27 April 2010

Fr. Selvester on the Foreign Office memo

Over at Shouts in the Piazza, Fr. Guy Selvester has an excellet post on the recent British Foreign Office memo about various activities to have in conjunction with the upcoming papal visit. His text follows, with my emphases:

The sex scandal crisis, and I use the word "crisis" decidedly, is definitely making for uncomfortable press for the Catholic Church. This is true all over the world but, perhaps, nowhere more so than in the U.K. where the press is already known to be really lacking in any semblance of decency or journalistic integrity. I say that knowing full well how the press in the USA is perceived and actually IS. Still, compared to some of what passes for "journalism" in the U.K. the American press all seem like integrity personified! The Holy Father is, of course, visiting the U.K. in September so a focused interest on the part of the Brits is somewhat understandable.

As I say, the crisis involving the sexual abuse of minors and its cover-up by so many bishops around the world in their own dioceses (NOT acting as the tendrils of a Vatican-led international conspiracy, I might add, but screwing things up all on their own) is awful, tragic, uncomfortable, embarrassing and unacceptable. It will, I believe, be good in the end that the truth is coming out. The only way to correct the grievous errors is to call them what they are and examine them in the garish light of day. So, as much as we hate it this kind of examination must be done. It will lead to a better Church in the long run.

What's really interesting is that it has brought into sharper focus how much so many people around the world HATE the Catholic Church and for all sorts of reasons, most of which have to do with their own selfishness and a gross misunderstanding of what the Church believes and teaches or why. This is just ignorance, plain and simple. And, of course, ignorance is a key ingredient in bigotry. That's what all this so-called "criticism" of the Church is: bigotry. It's simply blind, foolish, naked hatred for Catholicism, for Christianity, for religion, for authority, etc. The list goes on and on. And leading the way is Old Blighty, arguably the most vehemently anti-Catholic country on the face of the Earth.

After the recent ill-advised memo from the Foreign Office in London concerning the pope's upcoming visit and the brouhaha that ensued because of how many Catholics (and others) found it puerile and insulting (I am willing to believe it was just meant to be a joke but, still, the Foreign Office of a government can't afford to have those kinds of jokes going any farther than the gang at the water cooler) there has been a flood of commentary in the British press. Interestingly enough it, too, has simply brought to the fore not only those who legitimately have complaints against the Church and its poor handling of this sex abuse crisis, but every other sort of person who feels it's now open season on the Catholic Church and all it stands for (which, of course, was what the press, and lots of others, were hoping for in the first place). In a recent article in the Times, the religion correspondent, Ruth Gledhill wrote:

"What this document illustrates is that repulsive sense of entitlement we sometimes see in the over-educated young and privileged, combined with a taken-for-granted anti-Catholic prejudice that does still persist in our nation, more than a century and a half after the restoration of the hierarchy."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Sadly, the same could be said about the United States.

The Church has mishandled the credible cases of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. It is now paying the just price for that grievous fault and, will, I think, end up the better for it. How sad indeed that those whose ignorance, self-centeredness and hostility to anything that won't justify them in all their appetites and desires will seize this moment to denigrate a community that not only is held to be sacred by over a billion people worldwide and is seen by them as the instrument of God's salvation to the world but also provides more education, health care, financial assistance, comfort, social services and counseling to people all over the globe regardless of their faith (or lack of it) than any other non-governmental group.

When are people finally going to learn how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of wrong-doing and prejudicial caterwauling? In England, apparently never.

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