Monday, April 18, 2005

Fisking Hatemail

Party Time:
I normally find your opinion pieces in the YDN insightful and well written.
Hmm, I don't want to accuse someone of not telling the truth about his own mental states, but while he just might find my stuff well-written, can someone of his political beliefs really find it to be "insightful"? Let's give the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately that was not the case for your piece on the Pope John Paul II's legacy. Your accusations and assertions are uninformed, incomplete, and clichéd.
"Uninformed" I'll get back to, "cliched" I think is plainly false, but "incomplete"? What exactly does that mean? Say what you will about my accusations and assertions, they were complete accusations and assertions.
Your logic is also rather flawed.
This is a case of whoever smelt it dealt it. But watch.
According to you, while His holiness can not be given credit for things he did not solely accomplish, he can be assigned full fault for any misdeeds he had any part in.
No, not quite. I think the pope (spare the his Holiness nonsense, yeah?) deserves partial credit for things he partially accomplished---so much so that I wrote "the late pope does deserve praise for playing a catalyzing role in the dissolution of the Eastern bloc in its twilight years"---and I think he deserves partial blame whenever he was partially to blame. Though he did rather less to topple the Soviet Union than the teeming masses of Eastern Europe, he certainly did more than Ronald Reagan. Conversely, the child molestation scandal is entirely the fault of a) individual priests and b) the Catholic hierarchy. Of the latter, the head of the hierarchy obviously bears the greatest responsibility.
Your insinuation that church teaching on female priests and cleric [sic] celibacy had a role in creating the horrid molestations, is neither documented nor supported by by any studies.
Let's say I'm skeptical about this claim on several levels. First, I'm skeptical that it is, as they say, true. But if in fact there are no adequate studies on the relationship between celibacy and the church's medieval attitude towards women on the one hand and violation of children on the other, I think I can venture a guess as to which rigidly secretive and authoritarian institution that believes it stands above human law is blocking the conduct of such studies. But, whatever the causal relationship between celibacy etc. and child molestation, the point within my article hadn't the slightest thing to do with it. What I find shocking about the church's teaching on sexual matters is that it adopts a zero-tolerance policy for everything that isn't procreative vaginal intercourse between husband and wife, except for touching altar boys.
In fact studies of protestant ministers show that married male ministers are as likely to molest as unmarried.
Maybe true, likely not, certainly unproven since we've already established that there isn't adequate data on priestly abuses, but in any case totally irrelevant. What's relevant is that protestant ecclesiastical authorities have not, as far as anyone knows, precipitated a coverup of a system of rape and abuse rivalled in scope only by the American prison establishment and targeted at the absolutely defenseless among us.
Furthermore, your insinuation that John Paul's effort to canonize Pius XII because of his silence on genocide and fascism is unfounded, in fact John Paul has done more toward reconciliation between Catholics and Jews than any other Pope.
This isn't quite grammatical, but I assume the first point is that he interprets me as claiming that JPII wanted to canonize Pius XII because he refused to stand up to the Nazis. Now that would be callous. The outrage is that JPII was for some reason willing to overlook Pius XII's cowardice in his bizarre zeal to canonize the worm. The second point I flatly deny, because, well,
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli...during World War II forged documents, issued false baptismal papers and made personal protests to save European Jews from extermination. Later, as Pope John XXIII, Roncalli convened the Second Vatican Council, which, among other things, finally acquitted the Jews of Christ-killing.
Moving along.
Your downright defamation of Bernard Cardinal Law is so clichéd and ignorant of the facts that it is not even worth refuting, and your further insinuation that John Paul's lack of disciplinary action against him, makes him as responsible in these scandals is outrageous.
Now I'm really hurt by the "cliched" remark because as far as I know, I'm the first person to refer to Law as the "Archlizard of Boston" in print. But seriously folks, he should be in jail for the rest of his life, and anyone else in any secular office, or indeed anyone in an ecclesiastical office outside the Catholic church or lower down in its hierarchy would be in prison. Law shielded child molestors from justice and enabled them to molest again. John Paul II protected the enabler of molestors. Which is not as bad, but still terrible.
While a discussion of how good a man's legacy (especially a man of his stature) is worthwhile, your method is mean-spirited, inaccurate, and downright offensive to the Catholic and non-Catholic admirers of this Great man.
Here, and for the rest of the letter, we depart fact-based argumentation and settle for an alchemy of simpering right-wing political correctness and treacly idolatry. Nice touch capitalizing the "g" in "Great man," no? The fact that he was a Great man should settle everything, perhaps.
Your last two sentences in particular are what made me write this note to you. "This outcome is what John Paul II's papacy has wrought. His jubilant adorers, so eager to construct an idol of him, have failed to notice that the only material available for that construction is papier-mache."
Well, good, I inspired him.
I sincerely suggest that you issue an apology at the very least for these lines, as even you can acknowledge that John Paul II was an incredible man who did a lot of good for mankind throughout his entire life, even if not every aspect of his papacy was perfect.
I owe no apology to anyone. If the next pope does nothing but apologize for all the church's past wrongs, he'll spend his entire papal reign simply apologizing---that's something John Paul II discovered for himself. No, I don't acknowledge that John Paul II was an incredible man, and certainly not that he did "a lot of good for mankind throughout his entire life." Towards the end, he quite clearly was doing a lot of ill for mankind.


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