Saturday, 11 September 2010

Papal Morality

Why the Pope is still being treated with deference is beyond me, the man protected child rapists for the good of The Church. Even without playing on the myth that there's some link between morality and religion, I wonder at what point people would be outraged. So a few different scenarios...

The leader of a large country was found to have covered up the actions of a member of his political party who engaged in sexual activity with teenage volunteers working on his campaign. The teenagers were under-age, and the leader who was then a senior member of the party covered it up because such a scandal would hurt the image of the party and damage its election chances.

The head of a chain of well-respected private schools was found to have covered up the actions of teachers at several different schools who engaged in sexual activity with the students in both primary and secondary education. The students were all under-age, and the head who was then a senior official of the schools covered it up because it would damage the reputation of the schools meaning enrollment would decrease and other teachers would be out of a job.

The CEO of a childcare corporation was found to cover up the actions of carers at many schools who engaged in sexual activity with children. The CEO was a senior official of the company at the time, and covered it up because it would destroy the corporation which would have drastic effects on teachers, shareholders and parents who needed a childcare service.

What should we think of each of these scenarios? In each case the individual involved protected child-rapists because of the damage it would cause for the greater good. What good is destroying a political party's chances when it can do a better job than the opposition? What about a series of schools that give good education to students and a leg up in life? What about childcare centres that provide a vital service to the community? This is not to mention the costs to those innocent people who did nothing wrong, those teachers, childcare workers, political party members all of whom are being punished because of the actions of a few sick perverted individuals.

It's unfortunate we live in a time where the association of an individual with a corporate image. The actions of an individual affect the lives of others, and that's hardly fair. For a childcare worker especially, their image will be tainted with the actions of the child-rapists. Does this warrant reticence on the part of those in power to protect the good?

Yet how should we feel about the person in that position? If they didn't fire the child-rapists, but were the ones who hushed it up. So those child-rapists escaped punishment and were still in a position to rape children. Only that they weren't kept with the same group of children but moved to a new area with children who had no knowledge of the child-rapists child-raping tendencies. Should the person be treated as anything other than a moral monster? It's hard to see how we can think of anything but.

Because while there are complicating factors and innocents thrown into the cross-fire, people realise that the rape of a child is one of the most heinous actions an individual can do, and to cover it up without taking action is not only failing to act, it's passive condoning. It makes child rape another indiscretion, an abstract not to be taken seriously unless it causes harm for the image. That children have been violated by an adult is neglected, the horrific nature of the act not even considered let alone the potential harm to other children from not taking an appropriate stand.

The sad thing about the likes of Richard Dawkins campaigning against the Pope is that it can be spun into vilification of the religious by atheists, again the reasons forgotten as to why people might feel aggrieved at the Pope to begin with. It's not the actions of the Church with the help of spreading AIDS in Africa or its condemnation of homosexuality, but of the Pope protecting and enabling child-rapists.

What I wonder is why there isn't moral outrage? Why aren't political leaders rushing to condemn the Pope's actions? Why aren't Catholic priests along with other religious leaders in the community echoing that same outrage? Where are the celebrities, the public intellectuals, social advocates for justice, and even the general public? Surely if anything people can get behind it's the protection of children.

And no doubt there are at least some voices speaking up, yet what good are those voices when they don't fit into the juicy narrative of the rise of militant atheism? Take the focus away from the horrors of enabling child-rape and make it as issue of religious freedom. It works wonders. That way people can pat themselves on the back how tolerant they are, for they have defended a child-rapist enabler.

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