Thursday, July 21, 2011

You're such a hypocrite! Or maybe not….

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When one of our regular commenters, Mary, mentioned that her friends on the left viewed "hypocrisy" as the worst of sins, it gave me pause.

First, I have long known that the word "hypocrite" is misused generally, and misused against religious folks in particular: "Look at those self-righteous Christians! They are no better than anyone else, they sin all the time, preaching one thing and doing another… hypocrites!!"

The word "hypocrites" in this context never made sense to me. Are we sinners who are falling all the time? Yes. But "hypocrites"? No. It just didn't sound right.

So, in responding to Mary's comment, I looked up the definition of "hypocrite" online, and up popped something from Wikipedia, which is worthy of sharing [all emphases mine]:


Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually have. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a kind of lie.

Hypocrisy is not simply failing to practice those virtues that one preaches. Samuel Johnson made this point when he wrote about the misuse of the charge of "hypocrisy" in Rambler No. 14:
Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself. 

Those who hold "hypocrisy" as the worst of all sins (which it isn't) should work to get the definition right and apply it correctly. There are certainly lying frauds in every religion and every walk of life (these would be true hypocrites!), but chances are that most people do hold their beliefs sincerely and wish to do good, even when their efforts fall scandalously short.

It seems to me that the benefit of the doubt should always be extended, and that the kindest reaction one can have to someone falling short of a professed standard is sadness at his fall, and hope for his redemption, not a sneering accusation of "hypocrite!" at the perception that his actions do not match his stated beliefs.



Speaking for myself and other faithful Catholics I know, we might be sinning, but we don't want to be. And we don't lower the bar or excuse our behavior because Catholic morality is "just too hard" or unrealistic in today's world. We pick ourselves up, get to Mass and confession, and try again with the help of God's grace. 


It's a slow and laborious road to holiness, so much so that when we finally get to the point where our actions perfectly match our deeply held beliefs, we will already be in Heaven. 


Until that point, please consider that we aren't hypocrites, only sinners.






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118 comments:

  1. "For the sake of His Sorrowfull Passion, have Mercy on us and on the whole world"
    TheresaEH in Alberta

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  2. Thank you! It is rather disheartening to hear religious folks called hypocrites for believing, but not being perfect. I knew the word was misused, but it is difficult to convince someone of that if they are set on believing that the charge is true.

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  3. Just replace anything defensive about your faith with love and people won't have a foot to stand on. Remember, at best, people will do half as much as you do and nothing of what you say. "Do not resist one who is evil....If someone takes your shirt give them your cloak as well. If your brother asks you to walk one mile, go two."

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  4. In Matt 15:7-9 Jesus defines a hypocrite as one who "draws near to me with their mouth and honours me with their lips.But their heart is far from me and in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."

    Hypocrisy is not the act of not doing what you believe. It is not believing what you say you believe and as a result your actions do not match your words. A hypocrite is always a liar.

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  5. Very good and very accurate.

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  6. And in the original Greek, hypocrite is defined as "actor." Actors pretend to be someone else entirely. Most of us who love Jesus are not pretending to be anything.

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  7. I'm bookmarking this for the next "hypocrite" religious argument I find myself in. Brilliant.

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  8. Amen and thank you! This is excellent! Love this:
    "Speaking for myself and other faithful Catholics I know, we might be sinning, but we don't want to be. And we don't lower the bar or excuse our behavior because Catholic morality is "just too hard" or unrealistic in today's world. We pick ourselves up, get to Mass and confession, and try again with the help of God's grace. "

    Also what in your opinion, is the worst of all sins? And what does the Church say is the worst sin? (Trying to learn here.)

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  9. It's not that we pretend to have beliefs, rather we are just lousy at practicing what we preach.
    Honest confession. Always room for improvement.

    But that doesn’t make the gospel untrue. When people say, “Until you’re as perfect as Christ, you shouldn’t preach anything.” That’s just silly.

    You might as well say that unless you’re a perfect accountant that you cannot understand math principles.

    Or unless you’re a parent, you cannot understand parenting on some level.

    Is it ideal to be perfect, especially at holiness? Yes. But one doesn’t reach the summit and then share the good news. Quite the opposite, God calls us to share the gospel on our way to the pinnacle of holiness.

    -Nubby (can't sign in)

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  10. Love this! I'm sure I'll have to refer back to this many times. So thank you.

    I know I'm not Leila, but I'll put my two sense in, Clara asked:

    Also what in your opinion, is the worst of all sins?

    I would say Pride.

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  11. I agree with Bethany, pride is the root of all evil.

    I love this post, Leila, I'm going to share it with my family.

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  12. Just a thought here, maybe you should write a post about pride or give us the link to the post about pride if you already have one, as so many people (some Christians included)are confused as to what is the "good pride" and the "bad pride." As a teenager, I was always confused by this as my parents would discourage my "bad pride" but then my school, teachers, and society, would try to boost up my self-esteem by having "more pride". It was pretty confusing and I'm sure I haven't always been the only one confused by this. (Though I do understand now but am not good at explaining things!)

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  13. That is a great point. I love wikipedia! Thanks for making the distinction between being a hypocrite and a liar. I never thought of that.

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  14. I really like this post! You can bet I'll be keeping it in mind, because there will be a time that these points will come in handy.

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  15. Very keen and critical distinction. Still, it's hard to avoid feeling like a hypocrite once in a while.

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  16. I read this today and thought of this post:

    "Don’t stay away from church because there are so many hypocrites. There’s always room for one more." - Arthur Adams

    :P

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  17. Love this, you explained it perfectly.

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  18. Perfect, I shared this in my bible reading group in FB. The other members aren't Catholic, but it pertains too all people of faith since I know we've all been called this or heard that people don't go to church because christians are hyprocrites.

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  19. Joanna,
    I like this one, too: "If you find a perfect Church, go ahead and join it. It won't be perfect anymore."-Matthew Kelly (I think;)

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  20. I hear about the "hypocrites" too. And I can see what people mean. It's very off-putting to see people trying to kill each other as they exit the Church parking lot! I also cringe regularly when people with Rosarys hanging from their rear view mirrors do obnoxious things.

    But I tell my friends that have left the Church due to the "hypocrites" that that's why they should come back! We need to fill the Church with awesome people! Of course my hope is that once they learn to overlook what they see as the worst offense that perhaps they'll come to know Christ and all the goodness that I've found there. I would say that the one thing that has changed the most since I embraced Jesus as God and his Church as my own is that I see people differently. I see the struggles that people have and that allows me to be kinder than I would have before.

    And Mary asked something about why some people have a big moment with God that changes everything and others don't...For me it took a moment where I humbled myself. And when I finally did God stepped in in a big way. What I would suggest (not that anybody is asking! ha!) is that you consider starting a prayer journal. Just write what comes to you as you try to place yourself in the presence of God and I'm pretty sure you'll be amazed at what you see when you go back over your journal in time.

    Just my thoughts!
    Katie

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  21. Wait a minute...I think I did this all wrong...I was addressing things from two different comment threads...oh well. I should probably stick with just reading the comments rather than posting!!!

    Katie

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  22. Let's move away from religion for a minute. In an earlier post, I brought up the problem of politicians who vote against gay rights, and then secretly carry on gay relationships in complete secrecy.

    This angers gay people who are out, and so there is a group of people who forcefully "out" these secretly gay politicians. The movie "Outrage" documented some of these cases of anti-gay politicians who carry on gay relationships being outed against their will.

    According to Barney Frank (gay member of Congress), these politicians "have a right to privacy but not a right to hypocrisy."

    Do you agree or disagree with Rep Frank's statement? Do you think that the hypocritical politicians should be 'outed' against their wishes? Do these politicians deserve to be making rules for people that they cannot seem to follow themselves?

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  23. If people at the one true Church are sinners then how can they get upset with others who are not part of this and are sinners and hypocrites? That would be false behavior would it not? Do they expect mercy, charity and understanding if or when they don't, can't or haven't completely offered it as their highest priority? If they believe in a Truth that they themselves, in all their knowledge, struggle to act on, how can they be upset at those who live in doubt,weakness or ignorance? Wouldn't a Church full of these sorts of people have open arms for sinners and hypocrites? Where should they go if not a Church? What bothers a lot of people, from the outside looking in, is that people take on all sorts of authority, knowing right and wrong and then fail to act on it when crunch time comes, placing rules and regulations, indifference, disgust and condescending attitudes where their own rules say that their own hearts would be found. If they want to place themselves in the chair reserved for Jesus then don't fail to act as Christ, or please don't portray to take on that seat, take a much lesser one. If they want outsiders in, then at least be up front with what your limits are and what others can expect from you as opposed to what you expect of others.

    "Saying I desire for you to be perfect, I however am going to fail you, repeatedly, please excuse me, but you, I cast you to hell..." This is not painting a good picture. How about you don't fail me, and then I might see how seriously in love with this Church everyone is, and how not failing in this respect is their highest priority.

    Unless it delights some Christians to see themselves in and others out, that every aspect of their attitudes is focused on this, like one sibling who delights in the spanking of another.

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  24. "Do these politicians deserve to be making rules for people that they cannot seem to follow themselves?"

    Public employees work for the American citizen are our tax dollars pay their salaries. They are held to a certain code of ethics and when they display behaviors which are contrary to the ethics code they are often "outed" and either resign or are pressured out of office by the press/public/colleagues.

