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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Andrew Sullivan and Ursula Le Guin

I saw in the news that the pope hopes his upcoming letter to the Irish will defuse the sex abuse scandal, and also that a Vatican official promises the church will have more transparency in abuse investigations. This is so depressing - apparently no changes are planned which would make such abuse less likely in the first place.. Even worse, the pope and the Vatican appear to believe that sexual abuse, while a bad thing, is an inevitable part of being church, or at least of being the kind of church they want to be.

This brought to mind two things:

One is a post today by Andrew Sullivan ... The Pope: Drowning, Not Waving. Here's just the beginning of it ...

Yes, I know. "Excitable Andrew" is getting excitable again. The recent flurry of stories about sexual abuse and acting out in the Catholic church is just a flurry. The Pope is not Cardinal Law. The hierarchy remains entrenched in the developing world. Benedict's gamble - to double-down on denial about the celibate priesthood's sexual problems, to add more incense to the smoke-screen and more pageantry to the theater of it all - is working. But it isn't. Let us review the recent evidence. The American church is still shell-shocked by abuse cases that have implicated the very top of the church hierarchy in recent years. Many Catholics - from the liberals to the arch-conservatives - will never feel the same way they once did about this institution, nor should we ...

The other thing is an essay by Ursula K. Le Guin .... The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Here's a description of it from Wikipedia ...

In the story, Omelas is a utopian city of happiness and delight, whose inhabitants are smart and cultured. Everything about Omelas is pleasing, except for the secret of the city: the good fortune of Omelas requires that a single unfortunate child be kept in perpetual filth, darkness and misery, and that all her citizens should be told of this on coming of age.

After being exposed to the truth, most of the people of Omelas are initially shocked and disgusted, but are ultimately able to come to terms with the fact and resolve to live their lives in such a manner as to make the suffering of the unfortunate child worth it. However, some few of the citizens, young or old, silently walk away from the city, and no one knows where they go. The story ends with "The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas."

I thought I'd add a link to a post at a NYT blog - Changing the Vatican’s Response to Abuse - which asks a number of people, including David Gibson and John Allen, for their opinions on how to fix the abuse crises ... they have some interesting thoughts.


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