Vatican hypocrisy

By Edd Doerr | 10 August 2015
Church and State

The Vatican and top church leaders have a strange, even pathological obsession with pelvic matters. They are all bent out of shape over same-sex marriage, homosexuality, contraception, abortion, and clerical celibacy. The vast majority of ordinary Catholics, however, have no problem with contraception and the Catholic abortion rate is about the same as for non-Catholics. As for same-sex marriage, just look at what happened in Ireland in May. By 62% to 38% Irish voters approved of same-sex marriage, an obvious slam at the church hierarchy. And Ireland is probably the most Catholic country in the world.

Incidentally, we might note that Ireland has produced two hilarious comedy television series, “Moone Boy” and “Father Ted”, that scoff at Catholicism in ways that even the brashest American producers are too timid to attempt.

But to the point. If you have not already done so, you need to read Leah Mickens’s article “Theology of the Odd Body: The Castrati, the Church, and the Transgender Moment,” in the August/September Free Inquiry. Mickens brings to our attention the “castrati,” the 6 to 9 year old little boys in Italy who were castrated so that they could be trained to sing as adult sopranos in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel choir and other Catholic churches throughout the Papal States from the 16th century to the end of the 19th century. Of course many of the kids did not even survive the ugly, disgusting, inhumane procedure. All this was approved and encouraged by the top echelons of the Vatican and ended only when Italian nationalists took over the Papal States in 1870.

Then we have the ongoing worldwide clergy sexual abuse of minors scandals, only seriously exposed to light in the last 30 years or so in a flood of books in the US, Spain and other countries. See my review of lawyer and canon law trained author Kieran Tapsell’s 2014 book, Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican’s Secret and Child Sexual Abuse, in my column in the August/ September Free Inquiry and in the current issue of Americans for Religious Liberty’s journal Voice of Reason. Tapsell concludes with citing a 2014 UN report showing that the church hierarchy has long been involved with covering up the widespread abuse and shielding the clergy abusers. My review of Seton Hall University political scientist Jo Renee Formicola’s 2014 book, Clerical Sexual Abuse: How the Crisis Changed US Catholic Church-State Relations, will also appear shortly.

So the Vatican’s sustained attacks on contraception and abortion should be taken as clericalism at its worst, not only seen as attacks on women’s rights of conscience, health and religious freedom but also contributing to the world human overpopulation that is driving climate change and environmental degradation.

Edd Doerr was president of the American Humanist Association from 1995 to 2003, serving previously as vice-president and board chair under Isaac Asimov from 1985 to 1991. He has been executive director and then president of Americans for Religious Liberty since 1982. A former teacher of history and Spanish, he is the author, co-author, editor, or translator of twenty books, mostly on religious liberty and reproductive rights. He served on the governing body of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice from 1973 until 2004 and on the boards of NARAL, the ACLU of Maryland, and the National Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty. More than 3,000 of his articles, columns, reviews, and letters have been published in The Humanist and many other publications. For over ten years he has been writing a column in the journal Free Inquiry from the Council for Secular Humanism.

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