Pope Benedict XVI finally admitted that the Roman Catholic Church has a “questionable” reputation.
A questionable reputation, eh? Well, if that's the descriptor the pontiff thinks best applies to his misguided organization, then I'd say it works equally well for everyone and everything from Jack the Ripper and Enron to Bernie Madoff and The New York Mets.
Rather than stepping up, admitting fault, announcing widespread systemic changes and asking for forgiveness though, the pope instead blamed everyone else for the institution's tarnished image. In fact, he said the church's questionable reputation is a direct result of what he called 'uncommitted Christians'. Does that mean he's pointing the finger at Baptists, Protestants, Methodists and every other Christian sect as well as Catholics? Well, why the heck not? Misery loves company.
The Pope's bought into what I'd call the victim defense strategy. To wit:
- If a woman burns her hand as a result of spilling hot coffee on herself, it's not her fault, it's the restaurant's for not warning her that yes, indeed, coffee can be served hot and, if spilled on an exposed body part, it can cause pain. As a result, she's entitled to collect millions of dollars in damages.
- It's society's fault if a person chooses to pursue a life of crime, drugs and debauchery. Why? Because he wasn't given the same advantages his peers in more upscale neighborhoods. So don't blame him for last night's drive-by shooting. He should be given a suspended sentence at most.
- And, of course, it's not the Democrats fault that Obama hasn't really accomplished anything in three-plus years. And, it's not Sarah Palin's fault she completely rewrote the history of Paul Revere's ride (that was just 'gotcha' journalism at work).
We live in a world in which we buy into the notion that it's no one's fault for anything that goes wrong. We're all victims. And, it's always someone else's fault.
As a recovering Catholic and erstwhile altar boy, I'm ashamed of the way in which the Church has embraced victimization as its modus operandi. As the attached article notes, the Church blames 'societal changes during the 1960s and '70s' as the reason why so many priests went off the rails and gorged themselves on a bacchanalian feast of pedophilia. It wasn't the Church's fault. It wasn't the misguided concept of celibacy that attracted misfits and put them in direct, unsupervised contact with young boys. And, it wasn't the Church that shuffled these predators around from one parish to another and covered up their horrific deeds. It's really never been the Church's fault. It's always been someone else's.
And, so playing the victim card remains the Vatican's sole strategy. I guess it works with true believers. But, we uncommitted Christians don't buy it for a minute. The Church, and the Church alone, is responsible for the path of destruction its priests have sown.
I, for one, suggest a name change for the pontiff. He should call himself Pope Victim XVI. If he did, it would be the first truly honest and transparent thing he, and his Church, has done to date.