Friday, March 13, 2009

Catholic Conundrums Over Sexual Morality

Bishops repudiate abuse of girl who underwent abortion in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mar 10, 2009 / 03:26 pm (CNA).-

The leadership of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil has strongly condemned the abuse suffered by a 9 year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather, became pregnant with twins and was submitted to an abortion several days ago.

The bishops expressed their bewilderment at what had happened to the girl. “We vehemently repudiate this insane act and we defend [the need for] a rigorous investigation into the facts, and we call for those responsible to be duly punished in accord with justice,” they said in a statement. (I find it difficult to believe they were bewildered by the rape of a child.)

The bishops expressed regret that the case was not isolated. “We are concerned about the growing number of attacks on the lives of children who are victims of sexual abuse. In this context, the Church is united with her and with all the children who are victims of this type of brutality and their families,” the bishops said.

They also recalled that “in fidelity to the Gospel,” the Church “always speaks out in support of life and unequivocally condemns all acts of violence that offend human dignity.”

The bishops in the northeastern region of Brazil, where the girl lives, said the defense of life is “a principle that guides the practice of the Church in Brazil,” as was the case “during the military regime of 1964, when the Church spoke out in defense of life and the dignity of persons, the defense of the human rights of the political refugees that were persecuted and tortured.”

According to the bishops, an awareness of human rights “leaves no room for any kind of violence, especially against children and women. In this concrete case, we reject the rape and sexual abuse suffered by the girl.”

However, they noted, “what is protected by law does not always coincide with what is in accord with ethical principles and moral values. For us, the Lord’s commandment, Thou shalt not kill, will always take priority.” (This is true only in the case of the unborn.)

Given the complexity of the case, we regret that it has not been faced with the serenity, tranquility and time that the situation demanded. In addition, we are not in agreement with the final result of eliminating the lives of defenseless human beings.” “It falls to us to externalize our beliefs publicly in defense of life, which is always a gift from God.”

(I'm sorry bishops, but this point is precisely where your theology has fundamental contradictions. If life is always a gift from God, then the step father was acting in accordance with the Will of God and should not be condemned. God wanted a nine year old child to conceive twins via incestuous rape. There is no other conclusion which can be reached given that life is always a gift from God. This is why you have excommunicated the doctors and the girl's mother, but not the father.)


In reading comments from Catholics on this story on other websites, it seems the plight of this child, her mother, and doctors has a hit a chord. Many commentators say they have had enough and walking away from the Church is their only choice. It looks like the combination of this story on top of the SSPX and Maciel/Legion of Christ stories are straws which are breaking a lot of Catholic backs. All three seem to be windows into the soul of the Institutional Church and the view of that soul is not pretty. It lacks integrity, consistency and compassion.

Benedict speaks eloquently on the need for both Faith and Reason. A lot of us are beginning to see a view of Faith which is deficient not only in reason but also compassion. No reasonable person can look at the Brazilian situation and not see that the Church values the unborn as a higher form of life and innocence than the born. This message is loud and clear. It has to be, because this notion is a logical outgrowth of the whole of Catholic sexual morality.

A one day old conceptus has more rights in the Catholic church than any other form of life, (except celibate priests) certainly far and above the rights of women, or in this case nine year old girls. It's a sexual theology which places the morality of rape above masturbation, homosexuality, the use of birth control and any and every other sexual act not open to procreation. It's not a sexual theology of love, but of misinformed biology, and it most certainly favors heterosexual men over women and girls. It's errors in logic are also compounded by raising virginity and celibacy to a status above procreative sex. So, no sex is the greatest good, but the forcible rape of women is better than masturbation. No wonder women doubt their rights and dignity with in this theology.

How about the bishops assertion that they are in solidarity with sexually abused children? Well, a reasonable person cannot look at the Maciel situation without coming to the logical conclusion that the Church knew for decades there were serious deficiencies with Fr. Maciel, but he was allowed to operate with impunity and publically defended, while his abuse victims were excoriated. If the Brazilian bishops are truly in solidarity with sexually abused children they should be loudly petitioning the Vatican for an independent investigation of the Legion and Fr. Maciel. They should have been for a long long time, but since Brazilian bishops have their own large mess with pedophile clergy, their assurances in this area wring a bit hollow.

In the meantime the compassion which Benedict has extended to the SSPX, and this also includes his moto proprio, has been thrown back at him by the refusal of Bishop Fellay to even consider acceding to the theology of Vatican II. In other words, the hand that was extended was bit. This has not stopped Benedict from blaming the subsequent fall out on dissident Catholics who didn't understand his gesture. The Jewish community has been less vitriolic.

I understood the gesture. I understood SSPX has a significant number of priests in training and four ordained bishops. They were and are a schismatic church of some significance. They are a slowly growing cancer in the body of Christ. I give Benedict kudos for insisting the Vatican learn how to use Google, but I also have one last bit of advice. One doesn't eradicate a cancer by asking it gently to become something else. Cancers aren't like that at all. They are predatory, just like Fr. Maciel. If Benedict is really serious about unity he needs to be serious about cancers in the church body.

He could start with it's theology of sexual morality, because it was Paul VI's refusal to change anything about this theology which most fully derailed Vatican II and started the Mass exodus.

