Another month, another clerical abuse scandal. Germany, Australia, Chile, the US (where nine states are now investigating historical abuse), and of course Ireland’s ongoing abuse scandals: as the list grows, isn’t it diffi cult to be outraged any more? The association between the Catholic Church and horrible crimes against children is automatic now, too obvious to be worth a comedy gag: the David McSavage child-snatching priest of a few years back isn’t all that satirical anymore.
Nonetheless, no matter how jaded we are by clerical abuse, how ‘normalised’ it has become, it continues to poison what is left of the Catholic Church.
The scale of the crimes makes it seems like there can’t be a single Catholic diocese on the planet where there haven’t been clergy who have abused. As we saw from the many empty corrals at the recent papal event in the Phoenix Park, many of the supposed majority of Catholics in Ireland are now of the christenings, marriages and funerals only variety. They want the church and its priests for the decorative or comforting rituals to mark big life events. They don’t want them, by and large, to be involved in running or owning schools and hospitals. The pope said the reason hardly any men want to be priests in Ireland is because of the association with abuse. Apart from infallibly stating the bleeding obvious, how can church bosses, locally and at the Vatican, react?
One way is to look about for ways to explain the abuse. One bishop described the current raft of allegations and prosecutions as his church’s 9/11. Does that mean he believes the people who have come forward to bravely tell their stories of being raped and beaten by clergy are like terrorists out to destroy the edifi ce which housed and protected their abusers?
One bishop described the current raf of allegations and prosecutions as the Catholic Church’s 9/11.
More relevant for LGBT+ people than a knee-jerk diversion tactic that has been tried and tested by the church and its defenders for decades was the attempt by some US bishops, in the face of the latest round of abuse prosecutions there, to pin the blame on a homosexual sub-culture within the church. Because paedophilia and homosexual acts are both sins, they argue, there’s no real moral diff erence between the two and holy mother church’s problems are because it has fallen into the trap of going along with the increased acceptance of the homosexual as a not sick, not criminal, not predatory citizen.A return to old teaching might be comforting to the old men of the church, but it’s unlikely to help it get people back on board, is it?
TIME FOR THE ANGELUS
Another element of the Catholic Church that has lost its way is the daily bongs just before the six o’clock news. Many people loved the earlier attempts to make this historical call to prayer less religious. All of those representative types pausing mid-task as the bongs rang out over the land was just so quirky and Irish, even if the actual praying seemed a bit wishy-washy and trying hard not to off end anyone.
The latest bongs though, seem to have gone so far in their attempt to be as non-churchy as possible, that they could easily be an ad for insurance. A slideshow of photos of more representative types in quirky poses while wearing a rainbow of plain t-shirts (no pink ones though) ends with the word ‘Unity’ in sparkly fi rework letters. WTF?
TASTE THE RAINBOW
The world of gay has been a bit all over the place recently. The promoter behind the muscle queen club XXL in London (is it still under the arches in Southwark?) got into a bit of a tizzy about men in heels. He only wanted men’s men for his club, see, and you femmes and drag queens have your own places anyway. He backtracked pretty sharpish though, when it seemed like he was in danger of having his very own Stonewall moment, but not in a good way.
Right wing types in Romania have successfully won the right to have a referendum to change the defi nition of marriage in the constitution to one between a man and a woman only. Right now, it doesn’t specify gender identity for spouses, leaving the way open for marriage equality. If the referendum passes, it will be a rare step backward for the advance of gay rights in Europe.
And finally, not really a gay story at all, but defi nitely a surreal one: the two Russians the British think brought the nerve agent to Salisbury claimed that they were just innocent tourists who were so very interested in the spire of the cathedral there that they just had to do a whirlwind two-day trip to see it. One of them had women’s perfume in his bag, Eau de Novichok maybe, and it was implied they were a gay couple. We all know gays like that- gassing on about ancient buildings and posting delightful pics of temples and church interiors, but those guys don’t really seem the type.