Chastened?

This is a guest post by Zuzu. Zuzu is a former Feministe blogger.

Jill forwarded this post to me a couple of weeks ago as something of a joke. “You’ll enjoy this,” she wrote. Actually, I found myself pissed off. Here’s a very long explanation of why.

Here’s the tl;dr for this post: Dawn Eden made herself a nuisance to this blog and others about five or six years ago. Just Google her name along with that of pretty much any feminist blogger or blog and you’ll see what I mean. Now she’s reared her head again, mentioning me and this blog (and my reviews of her first book) in an interview about her new book. I don’t care all that much about what she said about me, personally, but the interview and book bring up a lot of issues that Dawn and I (as well as other feminist bloggers) have gone at each other over before and which I feel merit a response. Dawn has long been an engaging if fundamentally dishonest writer, particularly on the subject of feminism and women’s sexuality, and in the interview and her book, she accuses feminists of, essentially, causing child sexual abuse by supporting sexual freedom for adult women. In addition, there’s a good bit of inside-baseball stuff about the Catholic church and the clerical sex abuse scandal, and how Dawn addresses – or rather, fails to address – that scandal in the context of a book, written from a specifically Catholic perspective, about using Catholic writings and teaching as a means of healing from childhood sexual abuse.

In late 2006 or early 2007, Dawn wrote a book called The Thrill of the Chaste. I reviewed it in a series of posts in which I took pains to say that while Dawn may well have made the decision for herself to be chaste, and that might be the right choice for her, it wasn’t the right choice for everyone. Unfortunately, Dawn’s whole angle was that chastity was the only right way to find a husband for everyone – and even the only right way to have friendships. She had a lot to say about the proper way to have married sex (even though she had never been married), took the position that kissing was the same as sex, and reacted poorly to the idea of contraception and abortion. Indeed, Jill captured the essential Dawn Eden in this post: feminism and the ‘60s are to blame for everything bad in the world because no one had sex before then, and sex is the root of all evil.

Dawn has written a new book, May Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds With the Help of the Saints. In this book, Dawn reveals that she was sexually abused as a child by a janitor at her Temple, then disbelieved when she told her mother, her mother told the rabbi,* and the janitor denied it; she also says (though her mother disputes this) that her mother told her not to tell her father what had happened because they were divorcing and she did not want Dawn’s father to have grounds for custody. The book itself is about her use of Catholic teachings, writings and philosophy to heal from that abuse and the way she was treated after talking about it. I have nothing but sympathy for her abuse, and I know that being abused in any way and then disbelieved is a hellish experience. But while it’s apparent that she’s doing some image rehab as part of the publicity tour for the book and claims that she has changed and seen the light, she hasn’t really changed at all.

She’s still doing the same things that annoyed us so much when she was calling us sluts and babykillers: universalizing her own experiences and declaring that because she herself had an experience or feeling, it must be applicable for all. Because she’s arrived at an explanation, regardless of whether this explanation is true or supported in any way by reality, everyone else is wrong. Because she wants to protect the moral authority she has attached herself to at all costs (in this case, the Catholic hierarchy), anything that disagrees with that is bad and wrong and to blame. More damagingly for the purposes of this post, she has shielded this moral authority from any responsibility for its own role in causing or contributing to the same kind of harm that she suffered. It was all shits and giggles when she was defending chastity in her typical vicious narcissistic way, but now she’s 1) accusing feminists of supporting attitudes that lead to the sexual abuse of children; and 2) completely ignoring the massive Catholic clerical sexual abuse scandal even as she prescribes Catholic teachings as a way to heal from such abuse. And, typically, she puts the blame on liberalism, her mother, and feminism.
I will have a great deal more to say about her handwaving of the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, but let’s begin with her blaming feminism, and feminist bloggers in particular, for making sexual abuse happen.

This is what Dawn said about me (and feminist bloggers) in the post linked at the top:

Q: Those of us who are longtime fans of your writing notice a change in your topics and tone: You used to be known for getting into heated debates with secular feminists, but you don’t do that anymore. Did this journey of healing have anything to do with that?

Yes. There was one event in particular that led me to reconsider the way I’d been acting out against feminist bloggers:

I discuss this in more detail in the book, but there was a time several years ago when I antagonized feminist bloggers, because I saw them as encouraging the same kind of attitudes that fostered my childhood sexual abuse. Though I make no apologize for proclaiming those truths about human life and dignity that the Church proclaims to be true, it was wrong of me to lash out in uncharity.

A turning point came after a woman named Zuzu began a series of blog posts reviewing The Thrill of the Chaste at the blog Feministe. She was picking and choosing things to insult me about, setting out to thoroughly shame and embarrass me, making fun of me in the most uncharitable way.

At first I just wrote her off as a mean-spirited person. Then one day I saw a blog entry of hers[**] about her childhood, in which she talked about the difficult aspects of her relationship with her mother. She gave specific examples of her mother transgressing certain boundaries, and while they weren’t acts of sexual abuse, learning about them made me have so much compassion for her. I realized that it was a shame that I had burned so many bridges, and therefore couldn’t reach out to Zuzu and say, “I know how you feel.”

It was a point of conversion of heart for me, which led me to seek to avoid vitriol and uncharity in my public witness.

Well, to quote Billy Joel, she never cared for me. But did she ever say a prayer for me?

As I said earlier, I don’t care much about what she said about me (see the footnote for why I’m just sort of perplexed about it) or my book review posts, which stand on their own. In fact, having read them again in order to research this post, I can see why she wouldn’t like what I had to say about the book, but I don’t see where I was “picking and choosing things to insult [her] about, setting out to thoroughly shame and embarrass [her], making fun of [her] in the most uncharitable way.” I really did review the book, and not her. It’s not my fault the book was terrible.

So what pissed me off about her response in that interview? This [my emphasis]:

I discuss this in more detail in the book, but there was a time several years ago when I antagonized feminist bloggers, because I saw them as encouraging the same kind of attitudes that fostered my childhood sexual abuse.

Here’s how she more fully explains that bit in the block quote about feminist bloggers encouraging the kinds of attitudes that she felt led to her childhood abuse:

[From pp. 143-144] Under the guise of defending Christian teachings on marriage and the sanctity of life, I picked fights with radical [! – z.] feminist bloggers, calling them names and attacking them in personal terms. They offended me because I saw in their writings the attitudes that had enabled my abuse. In their denial of the personhood of the unborn child, I saw the denial of personhood of all children. In their praise for what they termed sexual freedom, I saw the elimination of sexual boundaries – the boundaries that, had they been enforced in my childhood home, would have protected me from harm. In their ridicule of modesty advocates, I saw my mother’s laughter at me when I, as a child, complained of her and her boyfriend’s household nudity: “Oh, she’s becoming modest.” In their efforts to convince young women that purity was “repressive,” I saw the culture that had enabled the efforts I made to “free” myself by means of sexual encounters that served only to re-traumatize me. In their advocacy for “sex workers,” I saw the encouragement of the damaging lie that sex is “only physical.” (To this day, I cannot understand how people can simultaneously decry the sexual objectification of women while insisting upon the “right” of women to sell their bodies.) Even though I was not yet able to name the pathology of dissociation (described in chapter 3), I knew that trying to separate body from soul was a deadly game.

