UFC Hitchens-Douthat I: Pope’s My Hero v My Dope’s Chemo.

via McGravitas.

Apologies for the misleading post title, this isn't going to be about locking Doohead and Hitch into the Octagon, it's a SRS BZNS (for me at least) look at the hissyfit.  Also too, I do feel like a dirty shitbag for siding with Christopher Hitchens on this, the bloodthirsty warmongering jackhole, but Ross Doohead is pretty impressive in his ability to be RONG.

So, here's the Doodoohead column wherein Ross rises to gallantly defend the honour of Benny Ratzo, Pope-in-Distress.  And here are the other two in the series.  There's also some pathetically pathetic defense of Tea Party Extremism, and man is it ever pathetic, but I'll leave it to others to tear apart Ross' "I know you are but what am I" argument.  It's the heretical position of demeaning the Catholic Church that really grinds Doohead's gears.

Okay, here's Ross proclaiming Victory:
He starts with a justifiable sense of outrage, and then proceeds to embrace sweepingly manichaean and essentially fictive narratives about evil in high places.
With each underlined bit linking to their respective  "de-bunking" columns.

Sweepingly manichaean.
OMG! Extreme responses are prompted when we're discussing the systemic sexual abuse of children!  Teh Horrars!

Ross' column doesn't do much to debunk Hitch's claims.  Sure Kiesle had already been tried for tying up and molesting the two children, but well about that here's Ross on it:
He pleaded no contest in a California court in 1978, years before the laicization issue reached the Vatican, and was sentenced to three years probation for “lewd conduct.” (The light sentence should serve as a reminder that it wasn’t only Catholic authorities who failed to take stern measures against abusers in that era.)
Really.  Really?  I suppose the fact that Rome was apprised of the situation had nothing to do with the light sentence.  I suppose the fact that the Vatican had no influence on the investigation or proceedings.  I suppose that even without the involvement of the man who now wears the pointiest mitre of all, that Kiesle would have been allowed to plead "no contest" to a misdemeanor for the incident - a charge so minor that it was expunged from his record.

Hitchens has taken offense at the Catholic Church's treatment of Kiesle, someone known to them as a child molester and whom Ratzinger insisted remain ordained, and you have this minor quibble with his presentation which amounts to bupkes.  Because really Ross, had the investigation into Kiesle been started by the cops instead of the Vatican, or if Rome's influence under the guidance of Ratzinger hadn't been applied - do you really believe that what you acknowledge as a ridiculously light sentence would have been levied?  I suppose too that had Kiesle been convicted of a more serious charge of child molestation - it wouldn't have affected his access to minors later on in his life - when the further abuses occurred.  Hitchens' point here isn't that hard to understand - and your nitpicking misses the point completely.

BUT still, since I am a generous Dragon-King, let us throw aside the fact that you are wrong.  Let us consider your erroneus argument under the rules of your own fantasy world.  Hitchens is horribly offended that the Catholic Church did not do more to prevent Kiesle from molesting more children - you think that the blame should also go to other authorities of the day and therefore because of the Law of Conservation of Blame, the Catholic Church isn't in the wrong at all.  I gotta say that this argument is not helping your cause.  Remember that the accusation against the Church is that there is no accountability for wrong-doing, but instead a concerted effort to cover-up and minimize.

Incidentally, your closing 'graf?
For an anti-Catholic polemicist, the sex abuse scandal offers a rich vein of material: Case after case of priestly malfeasance; case after case in which bishops shuffled abusers around rather than removing them from the ministry. It tells you something about Hitchens’ style that he isn’t content with the grimness of the actual record, and feels the need to embellish it with falsehoods.
That the Hitchens' piece you linked does level a number of other accusations - the rape of deaf boys, confidentiality agreements in other rape cases, Cardinal Bernard Law, &c.  Yeah, there definitely is some misrepresentation going on.

Essentially fictive narratives.
Essentially.  That word is doing yeoman's work, it is.  Again, since you are unable to dispute the baasic fact of child molestation by ordained Catholic priests - your second "de-bunking" of Hitchens is more nitpicks:
None of this is true. The letter was not “confidential,” or at least not for long; it was published by the Vatican that same year in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official journal of the Holy See, and it’s been available in English translation since at least 2002.

Your defense is that the letter was not "confidential."  Wow.  Hitchens' is lying because you have issues with his use of "confidential."  And the justification of your objection?
1.  This so-called confidential letter was exposed by the press almost as soon as it was released.
2.  After being publicized in the media, the Church posted it themselves.

Uh, yeah.  You sure got him there.
Ratzinger did not claim that the church had anything remotely like “exclusive jurisdiction” over sex abuse cases. Rather, his letter ... gave the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “exclusive competence” to handle these accusations.

Man, you are totally PWNing Hitchens here.
Nothing in the document forbade bishops, priests, parents or victims from contacting legal authorities or the press
Except the word "exclusive".  Speaking of which, what does the letter tell Catholics to do when confronted with a child molesting priest?
As often as an ordinary or hierarch has at least probable knowledge of a reserved delict, after he has carried out the preliminary investigation he is to indicate it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith...In tribunals established by ordinaries or hierarchs, the functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests. When the trial in the tribunal is finished in any fashion, all the acts of the case are to be transmitted ex officio as soon as possible to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

I certainly don't know how anyone could read that to mean "don't call the cops".  It clear says "The Church Will Take Care Of Their Own" which is totes the same thing.  Right?
...and the letter certainly didn’t threaten excommunication (a word that never appears in the text) for doing so.

Which is then followed by Doohead explaining Crimen Sollicitationis.  Which is odd, since as a good Catholic, Doohead should know that the pontifical secret cited in the letter is covered in the 1974 Instruction of secreta continere, which carries penalties up to and including automatic excommunication and applies to anything the Pope says it does, such as the letter Hitchens is talking about.

Finally, the issue of the statute of limitations.  Well, I guess it isn't fictive, essentially or otherwise, since both Douthat and Hitchens agree on the length of time the Papal Instruction written by Ratzinger holds authority (ten years from the victims 18th birthday).  Ratzinger's letter outlines the Papal Instruction giving a special committee "exclusive competence" over adjudicating sexual abuse of minors and puts all proceedings under secreta continere which carries the threat of excommunication.  If that Papal Instruction deters a member of the Church from reporting said crime to the civil authorities then Hitchens is exactly right.  But Ross doesn't think that the Papal Instruction would do anything of the sort, depite his acknowledgement of the many many times the Church has made efforts to cover-up sex abuse scandals.  Therefore Hitchens is a horrible lying monster.  At least Ross is right in that - Hitchens is a horrible lying monster, just not for the groundless reasons Douthat is all riled up over.

1 comment:

Substance McGravitas said...

It is terrible that Christopher Hitchens would go overboard on that nest of pedophiles.