Friday, March 16, 2007

Angry Encounter with Believed Friend

I would like to write about an incident, involving me and another person, which shows how misinformation can lead to anti-catholicism. In order to protect the identity of those involved, I will leave out names and identifying details.

I was speaking with a girl I know and whom I considered a friend. We weren't very close, but close enough that we could talk about many issues and had a good laugh every now and then. For the most part, she was a very fine individual who I felt was caring and sensitive. I continue to believe she is caring and sensitive, however there is a side of her, which I had until that point not noticed.

We were speaking about various topics as we usually did through email. We would send a sentence or two of discussion on light topics. It was never a big deal, and just casual chat. Knowing that she's been with her significant other for quite some time, the topic of marriage and children came up. Then I asked her if she would marry in a church. She said she would like to because it is the traditional way of getting married, however she felt she may be somewhat hypocritical in doing so, since neither she nor her family attend church.

Then she said she honestly didn't believe a lot of things about the Catholic faith. This was fine, and I emailed her back and said I honestly do. This is when she completely lost it. She went on a tirade about the bad things the Catholic Church has done. The following is a quote from what she said:

"Most of the priests are a bunch of homosexual child molesters. I believe some of the rules should be changed and altered as the times progress. They are very backwards in their thinking."

Remember, we were used to having light topics on things like the weather, friends, music, etc. We had never engaged in heated discussion, yet she felt the need at that point to go berserk and verbally ransack the Catholic Church. I was literally shocked from what she wrote. Even the most fervent anti-Catholics do not believe that "most priest are a bunch of child molesters". I was sad to hear she had such a poor opinion of the Catholic Church.

She went on to lambaste what she felt were "backward" practices of the Catholic church, such as not allowing homosexuals to marry each other, etc. She continuously called the practices of the church backward and old-fashioned, and said the Church should focus on more important issues than homosexual marriage, such as war, poverty, AIDS, etc. She even attacked beliefs held by all Christians, such as the Virgin Birth. However, her beef against the Catholic church had really nothing to do with how much the Church did in these areas. I know this because I sent her a response email outlining the things the Church has done. For example, I said the Catholic Church helps more people in Africa living with AIDS than all other relief organizations (including the Red Cross, the UN, etc) combined. I told her how Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church helped more Jews during the holocaust than anyone else, and that this is attested to by the then Prime Minister of Israel, the Chief Rabbi of Rome (who converted to Catholicism), and Albert Einstein. But she was not interested in this information.

I also responded to her comments about "Most of the priests are a bunch of homosexual child molesters". Obviously this comment is not only offensive, but also false. As I've wrote about in previous articles, the idea that "most" or even "a lot" of priests are child molesters is outright false. A study done by non-Catholic Philip Jenkins from Penn State University shows that celibate priests are no more likely to commit sexual abuse than any other religious person, or non-religious person. Other studies have shown that teacher sexual abuse is 4 times higher than priestly abuse. One of the reasons why it seems there is a lot of priestly abuse is because the information that the media has presented recently has been accumulated from a 40 or 50 year period. Think about it. Whenever you hear on the news a story about a priest who sexually assaulted children, etc. it's always happened in the 60s, 70s, or 80s. In fact, studies show that there is a large decline in sexual abuse by priests recently. It's also important to realize that what the media is reporting is not completely accurate. For example, most of the 1-2% of priests involved were charged with one incident, not serial incidences. This includes the vast majority (about 80%). Also, 80% of cases did not involve pedophilia (sexual abuse of pre-pubescent children), but in fact involved post-pubescent people, aged from 13 to 18. Although sexual abuse is sexual abuse regardless of age, it is worse to abuse a pre- rather than a post-pubescent child. The media of course, does not report on this difference. The media is well-known for going with the most taboo stories they can find. There are never studies done on, for example, the incidence of sexual abuse among truck drivers, or cooks, for example. Sexual abuse among priests is a popular story for the media because priests are seen as holy and pure, and to discredit them enters into a rather taboo area. Rarely does 1 to 2% of a group come to represent the entire group, like this has for many people.

In dealing with anti-Catholic sentiment, it is important to realize that while many people will viciously attack the Church for having sexual abuse, or for various other historical events, which they misrepresent, their true purpose is something else. Most of the time, people have certain opinions which are contrary to Natural Law and the Catholic Church, and in order to lash out against them, instead of talking about the issue, they seek to discredit the Church. In doing so, they seek to make everything the Church teaches seem absurd. Basically, they try to say, "How can you believe what this organization says if it does this, this, and this." This is the same case with this friend of mine. She lashed out at the Catholic Church in order to make it easy for her points to be accepted, even though they had nothing to do with her points. It's akin to saying, I don't believe what that person is saying about art because he failed a math test in grade 9. It's using the information about this person failing his grade 9 test to show how stupid, immature, and unreliable this person is. Once you have discredited this person, you feel it is easier to make the point that he knows nothing about art. If this person is an art critic and he is critiquing your art, you then proceed to say, My art is perfect, and I don't need to believe you, because you are stupid, immature, and unreliable. This approach is very popular among anti-Catholics. The best approach for dealing with this is to make sure they stay on topic, and one topic at a time. Catholic doctrine is easily defended because it reflects logic, reason, and natural law, because it is from God.

I will pray for this person and for all anti-catholics in general that they may see the Truth of the Catholic faith and realize that by living a life prescribed by Holy Mother Church, they may come to have joy and happiness.

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