Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Religion and Empire : Jesus and Catholicism - Pell and Hart

George Cardinal Pell gave evidence at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry Into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations.  This followed close on the heels of the appearance last week before the Inquiry of the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart.  Denis Hart's evidence and his demeanour were less than inspiring.

At one point Hart raised the ire of the gallery with a sort of sneering reference to what the church is now doing as being "better late than never:"  However, I don't think Hart is worthy of consideration.  Aside from the sexual abuse controversy, based on what makes the newspapers about Hart I don't think he's much of an Archbishop. Archbishops are meant to act as shepherds protecting the sheep, their flock.  Clearly, Pell and his Melbourne successor, Hart do not meet Jesus's qualifications for shepherds

What I want to open for consideration concerns George Pell.  If you watched the performance of George Pell at the Inquiry yesterday, what or whom did you see?  As I watched, I did not see someone who was a Jesus follower or imitator.  I saw a corporate CEO or Business Manager.  I did not see someone who became Christ every time he said mass.  You see, the Catholic Church refuses to ordain women - based on the sacramental doctrines underlying the priesthood and the eucharist.  Well, the macho interpretation of them!

The teachings of Jesus are seldom brought up in regard to the sexual abuse of children - whether in reference to Catholicism or any other Christian organisations.

Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 18 verse 6
But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.    -  New living translation

I take this to mean not that the children fall into sin.  Instead, it refers to the gravity, the depth of depravity, when those old enough to reason morally draw children into their own web of sin.

Does that refer specifically to paedophilia?  I think not.  There are all sorts of moral depravity by which adults might draw the young into their web.  Violence, corruption - and, the current cause of concern, gambling - are just a few of the categories that spring to mind by which adults might corrupt the young.

While there are adults who draw children into the world of paedophilia in a direct manner, should we go on to consider those who provide the fertile soil in which paedophilia operates, grows, networks?  I think so.

Watching Pell the CEO, the Business Manager before the parliamentary inquiry, Australians could see on display the self-satisfaction, the self-serving nature of the social milieu in which Catholic clerics - particularly those at higher levels of the Catholic hierarchy - are immersed.

To take the point further, I would suggest that one cannot ignore the history of Christianity and its continuing relationship, over the last 1700 years, with Empire.

Jesus pointed out that His kingdom was not a kingdom of this world and neither was it akin to a worldly empire. There might have been a reformation and a split from the Roman form of Christianity but the role and power of Empire was displayed in a similar manner within the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Church of England, and the Lutheran Church.   Such a relationship of Christianity to empire is seen in contemporary USA politics via the Tea Party.

A factor in perverse sexuality which damages other human beings is dominance: dominance of the paedophiliac over a child; dominance of male over female; exploitation of of one person by another simply because one is able to control and dominate another.  Religion can play a dominating and power role in the lives of individuals and, in this manner, has the capacity to become a transmitter of exploitative, harmful, and soul-destroying desires.

In short, I am saying that Pell and Co are not only at fault in their response to the victims of paedophiliacs.  They are part of a self-perpetuating social milieu which enables paedophiliacs to perpetrate and enforce their desires.

Not all Christian faith communities are associated with or cosy-ing up to Empire.  There are faith communities who are aloof from Empire ... and, even within their communities, paedophiliacs may be discovered. However, having said this, it would seem that in those communities paedophiliacs are fewer in number that those in the faith communities associated with Empire.

If all that is not convincing, I would simply draw attention to the second part of the two commandments given by Jesus.   As for the Catholic Church's response to legal action, its prelates seem to have forgotten completely the words of Jesus on how to respond when being sued

It seemed to make things worse:  Pell sorry over meeting

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