There’s a lot of fail here. Once again, I understand that she has been abused, and that can mess a person up. But the thing is, this paragraph is vintage Dawn Eden: she’s lashing out, attacking, insulting, mischaracterizing and strawmanning the positions of her opponents (who are all lumped together indiscriminately; she’s eliding feminist bloggers and her mother). She’s dressing it all up in high-minded language, but in the end, what she’s doing is presenting a construct, a caricature of feminism as a way of working out her own issues through application of a rigid formula which places the blame for whatever ill she perceives well away from her and her current moral authority, and preserves her sense of righteousness. Note that she never says she was wrong to characterize the positions of feminists the way she does here (and I defy her, or anyone else, to find anything in the archives to support this, particularly given that, in fact, feminists have worked very hard to have bodily autonomy respected and not abused or violated, for children as well as adults, and have worked very hard for justice for survivors of sexual abuse), just that she was wrong to be “uncharitable,” and later, to be angry and wounded. I see she still, like so many anti-feminists, has problems conceptualizing “consent” and “bodily autonomy” in the context of sexuality. She also fails to elaborate how feminism influenced the 73-year-old-in-1974 man who abused her.

But here’s the other thing that really pissed me off about Dawn Eden and this book: she has written a book about her childhood sexual abuse and about using the teachings of her new Catholic faith – including writings by the current pope – as a means of healing. She goes so far as to recommend that all victims of childhood sexual abuse can find healing in these works.

And she does so while washing her hands of the entire, massive, worldwide Catholic clerical sexual abuse scandal. A scandal that goes right up to the Prada Pope himself. From the introduction to Dawn’s book:

[p. xxiii] In addition, although I share my fellow Catholics’ grief and anger over those who have abused their sacred office, I will not focus on the scandal of abuse committed by clergy. The reason for this is not out of any desire to diminish the very real and often devastating experiences of those who have suffered such abuse. I fervently hope this book will help them and those who minister to them. However, I am taking a more general perspective, based on my personal experience as part of a large population whose needs are not being met. By far, the largest category of sex-abuse perpetrators are family members, who are responsible for one-third to one-half of cases. After that (in descending order) come family friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers; only a small percentage of cases are committed by clergy.

I take her point that the problem of sexual abuse of children is widespread and that Catholic clergy are not the only perps. However, when you write a book which deals with sexual abuse from a specifically Catholic perspective, using Catholic theology and Catholic writings and teachings, and you don’t address the international criminal conspiracy to cover up child rape which involved the guy who’s now in charge of the entire religion, you have a massive hole in your perspective. You can’t airily dismiss the fact that you’re choosing to ignore the great evil perpetrated by the very people whose writings you’re now offering to their victims as a way to heal and to fit what happened to them into God’s great plan. You also can’t declare that these victims are having their needs met when the Church is trying very hard to undermine the organization that survivors have put together to fight for accountability.

Dawn and I got a little into it back in the day over the whole cradle-Catholic/convert business. Re-reading her response in light of what she’s now writing about, I’m even more put off than I was back then:

Blame The Da Vinci Code.

Suddenly, everyone wants to be Catholic — if only so they can retain their politically correct credentials while bashing the Church. It’s sort of like Jews’ using their religion as an excuse to tell “Abe and Sol” jokes (a pet peeve of my sister the rabbi), or black rappers’ arguing that the n-word’s not racist when they use it.

Now, Feministe’s Zuzu writes in a post titled “Converts’ Zeal” that she, as an “officially apostate” Catholic, is infuriated when new converts like myself claim to express the Church’s teachings. . .
[A commenter quoted in the Feministe post] then brings up a few of the Church-connected horrors which I have unfairly escaped as a recent convert, including the Magdalene laundries. The message is that I, knowing only the “nice” Church, have no right to assume that the dogmas I learned in the Catechism will lead to a world of niceness. In fact, according to Zuzu and her amen corner, the Catechism points to drunkenness (apparently that professor wasn’t so far off) and white slavery.

This is just incredibly dismissive of the victims of the Church. Should I really be that surprised that she would ignore what the Church has done to so many children so that her own image of herself can remain intact? Back then, she was just trying to score some cheap points from her online following of recent converts; maybe she didn’t appreciate the full horror of the laundries or the extent of the clerical abuse (and cover-up) at the time. Does she ever re-read this and cringe? She should.

The above is not only dismissive of the victims, it’s dismissive of those who were raised in the Church and have had to come to terms with what was going on and decide whether they can continue to belong to the Church.*** If you decide, as an adult, to embrace a religion and all its teachings (and to get up the nose of cradle Catholics you deem to be insufficiently committed to the catechism because they use contraception or are pro-choice), you sign on to its problems as well. You can’t simply ignore them, and like it or not, you’re not in the same position as someone who was brought in as a child and for whom the religion is part of cultural identity: you walked in with your eyes open. And there’s an enormous problem in the Catholic Church involving the systematic abuse of children and the coverup of that abuse by the hierarchy (as well as the harboring of fugitive criminals like Bernard Cardinal Law, former Archbishop of Boston, who’s reportedly up to some mischief in his new, cushy gig at the Vatican). Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, was the official in charge of investigating such abuse when the shit started hitting the fan in the 1990s and the 2000s – well before Dawn converted. Read that BBC article I linked above: Ratzinger is being sued for his role in failing to act on a request by an archbishop in Wisconsin to discipline a priest who was accused of abusing 200 deaf children in his care. TWO HUNDRED.

And this wasn’t the first time he may have known about abuse, have been in a position to do something about it, and failed to act. While the wave of new revelations in the US seems to have slowed now that there have been over a billion dollars of church funds spent to settle civil cases, the truth is just beginning to come out in Europe, particularly after the revelations of horrific abuse and slave labor in Ireland. Who knows what will be next? Sinead O’Connor wrote, shortly after the revelation of Ratzinger’s role in the Wisconsin abuses, that Benedict’s pastoral letter of “apology” to the people of Ireland rang hollow because it failed to do the one thing that could truly provide healing to the victims, take responsibility:

Despite the church’s long entanglement with the Irish government, Pope Benedict’s so-called apology takes no responsibility for the transgressions of Irish priests. His letter states that “the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children.” What about the Vatican’s complicity in those sins?

Benedict’s apology gives the impression that he heard about abuse only recently, and it presents him as a fellow victim: “I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.” But Benedict’s infamous 2001 letter to bishops around the world ordered them to keep sexual abuse allegations secret under threat of excommunication — updating a noxious church policy, expressed in a 1962 document, that both priests accused of sex crimes and their victims “observe the strictest secret” and be “restrained by a perpetual silence.”

Benedict, then known as Joseph Ratzinger, was a cardinal when he wrote that letter. Now that he sits in Saint Peter’s chair, are we to believe that his position has changed? And are we to take comfort in last week’s revelations that, in 1996, he declined to defrock a priest who may have molested as many as 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin?

Benedict’s apology states that his concern is “above all, to bring healing to the victims.” Yet he denies them the one thing that might bring them healing — a full confession from the Vatican that it has covered up abuse and is now trying to cover up the cover up. Astonishingly, he invites Catholics “to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.” Even more astonishing, he suggests that Ireland’s victims can find healing by getting closer to the church — the same church that has demanded oaths of silence from molested children, as occurred in 1975 in the case of Father Brendan Smyth, an Irish priest later jailed for repeated sexual offenses. After we stopped laughing, many of us in Ireland recognized the idea that we needed the church to get closer to Jesus as blasphemy.

