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By Diogenes ( articles ) | May 24, 2005

One Robert Scheer has chosen to pitch a fit in this morning's Los Angeles Times:

And, as is so often the case with the most severely judgmental and repressed, the church's stance is rife with moral hypocrisy. ... This is all especially outrageous considering that the openly gay community has offered a model of honest and socially accountable behavior, while the Catholic Church -- secretive and unaccountable -- has provided exactly the opposite. ... The church will continue to face eruptions of sexual scandal because of its renewed insistence on a sanctimonious medieval morality ignoring the main lesson of this sorry affair: Sex is natural, becoming ugly and exploitive only when denied healthy outlets ... etc., etc.

Scheer's reasoning is less than cogent. It's as if one were to argue, "The British Secret Service lied to hide the fact that Soviet spies were discovered in its ranks, therefore all Britons should become Marxists."

The villainy of a villain doesn't prove that his beliefs are false; rather, his villainy makes it impossible to trust the villain to tell us what his true beliefs are. Bishop Ziemann (to take one example) taught that sodomy was sinful, committed the sin of sodomy, and lied about it. From this we deduce, not that sodomy is licit, but that Ziemann is not a reliable source of information about Ziemann.

Yet Scheer's anger is not wholly without cause, even if his hysteria fails to land a punch on the right target. At the level of confession of faith it's important that clergymen are what they say they are, and it's true that fewer and fewer of the faithful trust their pastors to tell the truth about their real convictions. Of course priests and bishops themselves could close the gap between true and professed belief -- if, at bottom, they were out of sympathy with Scheer.

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