The Chuch can not authoritatively teach an ideal of sexual expression when it finds itself forced to seed the moral high ground to violent rape over masturbation. What this is really condoning is the sexual exploitation of women under the guise of procreation. That's why I see the only way this conundrum can be solved is through abstinence, the exact opposite of procreation, a situation which directly refutes God's command to go forth and multiply. No wonder so many Catholics are leaving, it's all too confusing.


  1. It is confusing Colleen, and that is the root of the reasoning for people leaving the Church.

    The Bishops give lip service to repudiating abuse of the 9 year old girl who was raped by her stepfather and lip service to saying that "the church is united with her and with all the children who are victims of this type of brutality and their families."???

    If they were sincere and honest about their words, then why are they excommunicating the mother who was in defense of the life of her little girl?

    Why are the Bishops in defense of a violent act which caused this little girl to become pregnant and insisting that such a pregnancy was a gift from God?

    Is rape a gift from God? Is the sperm from such violence against a child to be considered from God? Did God send the sperm into the little girls womb? Or rather, wasn't it the seed from the devil that was implanted in this completely innocent little girl, and that the bishops are defending the rights of the devil's sperm and its illegal entry into this child's womb?

    Also, the Bishops seem to be patting themselves on the back and flattering the Church in saying "during the military regime of 1964 when the Church spoke out in defense of life and the dignity of persons the defense of the human rights of the political refugees that were persecuted and tortured." This indicates they are being political here and reminding all those folks who they "defended" how in the past the Church stood up in defense of human rights.

    The Bishops are not in defense of human rights for the mother or the doctor who acted in defense of life for the little 9 year old girl who would have died if she did not have the abortion. And why shouldn't a rape victim have an abortion? Rape is not about God giving us anything and we do not have to accept anything that is not from God.

  2. 1964, 45 years ago, interesting isnt it, that by their own admission they have done nothing in almost half a century.

    And, they still havent excommunicated the man for raping the child. But as one poster on NCR noted, rape is just a sin.

    "rape is just a sin"!!!!!

    What I believe we are seeing, with escalating frenzy, is exposure of the true nature, the true heart of the vatican and the Magisterial Authorities - massive corruption.

    I really do believe that what we are seeing are the final gasps of the vatican church, the desperate grasping of a dying animal. It is not pretty, will no doubt get uglier, no doubt get more desperate as the end approaches.but dying it is, and dying it must.

    I made an interesting observation today. Dead skunk in the woods. Other dead animals as well. Skunk was the only one that hasnt been scavenged. That has to be prophetic somehow.

    Perhaps it is saying that the RCC is already dead, and what we are seeing now is the carcass that is too nasty for even the scavengers to eat. Hmmm.

    todays word is "undaming"

    given the way events are escalating, I would say that is very prophetic

  3. *sigh* I think the Bishops, Cardinals, and even His Holiness must understand that these actions are indeed nothing but hypocritical to the majority of the faithful. Until someone in the hiearchy definitively makes a stand and declares that it's necessary and time for the sake of the life of the Church to take another look at the ways things have been done in many different areas I think the Church, unfortunately, will just continue to lose members because it's pastors fail to practice what they preach...

  4. They make no commitment to the life of this 9 year old when they spout their empty words and ex-communicate her mother and a doctor.

    Such hypocrisy.

    This is a great post; I am delighted to have found your blog.

  5. I agree anonymous that they ignored the 9 year old little girl, and it was surely going to be her in the trash bin. Trash the little girl and then trash the mother is the ideal that they are setting forth for the entire Church to obey.

  6. The thing that makes this all so frustrating is it's the logical extension of the Church's theology of sexuality.

    If one agrees with the original assumption, that the only moral good for sexual expression is pro creation then all of this makes logical sense. In that logic the nine year old girl is objectified to nothing more than her pregnant status. Pregnancy being the highest feminine calling for the non virginal, to abort is to deny that highest calling by committing murder.

    It doesn't matter HOW she became non virginal or pregnant, the only thing that matters is she was pregnant, not that she was nine. It's all very logical and very sick in it's total lack of compassion.

    When any dogma or doctrine precludes compassion and mandates the diminishment of one life for the sake of another, this kind of thinking seriously needs to be looked at. The Church's whole position is that the lives of pregnant women are secondary and subordinate to their unborn child.
    That's really easy for an all male teaching authority to come up with because it doesn't effect them.

    In my book it's the most profound example of 'othering' that humanity has ever adapted as a moral code and this case perfectly exemplifies the ugliness of it.

  7. It is not just pregnant women, it is the lives of anyone who is not part of "their" inner sanctum that is secondary.

    The ultimate irony, and the ultimate divine justice is that those who consider themselves faithful orthodox defenders of the faith are secondary as well. The Vatican is using them a pawns, nothing more. When their usefulness is gone, due to age, injury, incarceration, etc., the Vatican will abandon them just as surely as it abandons everyone else who is no longer useful to them.

  8. i just found your blog and I really love it--I will be visiting often. I wish I knew some people in my part of the world that could get their heads out of the sand and see the reality of the many problems with the Catholic Church. I live in Birmingham, Alabama, US the heart of Republican America and everyone at our church is perfectly happy with everything. It is rather disturbing.