Just like the Vatican, Dawn is looking for anyone to blame but those who were responsible; the Vatican, like Dawn, blames Woodstock, feminism, gays and the ‘60s. If blaming feminism for the Church’s ills sounds familiar, you might have been paying attention to the recent Vatican efforts to clamp down on American nuns for being “radical feminists” and failing to preach the anti-abortion gospel, instead spending all their time ministering to the poor and tending the sick and such. And just like the Vatican, Dawn offers victims of the Church deflection, dismissal, guilt and the insulting suggestion that they need to get closer to the very people who were complicit in their abuse (and who tried very hard to keep a lid on things by silencing the victims and moving around the priests). Maybe Dawn, as a convert, has had too little exposure to the nuns and too much to the priests and bishops and identifies with the hierarchy rather than the laity. Or maybe she’s just a hack.

___________________________________

* The rabbi acknowledges that, in 1974 or so when this would have happened, he had no idea what to do and thus mishandled things. He would not do so now, no doubt because of the greater awareness of sexual abuse of children. For which I’m sure Dawn gives feminists no credit.

** I can’t be entirely sure which post she’s referring to, but I think it may be this one. It made more sense before my sister took down her blog so you could see what I was referring to. Long story short: my mother was somewhat controlling about our hair, used bribery to get us to submit to her pressure to cut our hair, I took the bribe but my older sister got my father to intervene (which I hadn’t known about), thus keeping both her long hair and getting the bribe. Childhood photo complete with cultural-appropriative mid-‘70s dance recital costumes lost to an earlier webhost. How exactly this compares to her experiences of sexual abuse or would have made her compassionate towards me, I’m not sure. I can say that I never finished my review of The Thrill of the Chaste, for two reasons: First, the book was dishonest, awful, and just plain boring, and I was running out of ways to say that she was universalizing her own shit. Second, I read this article, and realized that she had so many serious issues that it would be unsporting to continue to mock her.

*** I’m one of those people; I chose to leave. The priest who performed my First Communion and saw me through Confirmation abused as many as 50 boys, many of whom I knew. He was moved from parish to parish and was not removed from ministry until the efforts of the Diocese to prevent one of his victims from telling his parents failed; this victim eventually sued, and the family was under a gag order as part of a civil settlement until they began to become aware of other victims and spoke out. My family first became aware of the abuse by Father Hanley when a male relative of my parents’ generation warned my mother in case Hanley had abused my brothers. He’d found out about Hanley’s abuse – which was not yet public knowledge — because he himself was in a support group for victims of clerical sexual abuse – his had taken place in a nearby town in the 1940s and 50s (so much for Woodstock being to blame) and he was pressured into silence. And then we moved to a different state, where it turns out the priest who married my sister abused at least eleven boys. According to reports, the Diocese had had complaints about him dating back to the 1960s, but did nothing other than move him to different parishes until victims started going public in 1993.


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60 comments for “Chastened?

  1. tinfoil hattie
    May 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Excellent post.

    If the Catholic Church were a person, he’d be an abusive husband/partner.

    Dawn Eden demonstrates so much Stockholm Syndrome it’s nearly impossible to unpack it.

    So I won’t.

    Suffice to say, the biggest institutional enablers of child sexual abuse are the priests and bishops and cardinals and popes who have not only stood by silently but made it easier for predators to rape their way through whole swaths of children.

    Feminists have nothing to do with Dawn’s problems. Not even radical ones like zuzu.

  2. Lauren
    May 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    And just like the Vatican, Dawn offers victims of the Church deflection, dismissal, guilt and the insulting suggestion that they need to get closer to the very people who were complicit in their abuse (and who tried very hard to keep a lid on things by silencing the victims and moving around the priests).

    This.

  3. gratuitous_violet
    May 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    This is so timely, I was just reading through the archives about a week ago and thought to myself, I wonder what ever happened to that hack Dawn Eden?

    I’d like to hear her explain how my child-molesting grandfather, already in his 50’s in the 1970’s, was influenced by feminism to beat his wife and abuse my mother and all my aunts and most of my cousins.

    All in all, Dawn Eden reminds me of some of the intensely traditional Catholic women on my father’s side. Their own priest molested boys (and girls!) for decades, but people like me are why the world is falling apart. The century-old convent at their church closed a few years ago (along with the grade school, because whoops your nuns do most of the heavy lifting!), but people like me leaving the church in disgust, and ceasing to tithe, are the true problem according to some of my relatives.

    Sometimes I suspect they lash out at people living vastly different lives because in our kinds of communities, there were no other options even visible to them, so those that “flaunt lifestyles” take all the heat when the Church’s ecumenical politics are really to blame. I respect that they strive to maintain some traditional aspects of our culture but I could really do without the projection and deflection. The community denial ruins people’s lives.

  4. May 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I got an email from her a few weeks back where she was doing similar things. She asked for my address, to send me a copy of her book. I think that very same week, there had been a terrorist attack on a clinic. I couldn’t believe the audacity of an anti-choicer asking me, considering the circumstances, to give them information that might be used to stalk me. I was appalled and deleted the email. No, she hasn’t changed.

  5. FYouMudFlaps
    May 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    This Dawn person seems to have no reason to live at all.

  6. William
    May 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, so I get that it can fuck up your perspective and leave you lashing out. I spent the better part of my youth stomping around and engaging in passively suicidal behaviors. I get it.

    I have absolutely no time for people like Dawn Eden and the arguments she makes. Her use of her own history of abuse is nothing less than pimping out her own suffering and, by extension, the suffering of others for political gain. She is a vulture picking at the corpses of survivors and it is not surprising that she responds with bilious vomit when challenged.

    The erosion of sexual boundaries, or whatever convenient scapegoat you’ve chosen to use at the moment to gin up the theofascists, does not cause rape. Rapists cause rape. Power enables rapists. If Dawn Eden wants to look for the things which allow children to be raped she needs to look to her own church. She needs to look to the kyriarchy and the myriad forms of power which enable and protect rapists who target those who have been disempowered. She needs to look to herself and her desperate need to cozy up to monsters in the hope that proximity to their corruption will somehow shield her from their predations. The boundaries of which she speaks are the ways in which victims are blamed. The progressive attitudes which she reviles are the means through which denial can be challenged. The sexual freedom from which she recoils is the foundation of the consent which allows us to judge rape as wrong.

    I am a survivor and I will not be brow beaten or shamed into submission to the authority of men who would better serve as feed for lions than spiritual leaders.

  7. zuzu
    May 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    She really is a piece of work, isn’t she?

  8. Marksman2010
    May 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    This Dawn person seems to have no reason to live at all.

    She has plenty of reasons to quit writing.

  9. Mizz Alice
    May 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    This Dawn person is extremely far away from anything close to healing. She has a very distorted and self-serving view of abuse. Very sad.

  10. May 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Her use of her own history of abuse is nothing less than pimping out her own suffering and, by extension, the suffering of others for political gain.

    Quoted for truth.

  11. Kat
    May 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Wow, reading that old post on our hair really brought back some memories. I’d like to point out that I didn’t set out to keep the hair/get the bribe — when did Dad ever stick up for us, especially against Mom? I took a stand that day and figured it was a done deal. I think that’s why that particular experience was such a standout for me. That Dad did the Right Thing and made Mom just stop, if only that once. Although I think I got it back in spades from Mom for years after.

    And I would also like to say, they may have sent me to school for the sole purpose of landing a good husband, but I sure rebelled against that now didn’t I? Two marriages later….

  12. Kat
    May 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    If the Catholic Church were a person, he’d be an abusive husband/partner.

    Yes.

