the Chestnuts, was held on October 30, 1501. The indefatigable Burchard describes it in his Diarium. After the banquet dishes had been cleared away, the city's fifty most beautiful whores danced with the guests, "first clothed, then naked." The dancing over, the "ballet" began, with the Pope and two of his children in the best seats. Candelabra were set up on the floor, scattered among them were chestnuts, "which", Burchard writes, "the courtesans had to pick up, crawling between the candles." Then the serious sex started. Guests stripped and ran out onto the floor, where they mounted, or were mounted by, the prostitutes. "The coupling took place," according to Burchard, "in front of everyone present." Servants kept score of each man's orgasms, for the Pope greatly admired virility, and measured a man's machismo by his ejaculative capacity. After eveyone was exhausted, His Holiness distributed prizes- cloaks, boots, caps, and fine silken tunics. "The winners", the diarist wrote, "were those who made love with the courtesans the greatest number of times."

Like I said, the RCC has done far worse and survived much worse.

luke said...

Anonymous

---"Be that as it may, the RCC's obituary has been written every few centuries or so"---

I personally see it as an inevitability at this point. It's possible they will survive in a somewhat marginal way if good change comes. But, like I say, the turn to the more conservative elements will only hasten the RCC's potential demise, it is a retreat to try and stabilize, it's a major mistake.

The RCC is already marginalized for the most part in the "West". I don't think they stand a chance really in their recruitment campaigns in other parts of the world to maintain, it is a European religion and will stay as such. In Europe born, and here she will most likely die.

luke said...

Anonymous

Do me a favor, please, give me a source for this quote:

--"anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semiticism of the pseudo-intellectual".--

It's not from this, is it:

--"Mr. Wieseltier's screed confirms the accuracy of the insight that anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectual. Let's hope the nuns at Auschwitz are praying for him; he needs it."--

PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Washington, Sept. 4, 1989, New York Times Op.

luke said...

To follow from my last post. Here is an interesting essay from Murray N. Rothbard.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/ir/Ch6.html

It's interesting in his defense of Buchanan, you may find your approach is what he is defending him against.

Interesting bloke, Rothbard.

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Rothbard

Go Democrats said...

Catholics believe in the imaginary concept of a soul that has its start at conception. But if you do believe in the existence of a soul that has its start at conception, what possible difference can it make if the soul doesn't belong to a body that experiences life at all, as long as the soul gets to the afterlife?

I mean, by the reasoning that privileges the idea of a soul, you'd think the Church would want as many abortions as possible, so that all of the lucky aborted fetuses would get to see Jesus more quickly.

I'm not trying to be snarky, I really do find the reasoning confusing.

Anonymous said...

Luke - the quote is much older than Buchanan. From an article in Time magazine on anti-Catholicism (1979):

Norman Miller, the Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau chief, wrote last year: "Subtle and even blatant anti-Catholicism is surfacing again." In a 1977 book titled An Ugly Little Secret, Andrew Greeley, a priest-sociologist, called anti-Catholic bias the "last remaining unexposed prejudice in American life." "This prejudice," wrote Greeley, "is not as harmful to individuals as either anti-Semitism or racism ... [But] it is more insidious because it is not acknowledged, not recognized, not explicitly and self-consciously rejected. Good American liberals who would not dream of using sexist language or racist slurs or anti-Semitic jokes have no problem at all about using anti-Catholic language, ethnic slurs or Polish jokes." There is still some truth in Writer Peter Viereck's remark in 1959: "Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectual."

Anonymous said...

Go Democrats -

Perhaps you would be less confused if you could understand that the process you describe is referred to as "murder".

Hazel said...

Anonymous said

----
Here is one example of vice far worse than what we see today:..

[Description of a party followed by an orgy]...

Like I said, the RCC has done far worse and survived much worse.
---

Well,I can not say attending such an event would personally appeal, but I don't understand how is this an example of a vice 'far worse than what we see today'?

Many children suffered severe sexual abuse, including rape. Countless numbers endured relentless hardship, terror, and emotional deprivation - and this went on day after day for years.This sounds infinitely worse to me, but I suppose we must have different views on what constitutes 'vice'.

luke said...

Anonymous

Good, thanks. As I suspected, you added in the "pseudo", though after some searching I noticed a Catholic on another site say what you have but put it like this; [pseudo]

However, bravo on trying to be cute, glad I asked. Curious, did you intentionally lie, or were you just following a trend, or perhaps you have another reference.

