With same sex marriage legislation now working through the legislatures of Maryland, New Jersey and Washington State, one of the strongest opponents to civil marriage equality will be Roman Catholic bishops. In some instances, perhaps the very same bishops whose dioceses were implicated in the cover up of sexual abuse crimes against children and youth.
I've asked the question before: why does anyone listen to these foul, morally bankrupt clerical bureaucrats? The question takes on new importance now that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the criminal case now pending in that city against Catholic priests.
CBS News looks at the development with these highlights:
PHILADELPHIA -- Prosecutors on Monday accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of being an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a clergy sex abuse case and said the Roman Catholic Church fed predators a steady supply of children.
The comments came in a key hearing before the March trial of a high-ranking church official, a priest and a former priest. Monsignor William Lynn, 61, is charged with conspiring with priests and church officials to keep priests accused of sex abuse in ministry and parishioners in the dark.
"The archdiocese is supplying him with an endless supply of victims," Cipolletti said Monday. The judge asked if prosecutors consider the archdiocese "an unindicted co-conspirator." "Certainly," Cipolletti said. "It's not like there aren't other people (in the archdiocese) involved. There absolutely are."
The February 2011 grand jury report blasted Bevilacqua and his successor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, for their handling of priest abuse complaints but said there wasn't enough evidence to charge them with any crimes.
True, the case in the CBS News piece involves the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, but as the Dallas Morning News reported some years ago, the very same pattern of malfeasance occurred time and time again in virtually 2/3's of US dioceses and countless other ones around the world. Indeed, a Google search agent I utilize brings in new reports of sex abuse by priest virtually daily.
Yet despite this, we see the spectacle of Catholic bishops being treated with deference and allowed to testify against civil marriage equality when instead, they or their dioceses likely ought to be under criminal investigation. As case in point is described in a Seattle Post story on hearings taking place before the Washington legislature. Here are some highlights:
The Senate hearing displayed divisions and passions: A Catholic archbishop testified against same-sex marriage. An Evangelican Lutheran Church bishop said congregations that want to marry same-sex couples should be permitted to do so. An Assembly of God pastor arguing against the legislation was followed by a Reform rabbi claiming that religious freedom means allowing gays and lesbians to wed.
Roman Catholic Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who has urged Catholics to lobby legislators against marriage equality, warned of "the grave challenge this legislation poses to the common good.""The natural structure of human sexuality orders the transmission of human life through man and woman," said Sartain. "Because only the union of a man and a woman can generate new life, no other human relationship is its equivalent."
What about the harm done to the commion good by the rape and sexual abuse of countless tens of thousands of children and youths around the world - all sought to be covered up by the Vatican and its bishops and cardinals? The Catholic Church bishops deserve no deference and legislators with any decency ought to refuse to listen to their disingenus testimony.
There was one bright spot in the testimony in Olympia, however. It was what was said by the ELCA bishop:
A very different view came from the Rt. Rev. Chris Boerger, Northwest bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He noted that the church has approved blessing of same-sex couples in lifelong, loving, monogamous relationships. "We can't call it marriage, you can," Boerger added.
It's not hard given this contrast in denominations to see why - to the extent I remain nominally Christian - I want to be a member of the ELCA.