    I do continue to practice my Catholic faith, but I am fully aware that the leadership is completely crackers. Zuzu, to her credit, is very supportive of my faith. She’s not anti-faith, she’s anti-institionalized justification of horrific child abuse.

    I struggle with my Catholicism. On one hand I am a cradle Catholic and that is very much a part of me. On the other hand, my life has been directly touched by the sexual abuse scandal (First Communion and Sacrament of Marriage — two different priests, both serial abusers protected by the church, friends and family abuses by these men and others).

    But we do carry on with the church. My son is an altar server, but I never never never let him alone with a priest. There is my faith, and then there is my common sense. Get close to the priests to heal my trust issues with the church? Hell no. No amount of scripture is going to make me comfortable leaving my boy alone with a priest. Maybe in Dawn’s world this makes me a bad Catholic. Whatever.

  13. May 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    If Dawn Eden wants to look for the things which allow children to be raped she needs to look to her own church. She needs to look to the kyriarchy and the myriad forms of power which enable and protect rapists who target those who have been disempowered.

    welp.
    (props, william) :)

  14. monstrosity
    May 10, 2012 at 7:37 am

    When she brought up dissociation after all those examples of her conflating feminist ideas with her fears, I thought she was going to have an understanding that she was reacting to her triggers. No such luck.

  15. Chiara
    May 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    I disagree that more sexual freedom and feminism has caused sexual abuse of children, that’s crazy.

    But I think that the sexual freedom of feminism has come with its problems today… It tells girls that they can be sexual and have sex, but if girls do be sexual and have sex, even only half as much as guys do, then they get called sluts. Where is the fairness in that? And yes, I understand that’s not feminism’s fault. But it still makes ‘sexual freedom’ into a bit crap for girls today.

    Also sexual freedom can kind of force girls into being people they are not. I know sexual freedom should include the option to have sex and not have sex, whatever. But in practice when it gets applied when you’re young it becomes more like, the option to have sex, or be mal-aligned. I didn’t have to do it so much because I had an excuse because of my learning difficulties, but when I was a kid some of my friends were having sex that they didn’t want to have with older guys, because if they didn’t they were being “fridge” or whatever and they got a bit messed up by it. I’m not trying to be anti-sex or anything, but maybe there is a little bit of value in being ‘chaste’ at least for some people.

  16. zuzu
    May 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    You’re not really describing sexual freedom, Chiara.

    And I said in the post that chastity isn’t my choice, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work for other people. Dawn, however, decided that chastity was not only right for her, it was right for everyone else.

  17. May 10, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Also sexual freedom can kind of force girls into being people they are not.

    Well…if you’re being forced, it’s not freedom. I’m just sayin’. Pressure to be sexual is every bit as opposed to sexual freedom as pressure to be chaste.

  18. William
    May 10, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Chiara:

    What you’re describing isn’t sexual freedom or feminism, its the same play that people on equal footing have always played but with somewhat more modern and culturally relevant costumes. Force and mind games and dominance and coercion are the opposite of freedom. Freedom demands that all parties involve be free, without that you’re still in the realm of coercion.

  19. piny
    May 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    You can’t just say, “I see this tendency in that philosophy.” You have to point to some conclusive effect. In other words, you have to be able to point to a group of feminists excusing child sexual abuse. And you can’t. Feminists do not condone or perpetrate child sexual abuse. They’re pretty categorically anti-rape. Feminism has made it easier, not harder, for rape victims to seek redress.

    In fact, feminist scholarship is responsible for a good part of the modern definition of child sexual abuse Dawn Eden is using, as well as the conceptual framework that privileges victims over perpetrators. Who gets the credit for the idea that victims should speak out? Who gets the credit for the idea that a rape victim isn’t damaged goods? Who gets the credit for the idea that women and girls have personal “boundaries?” Not conservative religious patriarchs.

    To take a counterexample, I could say that the hierarchal, cynical, self-absorbed outlook of the Catholic Church reminds me of the selfish cruelty of a chronic abuser. I wouldn’t be pulling that out of my ass, because the Catholic Church actually is full of child rapists and child rapist apologists.

  20. May 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Piny asks/I answer:

    Who gets the credit for the idea that victims should speak out?

    The Church. See Acts of St. Lucy, quoted in St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae. Threatened with rape by a Roman judge for the “crime” of being Christian, she said, “If thou causest me to be violated against my will, my chastity will receive a double crown [i.e. of merit in God’s eyes]” Aquinas explains “that she will receive a double reward, one for observing virginity, the other for the outrage she has suffered.” In other words, rape does not take away virginity in God’s eyes, so it does not take away virginity in the eyes of the Church.

    Who gets the credit for the idea that a rape victim isn’t damaged goods?

    The Church. See above. The stated teaching dates back to the fifth century (Augustine, City of God, Book 1, Chapter 18), though it has its roots in the Gospels, as I write in My Peace I Give You.

    Who gets the credit for the idea that women and girls have personal “boundaries?”

    Jesus (Matthew 5:28), followed by St. Augustine, and all the saints.

  21. ellid
    May 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Dawn Eden –

    Thank you for demonstrating just how right Zuzu is in her characterization of you. Now, why don’t you go confess to your priest (who may or may not be a molester) that you are guilty of bearing false witness against your neighbor, and then shut up?

    KTHX BAI.

    Ellid

  22. piny
    May 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Yes, but you know what? That’s complete horseshit.

    It’s like saying that Jesus’ words about cherishing children wipe out the Church’s actual history with children. No, wait, it’s worse: it’s like saying that the Church advocates for its own victims by virtue of its own pretense.

    You know perfectly well that the Catholic Church has not followed that teaching. They punished rape victims. They made victim status all but a spiritual status crime. They rewarded the predators. It doesn’t count as a moral philosophy if you don’t actually obey it. It’s nothing but a lie.

    Feminist activism is responsible for laws against sexual abuse of women. Marital rape is illegal in this country because of feminists. Unchaste women can legally suffer rape because of feminists. Sexual abuse and incest are no longer family secrets because of feminists. Sexual abuse survivors have community resources because of feminists. Sexual abuse no longer depends on physical (or spiritual) virginity because of feminists. This is a matter of public record.

    And you can play gotcha with famous dead Christians all you want, since you’re apparently comforted by an argument as flimsy and nasty as the idea that rape doesn’t steal your virginity, but you can’t reasonably claim that the Catholic Church protected rape victims. Because they didn’t. That’s also a matter of public record.

    If your religion comforts you, that’s your lookout. But when you claim that zuzu is soft on rape because her moral objection to rape has alienated her from that same religion, you are indeed bearing false witness. And providing aid and comfort to men like the men who hurt you.

  23. zuzu
    May 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Dawn, you’re really stretching if you have to go all the way back to St. Augustine and Jesus hisself to find a counterweight to the current criminal conspiracy by the Church leadership. Including a pope who directed the bishops to cover things up and pulled the criminal Law out of Boston before he could be arrested. What was that about rendering unto Caesar?

    Jesus didn’t have anything to say about gays, either, but the current crew in Rome are sure as hell focused on hating them.

    You’re still a hack.

  24. William
    May 13, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    I’m glad Piny, Ellid, and Zuzu have been pleasant.

    The Church

    How can victims speak out when bound by perpetual silence? You can’t have it both ways, you wretched little rape apologist.

    See Acts of St. Lucy, quoted in St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae.

    I try not to look for moral advice, or even basest humanity, from men who actively advocated and pursued the murder of other human beings for the crime of theological disagreement. What Aquinas did to the Albigensians was unforgivable.

