Popebenedict

Reasons to Quit the Catholic Church: A Coda

Even though I just published a long list of reasons why good people should leave the Catholic church, it seems like new ones are piling up every time I turn around. Herewith are some of the latest arguments for all people of common sense and conscience to sever their association with this corrupt medieval dictatorship.

First of all, via WWJTD?, this jaw-dropping story: Pope Benedict met with and personally blessed Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, who's one of the most fervent advocates of that country's atrocious "Kill the Gays" bill. I couldn't have made this up if I'd tried. There's even a picture of the meeting:

In case you've forgotten, this is the bill that would establish the offense of "aggravated homosexuality", punishable with either life imprisonment or the death penalty (several different drafts have gone back and forth on this). This bill also makes it a felony, punishable by three years' imprisonment, for any friend or family member to fail to report a "known homosexual" to the police.

Kadaga originally promised to pass the Kill the Gays bill as a "Christmas gift" to the nation of Uganda, although that looks unlikely now. The bill has been delayed several times by strong international pressure, but keeps popping back up. In either case, she's a vile and morally reprehensible human being for backing it, and the pope's endorsement makes him reprehensible in turn. Even if he was oblivious, his blessing is a propaganda coup for the bill's backers, and sends an ominous message to the people whose lives may be threatened by it.

Next up, the Catholic bishops of Poland have blasted a government decision to sign an international convention combating violence against women. I didn't choose that language myself; that's how the wire story from the Catholic News Service puts it:

"It's a pity neither the church's voice nor the appeals of many other organizations were taken into account," said Auxiliary Bishop Wojciech Polak of Gniezno, secretary-general of the Polish bishops' conference.

"Though devoted to the important problem of violence against women, this convention is built on ideological, untruthful assumptions which cannot be accepted in any way," he said. "This is why the church is forced to protest."

You can read the convention yourself; it's not exactly a radical document. The bishops' objections are apparently motivated, among other things, by language which calls for signatories to fight "prejudices, customs, traditions and all other practices based on the idea of the inferiority of women or on stereotyped roles for women and men".

It's a basic fact that violence against women is rooted in patriarchal worldviews which mandate strict gender roles and treat women as inferior and subservient. The way to reduce violence is to abolish these harmful and sexist ideas, just like the way to stop racially motivated violence is to teach and promote the idea of equality between the races. None of this should be the least bit controversial. The church, however, approves of all that other patriarchal stuff; it's just the violence part they say they're against.

As the article notes, this isn't the first time Poland's bishops have opposed human-rights legislation: in June 2010, they objected when the Polish Parliament approved a bill to tighten restrictions on corporal punishment of children. At the time, the bishops said this would "disturb the natural order".

Lastly, if your jaw can drop any further, this story ought to do it: the church is still paying to defend convicted (not accused) child molesters:

The head of professional standards at one of Australia's largest Catholic orders, Christian Brothers, confirmed that the order had continued to fund the defence of two of its members - Brother Robert Charles Best and Brother Edward Vernon Dowlan - after they had been convicted of sexually abusing children at Catholic schools in Victoria.

...The order's executive officer for professional standards, Brother Brian Brandon, confirmed that the order had funded Best and Dowlan's defences, and said that the order had a broad policy of funding the defences of brothers charged in relation to child sex abuse.

When it was put to him that it was not appropriate for the order to continue funding its members' legal defences after they had been convicted, he said: "Well, that's one perspective."

There may, perhaps, be Catholic parishioners who are OK with putting money in the collection plate each week, knowing that it will go to pay the legal bills of clergy members accused of raping children. Perhaps. But how many Catholics, I wonder, want to give money to the church so that it can be used to defend already convicted and imprisoned pedophiles when they're brought up on additional charges?

Image credit: Jeffrey Bruno / Shutterstock.com

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