Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Interlocking Moral Challenges: Catholic Bishops Who Covered Up Abuse Crisis Promote Political Leaders Engaged in Overt Race-Baiting and Immigrant Bashing — Our Obligation to Be Morally Astute

I pointed out yesterday that, side by side with the egregious evil practiced by the men leading the Catholic church, who have covered up crimes of sexual abuse of minors for a very long time now, there are other evils to consider in the world, too. Part of what I wanted to communicate with my concluding analysis of the problem (as I see it) of too-easy recourse to the language of evil — the language of exclusive evil — to describe the men leading the Catholic church is that this language then causes us to ignore many other kinds of egregious evil that, to my way of thinking, also demand our attention. 

As I noted yesterday, we Americans are witnessing a shocking presidential campaign in which there are open calls from the leaders of one of our political parties to violate the rights of citizens who happen to be of Islamic faith, to require those citizens to be registered and monitored. We're involved in a political campaign in which the coarse, overt racist dog whistles of the leaders of one of our two major political parties — dog whistles accompanied by bold lies that the media are not challenging — have resulted in actual violence towards people of color at the political rallies of those leaders.

These observations are not disconnected — to my mind, at least — from the abuse crisis and its cover-up by the Catholic bishops of the U.S. Those bishops have done almost everything short of standing on their heads to push Catholic voters to vote Republican, as they claim that the only moral issues worthy of the attention of Catholic voters are the "intrinsic evils" of abortion and same-sex marriage. 

The same bishops who desperately want to see a Republican federal administration elected in 2016, with control of the Supreme Court as their prize, are the men who have covered up the abuse crisis. And so it makes no sense at all to me that even some members of the survivor community apparently consider Mr. Trump as a white knight who will save the nation if elected. I know this is the case, because I met several such folks at the national SNAP meeting this year — all straight white men — and was stunned to hear them praising Donald Trump as a breath of fresh air. While they also spoke of the very bishops who want so intently to place the GOP in the White House in 2016 as singularly evil, due to their cover-up of the abuse crisis . . . .

We need to be more, well, morally astute as we look at how evil manifests itself in the world around us, and how one moral problem is interlinked with another, so that it's not really wise or morally sound to shout about how evil the Catholic bishops are while doing their bidding in ignoring the evil rhetoric emanating from some Republican leaders right now, and focusing only on abortion and same-sex marriage as the exclusive moral challenges for Catholics at this point in history.

In a powerful essay at Salon right now, Jack Mirkinson notes the perplexing disparity between how the U.S. mainstream media covers elections in, say, Argentina, and how it's covering the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S.: as he states,

I’ve found myself thinking repeatedly about this disparity over the past couple of days, as the anti-Muslim climate in the United States has reached new heights and as Donald Trump has begun conducting what even some conservatives describe as a fascist campaign. How, I wonder, would the American media cover some other country—in South America, say, or the Middle East—where leading presidential candidates explicitly stirred up hatred against an already-demonized minority group and cheered on the beating of protesters at their events; or where armed gangs patrolled outside faith centers and leading businesses sanctioned religious discrimination
The question answers itself, really. We’d be reading story after story about the terrifying authoritarian climate tearing through Country X—all with the implied assertion that We Don’t Do That Sort Of Thing Here, Thank God.

All of this is going on right now in the U.S., and the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church in the U.S. want us to focus on abortion and same-sex marriage as singularly evil? The same men who have covered up abuse of minors by Catholic clergy? And even people who understand the deep ramifications of the latter evil buy into the race-baiting, immigrant-bashing rhetoric of the very same political party the bishops are promoting, because they cannot see beyond their white, male, heterosexual privilege?

We're a nation in danger of very serious self-destruction right now due to that latter tendency of too many of our citizens. And I wouldn't count on the leaders of the Catholic church, the evangelical right-wing churches, or the Mormon church to give us the kind of moral, pastoral leadership we need to avoid this danger.

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