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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: A Letter to Catholics

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Letter to Catholics

Dear Catholic,

On July 17, 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Los Angeles archdiocese made a settlement with 508 child sex abuse victims of a record $660 million. Cardinal Roger Mahoney and his lawyers decided at the last moment not to allow the case to go to trial. Mahoney made a hollow apology to the victims yet made no apologies for his or his archdiocese’s involvement. While it may be true that Mahoney did not personally molest these 508 children, he did make it possible for these priests to continue at their positions and also worked to cover up these despicable acts.

As we all know by now, these 508 victims represent only the tip of the iceberg. This phenomenon of pedophilia seems to be present in Catholic churches around the globe. The John Jay Report found accusations against some 4,392 priests in the U.S. which accounts for about 4% of all the priests in the U.S. While this seems like a very low number of priests who actually did the crime itself, the Catholic Church as a whole has been complicit in covering up this behavior for decades. The Catholic Church has shamelessly hid behind the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (?) claiming that the church had the right not to make documents available to investigators.

I know as a good Catholic you are very busy making sure that you impose your religious beliefs on the rest of us and are busy battling the atheists, the homosexuals, and the “secular progressives” but could you pause for just a moment to pull the plank out of your eye first? How can you in good conscious tell individuals who they should marry, lecture us about the evils of birth control, or lobby the government to use its power to deny the terminally ill his or her right to a dignified death, while simultaneously supporting such a morally bankrupt organization from top to bottom with your tithes and offering? Do you really want to contribute to the legal defense of these despicable individuals? If you have financially supported the Catholic Church, the blood of the innocent is on your hands (as many of these victims have committed suicide).

I know that your Pope (one who was instrumental in keeping these allegations secret) has recently stated that the only way to heaven is through the Catholic Church (this just seems so wrong on so many levels). If you must continue to hold on to this irrational god belief, wouldn’t a just and fair god forgive you for not contributing to the very organization that makes him/her/it look so terrible? Why would this all knowing being expect you to go through some sort of middle man rather than speaking to him/her/it directly? Surely, a boycott on this corrupt organization would not mean boycotting heaven?

I know that many of you who read this may be offended (especially Catholics) but let me ask you this: if this was any other organization doing the same thing, would you not demand reform if not abolishment of said organization?

But if you must continue to go to confession do me one favor: when the holy father asks you to confess your sins, tell him “you go first!”

Yours truly,

Stephen Littau


Blogger Random Magus said...

You know as much as I believe in God... I'm slowly starting to believe that organized religion be it Christianity, Islam or Hinduism is the most evil in its fanaticism. Whether it be priests, or Brahmins or Mullahs they have one thing in common - they are as far away from the spirit of God as was Satan himself!

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! But they'll never get it. Catholicism has morphed into this strange ideology in which one's self is the center of all things, and other people are merely pawns to be used in a Catholic's quest for sainthood.

They like it when people suffer. They pray for God to give them suffering people so they can "grow spiritually" through their dealings with them. Basically, this boils down to them praying for God to make people suffer.

So don't expect their cold, dead hearts to even skip a beat at the thought of funding the protection of child-rapists and the procurers and enablers that actively worked towards keeping systematic child abuse alive and well in the Catholic Church.

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I continue to pay taxes and support federal and state governments that are corrupt and criminal in many ways, yet I still BELIEVE in the principles upon which this country was founded and I do support the GOOD that these governments do! No difference - I BELIEVE in the foundation of the Church - Jesus Christ and His principles - even if I don't support the humans than can, and do, fail it - just as humans fail our government. That failure is called 'Sin' and it will be with us until His return.

A Catholic

8:13 AM  
Blogger Stephen Littau said...


There is an important difference between paying tithes and paying taxes: paying tithes is voluntary; paying taxes is not. If you fail to tithe, the worst thing that could happen to you (I’m guessing) would be that you would be excommunicated. If you fail to pay your taxes, the government can try you and put you in jail, garnish your wages, or take your property. Believe me, if I could withhold my money from the government given its waste, abuse, and corruption, I would.

And to your point about how god (or religion) and government do good: you do not need god or government to do good. There are plenty of nonbelievers who support charities and help others without being prompted by the state or religious institution (though I admit that believers do give more).

I am encouraged that even though you are a Catholic, you recognize that the church and its officers are fallible. I was not raised in the Catholic Church but as an observer from the outside looking in, it appears that congregants are not supposed to challenge the official position of the church. I ran across this one Catholic blog where the writer writes about how the church and especially the Pope are infallible . This woman is really drinking the Kool-Aide! It’s frightening to me that anyone could put so much trust into an individual or an organization.

