As every year, Vicar of Christ and lightning enthusiast Pope Benedict delivered his Christmas address to a crowd of thousands of genuflecting fanboys this past December 25th. In addition to the expected rhetoric about peace, championing of the struggles of repressed Christians, and shout-outs to his homies aus den Hood, the Pontiff made controversial remarks about pedophilia.
The Pope, as most celibate and therefore highest authority on all sexual matters, determines policy and stance toward the molestation scandal but rarely comments directly. As if channeling his own South Park parody, the Pontiff said that pedophilia was normal back in the 70's and not considered "evil" and that nothing was. A quick look around the blogosphere registered the secular internet's outrage:
Belfast Telegraph: Pope’s child porn 'normal' claim sparks outrage among victims
Sott.net: Vatican Christmas Shocker! Pope says child rape isn't that bad, was normal back in his day
Chron.com: Sinead O'Connor demands answers over Pope's child abuse comments
Sott.net quoted the speech as follows: "In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children," the Pope said. "It was maintained - even within the realm of Catholic theology - that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a 'better than' and a 'worse than'. Nothing is good or bad in itself."
This all sounds pretty monstrous and the anger is understandable, right?
The Pope is most definitely not defending or even equivocating about child molestation. The quotes are cherry picked. According to Reuters his message, "called for Catholics to do everything in their power to end the suffering of abused children. Let us think of those chidlren who are victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse and thus are traumatized to the depth of their soul." Here is the Reuter's news clip.
The Pope cites moral relativism as a cause of the problem, not a justification for it. This is wrongheaded of course. The rest of the world outside the church is always to blame for the Vatican's problems somehow, and here he blames secularism. He isn't strictly wrong about the relativism. Starting in the 40's, if not earlier, the idea that ethical values are arbitrary cultural bric a brac indeed gained significant popularity. This kind of relativism can't really be found anymore, not even on a liberal campus such as ours. This notwithstanding, the very notion that religious authority will correct our depraved secular culture is about as wrong as it gets. It has always been secularizing culture that has stemmed the abuse and privations of tyrants, religious and otherwise.
It's the tone of the response that bothers me. It is disturbing when the people who pride themselves on their literacy, IQ, and critical thinking skills forsake them so completely over an opportunity to bash a sinister foe. Intelligence and education should be tools to make tomorrow brighter, but without honesty and vigilance, they're just blunt weapons to service your hostility.