I remember as a young man listening occasionally to fundamentalist Protestant ministers on television who referred to the Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon. I thought at the time that it was a hysterical and scandalously scabrous characterization; the result of years of indoctrination in fringe theology, driven by a crass profit motive. But now, after decades of reflection and realization, I believe I understand what those canting poseurs meant.
It has taken me nearly fifty years of thought and soul-searching and life experience to come to the following conclusion: The Roman Catholic Church is an evil institution. Let me say it again: By its very nature, reinforced by its traditions and institutional behavior, the Catholic Church is a force for evil in the world.
I no longer see how any right-minded or well-intentioned person can subscribe to its teachings, nor how any earnest searcher after truth or the divine in man can succumb to its authority. The Church is a vile corruption of the teachings of Jesus, on whom it claims to be founded. That vague and illiterate man (if we can judge by how little we know of his origins and the fact that he committed nothing to writing), seems to have preached the virtues of poverty, self-neglect, absolute love and universal peace and tolerance, all concepts inimical to the Catholic Church as we know it. That the Church should claim its authorship from such a character is nothing more than farce at best, and blasphemy at worst. The Catholic Church has no more to do with the nature and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth than does the current federal government with the principles of the Founding Fathers.
The Church has, over the centuries, been the purveyor of violence, intolerance, ignorance and injustice. And throughout most of its institutional history, it has been a haven to criminals of the worst sort, including thieves, liars, corrupt politicians, murderers and pedophiles. On this last point I have much to say, and have tried to say it in these pages. But suffice it to say that the abetting and cover-up of the crimes of child molesters has gone on throughout the entire history of the Church, and continues to this very evening, when the Los Angeles Archdiocese has compelled the records of hierarchical protectors of pedophiles to remain sealed from public scrutiny.
Beyond that, for generations, the Church, through its system of Catholic education, has been guilty of myriad crimes against children. By this I mean the systematic indoctrination of innocent little boys and girls in a body of dogma that makes no sense, and, more seriously, that rationalizes superstition and religious intolerance, enforced by the most vile threats of corporal punishment and eternal damnation. I was, myself, the victim of such browbeating from the ages of seven to eighteen. I and my fellow child-students were routinely beaten, terrorized, and solemnly threatened with an eternity of fire and torment if we did not submit ourselves absolutely to the authority of Holy Mother Church. That any mother would terrorize and abuse her children so is beyond my comprehension.
We were told, on a daily basis from the age of seven (the age of reason, as the Church terms it), that if we did not comply with every jot and iota of its teachings, we were destined to rot in hell fire for all eternity. What sane adult, with even the scarcest solicitude for children, would impose such terror on innocents? Who, claiming any form of humanity, would abuse the children in their care in such a fashion? We were ritually herded into church three of four times a week, forced to confess (and often to invent) sins which we whispered in the dark to anonymous priests, begging for forgiveness, subjected to regular humiliation and corporal punishment, including, screaming, slapping, whippings and beatings. And all of this was elevated to the level of divine intent by a sexually confused and criminal clergy, represented to us as God's vicars on Earth.
I have stated here before, and I repeat again: The Catholic Church is a conspiracy against the innocence of children. The number of confessed pedophiles, and those who have enabled and protected them, is but a shadow of the actual number of violators of children. I have no hesitation in going so far as to state that every member of the Catholic clergy is complicit in those crimes, for those who did not commit them knew about them, and those who did not know about them did not want to know. All are guilty, either directly or indirectly, and the ones who are guilty by silence are not less so than those whose consecrated fingers raped and molested children.
There is a long and unbroken history in the Church of crimes against children, and against humanity at large. Founded on the poor shepherd of Palestine as it claims to be, the Church's own wealth, crimes and arrogance condemn it far beyond my power to do so. But the worst of its sins remain those against the most harmless and innocent in its care: the children of the Church, who could neither understand nor resist the brutality and inhumanity perpetrated against them. Coldly, cunningly and calculatedly by men and women who wore the black mantel of righteousness, which was nothing more nor less than the black shirts of the fascists with whom they conspired so cravenly in the century past.