An Infidel

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Mary C said...

Stephen, you must not read many Catholic blogs if you think that they are not speaking about, angry about, sorrowful about the abuse of children at the hands of Catholic priests, and the protection of those priests at the hands of our Bishops. There is an old Catholic saying, "the floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of Bishops".

Yes, we believe that the Church is infallible, in that She cannot teach heresy. Not that individual Catholics cannot sin, including the Pope. No Catholic believes that the Pope is free from sin! LOL! The history of the Church makes clear that this is obviously NOT the case. What we claim, is that no Pope has ever taught heresy. If you disagree, then please point out a Pope who has done this. I will carefully consider your points and respond.

Our current Pope has not done that of which you accuse him. Are you, for instance, familiar with Fr Maciel? Has PBXVI acted about Cardinal Mahony? Nope, not yet, to the best of my knowledge. Do you want him recalled to Rome where the secular authorities probably could not reach him? Yeah, me neither.

I imagine you have a job. Do you work at it ceaselessly, 100% of the time? Should your employer then not pay you for the 96% of the time that you are doing his will? Point to any other institution on this earth that has done more for the poor, the disenfranchised, the helpless. If I do not give, how can the Church do what she does that is truly good?

I do understand why you regard us as foolish. But we believe that Jesus Christ will never abandon His church, so we will not abandon Him.

Oh, and N., never has anyone I know prayed to suffer, much less that anyone else suffer. We do believe that suffering can be redemptive, but we don't seek it..I hope. Suffering is only redemptive when you join your sufferings to those of Jesus, and pray to Him. This, obviously, does not apply to any one else's sufferings. In that case, we pray that God will heal them and give them peace and that His will be done in all things.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

Hey, Stephen found you again from Et-Tu Jen

We've spoken a long long while ago. I found your disucssion concerning the Rights of Children very interesting. You know I'm Catholic.

Evil knows no boundaries. The Church is not immune. Never was.

I'm a Catholic, in Boston, and attend a parish in which a pedophile priest abused young pubescent boys in the 70s. You can't defend it, but Christina Hoff-Sommers "One Nation Under Therapy" wrote about what happened.

As a Catholic within in the Archdiocese of Boston and sought leadership from Cardinal Law in the 1980’s and 1990’s I was wondered, OK banged my head against the wall trying to figure out why did he lets these pedophiles in our parishes! Cardinal Law from all previous understanding of the man would never put us in harms way. He was a part civil rights movement in the 60’s and did so much in regards charity. Huh? Why? Why? Why? Hoff-Sommers and Satel write several pages of what occurred in the 1970’s and1980’s when pedophilia was deemed curable through therapy as the experts informed the Cardinal.

Here are several passages.

“The child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is a sobering example of what can happen when the therapeutic perspective displaces a judgmental moral point of view. One year after Wolfe/times study was published, stories of Catholics priests taking advantage of teenagers and children began to appear everywhere in the press. It soon became evident that even the Catholic Church, a stronghold of traditional moral teaching, had been seriously affected by therapism.

In the 1970’s, it was the fashion among mental health professionals to view pedophilia as a treatable form of psychological immaturity. The pedophile, so the theory went, was sexually attracted because, emotionally, he was a child himself. Talk therapy and other transformative treatments would help him understand himself better and more beyond the arrested state of development. Tragically, the church accepted this theory and sent predatory priests to mental health clinics to be cured.

The idea that pedophilia is curable is no longer taken seriously by most clinicians. The only recourse is strict control, primarily by imprisoning the perpetrators and, after their release, by denying them unsupervised access to children. But as Fred Berlin, director of the National Institute for Study, Prevention, and Treatment of Sexual Trauma at John Hopkins University of Medicine, says, “Years back, the Church, very sadly, was misled by mental health professionals.” For their part, therapists who treated the priests now blame the church for rushing priests back into service against their advice.

Church officials sent errant priests to various centers where they received counseling, group therapy, psychodrama, roleplaying therapy, and, according to a report in the Economist, “holistic medicine [and] Christian forgiveness.” Once “cured,” many were permitted to resume their duties…..” p. 81

“Phillip Jenkins, professor of religious studies at Pennsylvania State University, sees to the heart of the problem the Church faces when it compromises it episcopal mission and yields to therapistic ethos.

‘During the 1970’s and 1980’s, psychological values and assumptions permeated the religious would no less then the secular culture…. But an intellectual chasm separates the assumptions the traditional church from those of mainstream therapy and psychology. The medicalization of wrong doing sharply circumscribes the areas in which clergy can appropriately exercise their professional jurisdiction, and this loss of acknowledged expertise to therapists and medical authorities at once symbolizes and accelerates a substantial decline in the professional status of priests and ministers.’

