Good news for the modern world! The Catholic Church in Germany has conceded that maybe it ought to show some mercy and compassion to women who have been made pregnant through rape (reut.rs/YZ4Gne).
How big of them. It only took, what, more than 1,000 years? Such is the upside down world of the church that it continues to seem stuck in another era, long, long ago, where even a move forward is begrudging.
But the corrupt glory of the modern church is very much in line with the depravity of a millennia ago -- just ask Martin Luther, who wrote a whole letter about it back in 1517 and started a religious revolution. The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the Guardian shows with this report of back-stabbing and blackmail centered around gay bishops in the Vatican that were right under the Pope's nose (bit.ly/WhPohg).
More famous, though, is the bad behavior that takes place within the church outside the Vatican and under the noses of ordinary Catholics -- and has for decades with little action from church officials other than covering up the behavior and moving the culprit along to do his evil in another locale.
Just last week, the Archbishop of New York was deposed due to serial child rape in the 1980s (huff.to/YzwXkw), a high-ranking Australian priest was removed for sexually preying on disabled women (bit.ly/13nC110), the diocese in Hawaii found itself the subject of a lawsuit by sex abuse victims who allege official cover-ups of the crimes against them (bit.ly/13jWTq0), and the highest ranking Catholic cleric in the United Kingdom had to step down not only because of abuse allegations, but following the revelation that he had engaged in an "improper relationship" with a priest (nyti.ms/13jWYtW).
According to bishop-accountability.org, which gathers data on the issue, 3,700 priest, bishops, etc. have been publicly named as culprits, with more than 100,000 children estimated to be abused and raped, affecting as much as two-thirds to three-quarters of Catholic parishes. That's another way of saying your church has as much as a 75 percent chance of having harbored a child-rapist at some point. Those aren't very good odds at all.
Given the hypocrisy that infects the bowels of their religious institution, it's hard to take an official body of the Catholic church seriously when it pontificates -- yeah, that was a joke -- on the behavior and moral decisions the rest of us make. We on the outside don't actually care what priests and bishops and cardinals and popes and, yes, even parishioners think about abortion, sexuality or really anything as long as the system by which they claim moral authority is so horribly blemished by sin and evil.
I would guess the church is trying to claim moral authority, but from the outside looking in, it appears to have become its own argument against itself. No matter how many incantations and prayers and candles and saints and more it embraces in its spiritual arsenal, it keeps proving itself to be a cardboard fortress against the forces of evil, which nestle in all the corners it provides and allows the demons to prey on ordinary people who have placed their trust in this system, and in the supreme being that supposedly guides and protects it.
But what can you expect from a house of cards? It was going to come tumbling down one of these millennia. This new work by Candida Moss, "The Myth of Persecution," (bit.ly/YZ5hWe) documents the massive lies at the church's foundation, used to make it the victim of the Roman Empire on its road to using martyrdom as a selling point for righteousness.
It's a common thread for the church. Whether hiding behind the mythical fallen Christians of Rome, the fairy tales of the martyred saints or the bad science and oppressive social politics regarding the unborn, it seems the church will always choose the dead over the alive and abused.
Please clean your own house before you try to commandeer the cleansing of anyone else's.
John Seven is the Transcript's arts and entertainment editor.