    A politician's personal life is fair game for the public square, and if a married man/woman who is a member of congress has an adulturous affair there are questions of character as well as questions of whether or not campaign money (donated for specific purposes) went toward supporting said questionable behaviors.

    There are often investigations done in order to find out if public dollars were used improperly, whether an individual lied under oath when questioned, etc.

    Just because a politician does not follow his own code of ethics or the one set forth by the state, does not mean the code itself is flawed. It means the man/woman fell into sin.

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  25. Dr. Strangelove,

    You have a very distorted view of the Church and her members. We do not have a disgusted attitude towards sinners as we are sinners ourselves. The Church is not a club for saints, it is a hospital for sinners. We go to Church to seek forgiveness and to be united with Christ, in hopes of Him making us holier and more able/ready to face the world in our struggles and fail less. We do not cast anyone into hell as we are not their judge. The Church does have a code of ethics she holds her members to, and we being imperfect sometimes fail to live up to these standards. That does not make us hypocrites, it makes us flawed as a people. We continue to "strive to enter", as Jesus said we must. The Church welcomes everyone, she just states that if you are happily engaging in sin and unrepentance then you should not receive the Eucharist and you should seek confession as soon as possible in order to begin the process of TRUE repentance which includes a humble heart and an open mind to change and begin TRYING to follow the standards set forth by the Church. We do not condemn people to hell who do not choose to participate, the Church has never said that anyone is in hell. Only God knows.

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  26. I once heard Mother Angelica tell this story:
    She said that she was talking to a man who had left the Church and he said he just couldn't stand to be around all those hypocrites. Her response was, well one more won't hurt.

    --Marc

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  27. Manda, I love both your answers and I have nothing to add. Well said!

    Marc, ha ha!

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  28. Katie, I have done the same thing many times, ha ha! I sometimes comment all over the place and lose track!

    I love your thoughts, and I hope you comment often!

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  29. MaiZeke,

    I haven't thought much about this topic, so thanks for bringing it up. It's challenging for me because on the one hand, I don't like the idea of forcibly "outing" someone, since that is such a personal thing. On the other hand, they have placed themselves in the public eye and subject to public scrutiny, for better or for worse. So I think I'm sort of undecided about it!

    But just in thinking about this, let's take the example of a rep who lives a secret homosexual lifestyle, but votes against something like gay marriage. I can see where that would be frustrating for people, but, what if his constituents, the people he represents, would have wanted him to vote as such. Isn't that the point of having a representative? Not to vote just according to what HE wants, but according to what those who put him in office want? So if he is representing a very conservative district that would be against homosexual marriage, even though he himself might subscribe to to it, ought he not vote on behalf of his people?

    Not really asking questions of anyone, just thinking outloud. :)

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  30. From this, from Manda: Just because a politician does not follow his own code of ethics or the one set forth by the state, does not mean the code itself is flawed. It means the man/woman fell into sin.

    Also Complicated Life seems to think the same - that a politician could continue to vote one way on an issue, but practice on another way. As long as the way they are voting is "correct".

    Would you all continue to vote that person in to office, as long as he votes your way? Let's take another hypothetical example -- a male senator encourages his wife to have an abortion, and she does. And then he votes for severe restrictions on abortion. Is *this* ok with you?

    1. Would you call that man a hypocrite? According to you all, no. As long as he doesn't think that abortion he got was right, then he isn't a hypocrite.

    2. Would you vote for him again, if you saw pictures or some other undeniable evidence that his wife had an abortion with his knowledge - and also if you know you could still count on him to vote against abortion for his district? If you said no, then why? Do you not trust him any more?

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  31. Also, about this current of "everyone's a hypocrite". However, as has been pointed out, the general population seems to perceive that overly religious people are more hypocritical thank most. Saying "everyone's a hypocrite" basically says that is unfounded.

    Why do we perceive overly religious people to be more hypocritical? Well, look at this study, done by someone funded by the Templeton FOUndation (pro-religion in nature)

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-5906.00113/abstract

    There are two quotes from the abstract: "In both studies, intrinsic religiousness was associated with an increase in the tendency to rate the self as more adherent to biblical commandments than others. "

    If you are religious, you tend to downplay your own sins, or somehow think you are better even though you have sinned just the same as someone else.

    And it doesn't just stop at sinning:

    It says "Irrespective of motivations for being religious, however, highly religious people [] more so than less religious people [] rated the self to be better on nonreligious attributes than others."

    Not only do religious people downplay their own sins, they think they are better than others in non-sinning areas.

    Now, all of you say over and over "I'm a sinner" but I wonder how you would react in a study like this. I contend that this study shows overtly what most people simply suspect from interactions with religious people.

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  32. If you are religious, you tend to downplay your own sins, or somehow think you are better even though you have sinned just the same as someone else.

    MaiZeke, this is interesting. You are an atheist, and I have yet to see you admit to any sin aside from not brushing your teeth (not a sin) and something else (not eating vegetables?) that is also not a sin. So, from my experience with at least one atheist, I see you admitting to doing nothing wrong. How does that fit with the study?

    Thanks!

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  33. They had to do a study to find out if religious people sin?! Seriously?! I hope it was privately funded...

    I have no idea if I sin more than most people. I'm probably more aware of my sin because I'm Catholic, but otherwise I wouldn't presume to judge.

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  34. MaiZeke, do your atheist friends admit to any sins? And, do they even admit that there is such a thing as personal sin at all (not talking about the lack of recycling). If a group doesn't admit to sin at all (even that personal sin exists), then isn't that like saying "We are better than everyone else" at least implicitly?

    Hope that makes sense.

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  35. "Just because a politician does not follow his own code of ethics or the one set forth by the state, does not mean the code itself is flawed. It means the man/woman fell into sin."

    When our leaders do fall into sin, the question becomes, can they lead and represent their constituents effectively? Oftentimes, the answer is no because the press is eating at one end and they have a family to focus on at the other--and this leaves no room for representing a district.

    If the politician you speak of condoned his wife's abortion, I could not vote him back into office. Abortion is my #1 issue at the polls.

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  36. 1. Would you call that man a hypocrite? According to you all, no. As long as he doesn't think that abortion he got was right, then he isn't a hypocrite.

    I wouldn't know if he were a true hypocrite unless I knew if he were merely pretending to truly be opposed to abortion.

    2. Would you vote for him again, if you saw pictures or some other undeniable evidence that his wife had an abortion with his knowledge - and also if you know you could still count on him to vote against abortion for his district? If you said no, then why? Do you not trust him any more?

    I would not vote for him again. He is either terribly, terribly weak-willed, or else he is a slime ball for supporting his wife (or forcing her) for aborting their child. Nope, he wouldn't get my vote.

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  37. Manda, I agree. I could not in good conscience vote for a person who knowingly and unrepentantly participated in the murder of his (or her) own child or grandchild, even if he or she had an allegedly pro-life voting record.

    However, if the man/woman is post-abortive and is pro-life BECAUSE of that previous abortion experience -- that is, they have come to realize that abortion is wrong BECAUSE of the abortion they once participated in -- it's a different situation.

    It's why I can never vote for someone who is pro-choice -- if you don't respect and advocate for the right to life, which is the most fundamental right we possess, I can't trust you to respect or advocate for any of my other rights.

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  38. Let's move away from religion for a minute. In an earlier post, I brought up the problem of politicians who vote against gay rights, and then secretly carry on gay relationships in complete secrecy.

    I thought I'd throw this out there, because most of my atheist and even "bad Catholic" liberal friends are completely and utterly amazed by this. I actually have a good friend from college, who is openly gay, who had been in a long-term relationship for years, but his partner died (still don't know what happened, we lost touch for a while). He is in many ways the stereotype of gay-pride, God love him.
    He's also a Republican. He doesn't believe in gay marriage, but some specific offshoot of civil unions and since neither side represents what he would like to see regarding the "gay" lifestyle, he chooses to vote the issues that are most important to him. Which is economics and finances. Now that's a WHOLE other set of "discussions" we have.

    Now I realize he doesn't fit the bill of being the "hypocrite", but I just thought it an interesting contrast.

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  39. Also Complicated Life seems to think the same - that a politician could continue to vote one way on an issue, but practice on another way. As long as the way they are voting is "correct".

    To be sure I'm clear, my point wasn't so much one of morality (what is "correct" in my view or someone else's) as one of politics and the true representation of one's constituents.

    Would you all continue to vote that person in to office, as long as he votes your way? Let's take another hypothetical example -- a male senator encourages his wife to have an abortion, and she does. And then he votes for severe restrictions on abortion. Is *this* ok with you?

    As a constituent, if my representative encouraged his wife to have an abortion, but then he voted pro-life, I still could not continue to vote for him. I want someone of integrity and I wouldn't be able to give him the authority to represent me, personally. I would expect that people who are for homosexual marriage to do the same in the other scenario. We all want people of integrity working on our behalf, right?

    I really wouldn't know if he was a hypocrite or not. I wouldn't judge him as a person, I could only judge his actions, which would not be up to my standards as someone who I would want representing me.

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  40. MaiZeke said (from the study): If you are religious, you tend to downplay your own sins, or somehow think you are better even though you have sinned just the same as someone else.