Even Cardinal Law himself came to see that his leniency had betrayed the Church traditions. The cardinal, who resigned in 2003, was a beloved figure in the Boston community, well-known for his kindness. Tragically, he had extended his goodwill without getting the full picture of harm that had been inflicted on the abused. As the scandal was exploding all around, the cardinal consented to meet with some of the victims. As one of the group explained to the Globe, “He has to see the devastation and peripheral fallout that sex abuse caused.” Close to tears, the Cardinal asked for forgiveness, “I did assign priests who had committed sexual abuse…. I acknowledge my own responsibility which led to intense suffering. While that suffer was never intended, it could have been avoided, had I acted differently.” p. 82-83

Take care...

8:44 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

I'm not funding this behavior, but I am rebuilding my church though.

Cardinal Sean's prayer service at Saint Michael's

I have to admit I was not planning on going to the prayer service being held at Saint Michael’s this evening for the victims of sexual abuse. I could say I am pregnant, it is a holiday or the heat but to be honest I just did not want to deal with it because I was being selfish.

I have to admit why should I get my hands involved, I did not sexually abuse anyone.

I rather talk about Natural Family Planning, helping couples with the Sacrament of Marriage, or seeing a friend enter the Church through confirmation. Even though I am a Catholic within the Archdiocese of Boston, I do not see myself as part of the sexual abuse scandal. If anything, I am the answer. Right?

I went anyways. I was moved by Father Capone’s comment that it was as a parishioner of Saint Michaels I have a duty to suffer with the victims as a part of the restoration of our very broken Church. My husband sat close up on the left hand side and waited to witness what had was done to our Church.

The service was disturbing, painful, and upsetting. It was not like a funeral, where people mourn, the pain that existed by the hands of the abusive priests was devastating. The service main focal point was in the beginning, where one of the victims of Father Birmingham in the 70’s spoke about his torture at his hands. The victim went into detail as a twelve year old boy lured on a church skiing trip left alone with his abuser in a hotel room. The abuse lasted until he was 18 years old.

The victim went into further detail how it affected his entire life. He could not feel safe in what should have been his home, his parish. He went into detail of confusion as an adult, a failed marriage, and a concern that his own daughter could be another victim of abuse by hands of a predator. It left him in a psych ward for a week, with much therapy and healing through his family and Faith in God to come forward.

The overt action of Cardinal O’Malley, Father Capone, and all the priests and deacons present was so painful to watch as they ask God to heal our Church and mercy by lying flat on the stomachs in front of Saint Michael’s altar as we prayed for healing.

There were some protesters; I did see photographers respectfully present. It is not “Business as usual” in the Archdiocese as one protester had stated on his poster. The suffering I felt was horrible, and I am sure the pain the protestors have is painful also. I had to feel it first hand. This was no public relations stunt, this was no “I’m Sorry”. I saw it. This is real.

So if you do have an opportunity in the future to go to a prayer service in your own parish or a nearby service with Cardinal, I strongly plead that you attend.

BTW an excellent secular piece defending marriage here....

8:53 PM  
Anonymous inkadu said...

If people in the Church are just as likely to err as people outside the Church, what mechanism guides the Church to "better" than any other institution? I mean, Cardinals and Popes and the whole mess of them make decisions every day. How is it that they know how to make the right decisions if they are just as prone to error? And if they are just as prone to error, their cumulative decisions reflecting "The Church" are just as likely prone to error.

The answer, of course, is "apostolic sucession," the laying on of hands from the first apostles down to the current pope, a bit of superstitious mumbo jumbo which is apparently capable of achieving 100% accuracy in theological matters, but, sadly, completely unable to cure pedophilia.

Why not run the Church differently? Why does it have to be top-down? With all we know about institutions and organizations, there is surely a way to structure the church to be less amenable to this sort of cover up. In fact, I can hardly think of a structure MORE amenable to exactly this kind of abuse. Yet, Catholics seem perfectly happy to maintain an obviously very flawed power structure.

Go figure.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Yes, we believe that the Church is infallible'

Then you are really clueless. The Protestants have shown many catholic doctrines to be incorrect using biblical scholarship.

'Catholics seem perfectly happy to maintain an obviously very flawed power structure'

Exactly, they can't help it they where indoctrinated into it,but no church loses more members per year.It's dying everywhere but Africa and they are allowing alot of leeway there to keep them coming.

9:07 PM  

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