There can surely be few institutions that compare to the Catholic Church in terms of sheer superstitious backwardness. That it is bigoted, reactionary and medieval is beyond doubt. From it's inception it has orchestrated and or played a decisive role in the systematic torture and murder of women, the slaughtering of entire swathes of those with an alternative view, amassed in the most corrupt fashion staggering and obscene wealth while pontificating (excuse the semi-pun) to the most poverty-stricken and deprived in the most hypocritical manner imaginable.
Its oppression and discrimination of women and the sickening emotional blackmail it uses to guilt-trip them into becoming little more than Christian baby farms, is positively barbaric. Its much-vaunted championing of the ‘unborn child’ and its ‘pro-life’ stance extends, clearly, only to the point the child emerges from the womb. Thereafter it can starve while the Vatican’s privileged elite live in the kind of opulence its congregations the world over can only imagine.
Now, of course, there is a new man in charge. Already his intolerant bigotry on the question of homosexuals has been raised and, no doubt, there will be further choice quotes from the man, in the weeks ahead, as journalists contrast his previous utterances with the desperate attempts of the Vatican machine to paint their new boss as a paragon of progressive and social values. We might also dwell on his alleged support for the murderous Argentinean junta which, at a conservative estimate, was responsible for the murders of some 30,000 human beings.
However, there’s a question that no one appears to be asking. How far beyond the pale does an organisation have to go before we hold accountable its wider membership? Many ordinary Catholics, the vast majority, one would certainly hope, in no way condone their Church’s outrageous involvement in the mass child abuse of which we are all now painfully aware. But, equally, given the scale, scope and numbers involved, no one could claim, with any credibility, that the wider flock are merely dealing with a few bad papal apples.
So how do people who are part of an organisation get to absolve themselves from the things their organisation does? At what point is it reasonable to start pointing the finger at the lay membership and demanding they accept a share of the responsibility for the sins and crimes of their Church? In the case of political parties, it’s deemed perfectly reasonable for members of those parties, from top to bottom, to be held responsible for its actions. Why not in the case of religions?
The incontrovertible truth is that any organisation can only survive and prosper with the consenting, active support of its membership. Surely there be can nothing contentious in pointing out that if the Catholic Church’s billion-strong faithful continue to do nothing then they are as morally culpable as the priests carrying out the abuse?
If everyone with even a shred of basic human decency turned their backs on this loathsome and repugnant coven, it would collapse. We'd see no more institutionalised homophobia, misogyny, racism, bigotry and sexual abuse from these degenerate hypocrites because there simply wouldn't be the apparatus to sustain them.
It’s long overdue that ordinary Catholics, many of whom are actually victims themselves, stopped making excuses for their deviant and manipulative coreligionists and stood up and were counted. If they do not then the world is entitled to judge them as culpable in the ruination of children’s lives as it does those carrying out the abuse themselves.
As far as the new Pope is concerned, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.