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When everyone is wrong, blame the Catholics

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 22, 2012

The first sensational headlines said that Catholic Church officials had castrated young men in the Netherlands a generation ago, allegedly to stop their homosexual activities. If the report is true, this was a brutal, appalling offense. But wait. It seems that at the time, castration was a standard treatment for homosexuality in the Netherlands, thanks to the pernicious influence of eugenics. If that report is true, it doesn’t excuse the involvement of Catholic officials. What’s wrong is wrong, even if everyone else is doing it. Still, if everyone is doing it, it shouldn’t be particularly big news that Church officials are doing it.

In Ireland, an official report released last summer found that both Church leaders and police officers had failed to respond adequately to reports of sexual abuse by priests in the Cloyne diocese. The bishop of Cloyne had already stepped down, other Church leaders were placed under microscopic inspection, and Irish lawmakers suggested draconian new laws to punish clerics who failed to report abuse. Now, a year later, the Irish government is finally stepping up an investigation of the police officials who also failed to report abuse. Again, the failures of the police do not excuse the failures of the clergy. But isn’t it worth noticing that everyone involved failed to act on the abuse charges?

Two hundred years ago, many wealthy Americans—including more than a few Catholics--owned slaves. Catholics should not have tolerated slavery. But then, no Americans should have tolerated slavery. Still that evil institution existed. So if the today’s secular journalists turned their attention to American society of the early 19th century, I could just imagine the headline: “Catholic Church supported slavery.”

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