Today is International Blasphemy Day. Given that my namesake, St. Paul the Wordsmith, was all about letters, I decided to write one to the biggest bloated windbag and media whore at the beck and call of the Catholic Church (whether they want him or not). On that note, a reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Catholic League.
To: Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League
From: Paul Lundgren, aka "Cycle Ninja," z-list blogger, reality-based human
Re: International Day of Blasphemy
Dear Mr. Donohue:
Like most things on this blog, this missive is going to be random scattered bits of irony, dry humor, exasperation, and just plain outrage, and it might ramble on a bit, but please bear with me. One thing I will promise is that I will drop no foul language, but believe me, it'll be a strain.
I am taking time on this, the International Day of Blasphemy, to call you out on your disgraceful behavior in defending the criminal actions of your church. Your website states, quote,
"And today's brand of anti-Catholicism is more virulent and more pervasive than ever before in American history. While it is true that Catholics as individuals have made progress in securing their rights, the degree of hostility exhibited against the Catholic Church is appalling. Quite simply, Catholic bashing has become a staple of American society."Bluntly speaking, you deserve it. Your church has no claim to morality of any kind anymore at all. The crimes committed under the steeples of your church all over the world are what are truly appalling. But the cover-ups, the papal edicts ordering the cover-ups, and the consistent, system-wide, organized reaction of the church to protect its reputation first, minimize the financial damage second, and make amends--maybe--third is inexcusable and make me want to barf. You have no excuses anymore. You are not a model of piety and morality, you are an ironclad example of how NOT to do morality.
(And that bit about "securing their rights" is a real howler--when was the last time any Christian-based church in this country had any right to bitch about lack of rights? Maybe the Mormons, but still--being taken seriously and having immunity from criticism and mockery is not a right, dimwit--it's an earned privilege. Oh, and ask a gay person in this country about the actions of your free-to-marry parishoners in passing laws that are biased against gay rights, and then use that line about your rights--you'll get an earful. In short, burn that strawman, it doesn't apply.)
Now, back to morality: let's cite one single example that is all-too-predictable: I am a native of Fort Madison, IA. A few years back, I personally received a notice from the Diocese of Davenport informing me that I had such-and-such time to file notice that I had a claim in a class-action suit against the diocese in a sex-abuse-by-priests scandal. Gee, imagine that. And I recently learned that my own home town is the site of such a scandal.
Two lawsuits claim (Rev. James) Janssen abused boys under the age of 14 at St. Joseph Parish in Fort Madison, where the priest served as assistant pastor from 1961 to 1967.Not me, personally; before I was born, even. But my home parish! Your church has for centuries built up the trust (read: blind obedience) of its followers from birth, and then betrayed them over and over and over again. You deserve all the scorn and "Catholic bashing" you get, many times over.
And you, sir, deserve your own personal amount of it for your shameless defense of the church. Or I should say, for your shameless attacks on the perceived enemies of the church. You know, those people who correctly cite the church's crimes and have the audacity to hold the joint responsible for them? Even during the shameful revelation of the abuses taking place in boarding schools in Ireland, you poo-pooed the abuses those boys and girls (now men and women) had gone through. When was the last time you suffered any real hardship, sir? Or is it because of your own unhappy childhood that you have taken this task upon yourself?
Regardless of your motives for maintaining your post with such vigor, let me give you a brief insight into how the public perceives you...You are nothing more than a self-appointed mouthpiece for the most obviously corrupt church in the world with the exception of the Church of Scientology. You are a vile buffoon with an unfortunate-but-appropriate resemblance to Karl Rove whose sputtering would be absolutely laughable were it not for the fact that the bile belching from your ugly mouth reflects your sincere attempts to un-ironically justify the worst kind of crimes against humans--crimes that leave physical and mental scars for lifetimes--simply because they were committed by Catholic priests and therefore, it's all fine and dandy.
The Church of Scientology does the same thing. L. Ron Hubbard was famous for stating, "Attack, never defend." Well, look how well that works. If there is a strategy more guaranteed to fail than that, I'd like to hear it.
Your Catholic league bears several similarities to the CoS, by the way. You constantly rant about your membership of 300,000+ individuals, but you and you alone are the only member we ever hear of. That makes me seriously question the veracity of your figures. Or, again like the C of Sci, how you arrive at those figures. You, too, have an unfailing belief that everything Catholic is good by definition, and that anyone who says anything bad about the church--even if true--is bad-if-not-evil by definition. Here's the real deal, skippy: you are an insecure little nobody of a human being with all the inherent scariness of a de-horned pufferfish. Take away the prickliness, and you have no substance at all. You, sir, are a loathsome insect.
And if you haven't noticed, the egg sac which spawned you is not exactly thriving. USA Today, among many others, documents the decline not only of the priesthood, but of the dues-paying membership. There are all kids of scientific reasons, but here's my own (unscientific) take. As with most things in life, it's all about the Internet. Seriously.
As others have pointed out, the Internet has been the death of the Church of Scientology. I believe it will be so for the Catholic Church, as well. Not in the sense that an institution that massive will EVER become extinct (although I live in hope). However, once all of the mysteries and secrets are out in the open, good luck trying to sell the usual sales pitches to get people with even a modicum of critical thinking skills to swallow it.
Taken in that context, it doesn't surprise me at all that the church is investing a lot of resources in Africa. You have a population that is suffering massive deprivations from HIV/AIDS, and the corresponding despair and desperation that goes with it, and is inarguably far behind other parts of the world in Internet infrastructure, let alone access. Combine those with a tradition of witchcraft and shamanism, and the church is exploiting an easy market.
What is also not surprising is the fear-mongering. A Catholic bishop in Africa has made the outrageous claim that condoms come pre-infected with HIV. (Last I heard, he was still on the job). Your pope's cynical idiocy and vapidity on the subject have already been torn apart. And yet, people will believe them, because of the inherent superstitions of the population, superstitions which go back centuries.
But you can't keep it up forever. Information is the enemy of superstition. The more people who are able to see how utterly ridiculous are your church's beliefs, how callously indifferent to human feelings are its doctrines, and how disgracefully cynical are its actions in the real world, the more people will reject them.
And again, your actions are helping bring that day about. Your comedy routine of stepping on the rake to make the end of the handle whack you in the puss is contributing to the amount of derision your church deserves. Remember, this is your church's fault. Point fingers all you want, we'll keep laughing, and encouraging others to do the right thing and leave.
In short, keep up the good work!
PS: The same Constitutional Amendment that gives you the right to practice your religion as you see fit is the same Amendment that gives me and many others the right to call you on your baloney. Remember that.
PPS: I'll say hi to Penn and Teller for you when I'm in Vegas next spring.