A Second Victimization

Nicholas D. Kristof wrote another New York Times editorial condemning the Church. It’s not worth reading; it’s the same stuff about the Vatican is not the Church, but the real Church are the ones helping the needy (i.e. the ones doing what Kristof likes-except for obviously Mother Teresa b/c she didn’t like contraception) and the Church needs to expand its ideas on women and contraception in order to avoid the sex abuse crisis. For example

That story comes to mind as the Vatican wrestles with the consequences of a patriarchal premodern mind-set: scandal, cover-up and the clumsiest self-defense since Watergate. That’s what happens with old boys’ clubs

That’s not interesting. We’ve heard it before. What is interesting is his blog. He himself comments on the article.

One question that I’m still puzzling over is this: how much difference would it make if the Vatican did admit women as deacons, or ordain them? It’s certainly true that women can be abusers as well as men. The painful report of the Irish Commission of Inquiry last year made that clear, with accounts of nuns brutally mistreating children and in some cases raping them. Likewise, ordination of women is no guarantee of popular support: mainline Christian denominations have been ordaining women, and still losing ground to more conservative Evangelical denominations.

Yet I do think that addressing the gender/celibacy issue would help in some ways. Certainly it would be easier to attract priests if they could marry. Orthodox churches have trouble attracting priests (who can marry) but less than the Catholic Church. And bringing women into the leadership, and democratizing decision-making generally, would I think mean more accountability and transparency. The worst thing that can happen to any institution is unaccountable centralized leadership, and that’s part of the church’s trouble. Moreover, I think that a church with women leaders and married priests might take a different view of birth control and of child abuse.

It is amazing to me that he admits that the women can be abusers as well as men, and he only wants them because it would democratize the Church and change attitudes on birth control! In essence, he admits that he knows darn well that ordaining women would do little to nothing to change the sex abuse crisis. All he claims is a vague idea that more women would bring more transparency, a claim which has no rational basis (I’m fairly certain that women are good at keeping secrets too-I should know; I’m married).

In the end, it is obvious that he is using this opportunity to push for changes b/c he doesn’t like Church teaching on contraception. He knows what he is advocating will do nothing to protect children but he uses the scandal as justification anyway.

It amazes me that child abuse advocates do not attack Kristof for this. Kristof is acknowledging that he is merely using the victims of child abuse to smear the Church in order to pursue his own agenda not to prevent child abuse. By doing this, he has victimized them a second time-he is using them without respect for their dignity. He ought to be apologizing as well as the Church.

However, I doubt we’ll see the day when the NYT calls for Kristof’s apology.

9 Responses to A Second Victimization

  • Paul Zummo says:

    Just a slight correction: Kristoff is actually an outspoken opponent of abortion, which actually makes the junk he peddled in his column all the more disappointing.

  • restrainedradical:

    What’s objectionable is that he knows that he wants to see happen will do very little to actually make children safer-yet continues to connect it to the sex abuse scandal and admits it by saying that he knows that women can be abusers as well.

  • faustina says:

    What is objectionable is that he wants the church to okay gravely immoral contraception and that the Church is an institution founded by men.

    My experience outside of the church ie public school system and many different Protestant denominations is that the presence of women do not make men more moral. Admitting women to ministry in Protestent cirles leads quickly to heresy.

  • restrainedradical:

    I’m pretty sure you didn’t read the column but just the quoted portion (or every other word of the quoted portion…not sure which you took the time to read). This is what he said:

    “That old boys’ club in the Vatican became as self-absorbed as other old boys’ clubs, like Lehman Brothers, with similar results. And that is the reason the Vatican is floundering today.”

    Now compare

    “One question that I’m still puzzling over is this: how much difference would it make if the Vatican did admit women as deacons, or ordain them? It’s certainly true that women can be abusers as well as men. The painful report of the Irish Commission of Inquiry last year made that clear, with accounts of nuns brutally mistreating children and in some cases raping them.”

    So we went from “Boys club is the reason” to “I’m puzzling whether it would make much of a difference.” It is proper to infer that he is admitting that the thesis advancing by his column is not true; that at the very best his thesis would be “Admitting women would help decrease the liklihood of this problem.” That’s a big difference to admit/acknowledge.

    So he’s already admitted that he doesn’t believe in the thesis he advanced, that he failed to mention in his column that women are also abusers and he failed to admit that admitting women had not helped make other denominations relevant (which is not what the column suggests).

    He then puts in the throw-away paragraph. He makes 3 assertions: it would attract more priests (which is not relevant to the crisis), that for mystical reasons women would magically produce democracy and transparency, and that women could change the Church’s teaching on contraception. it is not till the very last two words of the paragraph that he remembers what the column is about and adds “and child abuse,” suggesting that women are more against child abuse then men (which also is given no support).

    He’s not looking to child abuse. All of the goods he discusses are irrelevant or marginally connected to the issue. Combined with the doubts and stats he admitted in the first paragraph I quote, the inference is proper. He knows his connection isn’t strong but he wants to promote contraception & women priests so he does so anyway, taking advantage of the emotional reaction to child abuse in a way that he ought to apologize for.

  • John Henry says:

    Working on the issue-spotting, I see, Michael. ;-) .

    The instrumentalization of abuse victims to serve as Exhibit A in the argument why the public schools, excuse me, Catholic Church needs to be radically redesigned in the author’s image, is one of the more unsavory aspects of the coverage of the scandals. I think this is an error often made in good faith; people are not that good at sorting out the differences in their sincerely held beliefs. Nevertheless, the fallacy on display is often:

    1)Abuse is bad,
    2)I think these Church teachings are bad,
    3)The correlation of bad things happening in an institution with bad teachings implies causation (regardless of what the evidence shows)

    And, of course, a similar thing happens to defenders of the Church, where the syllogism often runs:

    1) The Church is good;
    2) The liberal media is bad;
    3) Ergo, the bad liberal media is wrong when it says bad things about the good Church.

    Throw people on each side reasoning in this manner, and truth quickly becomes a casualty. I think your post is perceptive insofar as it captures the mask slipping a bit as Kristof questions the assertions he has casually made in arguing for his preferred reforms. At the same time, I am not sure this is morally blameworthy as much as it is a mental blindspot. People really aren’t that good at thinking rationally; at least not for long and not on that many topics. I usually use MSNBC and Fox News as my primary examples of that, which, for some reason, some people find only half-persuasive.

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