    Leila said: MaiZeke, this is interesting. You are an atheist, and I have yet to see you admit to any sin aside from not brushing your teeth (not a sin) and something else (not eating vegetables?) that is also not a sin. So, from my experience with at least one atheist, I see you admitting to doing nothing wrong. How does that fit with the study?

    What? Whether or not either side sins more or less is not the issue. I have not said I do NOT sin, I only avoided your question since you wanted to draw a comparison between me sinning and a priest molesting a child. I did admit that I never molested a child, remember. However, listing every single sin I have ever committed is certainly not relevant to the priest argument, nor this one.

    The point of the study is that everyone sins, period. But the highly religious still think of themselves as higher than others.

    I'll use a more concrete example. Let's say there are two women, one of whom is religious and one of whom is not. They both sleep with a man who is married - a grave sin, indeed. What the study is saying is that the religious person will still think of themselves as better than anyone else who slept with a married man, whereas the non-religious person will tend to think they are equal to another person who slept with a married man.

    I'm making that sin up, of course, I don't know if that was what he used in his study. It is just an example.

    For myself, when I hear of other people sinning, I think - "well, we all have our problems, we are all human, I sin too". But what I take from the study is that religious people, on average, don't think that, they think they are somewhat better than the other sinner somehow.

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  41. MaiZeke asked: 2. Would you vote for him again, if you saw pictures or some other undeniable evidence that his wife had an abortion with his knowledge - and also if you know you could still count on him to vote against abortion for his district? If you said no, then why? Do you not trust him any more?

    Leila said: I would not vote for him again. He is either terribly, terribly weak-willed, or else he is a slime ball for supporting his wife (or forcing her) for aborting their child. Nope, he wouldn't get my vote.

    Substitue politician and abortion for bishops and moving pedophile priests around, and we have the same situation. Instead of removing bishiops from office, the vatican keeps them around.

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  42. Leila asked: MaiZeke, do your atheist friends admit to any sins?

    Yes, Leila, they do. And so do I, to my friends and family.

    Leila also asks: If a group doesn't admit to sin at all (even that personal sin exists), then isn't that like saying "We are better than everyone else" at least implicitly?

    It isn't necessarily shouting the sin from the rooftops - it is how you judge yourself as opposed to how you judge the other, that is what the study is saying. Even if neither side admits their sin or doesn't admit their sin, the point is how the person thinks of himself in relationship to the other.

    Is what the study is saying.

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  43. JoAnna says: They had to do a study to find out if religious people sin?! Seriously?! I hope it was privately funded...

    First, that is not what the study said. They assume everyone sins, which I think we can all agree on. The question of the study was how religious people compare themselves as sinners to others as sinners.

    Regarding the funding, I mentioned in my first post that this guy gets funding from the John Templeton foundation, a very religion-friendly organization. They tend to fund scientists who say that science can work in conjunction with God.

    You should read up on this foundation. http://www.templeton.org/

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  44. MaiZeke says:

    Substitue politician and abortion for bishops and moving pedophile priests around, and we have the same situation. Instead of removing bishiops from office, the vatican keeps them around.

    Anderson's Law has now been invoked:

    As a debate involving the Catholic Church (either a discussion about the Church specifically, or a discussion in which the Church is taking a position) grows longer, the probability of someone mentioning the sex scandal approaches one.

    Corollary: Once such reference to the Scandal is made, whoever mentioned the Scandal has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.

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  45. MaiZeke, the difference there is (a) the Church is not a democracy and the laity don't vote for their bishops, so it's a different paradigm, and (b) in most cases where priests were shuffled around, the bishops had been assured by SECULAR psychologists and psychiatrists that the priests were "cured" of pedophilia; or the bishop was assured by the priests that the accusation was groundless or a revenge tactic and the bishop couldn't prove otherwise, or a myriad other reasons.

    No bishop that I'm aware of moved a priest around because he gleefully and joyfully was anticipating the molestations that he knew without a shadow of a doubt would occur as a result.

    I just wonder why you don't hold the public school system to an equally high standard.

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  46. The question of the study was how religious people compare themselves as sinners to others as sinners.

    See, right there... I don't really see how such a study can be an accurate measure. It's human nature to downplay our sins when directly asked about them by others, so I'm not at all surprised by the conclusions.

    Thank God for the sacrament of Confession; it makes you be brutally honest and accountable to yourself and God about your sins, and most priests I confess to don't let me downplay my sins.

    It's also a confusing study because it claims highly-religious people tend to downplay their sins compared to less-religious people. What is the gauge for how "religious" one is? It's impossible to know unless you can read someone's heart and mind. Catholic A might go to Mass every Sunday but only do so for the coffee and doughnuts afterward, whereas Catholic B doesn't always make it to Mass but nonetheless has a sincere and repentant heart about it.

    It seems like a very flawed study, and I really don't get the point of it given that downplaying one's sins, as I stated above, is simply human nature.

    I am very glad my tax dollars didn't fund it, though.

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  47. MaiZeke, the idea that religious people would think themselves holier and better than others is interesting to me, and maybe this is not totally related to the study, but I think of the saints.

    If you have ever read the lives of the saints (have you?), you'd see that they know better than anyone else how sinful they are. The saints can see and work to root out the deepest, darkest sins of their souls, things that would be considered *nothing* to most folks, while most of the rest of us ignore the big, fat juicy sins we commit that are sitting right in front of our noses.

    I have no idea if religious people think they sin less than everyone else, but I do believe something I have heard before: When someone tells you over and over again, forcefully, proudly, even defiantly, "I'm a good person!" that usually means they are doing a whole lot of sinning. When someone says quietly, humbly, privately, remorsefully, "I am the worst of sinners" that usually means they are somewhat saintly.

    But other than those clues, it's really not something we can know, since we cannot read souls and hearts and motives and culpability.

    Also, I noticed that your comment did not acknowledge anything about using the word "hypocrite" wrongly. Do you get that it's utterly wrong to call a mere sinner a hypocrite?

    Thanks!

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  48. MaiZeke,

    You wrote:

    "Substitue politician and abortion for bishops and moving pedophile priests around, and we have the same situation. Instead of removing bishiops from office, the vatican keeps them around."

    I can understand your frustration. There are some Catholics who, probably from an admirable sense of loyalty to the Church, are unable to see that the Bishops, almost as a whole, failed us in this horrible tragedy. You are right, they remain in office, and to this day are a scandal to the faithful, and to those who were, or could someday be Catholic. It does no good to make excuses for them, or pretend it didn't happen. Here is what Philip Lawler said in "The Faithful Departed":

    "While a small minority of American priests has been involved in sexual abuse, a clear majority of bishops was party to the cover-up. The priests who have been found guilty of sexual abuse have been removed from ministry, but the bishops who betrayed their own sacred trust by countenancing sexual abuse remain in office. Whereas the misconduct by priests has been acknowledged and addressed, the administrative malfeasance of American bishops has still not been acknowledged – at least not by the bishops themselves – and not remedied. For all those reasons the third scandal, the scandal of episcopal misconduct, is today the most serious of all."

    I hesitated before posting this, because I don't want to bring further scandal or hurt people, but I think we open ourselves up to a huge charge of, yes, hypocrisy, when we bend over backwards to make excuses for what most of the Bishops failed to do.

    At this point we can only pray and trust in Our Lord's promise that the gates of Hell will never prevail.

    --Marc

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  49. If your referring to my post, Marc, I was not making excuses for the bishops in question. However, I do question MaiZeke's judgement of their motives. She seems to believe (at least, this is how I read her comments) that the bishops were rubbing their hands together and gleefully plotting as to how they could get even more kids molested. I don't see it quite that way.

    The bishops involved acted wrongly, and stupidly, but I think in most cases their motives were not evil, just extremely stupid and misguided.

    Also, I disagree that "nothing has been done" -- these bishops are slowly but surely being replaced by orthodox, holy bishops who are committing to ensuring the safety of the children in their dioceses.

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  50. Joanna,

    You say you were not making excuses for the Bishops in question, but you said that,

    "most cases where priests were shuffled around, the bishops had been assured by SECULAR psychologists and psychiatrists that the priests were "cured" of pedophilia; or the bishop was assured by the priests that the accusation was groundless or a revenge tactic and the bishop couldn't prove otherwise, or a myriad other reasons."

    I think you are trying to have it both ways. If you really believe that "in most cases..." then why write in your reply that you aren't making excuses? What do you call it?

    Also, I would argue that your characterization of MaiZeke's argument is either incredibly uncharitable, or just opaque. I think she was trying to draw an analogy, and I can see nowhere in what she wrote that she thinks the Bishops were plotting up ways to get more kids molested. At least I hope she does not think that.

    MaiZeke and I are probably diametrically opposed on almost every issue out there, but I believe her arguments should at least be engaged as she writes them, not reconstructed in ways that make her look stupid. Because let's be honest, if she really is arguing that Bishops were getting together and plotting how to get even more kids molested than she is just crazy, and I don't believe she is.

    I think that when we as Catholics basically "circle the wagons" on this issue we make our position look foolish and that could keep people away from the Church.

    --Marc

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  51. Marc,

    I think that the bishops in question acted wrongly in taking the advice of secular psychiatrists who assured them that pedophilia was "curable."

    I think they acted wrongly in not involving civil authorities (even if such non-involvement was at the request of the victim, or the victim's family) in cases where there were accusations.

    In short, I believe they made a good many mistakes in how they individually handled the situations, and there were probably even a few bishops out there who knew or at least strongly suspected that the priests were molesting teenage boys or other young children and chose not to take action. THAT is truly inexcusable.

    But I do doubt it was from a motive of pure evil in any case; rather, I think their motives were to instinctively protect their "family." A lot of crimes have been covered up by many individuals for the same reason (Casey Anthony, anyone?). Excusable? No. Understandable? Perhaps.

    Based on these comments and other comments by MaiZeke, my opinion is that she thinks each individual bishop took joy and pleasure in seeing as many children were molested as humanly possible, because they are simply evil people who thrive on the misery of others. If I am wrong as to her thoughts on this, I will gladly stand corrected. But that is just my perception based on the comments she has made on both this post and several others.

    I do NOT, however, believe that MaiZeke believes this: "...if she really is arguing that Bishops were getting together and plotting how to get even more kids molested." Sorry if I gave that impression.

    Circling the wagons is one thing. You're absolutely right that the bishops should be held more accountable than they have been; I agree with that 100%. In some cases where there were financial settlements I wish the money would have come out of the bishop's own pocket and not the diocese's, or I wish the state would have chosen to pursue criminal charges against the bishop (although I understand that in may cases the statute of limitations prevented this, and in others there was circumstantial evidence but nothing that could be used for an indictment).

    Saying that the bishops knew about the abuse in all cases and calmly, deliberately, and with malice aforethought moved priests around so they could continue to abuse is another. I don't believe that is accurate, but that is how the situation is most often portrayed.

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  52. Marc, I don't think JoAnna or any Catholic I know is making excuses for anything that happened in the slimy goings on in with the sex scandals. In fact, I would say the same thing about the bishops that that MaiZeke said about the politicians:

    Either the bishops involved were extremely weak-willed, or they were slimeballs. I wouldn't "vote them back in" if I had a vote. However, to discount that they also were doing what they were told at the time was the "right thing" by the "experts" in psychology (another reason why I dislike the current "cult of the expert" that our society seems to defer to). The ones who listened to the spirit of the age instead of going with their gut? Weak-willed. The bishops with the homosexual agenda themselves? Slimeballs.

    The latter are the true hypocrites, as they pretend to believe the vows they professed, and yet truly believed something totally different, and did all they could to get the Church to change her teachings. That is what fits the definition of a hypocrite. A liar who pretends to believe, when he doesn't.

    As for what MaiZeke does or doesn't believe about the bishops, I'm happy to ask her. MaiZeke? What do you think the motives of the bishops was?

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  53. Just a word about being a hypocrite. Christians don't preach the gospel because somehow we are perfect and others aren't or because we somehow see our sins as not as bad as the rest of the world. No true Christian preaches the Gospel because somehow they think they are never to blame 100% of the time. We preach the gospel because God told us to spread the Gospel to the whole world. We preach because Jesus Christ commanded it. So I don't spread the Gospel because I am perfect or because my sins somehow have less of an effect on people around me, I spread the Gospel because God has commanded this of his followers.
    Rich

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  54. Leila said: I would not vote for him again. He is either terribly, terribly weak-willed, or else he is a slime ball for supporting his wife (or forcing her) for aborting their child. Nope, he wouldn't get my vote.

    MaiZeke responded: "Substitue politician and abortion for bishops and moving pedophile priests around, and we have the same situation. Instead of removing bishiops from office, the vatican keeps them around."

    Sorry, that's what I was referring to, and I said it not MaiZeke. She was comparing it to bishops and I concur that we have had weak bishops and we have had slimeballs, too.

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  55. Joanna,

    Your reply is incoherent to me at least. You write this:

    "Based on these comments and other comments by MaiZeke, my opinion is that she thinks each individual bishop took joy and pleasure in seeing as many children were molested as humanly possible, because they are simply evil people who thrive on the misery of others."

    Then below that you write:

    "I do NOT, however, believe that MaiZeke believes this: "...if she really is arguing that Bishops were getting together and plotting how to get even more kids molested." Sorry if I gave that impression."

    You gave that "impression" by writing this:

    "She seems to believe (at least, this is how I read her comments) that the bishops were rubbing their hands together and gleefully plotting as to how they could get even more kids molested."

    These are direct quotes. I don't mean to be rude, but your reply about MaiZeke (who I will let speak for herself) is strange to say the least.

    I have not really believed it when the "liberals" on this site have claimed that their comments were either being taken our of context or deliberately misquoted, but after this exchange I don't know what to think.

    --Marc

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  56. When I wrote "She seems to believe (at least, this is how I read her comments) that the bishops were rubbing their hands together and gleefully plotting as to how they could get even more kids molested." I meant plotting in their individual minds, not all together as a group.

    Although there are those out there that believe the whole abuse crisis was orchestrated by the Pope, and that individual bishops were just following his orders. Thankfully I think this opinion is confined to the truly whacko conspiracy-theory nuts out there.

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  57. Joanna,

    I misunderstood. I apologize.

    --Marc

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  58. Here's what puzzles me about the exchange:

    We had this at 1:24PM:

    MaiZeke asked: 2. Would you vote for him again, if you saw pictures or some other undeniable evidence that his wife had an abortion with his knowledge - and also if you know you could still count on him to vote against abortion for his district? If you said no, then why? Do you not trust him any more?

    Leila said: I would not vote for him again. He is either terribly, terribly weak-willed, or else he is a slime ball for supporting his wife (or forcing her) for aborting their child. Nope, he wouldn't get my vote.

    MaiZeke said: Substitue politician and abortion for bishops and moving pedophile priests around, and we have the same situation. Instead of removing bishiops from office, the vatican keeps them around.


    Seems like a set up to be able to bring up the sex scandals. Why was it brought up? I'm not sure.

    What does it prove? Hypocrisy (the topic of the post)? Well, as I said, the bishops who are dissenters from the Church's moral teachings are hypocrites. They profess publicly to believe the Church's teachings, and to uphold them. They make sacred vows to that end. But in reality, certain of them (some now gone) believe in homosexual sex, in contraception, in fornication, in abortion rights in some cases. Those types of bishops are, by strict definition, hypocrites. They pretend, for the world, to believe something, but in reality, they believe the opposite. They are lying.

    Some politicians are like this too. They say one thing to get elected, and yet they are lying. That is hypocrisy.

    But why was the sex scandal, specifically, brought up?

    Anyway, I'm just not ready, as Marc is, to "understand the frustration" of MaiZeke; I'm not sure why she (as an atheist who detests the Church and has said explicitly that she would like to see the world without Catholicism) is so continually "frustrated" about the Church's scandal in the first place? It just seems very important to her to keep bringing it up, no matter the topic at hand.

    I certainly don't mind discussing it, and it was one of the first things I ever wrote about:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/04/thoughts-on-church-sex-scandal-part-one.html

    Part Two follows.

    Anyway, if MaiZeke could speak to her motives in bringing it up, I could better understand and be sympathetic to her frustrations about it.

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  59. Sigh. I'm about to put child #1 to bed, so don't have much time to post.

    In the last few days/weeks we have been talking about whether or not a person who sins is still able to speak the truth. We started that on the arrogant post, I believe. I contended that the people in the hierarchy of the catholic church were arrogant because they thought they could sin and still be held up as valid preachers of the truth. The discussion moved on, and Mary said, really, maybe it isn't arrogant but hypocrisy. So now Leila makes a post about hypocrisy. So I bring it back to what started it, and now I'm invoking Anderson's law? Really?

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  60. MaiZeke, thanks, now I've got the connection. You'll have to forgive me as my head is often scattered in many different directions (both here in my real life, and on the blog) and I tend to let previous discussions go as I move on.

    So, I appreciate the clarification, as now I do better understand!

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  61. Marc says: But I do doubt it was from a motive of pure evil in any case; rather, I think their motives were to instinctively protect their "family." A lot of crimes have been covered up by many individuals for the same reason (Casey Anthony, anyone?). Excusable? No. Understandable? Perhaps.

    Yes, yes, yes. Please have a look at two posts I made on my own blog at the end of last year.

    http://hameno.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/my-thoughts-on-the-church-sex-abuse-scandals-part-1/

    http://hameno.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/my-thoughts-on-the-church-sex-abuse-scandal-part-2/

    I was confused about objective truth, I admit - I was confusing the Church's Truth with Canon Law.

    But, basically, my point is what Marc says above. I really think I was trying to be as charitable towards the bishops as possible. The gist of the two posts was that when priests come into the ministry they are basically family, and the bishops/hierarchy wouldn't basically abandon their brethren to the courts. This is seen as a good thing in most cases.

    What I was arguing in those posts was NOT that the bishops were bad men, I said that they were actually trying to be as good as possible within the rules - rules that said keep your priests like they are your family.

    My point at the time was that these two hardfast rules didn't work well together - rule 1: don't harm children, and rule 2: keep your priest like one of the family. I suggested that perhaps the Church needed to let up on some of its hardfast rules.

    Leila thought I was very confused and misguided. She still thinks I am, I think, but it sounds like Marc might understand my point and might not think I'm confused (even if he does disagree with me).

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  62. Not to necessarily bring this up again, but this statement has me puzzled.

    I contended that the people in the hierarchy of the catholic church were arrogant because they thought they could sin and still be held up as valid preachers of the truth.

    That's a very broad-sweeping, over-generalized statement about the entirety of the Church hierarchy.

    Most orthodox Catholics realize they do sin, but they're not thinking about ways they are able to sin, then actively pursuing those sins and at the same time thinking about ways to proclaim the truth.

    Are there some that do that. I'm sure there are. But to call the entirety of the Catholic Church arrogant, because some Catholics, in or out of the hierarchy, are ignorant at best and deceptively manipulative at worst, is simply trying to find a reason to hate the Church.

    You cannot apply a small minority's actions to the larger group. Especially when the larger groups actions, as a whole, reflect the exact opposite of the behaviors of that minority.

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  63. Leila asks: If you have ever read the lives of the saints (have you?)

    Yes, I have, at least one version of it - it was a gift from my husband (from a used book store). I especially enjoyed how the authors felt they had to identify whether the women were virgins or martyrs. My husband likes to buy these things for me, and enjoys calling me a papist (I was confirmed in to the Catholic church, you may remember). In fact, he keeps threatening to get me the catechism for my birthday at the end of the month. He is the kind of person who would rather spend a Friday night (after the kids are in bed) reading the catechism and talking about it (granted, probably criticizing it) rather than watching a movie.

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  64. And thanks for reminding me of this again. I'll have to make sure to post this any time someone claims that it was the secular psychologists' fault that the bishops moved around the priests:

    [quoted from hameno blog]

    To use the same quote from the Canon Law, Canon 1341 provides that:

    “An ordinary is to take care to initiate a judicial or administrative process to impose or declare penalties only after he has ascertained that fraternal correction or rebuke or other means of pastoral solicitude cannot sufficiently repair the scandal, restore justice, reform the offender.”

    It is not the secular psychologists that wanted to rehabilitate, it was canon law. Canon Law says, try to reform the offender (fraternal correction or pastoral solicitude) BEFORE you impose penalties. This is all in stuff you [leila] provided to me, links of your own.

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  65. MaiZeke, canon law refers to church stuff. Church penalties for church trangressions. I don't believe canon law addresses criminal acts and civil law, etc. Someone smarter than me can elaborate. So, I'm not sure that applies to what we are talking about, with crimes against children?

    And I think that's great about your husband! By the way, I didn't mean The Lives of the Saints as in a single book (although I know there are books like that. I meant the Saints own writings (myriad!), or biographies of saints (meaty, real). Not so much the very basic "facts" and such. Hope that makes sense.

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  66. But I do doubt it was from a motive of pure evil in any case; rather, I think their motives were to instinctively protect their "family." A lot of crimes have been covered up by many individuals for the same reason (Casey Anthony, anyone?). Excusable? No. Understandable? Perhaps.

    Those were my words, MaiZeke, not Marc's just FYI.

    I appreciate your clarification, but I wanted to address this:

    To use the same quote from the Canon Law, Canon 1341 provides that:

    “An ordinary is to take care to initiate a judicial or administrative process to impose or declare penalties only after he has ascertained that fraternal correction or rebuke or other means of pastoral solicitude cannot sufficiently repair the scandal, restore justice, reform the offender.”


    It seems you're misunderstanding Canon Law. Canon Law is the internal ecclesiastical law of the Catholic Church. When it speaks of a "judicial or administrative process," it is NOT referring to secular law (i.e., secular civil or criminal law). It's referring to the judicial and administrative processes that take place within the Church's aegis, not to judicial or administrative processes in a civil government court.

    In other words, criminal and/or civil ramifications are a completely separate entity from Church ramifications. They often are incurred concurrently.

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  67. I'm sorry, I haven't read all the comments yet but this made me laugh:

    "The point of the study is that everyone sins, period. But the highly religious still think of themselves as higher than others."

    I'm sorry, what study is this? In order for an authentic Christian conversion to take place, one must realize our own wretchedness, nothingness and complete and utter dependence on God to grant us grace and make us holy. This constitutes thinking of ourselves as higher than others, for example, those who maybe don't recognize sin or think they don't need a God to be moral? Too funny.

    Manda

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  68. Okay, I haven't actually read the study, yet. I've got no time at the moment. But I'm just speculating that perhaps what the study is showing is that people who tend to classify themselves as religious, or very religious are more likely to not find themselves in a wallowing drought of self-pity (nor do they find themselves responding, "well this behavior is wrong, but since everyone's doing it, I'm okay with it too"), but they have hope that God will lead them out of their sin and away from their desires, ...and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

    Therefore, even though, "the religious sort" acknowledge their sinful behavior they also feel hope and are strengthen by the Grace of God to attempt to get past their sinful behavior.

    Consequently, (and this may be MaiZeke's point and the point of the study), is that because they have the strength and grace of God to work past their sinful behavior, they (an admittedly wrong approach) pity those of little or no religious influence and feel sorry for them because they either don't have or or not willing to seek out the help from God needed to effectively give up their sins. Thus resulting in a, perceived and sometimes implied, "You poor thing, if you would just believe in God, like I do, it would be better" attitude from/toward those with little to no religious influence.

    Just a thought...

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  69. Bethany, I haven't read the study either (because it's not really about "hypocrisy" and generally I don't read studies due to time restraints), but here is a thought, too:

    Before I was religious, I was sinning a LOT more than I am now. The reason I am sinning a lot less now is because I turned to God. So, it's entirely feasible that if the average religious person, who has turned from a life of sin, is asked whether he sins less than his secular counterparts, he would answer "yes". Based on his very real personal situation of "before" and "after".

    Just a thought.

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  70. Ha ha, didn't mean to use "just a thought" to imitate you!

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  71. *laughs* That's funny.

    No I agree with you, Leila. I think people who genuinely turn to God do sin, on the whole, less than the average person who rejects God and objective morality.

    But I think, if my interpretation of what MaiZeke is questioning is correct, I can see where she's coming from. Even being an orthodox Catholic, I've come across several people who, I won't say ignore their own sins, but are more than happy to point out the sins of those around them and tell them, in not so charitable terms, that they will "burn in hell" if they don't "change their ways, and seek God."

    Some may be honestly trying to help and simply don't know how.

    Others, however, I think do portray an attitude of "Na, na, na, na, na, I have God and you don't, so you're much worse than me." Now that doesn't mean this really IS their attitude, but it is often easily inferred by those they're speaking with.

    I have indeed met some Catholics like this, though I've more often found them in the Fundamentalist Evangelical arena (and again not saying all Fundamentalist Evangelicals are like this).

    Does that make sense? (I know I always ask this, but I usually don't make a lot of sense, I ramble, A LOT)

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  72. Bethany, I completely agree with you. You are right, and that is why (just in general) a study of how people feel and perceive themselves and others would be somewhat subjective and hard to consider as indicative of anything other than, well, subjective feelings and perceptions (based on so many interior and experiential factors that can't necessarily be known).

    But then again, I am not an expert on designing, giving or taking studies. :)

    I don't think you ramble, by the way! I find you very lucid!

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  73. I was just checking this thread, and this struck me,

    Katie said: I would say that the one thing that has changed the most since I embraced Jesus as God and his Church as my own is that I see people differently. I see the struggles that people have and that allows me to be kinder than I would have before."

    I think this is one of the most important aspects of the teachings of Jesus, if not THE POINT entirely. Thanks Katie!

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  74. Hypocracy and self-righteousness both stem from the greatest sin: pride. It's not sinning that condemns someone a hypocrite, as much as it is the pride they exhibit.

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  75. MaiZeke quoted Canon Law:
    To use the same quote from the Canon Law, Canon 1341 provides that [and this quote is from the Canon Law]:

    “An ordinary is to take care to initiate a judicial or administrative process to impose or declare penalties only after he has ascertained that fraternal correction or rebuke or other means of pastoral solicitude cannot sufficiently repair the scandal, restore justice, reform the offender.”


    To which JoAnna replies:

    It seems you're misunderstanding Canon Law. Canon Law is the internal ecclesiastical law of the Catholic Church. When it speaks of a "judicial or administrative process," it is NOT referring to secular law (i.e., secular civil or criminal law). It's referring to the judicial and administrative processes that take place within the Church's aegis, not to judicial or administrative processes in a civil government court.

    In other words, criminal and/or civil ramifications are a completely separate entity from Church ramifications. They often are incurred concurrently.


    So, the quote I took was from canon law, wholly under the jurisdiction of the church. It states clearly that even the church trial should not be started if they can reform the priest first. The priest will never stand before even a church judge then. So the point of my post, even though I jumped from reforming directly to civil law/police, still stands. It appears that the path would be reform, church trial, report to civil authorities/civil trial.

    As far as your assertion that civil and canonical trials are incurred concurrently, need I remind you about the recent Cloyne report from Ireland? In section 1.18 of said report (http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0713/cloyne_report.pdf), the Vatican advised the bishops to do exactly the opposite - wait until the canon law procedures were followed before reporting to civil authorities.

    Even without the evidence of the Vatican operating outside of the law in Ireland, there are plenty of examples in the US of such operations.

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  76. The priest will never stand before even a church judge then.

    Not necessarily. If the priest actively refuses to go through the recommended steps, he could be laicized and excommunicated. That's a judicial process within the Church.

    You're trying to compare Church law to civil law and they're two really different animals. I recommend Ed Peters' blog at canonlaw.info -- he's one of the foremost canon lawyers in the Church today. If I have time I'll hunt around and see if I can find some relevant articles that explain the situation in more detail (unless someone else can jump in and do so).

    need I remind you about the recent Cloyne report from Ireland? In section 1.18 of said report (http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0713/cloyne_report.pdf), the Vatican advised the bishops to do exactly the opposite - wait until the canon law procedures were followed before reporting to civil authorities.

    And need I remind you that I have already addressed this? The secular news outlets who reported this "fact" were reporting a blatant lie. See this excellent article by Jimmy Akin explaining how the NYT and other news outlets deliberately misread a Church document in order to form and report this erroneous conclusion. It's yellow journalism at its worst.

    An excerpt from Akin's article:

    And she is wrong when she says that the letter states that “the bishops must handle all accusations through internal church channels,” as opposed (presumably) to reporting predators to the police. But the document says nothing of the kind. There is nothing in the document saying that a bishop must keep information about predators secret. What the Congregation objected to was mandatory reporting. One can think what one likes about the wisdom of mandatory reporting, but there is a big difference between saying, “You must keep all cases of this from the eyes of the police on pain of Vatican retaliation” and saying, “Hey, maybe there needs to be some discretion exercised and it shouldn’t be automatic reporting.”

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  77. JoAnna quotes the defenders of the Vatican: “Hey, maybe there needs to be some discretion exercised and it shouldn’t be automatic reporting.”

    Well, I guess this is the point where you and I disagree. Leila was talking about this a few posts ago, as well. Leila's point seemed to be: "Zero tolerance will ruin a few priests' reputations!"

    I pointed out that the 2002 zero tolerance policy talks about credibly accused priests -- not simply accused. Again, like I said on the last post in response to Leila, I think it important to err on the side of protecting children, the real innocents in these cases.

    It is the "discretion" that you are talking about that caused this mess in the first place. Bishops used their "discrection" to "rehabilitate" pedophile priests and send them to parishes anew.

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  78. MaiZeke, please read the entire article. Akin goes on to explain some of the concerns in more detail:

    So the Congregation for Clergy is saying, “We’ve got reservations about the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ on moral and canonical grounds.” That’s an expression of concern. It’s a cautionary statement, but it is not an order. It’s telling the Irish bishops about an issue that could come up down the road. And how unreasonable is the concern expressed? An overzealous application of a mandatory reporting policy could result in entirely innocent people being put through the wringer and having their reputations and livelihood destroyed.

    Would that be moral? Would you like to be on the receiving end of a policy like that? It is easy to see how one might have moral concerns about automatic reporting policies and want to make sure that there are appropriate safeguards to keep innocent people from having their lives destroyed.

    It also is easy to see how such a policy could fall afoul of canon law, which contains provisions protecting an individual’s right to his good reputation. An overzealous application of a mandatory reporting policy could unjustly deprive innocent people of their reputation—and more.

    And these moral and canonical concerns don’t just apply to priests. Think about the repercussions of a mandatory reporting policy for the victims!

    It has been a common experience in years past for people to come to Church authorities to warn them about the behavior of a particular priest but only on condition of confidentiality. They don’t want to get involved with the authorities. They don’t want to be hauled into court and put on the witness stand and forced to relive horrible things that were done to them under cross examination. They don’t want to come to the attention of the media and have their private sexual trauma exposed for the whole world to see.

    But a mandatory reporting policy would prevent Church authorities from giving these people the assurances of confidentiality that they seek. It thus could deter them from reporting predators and result in more sexual predation.


    Also, I notice you didn't address the yellow journalism employed by the NYT and other news outlets. Will you concede that the document in question was not issuing any sort of edict or order that "forced" clergy not to report child abuse to the authorities?

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  79. JoAnna quotes the defenders of the Vatican: “Hey, maybe there needs to be some discretion exercised and it shouldn’t be automatic reporting.”


    Well, I guess this is the point where you and I disagree.


    The funny thing is, MaiZeke, the Church is not the only one who errs on the side of discretion:

    Why are clinicians reluctant to report cases in which they suspect that abuse might have occurred? Studies have shown that abuse that is recent or ongoing, that is of greater severity, that involves younger victims, and about which the mental health professional feels more certain has a greater likelihood of being reported (11). On the other hand, cases are less likely to be reported if clinicians believe that an intervention will do more harm than good (12). Thus mental health professionals insist on exercising some degree of discretion in decisions to report, shying away in particular from cases in which some doubt exists about the occurrence of abuse.

    -from Law & Psychiatry: Child Abuse Reporting Laws: Time for Reform?
    Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D.

    at http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/50/1/27

    I encourage you to read the whole article, and it's from '99.

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  80. This, from the article defending the Vatican's actions, so that priests would be protected, also about the children: Think about the repercussions of a mandatory reporting policy for the victims!

    Hm - you are using the word "victims", not "alleged accusers". It appears to me that you are saying, even when the child is a victim, sometimes it is good not to report. I will remind you that is possible for children to provide testimony without actually being on the stand. And some cases may be settled without going to court, with the accused admitting guilt.

    The study you quote doesn't quite say that people shouldn't report for victims. It says: Thus mental health professionals insist on exercising some degree of discretion in decisions to report, shying away in particular from cases in which some doubt exists about the occurrence of abuse.

    The study says clearly that they should be careful when there is some doubt, not when they want to spare the victim from a court case.

    I have to say, JoAnna, and to all others here who continue to push for confidentiality in sex abuse cases involving priests and children under their pastoral care, that I am morally outraged by this line of argument.

    And this: But a mandatory reporting policy would prevent Church authorities from giving these people the assurances of confidentiality that they seek. It thus could deter them from reporting predators and result in more sexual predation.

    I'm sorry, JoAnna, but I can hardly believe that you put this forward with a straight face.

    To use your public school analogy again, what would you do if a student in your child's class told the principal that the teacher abused him/her, and then the principal said to the student, OK, it won't happen again, but to protect the student, let's keep it quiet. And then put the teacher back in your child's class?

    Or another case - where the teacher had a credible case of abusing a child, but the principal did not want to ruin the teacher's reputation, so the teacher was free to go find another job, somewhere. Since this was not reported to the civil authorities to protect the victim, a background check on the teacher would do no good - and that teacher is now teaching your child?

    OK, let me ask this. How would you suggest to change the way the church operates so that the decades of abuse actually stop? Because what you are saying now, above, is what allowed those decades of abuse to happen.

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  81. Bethany and JoAnna, thank you! It prompts me to ask MaiZeke the question: What would a just system look like for any institution? How would it work? I assume the guidelines should be the same for any organization, so I am interested in what that would look like in general. I am 100% in favor of protecting children from all harm, and also making sure that those who are falsely accused do not have ruined lives.

    How do we balance those two concerns? I'm sincerely asking.

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  82. " How would you suggest to change the way the church operates so that the decades of abuse actually stop? "

    MaiZeke, surely you are away that the Church had changed the way it operates, and that the new cases of abuse are almost nil? Most of the cases still being reported are decades-old. What should the Church do know that she has not already done?

    I am morally outraged, too, whenever children are harmed in any way. As a mother of eight, I would like to throttle anyone who would harm a child. My moral outrage extends back a bit further, as well, to the 53 million children shredded, legally, in their mothers' wombs and discarded like garbage before anyone even knows their names. That is a moral outrage as well. How about we team together and fight all crimes against children? I am willing. Are you?

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  83. Whoops, I meant "has" changed the way it operates…. Sorry!

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  84. Just for the record...I think it was entirely appropriate to bring up the sex scandal under this heading. I don't think MaiZeke was overreaching.

    I also thought MaiZeke's contribution of that study on sinning was good, but JoAnna's point about how they went about deciding how religious someone was before the study commenced was good...but I think a good questionnaire, formulated with trained psychologists (good questionnaires can be constructed to check for people who are trying to dissemble).

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  85. Maizeke,
    Maybe this was covered, but some atheists I know would not ever use the word "sin". They would maybe use the words "being selfish", but I was interested in your understanding of that word.

    P.S. Leila, I would consider the refusal to recycle (where programs exist) as sinning. It is selfish to needlessly pollute.

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  86. Sorry, MaiZeke, your moral outrage falls flat given that you support the death and dismemberment of innocent unborn children. I believe it's wrong to abuse and/or kill children regardless of their location (in or out of the womb).

    You never did answer - will you concede that the document in question was not issuing any sort of edict or order that "forced" clergy not to report child abuse to the authorities?

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  87. MaiZeke, surely you are away that the Church had changed the way it operates, and that the new cases of abuse are almost nil? Most of the cases still being reported are decades-old.

    You mean like the 37 priests in Philadelphia that were still serving in active ministry who had credible accusations against them, in 2011?

    Or the bishop in Kansas City who ignored warnings about a pedophile priest in 2006, and the priest was allowed to continue photographing a young girl until 2010?

    This is zero tolerance?

    Also, I asked what the Church should do, and Leila seems to be saying that what they are doing is enough. I think it is quite telling that nobody here thinks that the church is doing anything wrong, or could improve on anything they are doing.

    BTW, I think one of my posts is stuck in spam.

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  88. MaiZeke, of course there can be improvements! The Church has been addressing this issue for years now, and I don't see it stopping. You can believe the stuff we go through in this diocese. I cannot answer for what happened in Philly, but my understanding is that the reason there weren't charges was because the incidents were past the statute of limitations. Which was my point… There are very few cases of ongoing abuse today. The vast majority are allegations from decades ago. This does not make any current cases of abuse less horrendous! That is not what I am saying. I am saying that of all the institutions addressing its problems of child abuse, the Church is working very hard to get it right.

    Will it ever eradicate every last predator from its midst? Never, because no institution can. There is no sin-free, perfect organization in this world. But the Church has learned a terrible lesson, and she is working to purify her ranks and make amends for the damage caused (while trying to protect innocent priests from false accusations and a ruined life). Not easy!

    Will you address the other points made and the questions asked?

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  89. This is a telling post from JoAnna. It comes back to the hypocrisy theme.

    Sorry, MaiZeke, your moral outrage falls flat given that you support the death and dismemberment of innocent unborn children. I believe it's wrong to abuse and/or kill children regardless of their location (in or out of the womb).

    It seems to me that what JoAnna is saying is that she is better than me. That she alone can decide all that is moral and what is not moral, because she has decided an unrelated moral issue a certain way. So because I support the rights of women to decide what their body is used for, somehow I am not CAPABLE of concern for the children of our society. That is rich, JoAnna.

    JoAnna also asks: You never did answer - will you concede that the document in question was not issuing any sort of edict or order that "forced" clergy not to report child abuse to the authorities?

    The Vatican provided support to bishops who did not wish to follow the reporting guidelines -- and said that bishops who do follow the guidelines may be embarrassed if they do. That is not forcing, I agree. But I never used that word, you did.

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  90. Leila said that no institution can eliminate the sin of it's workers. This is an interesting point to bring up, as I do think that many secular folk expect that the Church will be totally free from the sins they hold to be most serious. Of course it is ridiculous that any human institution can be totally free of any issue, but I think their outrage is not totally off-base.

    People bring up the abuse known to occur in schools and by coaches. I abhor such transgressions, but I do think it is of a different character in some respects.

    You see, priests work for the Catholic Church that claims to be the highest moral authority for the world. Priests are to be teaching our children positive morals, including chastity and honesty etc. When they fail in those very areas it comes off as a slap in the face.

    If a coach is found to be lazy and or cheating, or a school teacher found to help students cheat, I would say those would be commensurate. Or if a judge was found to take bribes, or a lawmaker or member of the executive branch (Zoe Baird comes to mind) who brazenly skirts the law.

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  91. ...I support the rights of women to decide what their body is used for...

    MaiZeke, what is a pregnant woman's body used for?

    Thanks!

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  92. It seems to me that what JoAnna is saying is that she is better than me.

    In all sincerity, MaiZeke, I did not read that into JoAnna's statement at all.

    That she alone can decide all that is moral and what is not moral, because she has decided an unrelated moral issue a certain way.

    She does not decide what is moral or not moral. All child abuse, all killing of the innocent, is wrong.

    It's not an unrelated issue, because we are talking about child abuse. Abortion is the ultimate child abuse. What is more abusive than the shredding and dismembering of innocents while still nestled safely in their mothers' wombs?

    Help me understand how abortion is unrelated to child abuse.

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  93. She does not decide what is moral or not moral.

    Well, then perhaps she should not have brought my stand on women's rights into the issue. In that case, if she is not deciding what is moral and immoral (and by corollary neither am I), she should merely have replied, "Allowing Catholic bishops to have discretion in whether or not to report priest child abuse to the authorities is moral." If she cared to, she can add on "As decided by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the depository of all moral truth."

    Why bring my other "sins" into it? What does that have to do with anything? This is an ad hominem attack, Leila. As if the truth or falsity of the argument about the actions of the bishops being immoral rests on what kind of person *I* am. You all spent an inordinate amount of time a week ago arguing the same for the priests. Do not listen to my exhortations if you like, as we are not listening to the church, but that is not a reason to say that the argument is incorrect.

    All child abuse, all killing of the innocent, is wrong.

    Help me understand how abortion is unrelated to child abuse.


    Abortion involves only one person: the woman. The embryo or fetus is not a person, so it is not a child. Child abuse, by definition, involves a living breathing child.

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  94. MaiZeke - I didn't bring "women's rights" into it. I brought up the fact that you somehow have no cognitive dissonance with simultaneously opposing child abuse while supporting the murder and dismemberment of unborn children.

    See, I opposed BOTH. So when you profess moral outrage over child abuse but openly and proudly support the murder and dismemberment of unborn children, your outrage rings hollow.

    I'm not saying I'm more moral that you are. I don't know your heart and mind so I wouldn't presume to make that judgement. I'm just saying I don't understand how you can live with that cognitive dissonance.

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  95. Abortion involves only one person: the woman.

    Then why does something have to be killed?

    You say children have to be living and "breathing". I say the child who exists, lives, and grows is a human.

    Why do you deny humanity to the unborn?

    Were you ever in your mother's womb? Were you alive then? Were you the same as your mom, or were you different?

    The only reason someone would refuse humanity to another is so that they can have permission to harm them.

    I wrote about that here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/06/sliding-scale-of-personhood-license-to.html

    Don't you want to deny the humanity of the unborn so that a woman can legally "get rid of" that unborn child? What other reason would anyone have to deny the humanity of the unborn?

    Do you know that pregnant women are considered "mothers" in the medical lexicon? "Maternal-fetal" medicine, anyone? So, if there is no child, how can there be a mother? If there is only "one person" involved in abortion, then who is she a "mother" to?

    If there is only "one person" in an abortion, then whose arms, legs, trunk and head does the abortionist have to piece together when the abortion is over? Whose limbs are those? Whose face?

    Only one person?

    You have told me before that you are uncomfortable with late-term abortions. Why? If there is "only one person" in a late term abortion, then why are you uncomfortable?

    Abortion is about "women's rights" and not child abuse? That is wrong. Someone has to speak for the 53 million dead babies. If you will not do it, then I will. Those were human beings, and they were killed. They were the other person in the abortion. I will not allow anyone to deny their existence, not on this blog and not in my real life.

    They existed and they were killed because they were paid to be killed.

    It's as much child abuse as any other form.

    I am against ALL forms of child abuse.

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  96. How is it ad hominem to say that we oppose child abuse against all children, born and unborn?

    You said you oppose child abuse against born children. We agree with you. We also say that if you kill that same child one minute before he is born, we oppose that abuse, too. We oppose ALL child abuse.

    How is stating that an ad hominem attack in any way? I am seriously confused.

    Also, if you want to come back to the issue at hand, what system would you propose to protect children and falsely accused priests? Offer a solution; I'm listening.

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  97. As if the truth or falsity of the argument about the actions of the bishops being immoral rests on what kind of person *I* am. You all spent an inordinate amount of time a week ago arguing the same for the priests. Do not listen to my exhortations if you like, as we are not listening to the church, but that is not a reason to say that the argument is incorrect.

    Nobody is saying you are incorrect in your argument that children should not be abused, and that we should do whatever can be done to protect them. We are all in agreement, MaiZeke, I promise you that. So, there is no ad hominem here.

    We just want to point out to you that it's inconsistent to be against some child abuse, but then be okay with the killing of 53 million other children who have no protection from their abusers at all. I hope you can see. We just want you on our side, and on the side of all the children who need protection and love.

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  98. Abortion involves only one person: the woman. The embryo or fetus is not a person, so it is not a child.

    Seriously, MaiZeke?!?!?!?!?! Nearly EVERY respected medical and scientific researcher in the last 20 years has defined the moment of conception as the beginning of life.

    If an embryo or fetus is NOT a human being, then what exactly is it?

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  99. Yeah, I'm trying to figure out how the 19w3d baby I saw on the ultrasound screen yesterday is not a human being.

    Am I pregnant with a puppy? The ultrasound tech assured us s/he was a human being, and identified all relevant body parts as human as well... s/he has a developed and functioning brain, heart, kidneys, bladder, arms and legs, eyes, nose, etc.

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  100. I've never understood how any one group of humans has the right to define the humanity (thus the disposability) of another group of humans.

    "Embryos and fetuses are not people." Statement of fact based on... opinion?

    Because Person A declares that Person B is not a person, that makes it so? Declaring someone a non-person makes it so? Truly? That's all it takes? A declaration of opinion? And suddenly a class of humans is declared non-persons?

    I can think of a few groups in history who have decided that other groups are "less than persons" and the outcome for the second group had not been so good.

    I.just.don't.get.it.

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  101. See all of the other numerous posts about abortion here for my take on the topic.

    Since we are now moving on to questioning the others' character (how is this not ad hominem?), vis a vis:

    I brought up the fact that you somehow have no cognitive dissonance with simultaneously opposing child abuse while supporting the murder and dismemberment of unborn children.

    See, I opposed BOTH.


    Above, read (from JoAnna): You don't think properly. I do.

    You oppose child abuse, certainly. However, you do support allowing bishops to use their discretion to protect abusers over their victims -- which allows abusers to continue to abuse. You just wish they wouldn't continue to abuse, and call the ones who do "sinners". If you really opposed child abuse, I suggest that you would support a stand of outing the abusers, and making sure that they cannot abuse again.

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  102. I heard a pro-choice person say an embryo doesn't look like a baby to which I responded a baby doesn't look like he/she will at 45 yrs old either. To which they responded that the embryo is not a fully developed human being. I retorted neither is the baby.