    Threatened with rape by a Roman judge for the “crime” of being Christian, she said, “If thou causest me to be violated against my will, my chastity will receive a double crown [i.e. of merit in God’s eyes]”

    “On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death.” One wonders if it is deceit or ignorance which has lead you to quote Aquinas here. A violent persecutor of a religious minority speaking so bravely from his seat at the head of privilege’s table against the persecution of past members of his own religion. For me but not for thee, I suppose. I would ask how you can stomach the hypocrisy but it is surely not my place to question a Doctor of the Church. I should just be thankful that, to borrow from a better (or, at the very least, more honest) ethicist than Aquinas, the impotence of the love of Christians prevents them from burning a filthy heathen like me.

    Its nice and all that he sees rape as being something which people can use to earn brownie points from his savage god but I’d rather condemn the rapist rather than wring hands over how rape makes a victim somehow holy.I don’t want a double crown in the eyes of a dead man’s delusions. I want my rapist to be brought to justice. Barring that I want him on a slab.

    So take your moral bankruptcy elsewhere. I’m not impressed by the bloviations of a vile little crusader intent on murdering those who worshipped incorrectly. I’m not impressed by the creative readings of scripture that has been used to advocate rape, murder, and genocide for centuries. I’m not impressed by your bilious submission to a cyst of child rapists, nor your flaccid attempts to steal the successes of people who are worthy of admiration in order to bring glory to your church distract from the utter unworthiness of the conspiracy of thieves and murderers who bear a closer resemblance to the Roman slavers whose name they still claim than the stolen savior whose corpse they pimp for donations. I’m not impressed by your ersatz authority. I would be mildly impressed by your arrogance and complete lack of humility were it not the calling card of every half-bright convert intent on browbeating anyone who won’t pull a gun on the off chance that someone might nod in polite agreement and dispel their lingering doubts.

  25. May 14, 2012 at 1:39 am

    @William…

    Thank you. Seriously, thank you so much. You said everything I wanted to say after reading Dawn’s disgusting little comment – and her disgusting little book – but couldn’t find the words, let alone the eloquence you brought to your arguments.

  26. May 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    William, thank you for quoting St. Thomas Aquinas on heretics, for that is a very relevant point. If you read him in context, you would see that St. Thomas is speaking of the “secular authorities” of his time, who were ready to put heretics to death because they saw heretics as threats to their own authority. The Church saw her role as that of helping heretics return to the faith so they would not be killed by the secular authorities. So St. Thomas is saying that the Church, unlike the state, favors mercy. It is as true in our time as it was in his.

    St. Thomas is often proof-texted by people who are not familiar with how texts by scholastic philosophers are organized. You may find this article on “how to read the Summa” helpful.

  27. Partial Human
    May 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Who ran slave-labour camps full of women who’d “sinned” (been raped by a priest, went through puberty early, kissed a boy, etc), and profited from them?

    Your church.

    Who sent orphans te Australia to be used as slave-labourers and sexual outlets for the clergy?

    Your church.

    Who ripped babies from the arms of screaming women and girls, and sold them for a fat profit?

    Your church.

    Who turned a blind eye to the institutionalised rape of children?

    Your church.

    Who told priests in developing countries to fuck local nuns instead of prostitutes?

    Your church.

    Who excommunicated said nuns, when the priests infected them with HIV?

    Oh go on, guess?

    Sick, disgusting cabal of paedophiles, rapists and sociopaths. Draining the money and spirits of the poor and disenfranchised, destroying communities and lives, and growing fat on the proceeds.

  28. May 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    So St. Thomas is saying that the Church, unlike the state, favors mercy. It is as true in our time as it was in his.

    Uh, lady, I’ve yet to read of a country in the last 1500 years that became more benevolent, more just or more merciful (except to Christians) on becoming a Christian-majority nation. If you’re having to look more than a millennium into the past of your fucking religion to find someone who isn’t a raging douchebag, you’re bloody well doing it wrong.

    Oh, and speaking of sexually abusive practices: When’s the Vatican going to backtrack on its support of forced limitless reproduction? When is it going to accept accountability for its global child rape silencing that everyone up to Nazinger was in on? When is it going to declare that its policy of telling illiterate Africans and Asians that condoms spread HIV was a sack of filthy lies? How about its support of completely criminalising abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest (you know, like, sexually abusive shit), forcing women to carry the foetuses of their rapists?

    Fuck you, Dawn Eden, and fuck your hypocritical bullshit.

  29. May 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Also, for anyone who’s tempted to judge her more benevolently because of her own abuse… hi, survivor here. And William up there and fuck knows how many others on this thread. It is entirely possible to be a survivor, even one with mental illnesses (hi again), and live one’s entire life without spreading disingenuous, twisted, noxious propaganda that would send the most traumatised members of our society in their most vulnerable moments to the most systematically corrupt, abusive, filthy, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic institution in the history of the motherfucking world.

  30. Partial Human
    May 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Hells to the fucking YES, MK!

    Supporting that. perverted torture-cult is like saying “But Hitler loved doggies! He wasn’t all bad!”

    I feel sick to my stomach just thinking of Pope Palpatine dripping in gold and silk, paid for with the blood and tears of the poor and abused.

  31. zuzu
    May 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    So St. Thomas is saying that the Church, unlike the state, favors mercy. It is as true in our time as it was in his.

    Well, while it’s nice that they don’t advocate outright killing anyone, you do have to admit they fall down a bit on the taking-responsibility front. For example, in 2001 Cardinal Ratzinger — you might be familiar with him — sent out a letter in his capacity as grand poobah of the Inquisition to every Catholic bishop in the world instructing those bishops to obstruct justice for victims of sexual abuse:

    The letter, ‘concerning very grave sins’, was sent from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that once presided over the Inquisition and was overseen by Ratzinger.

    It spells out to bishops the church’s position on a number of matters ranging from celebrating the eucharist with a non-Catholic to sexual abuse by a cleric ‘with a minor below the age of 18 years’. Ratzinger’s letter states that the church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been ‘perpetrated with a minor by a cleric’.

    The letter states that the church’s jurisdiction ‘begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age’ and lasts for 10 years.

    It orders that ‘preliminary investigations’ into any claims of abuse should be sent to Ratzinger’s office, which has the option of referring them back to private tribunals in which the ‘functions of judge, promoter of justice, notary and legal representative can validly be performed for these cases only by priests’.

    ‘Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret,’ Ratzinger’s letter concludes. Breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication.

    The letter is referred to in documents relating to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against a church in Texas and Ratzinger on behalf of two alleged abuse victims. By sending the letter, lawyers acting for the alleged victims claim the cardinal conspired to obstruct justice.

    If the significance of slow-walking a Church “investigation” for 10 years after the victim turns 18 escapes you, consider this:

    Daniel Shea, the lawyer for the two alleged victims who discovered the letter, said: ‘It speaks for itself. You have to ask: why do you not start the clock ticking until the kid turns 18? It’s an obstruction of justice.’ . . .

    Shea criticised the order that abuse allegations should be investigated only in secret tribunals. ‘They are imposing procedures and secrecy on these cases. If law enforcement agencies find out about the case, they can deal with it. But you can’t investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10 the priest will get away with it,’ Shea added.

    Mercy.

  32. zuzu
    May 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    In case it’s not clear: it’s an obstruction of justice because the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse starts running when the victim turns 18. Thus, the Church is trying to avoid further civil and criminal penalties by running out the clock.

    Though some states, in response to the Church’s obstruction of justice, have eliminated the SoL for this crime.

  33. Dan S.
    May 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Dawn Eden –

    And Saint Cuthbert may have made the first bird conservation laws in history, way back in the 7th Century, but there’s a reason it’s called the Audubon Society, not the Cuthbert Society.

  34. piny
    May 14, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Oh, but zuzu, he was only advocating mercy in contrast to contemporary secular authorities, who are much less inclined to give aid and comfort to serial child molesters.

  35. zuzu
    May 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Sorry about the serial posting, but further to what I said in comment 32: Cardinal Timothy Dolan has made defeating attempts to extend or eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse his top legislative priority.

    Leaving aside the fact that as a leader of a religious organization enjoying tax-exempt status he should be very careful about even having a legislative priority, let’s consider for a moment that the Archbishop of New York, one of the most powerful representatives of the Catholic Church in the United States (and, indeed, the world), has made it his top priority to ensure that the victims of his church — children — have no means of seeking legal redress for the wrongs against them.

    Guess they thought that 10 years would be enough to shut the brats up.

  36. Dan S.
    May 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    (and of course, following through on the Audubon analogy, the Catholic Church *hasn’t* even spent the last few decades protecting and enabling countless priests while they ran around slaughtering endangered birds (at least, as far as we know).

    Now, if one wanted to argue that to some extent the true heirs of Jesus, Saint Augustine and all the saints are, in fact, modern feminists, well, I can sort of see that …

  37. piny
    May 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    William, thank you for quoting St. Thomas Aquinas on heretics, for that is a very relevant point. If you read him in context, you would see that St. Thomas is speaking of the “secular authorities” of his time, who were ready to put heretics to death because they saw heretics as threats to their own authority. The Church saw her role as that of helping heretics return to the faith so they would not be killed by the secular authorities. So St. Thomas is saying that the Church, unlike the state, favors mercy. It is as true in our time as it was in his.

    This isn’t exactly true. He advocated that the Church attempt to convert them, but that if they proved recalcitrant, then the Church should cheerfully hand them over to be burned before and then after death, lest their heresy infect the others. And he wasn’t talking about a quiet chat over tea.

    But all that aside, this is just yet more dishonesty from you. Even if Thomas Aquinas had been a fierce advocate for religious freedom, he still wouldn’t be the same as the Church itself. And even the Church’s stated opinion is not the same as the Church’s actual behavior. The Church has not been merciful towards dissenters, and you know that.

    I’m pretty sure the Pope has never spoken in favor of sexually abusing children in sanctuary. I’m pretty sure he could tell you some good reasons why it’s immoral to harm children or help others harm them. Yet he has acted to support child rapists and punish their victims.

    This is like saying that Thomas Jefferson’s fine words erase his ownership of slaves, our history as a slaveowning nation, and the contributions of everyone who actually fought for civil rights. It’s a stupid argument, but it also betrays a deep moral stupidity.

  38. gratuitous_violet
    May 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Wow, I hardly ever get to pull this thing out of my pocket, but my degree in medieval Europe is laughing SO HARD at the idea that it was the mean old secular authorities that killed all the heretics throughout history, as if it was even always possible to draw a meaningful distinction between secular and ecclesiastical power in the first place.

    Dawn, you should meet my Catholic relatives, who can’t bear to hear a single word about the actual history of their beloved Church without accusing me of mocking their strong faith that’s apparently not strong enough to withstand the entirety of their institutions’ history. You could hang out together and apologize for our parish’s old priest. Sure, he may have abused dozens and dozens of children, but at least he wasn’t Brazilian like this new guy!

  39. May 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    @30 Hey, thanks!

    And speaking of Hitler…. didn’t he self-identify as Catholic?

  40. William
    May 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    William, thank you for quoting St. Thomas Aquinas on heretics, for that is a very relevant point. If you read him in context, you would see that St. Thomas is speaking of the “secular authorities” of his time, who were ready to put heretics to death because they saw heretics as threats to their own authority. The Church saw her role as that of helping heretics return to the faith so they would not be killed by the secular authorities. So St. Thomas is saying that the Church, unlike the state, favors mercy. It is as true in our time as it was in his.

    No, that is quite plainly not what he was saying. More than that you and I both know that the Church and secular authorities of the time were more incestuous than your average king’s family tree. All of that is irrelevant though because his plain phrasing was that heretics deserved death if they refused to convert and that the church should deliver them to secular authorities for such a fate. He likened heresy to forgery and outright stated that heretics needed to be removed from society to protect the souls of others. Its an active stance against free thought and advocacy of murder in the name of hegemony. Business as usual for Rome’s last standing horror, I know, but worthy of calling out all the same. More than that Aquinas was a Dominican (the same order that produced Torquemada) after the Albigensian Crusade and made his statements about the death of heretics in that historical context. Calling his writings on heretics a call for mercy would be a joke were it not so startlingly brazen. “Convert or we’ll hand you over to be executed” isn’t mercy, its violence. First you’re a rape apologist, now you’re a genocide apologist.

    St. Thomas is often proof-texted by people who are not familiar with how texts by scholastic philosophers are organized. You may find this article on “how to read the Summa” helpful.

    I first read the Summa in it’s entirety under an Augustinian who held multiple doctorates (including one in moral theology). His reading of this particular portion was similar to my own. I know its tough for a convert to wrap their head around, but not all committed enemies of the Church were always such, nor are we ignorant cherry pickers so .

    Perhaps more to the point, it is a poor writer whose work cannot be understood by a man with doctorate, a religious studies background, and a broad understanding of western philosophy. As you might have gathered, this is neither my first encounter with Aquinas nor my first reading of scholastic philosophy. Given your attempts to play authority here I would have assumed that my reference to Nietzsche might have tipped you off that this isn’t a philosophical comprehension problem. Perhaps it is a bit much to have expected you to have pulled your head from the echo-chamber, though.

    Back to the subject at hand. Aquinas, to his credit, is not a poor writer. He would not have had the incredible influence he has if he was difficult or obtuse. He is straightforward and eloquent. His rhetoric is strong and his arguments clear. Even in context Aquinas argued that the Church should deliver unrepentant heretics to their deaths. You can dodge and weave and anemically accuse me of misunderstanding all you like, but you cannot argue with plain language and historical context.

    I’m still unimpressed.

  41. William
    May 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Also, for anyone who’s tempted to judge her more benevolently because of her own abuse… hi, survivor here. And William up there and fuck knows how many others on this thread. It is entirely possible to be a survivor, even one with mental illnesses (hi again), and live one’s entire life without spreading disingenuous, twisted, noxious propaganda that would send the most traumatised members of our society in their most vulnerable moments to the most systematically corrupt, abusive, filthy, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic institution in the history of the motherfucking world.

    Quoted for truth.

  42. May 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Zuzu, thank you for mentioning Cardinal Ratzinger’s “pontifical secret” letter. It was misread by the media as a cover-up, when in fact it marked the beginning of the end of the old culture of secrecy, as John Allen observed in the National Catholic Reporter:

    In some reporting and commentary, a May 2001 letter from Ratzinger to the bishops of the world, titled De delictis gravioribus, is being touted as a “smoking gun” proving that Ratzinger attempted to thwart reporting priestly sex abuse to the police or other civil authorities by ordering the bishops to keep it secret.

    That letter indicates that certain grave crimes, including the sexual abuse of a minor, are to be referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and that they are “subject to the pontifical secret.” The Vatican insists, however, that this secrecy applied only to the church’s internal disciplinary procedures, and was not intended to prevent anyone from also reporting these cases to the police or other civil authorities. Technically they’re correct, since nowhere in the 2001 letter is there any prohibition on reporting sex abuse to police or civil prosecutors.

    In reality, few bishops needed a legal edict from Rome ordering them not to talk publicly about sexual abuse. That was simply the culture of the church at the time, which makes the hunt for a “smoking gun” something of a red herring right out of the gate. Fixing a culture — one in which the Vatican, to be sure, was as complicit as anyone else, but one which was widespread and deeply rooted well beyond Rome — is never as simple as abrogating one law and issuing another.

    That aside, here’s the key point about Ratzinger’s 2001 letter: Far from being seen as part of the problem, at the time it was widely hailed as a watershed moment towards a solution. It marked recognition in Rome, really for the first time, of how serious the problem of sex abuse really is, and it committed the Vatican to getting directly involved. Prior to that 2001 motu proprio and Ratzinger’s letter, it wasn’t clear that anyone in Rome acknowledged responsibility for managing the crisis; from that moment forward, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would play the lead role.

    Beginning in 2001, Ratzinger was forced to review all the files on every priest credibly accused of sexual abuse anywhere in the world, giving him a sense of the contours of the problem that virtually no one else in the Catholic church can claim. In a recent article, I outlined the “conversion experience” Ratzinger and his staff went through after 2001. Beforehand, he came off as just another Roman cardinal in denial; after his experience of reviewing the files, he began to talk openly about the “filth” in the church, and his staff became far more energetic about prosecuting abusers.

    For those who have followed the church’s response to the crisis, Ratzinger’s 2001 letter is therefore seen as a long overdue assumption of responsibility by the Vatican, and the beginning of a far more aggressive response. Whether that response is sufficient is, of course, a matter for fair debate, but to construe Ratzinger’s 2001 letter as no more than the last gasp of old attempts at denial and cover-up misreads the record.

  43. PrettyAmiable
    May 14, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    And speaking of Hitler…. didn’t he self-identify as Catholic?

    Not in any meaningful way. His parents were Catholic, but he stepped away from the church after childhood. I’m actually pretty sure he thought Catholicism was too Jewish for him. I do think he was more or less “Christian” though.

    Unrelated, but big ups to the folks who rightly acknowledge there is no room for victims in the church as the church is too busy victimizing to be an actual ally.

  44. May 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    when in fact it marked the beginning of the end of the old culture of secrecy

    Yes, it did. Just not by the Church’s volition. Also, 2001?!?!?! Seems a little late for your merciful bloody church to wake up to the idea that oh, raping kids has like consequences and stuff. Since you keep insisting they’re the wellspring of everything decent in the world and all.

  45. William
    May 14, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Zuzu, thank you for mentioning Cardinal Ratzinger’s “pontifical secret” letter. It was misread by the media as a cover-up, when in fact it marked the beginning of the end of the old culture of secrecy, as John Allen observed in the National Catholic Reporter:

    Yeah, and Stalin’s holodomor wasn’t the calculated mass murder of better than seven million human beings in the name of doctrine, it was the Soviet Union’s first step towards accepting responsibility for feeding it’s enormous population. You’re like a holocaust denier or a communist apologist, desperately scrambling to spin the Church’s towering mountain of black shit into gold but only managing to get bullshit you’re too pious to smell. The rest of us, however, aren’t saddled with the desperate need to spit shine a morally bankrupt conspiracy of dunces and genocideers because we haven’t thrown our lot in with them.

    Keep shoveling, with luck you’ll get drowned in the cave in.

  46. William
    May 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Yes, it did. Just not by the Church’s volition. Also, 2001?!?!?! Seems a little late for your merciful bloody church to wake up to the idea that oh, raping kids has like consequences and stuff. Since you keep insisting they’re the wellspring of everything decent in the world and all.

    Who are you to question these pedophiles and their enablers? They have a magic chair to fall back upon and fifteen centuries of tradition to defend. Whats a few raped children next to gold and Prada draped Inquisitors on their holy furniture doing God’s work?

    Or something. Frankly my disgust is getting in the way of my snark. Time to go listen to some old black metal…

  47. zuzu
    May 14, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Riiiiiight, Dawn.

    It was all part of a new policy of openness. Backed up by the threat of excommunication for breaching the papal secret. So, tell me — why did the co-author of the letter say this?

    The Ratzinger letter was co-signed by Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone who gave an interview [in 2003] in which he hinted at the church’s opposition to allowing outside agencies to investigate abuse claims.

    ‘In my opinion, the demand that a bishop be obligated to contact the police in order to denounce a priest who has admitted the offence of paedophilia is unfounded,’ Bertone said.

    And why is Benedict harboring a fugitive from justice, Cardinal Law, if he’s so committed to openness and accountability for the Church’s sins?

    And why, as noted above, has Cardinal Dolan just announced that his highest legislative priority is to fight the efforts in various states to eliminate or extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse? There’s a lot of suffering and injustice in the world. Surely the Archbishop of New York has other things that might take precedence over making sure that the Church’s victims can’t seek redress once the 10-year “preliminary investigation” runs out the clock on their civil and criminal claims?

    This is your moral authority, Dawn. Cherish it.

  48. zuzu
    May 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    By the by, Dawn, has the chastity thing gotten you a husband yet?

  49. DonnaL
    May 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    His parents were Catholic, but he stepped away from the church after childhood.

    Hitler was certainly Catholic, regardless of whether he “practiced.” And I know that right-wingers (both political and religious) have tried desperately to label Hitler as an atheist, or a pagan, when they’re not busy trying to claim that he was really a left-wing Jewish homosexual.

    But I think it’s worth pointing out that despite the fact that in the late 1940’s the Pope issued a blanket excommunication of all Communists worldwide, the Church never excommunicated one single prominent Nazi who was born Catholic. See former Catholic priest James Carroll’s 2001 book Constantine’s Sword (a book I suspect that Dawn Eden has either never read, or has been instructed not to believe), at p. 437, discussing the Pope’s silence about the Nazis, and the feeble “what could he have done; everything he did was behind the scenes” nonsensical excuse:


    Why could he [Pius XII] not have responded to the Nazis with the uncompromising ferocity of his responses to Communism? . . . . No Catholic-born Nazi – not Goebbels, Himmler, or Bormann; not even Adolf Hitler, who died with his name still on the rolls of the Catholic Church, and for whom the Catholic primate of Germany ordered the Requiem sung after his suicide – was ever excommunicated for being a Nazi. But . . . Pius XII ‘did not show the slightest inhibitions, after the war, in 1949, about excommunicating all Communist members throughout the world at a stroke.’ That decisive act, taken as a matter of moral absolutism, without regard for the consequences to the privileges of the Church, or even to the safety of Catholics behind the Iron Curtain, remains an unrefuted measure of what Pius XII could have done in 1943.

  50. DonnaL
    May 14, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    I have a comment in moderation about the Catholic Church and Hitler.

    Meanwhile, though, I’m waiting to hear from Dawn all about how Aquinas was really a friend of the Jews, and how his comment in his 1271 letter to the Countess of Flanders (or perhaps the Duchess of Brabant; nobody seems quite sure) that “the Jews by reason of their fault are sentenced to perpetual servitude and thus the lords of the lands in which they dwell may take things from them as though they were their own—with, nonetheless, this restraint observed that the necessary subsidies of life in no way be taken from them,” proves it, and proves how magnanimous he was. He could have said that everything can be confiscated! But allowed us to keep a few scraps, just enough to survive!

    Next, she can tell us that Aquinas also was a friend of the Jews because he said that it was only the Jewish elders, not all the Jews, who crucified Christ out of hatred even though they saw the signs of his Godhead, and only pretended to be ignorant, contrary to the Augustinian tradition of the blindfolded Synagogue — in other words, the Jews were even worse than people thought, except for the ignorant common folk — and that “Affected ignorance does not excuse from guilt, but seems, rather, to aggravate it: for it shows that a man is so strongly attached to sin that he wishes to incur ignorance lest he avoid sinning. The Jews therefore sinned, as crucifiers not only of the Man-Christ, but also as of God.”

    I’m so grateful. What a wonderful, merciful soul he was.

  51. EG
    May 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Well, look, all the Nazis did was kill Jews. When did the Church ever object to that?

  52. May 14, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    @51 lol.

    Except not lol, but you know what I mean.

    @William,

    Whats a few raped children next to gold and Prada draped Inquisitors on their holy furniture doing God’s work?

    Indeed.

  53. DonnaL
    May 14, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Well, to be entirely fair, EG, it’s true that although the trend in Christian theology prior to St. Augustine was to take the position that the Jews’ continued existence could no longer be justified or tolerated (as in the writings of the unspeakably vile St. John Chrysostom), Augustine took the view that the Jews (or at least some of us!) had to be preserved as witnesses to the prophecies in the so-called “Old Testament” allegedly given beforehand concerning Jesus as Messiah (in other words, the events of Jesus’s life written after the fact, with benefit of hindsight, specifically to match those prophecies). As Moses Mendelssohn put it, if it weren’t for Augustine, we would have been exterminated by the Christians long ago, and given the choice of conversion or death — the same way that the pagan polytheists were exterminated beginning in the fourth century. And, of course, the way the Jews were regularly slaughtered in numbers large and small by those who forgot, or hadn’t heard about, Augustine’s theories.

    Of course, in order to prove the point of supersessionism by permitting the Jews to remain alive as “witnesses” to historicized prophecy, and as a living demonstration of what Christianity was not, the Jews had to be maintained in a degraded state. As the saying went, “Let them survive, but not thrive!”

  54. ellid
    May 15, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Dawn Eden –

    Oddly enough, I just returned from the largest medieval studies congress in the country. Your superficial cherry picking of Aquinas would have had virtually everyone there falling down laughing on the spot.

    Also, my opinion of you has, if anything, only worsened. Perhaps you should read the poetry of a great Catholic writer and meditate on these words:

    “A little learning is a dangerous thing,
    Drink deep or sip not from the Piereian spring.”

    Alexander Pope.

  55. Richard
    May 17, 2012 at 11:41 am

    ZuZu notes:

    * “The rabbi acknowledges that, in 1974 or so when this would have happened, he had no idea what to do and thus mishandled things. He would not do so now, no doubt because of the greater awareness of sexual abuse of children. For which I’m sure Dawn gives feminists no credit.”
    But she doesn’t apply that observation to most other sectors of society, inclding the Catholic Church. Everyone seemed basically clueless about sex abuse back then; the bishops were under the mistaken view that sex abusers could be rehabilitated. This doesn’t excuse them moving around abusing priests but it does explain much of the mentality behind it. Just why abuse was so strong in the 60s and 70s does suggest that the culture had some influence on a rapidly liberalizing church; gay priests and seminarians were staying in the priesthood while heterosexual ones were making for the exit to get married; most of the victims were not prepubescent but teenagers and male. This suggests that some gay priests were acting out and not following their vows.
    I am not Catholic and find holes in Dawn’s frequent line that it is the “true church.” But I don’t know why she can’t write a book using Catholic spirituality to addres a societal issue and not to have to harp constantly on the child abuse issue when the rest of secular society has made it it’s mantra about the dangers of institutional religion.

  56. zuzu
    May 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Just why abuse was so strong in the 60s and 70s does suggest that the culture had some influence on a rapidly liberalizing church

    I think you’re making the mistake Dawn and a lot of other people are, including the Church, here.

    You’re assuming that the number of people speaking out about abuse which occurred during the 60s and 70s correlates to a spike in the rates of abuse at that time. I don’t think that follows at all. I think that the generation who came up post-Vatican II were more willing to question the authority of the Church and speak out against abuse.

    In addition, they were the ones who were still young enough after the dam broke to have a hope of coming within the statute of limitations on these wrongs *and* for the priests/bishops to still be alive to be held accountable. Remember, the statute for child sexual abuse starts running when the victim turns 18.

    It was the liberalization of the Church (and society) that allowed the victims to speak out; it didn’t *cause* the abuse to happen. Before then, victims were silenced and shamed and threatened with excommunication. The Church is still trying to do so.

  57. May 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    i dont think anyone can say with any reliability what “religion” hitler practiced, if any— all i can reliably say, is that he was committed to doing or saying anything that would keep him in power __he was perfectly capable of masquerading as whatever he needed to in order to gain and keep the trust of the people—he is the one who is credited with the saying,” if you tell a lie often enough and long enough, people will eventually believe it”

    i was raised in the lutheran church, and now practice the pentecostal faith—and i know that protestant churches have their own self-serving reasons for publicizing the abuses of the catholic church—nevertheless, said abuses are well documented and a matter of public record

  58. DonnaL
    May 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Maggiemay, that statement is usually credited to Goebbels, and it’s both false (one of the many forged Nazi quotations), and entirely unlike anything Goebbels would be likely to have said — it was the British and Americans whom he continually accused of lying. The purported statement ultimately derives from a passage in Mein Kampf in which Hitler says that people “more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a little one,” but he obviously wasn’t talking about himself. He was talking about the Jews (who else?), and how they supposedly use the “big lie” technique. See the lengthy discussion of this, and other, fake Hitler quotations, at http://bytwerk.com/gpa/falsenaziquotations.htm: “Hitler is accusing the Jews [and] the Vienna press of this strategy. It is often taken as evidence that Hitler advocated the ‘Big Lie.’ He is, in fact, accusing his enemies of lying.”

    If I were you, I’d avoid making assertions about such statements that Hitler is credited with, without reliable primary source attribution. Like the ones about Hitler favoring gun control, and Hitler being a “law and order” advocate. The people who propagate such falsities usually know nothing about the history of the time, and are happy to cherry-pick false quotations for their own purposes — kind of like the shameless way that right-wing Christians propagate false quotations in a ridiculous, repulsive attempt to prove that the “Founding Fathers” like Washington and Adams and even Jefferson(!) were all fundamentalist Christians who believed in the USA as a “Christian nation” rather than deists and even, some of them, atheists.

  59. DonnaL
    May 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    [I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my most recent comment, mentioning Hitler seven times and Goebbels twice, along with Nazis, would be caught in moderation!]

  60. William
    May 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    i dont think anyone can say with any reliability what “religion” hitler practiced,

    Except that Hitler’s antisemitism is deeply rooted in, and a natural evolution of, European antisemitism which is the product of Christianity in general and Church policy in specific. Hitler didn’t choose to persecute jews by happenstance, he was following well-established tradition in Europe. Was he a Christian? Who knows, but he was sure as hell doing God’s work as defined by the European Church for the better part of 1000 years.

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