i was the first to post Elsewhere about the Pa AG report. The response to my etic criticisms from Catholics, who originally themselves expressed shock, horror, and desire for revenge and punishment, morphed into “Priests aren’t the only molesters, y’know!”, “It would be nice if you were at least respectful of the good the Church has done in the world.”, “What about the public schools?”
So then, I reviewed the history of anti-clericalism. England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and omg Mexico!
And it seems to me very possible, in light of emic responses I’ve seen just in the past few days, that the the present opprobrium against priests will eventually take its place in history as just another instance of The War on Religion, or rather, the war on the only religion which has a worldwide hierarchy that actually could, theoretically, threaten secular order and individual governments.
Hysteria involving child molestation, sexual or in connection with (incredibly!) witchcraft and Satanism, has been rampant in the late 20-early 21 centuries. It is a free-floating anxiety looking for a place to settle. It’s bound up with feelings of guilt toward “the helpless” which often results in tortuously extracting quite unbelievable, fantastic accounts out of children unlucky enough to have been parked at the latest daycare center or Sunday school upon which suspicion has lit. No matter what the kids say in their desire to get away from their solemn interlocutors and back to the sandbox, it is interpreted as a description of abuse, and the more fantastic the kids’ scenarios, the more damning the proof of psychological trauma .
Generations from now, when the instant accusations of priestly abuse are seen against the full panoply of this backdrop from a historical,perspective, people may begin asking, not why clerics engaged in these practuces, but instead, why clerics were targeted when these practices were so widespread outside the church in society at large.
Because I have no doubt the Catholic commentators are right: the Church has existed for 2000 years! It will survive! “This too shall pass!”
I still think the only sane thing for anyone to do at the present time is cease gratuitously exposing their children to any possibility of molestation by priests–yes, even though priests are not the only perpetrators .
But taking the long view, I have to entertain the possibility that History’s judgment will difffer.
Because they do say, don’t they, that history is written by the victors?