Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Catholic Beasts

It doesn't have a great record. The Catholic church is one of the most deeply unpleasant organisations in history. It forbids contraception then complains about the resulting abortions, poverty, miserable children and the spread of AIDS. It has a long standing tradition of collaborating in atrocities with fascist governments and hushing up the activities of paedophile priests then protecting the perpetrators rather than the victims. There's all the torture and inquisitioning to take into account, of course, plus the persecution of scientists through the ages and the continued willful mis-education of the masses.

For these reasons, I shouldn't be surprised about the following story, but I am. Basic humanity simply cannot help but rebel against what the church is doing in the strongest possible terms.

The story concerns a nine year old girl who has been raped by her stepfather since she was six years old. At nine, it was discovered that she was pregnant with twins. The consequences of her carrying those babies to term are simply unthinkable and thankfully the foetuses were aborted. This is perfectly legal in her home country of Brazil in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger, both of which were obviously true in this case.

Surely anyone would hope that the tragedy would end there and the family could attempt to put its lives back together. The Catholic church is having none of this, of course. It opposed the abortion in the strongest possible terms, believing that it had the right to interfere in the business of families, medicine and the law. It didn't: the abortion went ahead.

But the church doesn't like being messed with. It has taken the hump big-style by saying it will excommunicate everyone involved, including the doctors and the distraught mother. It has graciously exempted the girl herself on the grounds of her age (merciful, eh?).

Let's just examine this for a moment: Catholics believe that being excommunicated automatically consigns them to hell. I cannot imagine the anguish this girl and her family must have gone through in this tragic episode. Can you conceive of the guilt her mother must be experiencing over the abuse? She probably feels that she somehow allowed it to happen or that she should have known. As hideous of the girl's treatment was, we shouldn't forget that the mother is also a victim. If she is a Catholic, she probably also feels guilty about the abortion itself, although as far as I can tell, she hardly had a choice in the matter. Can you imagine the support the child will need, probably for the rest of her life? You might think that a mother not crippled by guilt and supported in turn by the organisation that claims to have her best interests in heart might be the best person to (hopefully) help her daughter to overcome this trauma and move forward to a fulfilling and happy life. Well, wouldn't you?

I can only guess how the church's trying to prevent the abortion added to the tragedy and to the anguish of both mother and daughter, nor how it might have crippled the recovery of everyone involved. And now, the mother has been made to believe that she is going to hell for the crime of protecting her daughter in the only way she possibly can. This seems unlikely to help matters.

I find it impossible to determine any morality at all in the church's actions and I'm certain that virtually every human being on the planet feels the same way. Could anything other than religion skew someone's sense of morality so badly that they feel that the church is even remotely justified, let alone taking the high ground?

No comments: