Via Pharyngula, here are two reactions to the reports of systemic abuse within the Catholic reform schools in Ireland:

Dublin Archbishop Diarmud Martin:

The church has failed people. The church has failed children. There is no denying that. This can only be regretted and it must be regretted. Yet “sorry” can be an easy word to say. When it has to be said so often, then “sorry” is no longer enough.

And on the other side of the spectrum, we have the American president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, who decided that it really wasn’t all that bad, and it was a long time ago anyway:

The Irish report suffers from conflating minor instances of abuse with serious ones, thus demeaning the latter. When most people hear of the term abuse, they do not think about being slapped, being chilly, being ignored or, for that matter, having someone stare at you in the shower. They think about rape.

By cheapening rape, the report demeans the big victims. But, of course, there is a huge market for such distortions, especially when the accused is the Catholic Church.

Bill, being as he is blinkered by his affiliation with the church, is unable to see the implications of this latest Catholic scandal. Instead, his organization has been spending its time decrying Obama’s visit to Notre Dame.

Oh — and it’s interesting to note that Donohue is very concerned about possible rapes of children. Just not when the rapists are Catholic clergymen.

Advertisements

Nine years ago, while studying abroad in Austria, my girlfriend at the time and I visited Ireland on a 10-day break. At that point in my life, I was a rather serious Catholic, and I figured Ireland would be a study in devotion — in addition to yet another locale on the European landmass devoted to beer.

While I wasn’t disappointed on the second count, I was surprised — after a many-hours-long hitchhiking trip along the south coast of the island to the city of Cork — to sit down in a large church Sunday evening and hear the mass said at breakneck speed. It was over in less than half an hour. I found it stunning that people in Ireland (clergy included, apparently) were so eager to get out of church as quickly as possible.

Little wonder, after today’s headline: Catholic Church shamed by Irish abuse report.

DUBLIN – After a nine-year investigation, a commission published a damning report Wednesday on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at CatholicChurch-run reform schools for Ireland’s castaway children.

The report details the institutionalized humiliation of thousands of Irish children sent to “reform schools” run by the “Christian Brothers” and other clerical orders. This was no case of Abu Ghraib-type “bad apples” (although we’re getting more of a picture of the institutionalization of that abuse, too, which puts the lie to the “bad apples” argument to begin with); this was a system-wide program of humiliation and torture — mental, physical, and, of course, sexual.

(more…)

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve gotten into a few arguments with Catholics upset at President Obama’s upcoming commencement address at Notre Dame University (scheduled for Sunday). There’s a petition you can sign online to “stop the scandal,” and prevent the president from giving the address.

Their argument is basically that since Obama supports abortion rights, it is therefore evil for him to speak at a Catholic university.

My argument has been that it isn’t, and it’s in fact a positive overture for the president toward American Catholics, as well as a significant honor for the Notre Dame class of 2009.

(more…)

Has it been a while since you’ve had an apparition in your breakfast nook? Well weep no longer, because you can now own the HOLY TOAST BREAD STAMP.

With this simple tool, you can make the Blessed Mother a part of your complete breakfast:

Holy Toast, Batman!

One wonders, who is this marketed for? Is it for folks who take this kind of grilled-cheese spirituality seriously, or for people like me, who think it’s hysterical?

Thanks to my friend Erica, who thought this would make an awesome birthday present for me.