Coda for Catholics …

Adam Lee has put up another few examples of why he thinks Catholics should quit the Catholic Church. Since I commented on the first set, I consider it only fair to comment on this one.

The first issue is this:

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.

Now, this is the one I have the most trouble with, but it’s also the most unclear. It seems from reading around that he didn’t bless her because of that stance, and I personally find that sort of bill to be UnCatholic. So, if he had blessed her as a specific person based on that stance, that would be a problem. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. What seems to be the case is that she was chosen to lead a specific delegation to a specific event, she presented something on behalf of that delegation, and he blessed her on behalf of that entire delegation. At which point, one might worry about the PR impact, as people might be taking it the way Lee is, but it doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as bad as Lee and some other atheists are making it out to be. Again, it seems they are taking it as a personal endorsement, and I don’t see it as being that. That being said, it might indicate that the Pope needs to be clear about what the Church’s position on bills like that one is, which doesn’t seem to be clearly stated, although I admit that I haven’t really been looking for it either.

The second one is this:

Next up, the Catholic bishops of Poland have blasted a government decision to sign an international convention combating violence against women.

Well, yes, but they did it because it contained this:

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”.

So, the Church might think that it doesn’t have practices based on the inferiority of women, but that it has stereotyped roles is probably true. But this is a values clash: it seemed to them that the convention imposed a specific set of values, and ones that they disagreed with (read the linked article from Daylight Atheism if you want to see the full details). And one of the issues with a lot of these conventions is that they indeed presume a set of values that have not been proven true or necessarily good:

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 former is certainly controversial; there is little reason to think that having gender roles will necessarily mandate or support violence against women (in fact, in some cultures it in theory would have impeded it as it made it a major social faux pas to every commit violence against women). The latter about treating them as inferior and subservient has a stronger link … but we may not know what that means all the time, particularly in the Catholic tradition. That the main way to reduce violence against women is to abolish those ideas instead of promoting the idea that violence itself is unacceptable is, in fact, highly controversial, and bringing up studies that say that as a society does this the violence drops runs into massive issues with confounds (ie that the changing and attitudes and the drop in violence are both effects, and that it isn’t the case that one causes the other). In fact, even there one may say that campaigns to reduce violence against women change the attitudes. At any rate, this is a clash of values and a clash over methodology, and that’s nothing to quit anything over.

The last one is this:

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:

So … Lee would want the Church to not support them in legal cases simply because they were convicted once? Where will their representation come from if they don’t? Should they be unrepresented? The Church’s response is this:

…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.”

Lee’s argument is this:

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?

I, for one, am completely in favour of the Church living up to its obligations, and rather wish that they’d done so — or defined it more clearly — in the other instances of the pedophile case. This is, in fact, debatable about where the obligations stop. Again, Lee doesn’t like it personally, but then he can go and argue over it and try to convince the Church to change the policy, or at least to convince Catholics to argue for that, instead of trying to convince Catholics that they should stop being Catholics.

As a reminder, here are my four categories from the previous post:

1) The Catholic Church has handled the pedophilia scandal badly (1 – 5, 19, 30 – 39, 48)

2) Lee disagrees with their positions and values (6 – 18, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 44 – 47, 50)

3) Lee thinks they interfere too much in government and society based on those values that he thinks wrong (8, 9, 14 – 16, 18, 21, 24, 25, 26, 41)

4) Simple gripes (23, 40, 42, 43, 49)

The third one is clearly 1. The second one is clearly 2. And the first one is probably 4. So, three more reasons where he might have found one more actual reason, by his standards.

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