In his recent piece for ‘Facts and Arts’ http://bit.ly/UkejAM Colm Herron - making perfect sense as always - questions Pope Francis’s attitude to women and the way he is dealing with child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. Colm describes it as “letting fly while at the same time trying to use a bit of restraint!” I urge you to follow the link and read the whole piece, but I quote one sentence here, because it provoked an uncharacteristically fervent response from me:
“I often wonder if the Catholic Church’s rigid teaching on birth control, allied with an obsessive fear of hell on the part of many millions of its female faithful, is not even now a particularly violent form of abuse, endangerment and intimidation, especially in the global south where the Church is still growing.”
Colm welcomes “brief” comments on his piece, and I posted one which became less and less brief as it rolled out of me. I thought the issue of sufficient importance to warrant posting it as a blog. I have no wish to “offend” anyone; but I have strong views on this subject, and I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t express and stand by them.
I agree with every word that Colm has taken the trouble to write. The Grubb Institute of Management Studies used to distinguish between “avowed aim” and “primary task” when analysing human motivation in any given context: the ‘avowed aim’ being what people said was their motivation and the ‘primary task’ being what the motivation really was.
The primary task of the Roman Catholic Church in its opposition to birth control is to increase the number of its adherents, thereby not only holding on to but increasing its already enormous power. It does not care one jot how many women it prematurely ‘sends to Heaven’ in this process, for by the time that one worn-out faithful adherent to the wicked nonsense drops dead, there are another 10 or 20 thoroughly indoctrinated little adherents to take her place: ready to produce another 10-20 each in their turn, while giving what they can to the church to ensure that “The Great Lie at the Centre of it All” lives on.
Never mind that the planet is groaning under the weight of billions of hungry, underprivileged human beings devouring and despoiling the planet to the brink of rapidly approaching world calamity. Focus only on the size of the Christian or the Muslim power-base. Send the priests or imams to any part of the world where ignorance about the origin of the universe and the evolution of life still holds sway and bring whole populations under the dominion of one or other of the world’s two most powerful, aggressively evangelical religions. Create Crusades or Jihad if necessary and we will send you (not us) into battle with our blessing! Fight the good fight. Millions have died in order that one or other versions of “The Great Lie at the Centre of it All” shall hold sway in this or that benighted region of the world.
I cannot get past this biggest tragedy of all: that intelligent adults with functioning brains and access to the current body of knowledge on the history of the universe and the origin of life within it still cling to the notion of a “God” who exists outside of the imagination of his adherents. Add to that in this instance the frankly farcical notion that 2014 years ago a human being named Yeshua Bin Yussef was born in Palestine to be his “son”, through the union of Mary with that manifestation of Divine Power referred to as “The Holy Ghost” and the whole thing beggars belief.
Religions, like the ammonites, may well be assuming “bizarre and decadent shapes” on their inevitable route to the status of mythologies, but they have done and are doing terrible damage along the way. Of course there are lovely nuns and priests, and of course hundreds of millions of Roman Catholics are good people with sound moral values, and of course the church does “an awful lot of good.” That isn’t the POINT.