The other day the popular television show, Washington Journal, had as a guest a lady, one representing a Catholic group, who was answering questions about the role of the Catholic Church with regards to birth control. I dialed the call in number for the show, the screener asked what my question was, and then put me on air to ask same. My question was simply how can the Catholic Church deny birth control to lay persons, even those not Catholic, when historically the Church, through it's priests, have advocated same and even abortion when these certain priests needed to protect themselves from the result of their own sexual misconduct. The woman's jaw dropped, which I took as a denial of these facts. Before the guest speaker could even pick her jaw up off the floor, I was disconnected. I was silenced.
I didn't get the chance to mention how Sister Marie McDonald, Superior of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, in her report to the Vatican prepared through consultation with Congregations of Religious and National Conferences in Africa, titled "The Problem Of The Sexual Abuse Of African Religious In Africa And In Rome" and leaked to the National Catholic Reporter, said exactly just that:
"Sexual harassment and even rape of sisters by priests and bishops is allegedly common. Sometimes, when a sister becomes pregnant, the priest insists that she have an abortion. The sister is usually dismissed from her congregation while the priest is often only moved to another parish -- or sent for studies."
Sister McDonald, in her reporting to the Vatican also included a quote by an African Vicar General explaining "Celibacy in the African context means a priest does not get married, but does not mean he does not have children".
Nor did I get the chance to mention how Julian Assange, when hacking documents, documents the Church refuses to release even to a Court of law, regarding abuse of children at the hands of priests and the cover up of same, came across the official Vatican response to Sister McDonald's report:
"In a rare statement acknowledging fault, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said March 20 that there was a problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests in some missionary territories. He said the Vatican was working to correct the situation. The statement was in response to a March 16 article in U.S. Catholic Weekly, National Catholic Reporter that cited four reports by senior members of women's religious orders asserting that sexual abuse of nuns by priests, including rape was a serious problem.."
Sister McDonald has not been the only nun to speak out. Sister Maura O'Donohoe had this to report regarding a priest who insisted an abortion be performed to cover his own sins:
"She died during the procedure and the priest officiated at the Requiem Mass.."
I had as much chance of being heard on that television show as the nuns who were abused being heard by their own church. My own jaw didn't drop at the telephone disconnect resulting from my uncomfortable question. Anyone who has kept up with the Church with regards to abuse understands full well the incredible lengths the Vatican and it's supporters have gone to deny, even to themselves, any sexual abuse in their ranks and the even more incredible lengths they go to in order to protect these abusers. Anyone out there remember multiple arrests of these priests in Africa or even reports of excommunication? I didn't think so.
It came as no surprise that even today, some will defend the Church, right or wrong, even when that defense keeps the problem in the closet, hidden, out of sight, out of mind. But, it will always surprise me that the Roman Catholic Church still holds itself up as our moral compass and dictator of our reproductive and sexual selves in light of the protections given priests for their own rampant sexual misconduct - the old do as we say, not as we do attitude.
To make matters worse, presidential candidate Rick Santorum now defends the priests involved in sexual abuse of children by blaming it all on the liberals of Boston. Did he also blame the liberals of Ireland where the abuse of children by priests was epidemic and hidden by the Church? Were the priests exposed by these nun's reports all liberals?
It seems if one can't directly blame the women and the children the next best choice is to blame liberals for decades of abuse by male priests, abuse that has historically been swept under the rug. By abdicating his responsibility to hold accountable the true culprits, Santorum has shown himself to be just as responsible for picking up that broom as the Vatican. He has shown himself not to be a defender of women and children but an enabler of abuse and a partner in the ongoing conspiracy of silence by the Roman Catholic Church.
Santorum thinks he knows what is best for all women, Catholic or otherwise, but has yet to be the protector he claims to be. He not only tries to lay the blame elsewhere for abusive priests but also believes the issue of access to birth control pills should be left up to the states, even though he has yet to explain how he plans to provide for all the children resulting from that policy. He wants to end abortion but fails to ensure the very ways and means necessary for women to never have to face the tragedy of abortion thus making him not only an enabler of poverty but an enabler of abortion as well.
The man fails to understand, or worse yet, does not care, there is a medical necessity for some women to be on birth control pills in order to help prevent fibroid tumors from growing to the point of medical disaster. It seems both Santorum and the Church feel these young women needing the pill for health reasons are better off losing their ovaries, their ability to have children, and better off facing menopause in their twenties which will only lead to more medical problems such as cancer and osteoporosis at an early age. He is more concerned about women possibly having sinful pre-marital sex than he is for their very health. Perhaps he should be more worried about sinful priests.
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