Greywizard said...

What a crock! Good news is everyday reality so bad news is exceptional! The truth is that there is so much bad news around, that only the exceptionally bad makes it to the news media. Sure, there's some good news too, but let's not lose persepctive.

As to the ridiculous claim that anti-catholicism is the anti-semitism of the intellectual, only an anti-semite could have made it. The Roman church doesn't like criticism, representing the TRUTH as it does, so one of them would come up with the idea that criticism is like being plundered.

Yes, let's continue to marginalise the bastards! Anyone who thinks an abortion is worse that tormenting a child deserves to be keel-hauled, only without the weights to keep him clear of the barnacles.

Go Democrats said...

Well, no, it isn't murder; murder is defined under the law, and at least in my country, abortion is not legally classified as murder. But anonymous, you've also managed to dodge the question of why the nonbirth of anyone is even remotely regrettable, if souls and their progress are the most important thing in the universe.

Anonymous said...

Luke - well I wasn't quite sure of your status as an intellectual, so I hedged a bit with the "pseudo".

Go Democrats - the point you are missing is that the RCC would consider it to be murder. Hence they would not want to sendsouls to heaven utilizing your methods.

Grey wizard - if you assume abortion to be murder (as the RCC does) then it logically follows that it is worse than molestation by any moral standard. However, I will agree that the statement was made by a self serving idiot.

luke said...

Anonymous

---"Luke - well I wasn't quite sure of your status as an intellectual, so I hedged a bit with the "pseudo"."---

Here's your quote:

---"anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semiticism of the pseudo-intellectual"---

I'm glad you cleared up that you deliberately misquoted. Another lie for Jesus I guess....

Don't you find what you did to be a paradox of sorts? Not only have you done the type of thing Rothbard defended Buchanan against, but you misquoted to do it.

Anonymous said...

So anyone who quotes "Beam me up Scotty" (which was never said in the ST series) or "Play it again Sam" (which was never spoken in the movie Casablanca) are "Liars"?

Your response reveals nothing more than mere desparation on your part. Obviously I was being too flattering when I considered you to be even a pseudo-intellectual. If you did know what you were talking about you would have never ascribed the quote to Buchanan.

sailor1031 said...

Russell quotes the cardinal as saying:
"What happened in some schools cannot be compared with the millions of lives that have been destroyed by abortion. It (abortion) has legally destroyed 40 million human lives."

This is mere sophistry. An argument, if it can be called such, designed to muddy the waters. Nobody is accusing the church of carrying out millions of abortions. So it is utterly irrelevant. As irrelevant as if someone were to assault Anonymous and when arrested and charged, offer the defence "well at least I didn't kill the son of a bitch". The catholic clergy are well schooled in logic and rhetoric so it is unlikely that this ploy was unintentional.

luke said...

Anonymous

---"Obviously I was being too flattering when I considered you to be even a pseudo-intellectual."---

Hah! You're to kind. I'm glad you now don't think of me as a false intellectual. Tell me, what next, where will you go from here? You appear to miss the point, you used the quote in quotation marks, you obviously can't back up the quote. Now you defend your position from the common usage argument. You lied because you know you misquoted (again, trying to be cute). Wouldn't be an issue without the quotation marks, obviously, but this is fun anyway (I am so glad I asked!).

Shall I say you're an anti-atheist, are you, is that why you would use such argument? Perhaps your hatred of atheism... oh well, you know how this goes (right?). Also, you're essentially doing what Rothbard defended Buchanan against.

sailor1031 said...

Anonymous writes "So anyone who quotes "Beam me up Scotty" (which was never said in the ST series) or "Play it again Sam" (which was never spoken in the movie Casablanca) are "Liars"?" This is totally spurious and anonymous knows it. How about "Scotty, beam me up" or "Scotty beam us up" which were spoken on Star Trek? Is anything materially changed? No. But then it's hardly a quote, it's what is known as a "catch phrase".

Then we have:
"Your response reveals nothing more than mere desparation on your part. Obviously I was being too flattering when I considered you to be even a pseudo-intellectual. If you did know what you were talking about you would have never ascribed the quote to Buchanan."

Looks like the old ad hominem again to me. The typical riposte of he who has no argument. Anonymous,save your time; atheists are too used to that one to even be offended. Besides it rather appears to be your intellectual status that is in question.

El Guerrero del Interfaz said...

Luke, it's *CaƱizares* who's done the comparison. Russel just pointed out the evilness of it...