There’s a perception out there this holy week. A perception that Catholic blood is in the water.
Elizabeth Lev provides some much needed shark repellent:
After the National Assembly diminished the authority of Louis XVI in 1789, anti-monarchical literature dwindled, but fierce accusations against Catholic clergy for misdeeds past and present increased. Isolated cases of clerical immorality were magnified to make depravity appear endemic to the entire priesthood (ironically, in an age where sexual libertinism was running rampant). The French propagandists labored night and day, dredging the past for old scandals whether decades or even centuries distant.In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790, Burke, a Protestant, asked the French, “From the general style of late publications of all sorts, one would be led to believe that your clergy in France were a sort of monsters, a horrible composition of superstition, ignorance, sloth, fraud, avarice and tyranny. But is this true?”What would Edmund Burke make of the headlines of the past few weeks, as stories of a clerical sex abuser in Germany a quarter century ago, made front page headlines and top TV stories in US news? What would he think of the insistent attempts to tie this sex abuser to the Roman pontiff himself through the most tenuous of links?In 1790, Burke answered his own question with these words: “It is not with much credulity I listen to any when they speak evil of those whom they are going to plunder. I rather suspect that vices are feigned or exaggerated when profit is looked for in their punishment.” As he wrote these words, the French revolutionaries were readying for the mass confiscation of Church lands.As the present sales of church property to pay settlements swell the coffers of contingent-fee lawyers and real estate speculators, one has to credit Burke for a profound and historical sense of human nature.The salacious reporting on clerical sex abuse ( as if it were limited to only Roman Catholic clergy) has been given a prominence greater than the massacres of Christians happening right now in India and Iraq. Moreover, the term “clerical sex abuse” is often misleadingly equated with “pedophilia” to whip up even more public outrage. It doesn’t take the political acumen of an Edmund Burke to wonder why the Catholic Church has been singled out for this treatment.While no one denies the wrongdoing and the harm caused by a small minority of priests, their misconduct has been used to undermine the reputations of the overwhelming majority of clergy who live holy quiet lives in their parishes, tending to their flocks. These good men have been smeared with the same poisonous ink.The brutal reality is that there are an estimated 39 million victims of childhood sexual abuse in the United States today. Of these, between 40 and 60 percent were abused by a family member (for the most part uncles, cousins, stepfathers and live-in boyfriends). Carol Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan have produced a study showing that 5 percent were molested by school teachers, while the New York Times published a survey showing that fewer than 2% of the offenders were Catholic priests. But to read the papers, it would seem that Catholic clergy hold a monopoly in child molestation.Burke’s explanation for the furious anti-clericalism of yore could have been written today: The denigration of the clergy was “to teach them [the people] to persecute their own pastors….by raising a disgust and horror of the clergy.”If Burke were alive today, he would perhaps discern another motive behind the selective assaults on Catholic clergy, besides designs on Church property: namely to destroy the credibility of a powerful moral voice in public debate.
Read that last sentence again. Ms. Lev has nailed it. For if this powerful moral voice can be silenced, then liberals can replace that morality with their own. And I’m here to tell you until my last breath that liberalism must not be allowed to do so.
Now read the piece in its entirety then pass it along to family, friends, acquaintances and especially those progressives who are acting like sharks at what’s being sold as news today.
It might just be your moral duty.
With much thanks to The Anchoress who sent the column along via email and who has also linked to it.
Crossposted at Brutally Honest.