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Vatican's bombs
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-04-06 09:35:02
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I was browsing the news and wherever I was looking there were bombs or the Vatican. Bombs in Pakistan, bombs in Russia, bombs in Chechnya and bombs in the Vatican. In all cases bodies were spread all around and I’m talking about innocent bodies. And on Sunday on my hourly radio program and while I was reading the latest news from Europe it was the same thing, bombs, bombs and the Vatican.

But on Sunday partly accidentally I said something that really stuck with me and I keep thinking since then. A period in my life I was working for an international company with branches all around the world I found my self leading a department with employees all around the world and I’m talking about hundreds of employees. How much I knew about them? Very little if nothing. Most of them were nothing more than numbers. I had no idea if they had families or lived alone, if they had blue or black eyes, I had absolutely no idea who they were and how they looked like. As I said they were just numbers for me, perhaps long lists in a database. The question that really struck me on Sunday was if I knew or better if there was the possibility, even the tiny one for one of them to be a molester, a paedophile.

It’s odd but things like that never cross your mind. You take for granted that people in your work, you know them or not and especially when you supervise are just like you, furthermore knowing them or not you feel that one way or another that you have put a blueprint on their ethics and behaviour. Of course you get the liar, the fraud here and then but most of the time you feel confident and ready to dismiss anything that will damage the team. I’m not comparing myself with the pope but then again he is somehow supervising a huge number of people all around the world, people he has no chance to meet, people that probably just represent numbers for him and people without name and faces. I’m not going to the theological part of it and the faith that as the representative of god on earth he should know all of them, don’t forget I’m an atheist and I don’t believe in all these things. I’m just looking at it from the more ….human side.

So how would I react if I found out that one or two of those people were involved with a paedophile network and that they were guilty of all those crimes? I would definitely feel embarrassed; I would definitely want them punished, in prison with the key lost. I would definitely blame myself for not seen it or did something but then again my excuse would have been that there was no way to know. Would I apologize to the families? This is the part I found difficult. I would print in the press some kind of apology but very carefully written showing how sorry the company was but the same time pointing that you could not blame the company for an individual’s crimes. And then I would have to keep a low profile, very low profile until the storm goes and in every given chance give support to the authorities, the families and isolate the acts of the one from the company’s reputation.

As I said before I don’t compare my self or my position with the pope and his position but the same time his reactions the last few weeks, his apology letter and his low profile became more understandable. I think his position however we believe in it or not blinders us and raise the demands to inhuman portions. Perhaps the only different thing I would have done it would be a personal response instead of sending a memo to the local representatives expecting them to react and say something. And would have been somehow more comforting for the victims. Of course by expecting the local representatives to react you get mistakes like the one with the pope’s preacher and then it is more difficult to do the damage control they caused from the main case that started all the problems.

Another thing I think it should be done is isolate the cases from the theological side of the Vatican because as long it is connected the expectations become higher and higher and an apology is never enough. As far the punishment this is not Vatican’s job but justice’s job and there are laws and judges that will find and punish the guilty. But then again these are just the thoughts of an atheist.

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Emanuel Paparella2010-04-06 15:20:39
Indeed Thanos, if one is the head of a big Corporation with half a million employees, he/she can expect some 5000 of them to be pedophiles, some 1% according to reliable social studies in the matter; some of them will be religious, belong to all denominations, not just the Catholic one, and some of them will be atheists and some of them will be agnostics. That is a simple straightforward statistical fact. Of course one pedophile in any corporation would be one too many, but it remains unfair, as you point out, to accuse the CEO of toleration of pedophilia in people that he does not even know or accuse him of negligence for not going hunting for the 5000 that he knows exist among the half a million. So you are quite right in not identifying the problem in religion per se. Unfortunately many in the media and elsewhere, with a bias, use the issue as an ax to grind against religion which they identify as the source of all evil and obscurantism, and against the Church in particular; as an argument to do away with religion, and the sooner the better. We have seen those biased arguments in the very pages of our magazine which is and remains a magazine of opinion championing free speech, but those opinions remain biased nevertheless and an abuse of free speech. Aquinas taught us by reason, atheists not excluded, that the abuse of anything is no excuse for taking away the use; that applies to wine as well as to speech and to sex too; the abuse of sex does not mean that sex ought to be abolished or even considered a necessary evil as those of a Puritanical frame of mind would argue. That would mean the end of the human species as we know it. So sex like wine and speech is to be used but not abused. That there is abuse and chaos in these areas of human activity, and many others, there is little doubt, I dare say.

The corollary but necessary question on the matter is whether or not the CEO is diligent in treating, removing and even prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law any of his employees that engage in pedophilia once he/she finds out who the culprits and perpetrators are in the institution he heads. That, in my opinion, is where the focus of the issue should be, if we are to treat it objectively and fairly. And that standard ought to be universally applicable to any leader of any institution, be it a Church dedicated to the salvation of souls or a corporation dedicated to profits. The prelates in charge of the discipline of their priests, not excluding the Pope, ought to ask themselves and honestly answer this question: since there is a canon law in place for centuries now, that prohibits this kind of behavior in the clergy, even aside from strictly moral considerations, important as those are in a Church, why was I negligent in a the very least diligently applying the law? Am I wrong in thinking that we agree on that point?

Emanuel Paparella2010-04-06 16:55:55
P.S. A follow-up, if I may. We do know that there are 500,000 Catholic priests in the world at large. That's a fact. Statistically, according to clinical studies, we can expect 5000 of them to be pedophiles, that applies outside the Church and outside Christianity as well and in fact in any religion or non-religion, in fact it is even more prevalent among married men and therefore the suggestion that allowing priests to get married will solve the problem is a bogus solution. So Thanos, assuming you were heading 500 employees in the International Corporation you worked for, you could have expected 5 of those to be pedophile. What I am curious about is this: did that knowledge concern you in any way, did your conscience or anybody above you at the time mandate you with hunting down and prosecuting the 5 pedophiles that most probably were present among the workers you were in charge of? And if so, how much time did it take away from the job you were performing? It seems to me that those are relevant questions to place the issue in its proper perspective.

Gerard Farley2010-04-06 17:34:18
The Catholic Church is not a business organization. The Pope is not a CEO. Presumably he is what Cardinal Sadono said he was;namely he voice of Christ on earth.The "coverup" was systemic. It was everywhere: Newfoundland, Ireland, the USA,Germany. Mark 9:42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.

A-Gonzaga2010-04-07 11:37:36
A European asked me this question, and I thought I must share it to see other people's opinion:

"Majority of today’s devout Catholics are to be found in Africa, South America and the Philipines. Why haven’t the Vatican considered allowing a coloured Pope in its long history? Do we (Europeans) really think that coloured people are that dumb? Isn’t it clear that the Church is mired in Supremacism and Earthly politcs? People are willing to do anything for the Church in all these places outside Europe – and in return we think of them as weak and foolish."

Thanos2010-04-07 13:18:35
Emmanuel, I don’t think anything like that ever crossed our minds or anybody else who worked or perhaps still works for this company despite the facts that statistics like that are well known nowadays. Actually and out of curiosity I called a former colleague and asked the same question. The answer was: "you must be joking"!!! I think that says everything.

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