    I don't get it either Leila

    Vuyo

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  103. If you really opposed child abuse, I suggest that you would support a stand of outing the abusers,

    Most (I think like over 90%) have been "outed", that is to say, they are no longer in positions that will allow them to continue the abuse. The Church starting doing this LONG before the sex scandal broke. Which is why you have a dramatic decrease (more dramatic than the original increase) in child abuse cases from the '80's onward.

    you do support allowing bishops to use their discretion to protect abusers over their victims

    And no! We support allowing the bishops to use their discretion, and the resources available to them (which were different resources 40 years ago), to make sure that the ACTUAL abusers are meeting justice, and not whichever priest is being accused by those who are "playing the victim" (and there are many who do that).

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  104. I suggest that you would support a stand of outing the abusers, and making sure that they cannot abuse again.

    Great, we agree! That was easy.

    But, you didn't answer the second half of the problem: What system would you propose for protecting innocent priests from false accusations and ruined lives?

    Thanks!

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  105. MaiZeke, I've always wanted to ask someone this question:

    If you don't believe there is a person in a pregnant woman's body, then did you not love your children before they were born? If so, what did you love? A piece of tissue? How did you relate to the non-person in your womb?

    What will you tell your children when you show them your ultrasound photos of them? "That wasn't you in there, but it was an indication that there would be a person at some point, much later. You didn't really exist as a human, but whatever that was in there was something we wanted to examine. Thankfully, later you came along."

    I am seriously wondering how you can love your unborn child (oops, not a child, sorry…your "non-person"), and how you will explain your thoughts on their former non-personhood to your own children one day.

    Thanks!

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  106. Above, read (from JoAnna): You don't think properly. I do.

    No, MaiZeke. You're reading entirely too much into that. I mean exactly what I said: I don't understand how you can maintain the cognitive dissonance involved with simultaneously opposing child abuse and supporting the dismemberment and murder of unborn children. No more, no less.

    You oppose child abuse, certainly. However, you do support allowing bishops to use their discretion to protect abusers over their victims

    Actually, no, I don't.

    You just wish they wouldn't continue to abuse, and call the ones who do "sinners".


    I also support any and all child abusers, as well as the ones who cover up any and all abuse, being investigated and, if found guilty by due process, prosecuted to the fullest extent of civil and Church law.

    If you really opposed child abuse, I suggest that you would support a stand of outing the abusers, and making sure that they cannot abuse again.

    Absolutely! I support this 100%. We just disagree on the right way to go about it.

    What I oppose is automatically throwing Fr. Smith in jail if he should accidentally bumps into 9-year-old Susie Parishoner in the hallway. Under a "zero tolerance" policy, however, that's exactly what could happen.

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  107. Ok...not wanting to feed into the tangents too much as I have been chastised before, but in some defense of MaiZeke, I do think there is a considerable difference between this: http://3dpregnancy.parentsconnect.com/calendar/6-weeks-pregnant.html and the fetus depicted here http://3dpregnancy.parentsconnect.com/calendar/22-weeks-pregnant.html

    Now, I myself am not entirely sure of when "ensoulment" takes place, or even if it does etc....but as I explained once to Leila, I "err on the side" of thinking the early fetus is a person. But, I do think it is a graver sin to kill a 22 week old fetus...and I think it is more morally odd to think it is OK to do so. Therefore, I can understand the reasoning of someone who says they are OK with abortion before there is a heartbeat or brainwaves, but I cannot understand the reasoning of someone like George Tiller.

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  108. Mary - I think there is a considerable difference between this: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/339/elanorbirth3oy.jpg/ and this: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/802/elanor2010.jpg/. However, it doesn't change the fact that she is still a human being, and the same person, even when she was this: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/74/9wkultrasoundqe6.jpg/

    The main difference between an embryo and a fetus, or a fetus and a newborn, or a newborn and a 6-year-old, is that they are living, growing human beings in different stages of development.

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  109. I am not going to debate abortion here.

    I'm so glad we are all back on topic.

    JoAnna says: What I oppose is automatically throwing Fr. Smith in jail if he should accidentally bumps into 9-year-old Susie Parishoner in the hallway. Under a "zero tolerance" policy, however, that's exactly what could happen.

    Everywhere I have read about zero tolerance from 2002 does not mean unsubstantiated. It means zero tolerance for credible accusations. JoAnna above even quoted some stuff saying maybe we shouldn't report even those cases that we KNOW something happened, to "protect" the children from having to testify.

    It was after I questioned THAT shocking line of argument that she started telling me that I have cognitive dissonance (an ad hominem attack, still) and started to argue about abortion instead.

    If you can find the source to the 2002 bishop's report which describes zero tolerance as any accusuation, credible or not, then I will stand corrected. But from what I read and can find, it always says credible accusations.

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  110. I am not going to debate abortion here.

    I understand. If I supported the dismemberment and murder of unborn children, I wouldn't want to talk about it either.

    Everywhere I have read about zero tolerance from 2002 does not mean unsubstantiated. It means zero tolerance for credible accusations.

    And what, in your view (or anyone's view) is a "credible accusation"? I thought your view was that ANY accusation, no matter how farfetched, ought to be taken seriously and fully investigated, even if it means throwing an innocent man in jail for a couple months.

    JoAnna above even quoted some stuff saying maybe we shouldn't report even those cases that we KNOW something happened, to "protect" the children from having to testify.

    Actually, no, that's not what it said at all. It said that there should not be a policy in which confidentiality could not be respected in case the victim did not want their name and situation splashed all over the media -- such as this victim, who had requested confidentiality and was deeply upset when it was breached.

    If you can find the source to the 2002 bishop's report which describes zero tolerance as any accusuation, credible or not, then I will stand corrected.

    All right. In the article by Akin I've previously posted, it says the following was the SUGGESTED reporting policy (this is a section the advisory group was concerned about):

    "2.2.1 In all instances where it is known or suspected that a child has been, or is being, sexually abused by a priest or religious the matter should be reported to the civil authorities. Where the suspicion or knowledge results from the complaint of an adult of abuse during his or her childhood, this should also be reported to the civil authorities."

    I don't see anything about a "credible accusation" in there, do you?

    Might I suggest reading the ENTIRE article next time?

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  111. MaiZeke, too bad you won't address the abortion issue. I understand why you don't want to. I wouldn't either. However, the questions I asked really do beg for an answer. I just can't wrap my mind around the idea that it's okay to shred a child in the womb, or that a child isn't even in the womb. You've been pregnant, and you know better.

    Mary, any assignment of "personhood" after conception is simply arbitrary, based on appearances, size, location, abilities or convenience. If we start deciding personhood on any of those factors, we are all in trouble.

    Bottom line, no human being gets value only after passing a litmus test. Human beings are valuable simple because they exist.

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  112. JoAnna,
    I get your point, but do you get mine? That it is not beyond the shade of pale to question whether a fetus with gill slits, a tail and no heartbeat is actually a person? I think that very conscionable folk actually do think about this quite deeply. Therefore, (although I don't know where Maizeke stands in terms of how liberal she thinks abortion laws should be) I think it is rather course to think she has no ground to stand on when trying to discern the morality of certain types of treatment of children.

    Let's say she has thought about abortion for quite some time and weighed the issues, and she has come down on the side of being OK only with the morning after pill, as she thinks it is OK to prevent the implantation of a blastula, but not intervene in a pregnancy after implantation.

    Would you not respect that view as slightly more morally defensible than the view of a person who thought it permissible to abort a 25 week old fetus for the mental health of the mother, say?
    For me, that answer is clear. I would certainly sense that the person who holds the first view was more reasoned and understanding than the second.

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  113. It depends, Mary, on the criteria upon which humanity and/or personhood exists. That's the real question. Appearance is irrelevant. If someone is badly disfigured in a fire, I don't get to decide that he's not a person anymore because he doesn't look like one.

    I agree there are different degrees of evil when it comes to the abortion debate, or the views of its proponents. However, if I'm not mistaken, MaiZeke believes abortion is perfectly acceptable at least until the second trimester, which means she would have been perfectly okay with, say, this baby (my oldest daughter at 9w6d) being dismembered and murdered in my womb should I have chosen to have her killed.

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  114. MaiZeke can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe she is of the position that no child is a person until birth. So, even though she is troubled by late term abortions, she is not strictly against them.

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  115. MaiZeke can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe she is of the position that no child is a person until birth. So, even though she is troubled by late term abortions, she is not strictly against them.

    Which is disturbing on so many levels to me. Especially since my first child was born at 34 1/2 weeks and yet, a child at 37 weeks in utero could be killed and dismantled. Never mind the fact that the 37 week child in utero would actually be MORE developed than my 5lb 4oz scrawny little man was.

    He just turned 10 now, is nearly 5ft tall and is already heading into his teenage years with his attitude.

    And for those that would say, "But it's for the sake of the life of the mother."

    I respond,
    "And, why do you think my child was born at 34 1/2 weeks? Or for that matter why I had been in the hospital for a week before he was born?"

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  116. Thank you, thank you, thank you! When I have heard others accuse Christians of being hypocrites, I have also felt that their labels were not accurate. Now it will be much easier for me to offer that possibly they are just noticing that Christians are 'sinners.'

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