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.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 11, 2019 9:56 AM ET USA

    Thanks to an article that you posted today, I was able to read the Pope's statement in context. The text says that God's will is responsible for differences in "colour, sex, race, and language," as well as for the pluralism/diversity of religions that you cite. Given the context, it seems that the Pope was characteristically mixing God's "permissive" will with His "positive" will. His permissive will permits different religions and languages to exist; his positive will the human characteristics.

  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 08, 2019 4:34 PM ET USA

    No Imam represents Muslims the way a Pope represents all Catholics. That is problem #1 of this sort of "joint statements." Another problem is the real possibility of taqiyya - a religiously sanctioned deceit in the cause of Allah - because Islam does not accept that "pluralism and diversity of religions are willed by God in His wisdom." I doubt that Pope Francis has as deep knowledge of the history, goals and theology of Islam as he is attempting to appear to have. Or as any of his predecessors.

  • Posted by: Pointmaster1386 - Feb. 08, 2019 10:59 AM ET USA

    It seems the Pope has offered a warm and cozy glass of milk to the Sheik Ahmad al-Tayyib of Al Azhar. Because what the Holy Father says and what the Lord Jesus has stated seems to detach Jesus from God. "No One comes to the Father except through Jesus. All Nations will bow and adore him. I don't say this with anger, but revealing Jesus will give us more! Is the Gospels suppose to be reasonable for today's people?