In 2002, South Park presented an episode entitled “Red Hot Catholic Love,” mocking the Catholic Church’s “successes” in fighting sexual molestation of minors, not to mention questioning the Church’s sincerity in doing so in the first place. Prophetically, it featured a conference just like the one taking place this weekend, with a twist. (Maybe. More on that below.)
The episode was inspired by the 2001 Boston Archdiocese molestation scandal, the subject of the 2015 feature film Spotlight, which uncovered decades of abuse by clergymen, Everyone in the church knew about it then, everyone in the church knew about it before then, and everyone in the church knew about it since then.
Only at the risk of even more embarrassing exposure, plus financial disaster from civil litigation, did the church act, 18 years later.
Eighteen years. Let that sink in a little.
So here we are in 2019, and the Church called its first ever sexual abuse conference, 200 Bishops, Cardinals, and other high church officials from around the world, for 4 days of discussion, instruction and guidelines on how to end the molestation. It wrapped up on Sunday with a mass by Pope Francis.
Who wouldn’t want to have been a fly on the wall for this one?
Q: “So is it okay to touch a boy if no one is looking?”
A: “If you’re totally sure no one can see, use your judgment, but be careful.”
Q: “Is 10 years old enough for him to be considered a consenting adult?”
A: “To be safe, we recommend 12 and older, but if he looks older than 10, you can still use that in your defense.”
Q: “One of my alter boys’ fathers called and said he’s going to beat the crap out of me. It seems like little Timmy opened his big mouth. What’s my next step?”
A: “How do you feel about northern Wisconsin? Your transfer is official, next bus leaves tomorrow at 11:20AM, bring a heavy jacket.”
In the mock South Park conference, the discussion wasn’t about how to end sexual abuse by the clergy, but more about how to not get in trouble while continuing that abuse. Fact is stranger than fiction, and this 4-day fiasco was even more ridiculous than the cartoon, ending with a one page statement, where they threaten God’s deepest fury on Priests, but as far as bringing law enforcement into it, or even defrocking? You need a magnifying glass to find even a hint of any of that stuff in there.
After four days of lectures, study and introspection, not to mention those eighteen years. A one-page public statement.
As a matter of fact, it only took South Park sixteen years to revisit the issue in their 2018 episode “A Boy and A Priest,” which prompted this statement and condemnation by Catholic League President Bill Donahue:
“The October 3rd episode of South Park titled ‘A Boy and A Priest’ portrayed molesting priests as pedophiles. This is factually inaccurate: almost all the molesters…8 in 10…have been homosexuals. Therefore, the cartoon-victim characters should have been depicted as adolescents, not kids. In Hollywood, the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are seen as courageous. They are really cowards. It takes courage to tell the truth.”
I have read this statement a dozen times, and I still don’t understand what he’s trying to say.
The Church has instituted a new PR strategy of, “It’s not just us and we’re not worse than anyone else.” They’re obviously not better than anyone else either (although you would think they should be), as they try to drive publicity towards non-clergy cases of sexual abuse and away from their very own sex crimes.
For a better insight into this insanity, see this link from the Hawaii Catholic Herald, released the day this weekend’s conference started. It’s not good for a laugh, more like an outrage:
So don’t expect any serious reform any time soon. If their attempts at even cosmetic changes have been this poor so far, there’s not much improvement to look forward to, and the molestation goes on.