Columnists » Grinding The Edge

The Catholic Church Is Rotten to the (Apple’s) Core

by Steve Weinstein
Thursday Apr 8, 2010

It's about time someone said it: the Roman Catholic Church is rotten to the core. The apple's core - if you believe that the Tree of Good and Evil in the Garden of Evil's fruit was an apple.

Most of us - actually, pretty much anyone except the most hardcore church apologists - have been looking with bemusement at the ongoing train wreck that the church has become. In the United States, the systemic abuse of children (not exclusively boys by any stretch, despite what the apologists would have you believe) is an old story.

Europe, on the other hand, is just getting around to exposing abuse. Cardinals and senior members of the Vatican in the past few weeks have compared the "sufferings" of the pope at the hands of the media meanies to the passion of Christ himself. I'm hardly the first to point out that all the scourging and being crucified might not be quite commensurate with having to read some bad press about yourself.

These senior church members have pointed fingers at the New York Times specifically. At least one Vatican insider blames "New York Jews" and, in a jaw-dropping moment, a senior monsignor compared the church's tribulations to what the Jews suffered in the Holocaust.

Of course, the church trotted out the most handy group to blame for its problems: the gays. It's rampant homosexuality - aided and abetted by liberals let loose by Vatican II - that is the cause for such abuse. Because, you know, gay men are by nature attracted to 8- or 10- or 13-year-old boys.


After having gone after the media, Jews, gays and liberals, we now discover that at least one bishop blames ... the victims. This was probably to be expected.

Typically Spanish, a nifty little English-language website that covers Spain, uncovered comments from the bishop of Tenerife, Bernardo Álvarez. He said that much of the abuse happened because "there are 13 year old adolescents who are under age and who are perfectly in agreement with, and what's more wanting it, and if you are careless they will even provoke you."

He also gave a shoutout to homosexuality, saying it was prejudicial to people and society and would have damning consequences, yadda-yadda.

In a cockeyed way, the bishop did make a valid point. The church's fundamental theology does teach that these kids are the tempters. It all began with the church's most important theologian, St. Augustine, who interpreted the Adam and Eve story from the Book of Genesis as meaning that Adam's fall from grace put everyone since in a state of "original sin."

It also meant that Eve, who first took a bite from that fateful apple and then tempted Adam into eating it - which got them both thrown out from the Garden of Eden - was to blame for all of the suffering of mankind, including death. Thus, the church at its base, has a "blame the victim" mentality: the one who does the "tempting" is at fault when the tempted acts upon it.

The whole Adam and Eve thing has resulted in some unfortunate consequences, such as the burning of thousands of women as witches, as well as condemning women to the status of hell-bent temptation fuck-machines.

It also had the rather bizarre consequence of turning the Roman Catholic Church into the only Abrahamic religion that believed celibacy was superior to conjugal relations. The various branches of Judaism, Islam, Eastern Rite churches, Protestant denominations - none of them believed this or believe it now (various rites do have celibate monks and nuns). Just the Romans.

Well, we all have seen where that slippery slope has led to. Take away a man's ability to satisfy his sexual urgings in a societally condoned way; and then give him absolute moral authority. Is it any wonder that so many priests find themselves "tempted" by the flesh?

If it's young boys they go after, this is pretty much because:
• they're available
• they're easy
• they're naive
• they don't kiss and tell
• they think it's OK if you tell them it is
• they're sexually inexperienced
• those around them trust you with them (this one lately ... maybe not so much).

Not that priests haven't "been tempted" by grown men and women. The New York Times a few months ago had a poignant story about a woman who had a longterm affair with a priest who abandoned her and their child. And plenty of priests come onto adult men. But boys - who, in their nonbearded, "pretty" state can act as a stand-in for adult women - are the favored party for the priests' wandering eye.

Except, as we have seen, the boys themselves, like Eve, are the tempters.

All this is to say that I'm not expecting any miracle of fundamental change in the Catholic Church until it changes its theology. And that ain't happening anytime soon.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).


  • , 2010-04-10 10:08:18

    The Catholic Church hierarchy is made up of demon-angels, the Pope being just a diabolic archangel.

  • , 2010-06-05 16:18:46

    what a distorted, demented perspective you have.

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