So, now that I've totally railed on the Catholic church on a personal level, I'm going to take some time to tell you why that institution is bad for our nation, and humanity as a whole.
Everyone likes to tell me how wonderful the church is, and how much charity work they do. That argument is not going to work on me because everything they do can be done better, with a greater percentage of the money going to actually helping people, if it was done by a secular charity. In recent news, the Vatican been attempting to prevent nuns from attending to the types of issues we traditionally think of as christian charity work (working in homeless shelters, food kitchens and healthcare facilities) in favor of them furthering the church's political influence. The gall that they have to so publicly state that their focus is not on helping people anymore, that it's on influencing politics, should appall everyone in this day and age. All the good Catholicism does in the world is wiped out, and then some, by all the horrors it visits upon it.
I could rehash the priests abusing children argument, but it's old. We all know it, we know that the church doesn't deny it anymore, and we know that they're still not holding those priests accountable for their actions. Oh, some are being prosecuted in the US, but on the whole, the church's policy of moving molesters to new parishes, often in other countries, to sweep the issue under the rug is well known. The fact that the Catholic church, as an organization, was content to just get away with it quietly, for the sake of keeping its name clean, for so long speaks volumes of its character.
This one issue has brought up other problems, as well. Since homosexuals are not considered inherently sinful in the Catholic church so long as they abstain from "acting on their homosexual urges," and they are therefore encouraged (and often feel like their only real choice in life) is to become a priest. So, with an inordinately high percentage of the priesthood known to be homosexual or bisexual, and the child molestation issue so prevalent in the news and media, the unwarranted link between homosexuality and pedophilia has become reinforced.
Furthermore, this covered up and drew attention away from the girls who had been abused, as well as the nuns who had been raped. This is a problem inherent in a Church that vilifies sex, and treats the "sin" of masturbation the same as the sin of rape, pedophilia or murder. Yep, everything I just listed was a "mortal sin" to be confessed and washed away by a priest's assignment of a few "Hail Mary's." Sure they're not necessarily truly equal in the "eyes of god," but any priest will tell you that masturbation is a sin that could send you to hell just like the others.
I'm not bringing up the church's specific dogma to argue it. They can believe whatever crazy shit they want. The point is that this is the culture they have created. It is one with an emphasis on guilt over sexuality. Do what gets you off, but feel really awful about it and confess later. This is the root of many kinks and perversions. Kinks are fine. Enjoy getting off while rubbing a balloon on your balls and singing showtoons on top of the kitchen table. That does not effect my life one bit, and if it enhances yours and doesn't hurt anyone in the process, you have my blessing and sincere hope that you find someone to share in your kink. Perversions, such as pedophilia and rape-fantasy, though, are a different story entirely. The people who have these perversions almost always seem to have some sort of sexual guilt instilled in them early on. So, this Catholic attitude toward sex is like spinning the wheel of chance and hoping for kink over perversion. Odds are, most people are going to come out with kinks (or prudish hang-ups,) but it's not fair that the church gets to get away with creating any perverts, few though they are.
So, we all know that the Vatican is rich as well. I could wax on forever about how those greedy bitches could use some of that over-the-top wealth to actually feed, clothe and educate people, but that argument is also tired. It's been made, and we all know that the Catholic church is nowhere near that virtuous. No, they would much rather ask their members for money, and then use that money for things like the miseducation of Africans regarding HIV. I wonder how many HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths could be directly linked to the Catholic church's campaign to tell people that condoms don't prevent transmission of the disease? It would be interesting to know. Of course, killing one person with a lie like that is unconscionable, but somehow I bet the pope sleeps just fine beside his massive, silly hat. After all, he's the voice of god on earth.
There are real problems with any religion that encourages its members to get its information from a person, rather than to read, explore, and find it themselves. In fact, depending on which definition you use, this pyramid-style structure of leadership and funding could define the Catholic church as a cult. The sing-song sermons, which were given in Latin until fairly recently, are designed to be hard to follow. The wording is such that the meaning isn't always obvious, and it's clear that church members are supposed to have a relationship with the priest in which they ask his opinion directly. He'll then spout off the pope's policies, and the congregation will just have to accept that the notions of right and wrong coming from a celibate, ancient man living in a house of gold in Italy, are from god himself.
When I was young I noticed that I was told to pray to this saint or that, to pray to Jesus or the virgin Mary, but I was never really advised to pray to god himself. My catechism instructor told me often that I wasn't supposed to pray to god directly because we could not really understand him, but that the saints and Jesus, who were once mortal, could carry my messages there better. This sounded like such a crock to me. Even as a child, I thought that dealing with a "middleman" was a waste of time and effort. But it seems important to the Catholics to keep their god "untouchable," and the pope is another way of reinforcing this.
The Catholics have really pissed everyone off lately with their insistence that the women they employ not receive birth control coverage. It is not a violation of their religious rights and freedom to make sure that all their employees are treated the same as employees everywhere else in the nation. It is not fair to make women employed by Catholic institutions, such as colleges and hospitals, have to pay out of pocket for contraception that they do not have to pay a penny more for. It is their way of continuing to subjugate women and treat them as though they are worth less than men. What makes this all really ridiculous is that the Catholic institutions don't even have to offer the birth control...the insurance company does. They're obviously doing this willingly since paying for birth control is considerably cheaper than paying for a pregnancy, birth and then a child. But the church does not want their employees to even have the ability to obtain birth control coverage separate from them. It's inexcusable misogyny, pure and simple, especially since over 90% of Catholic women themselves have or will use birth control in their lifetimes.
The Catholics are responsible for atrocities across the globe. How is this tolerated by the people? How is this possible? It has to be the vast numbers of "casual, cultural Catholics," whom I will now refer to as CCC's. The CCC population makes up the majority of Catholics. They do not agree with all the church's dogma, most of them scoff at the idea that the pope is god's voice on earth, that birth control is "against god's will," that marriages preformed outside the church are invalid, that condoms do not prevent AIDS, or that women are in any way less than men. Why the hell are they still Catholic, you ask? Why, because their families are. It's how they were raised, and the church has done an excellent job of convincing people that their children need a "religious foundation" to grow up to be good, moral citizens. So, people who may move away from attending mass while they are young adults (but still claim to be Catholic) will drift back in during the pregnancy with the first child, have them baptized, and then attend church on a regular basis to start the cycle all over again. Their children will then think that they "needed" this moral training, and have memories of baptisms, catechism, weddings, first holy communions and confirmations in the church, pancake breakfasts, bingo nights and various fundraisers put on by the nuns or the youth group. They'll think again about how they want to be buried in the same (Catholic) cemetery as their family, and how Catholicism, though deeply flawed, is "part of their culture." It's so deeply ingrained in the Italian, Mexican and Irish cultures in this country that it's nearly assumed that people with these backgrounds are Catholic. They have their own traditions that intricately involve the church or its stories to make them make sense. Keep in mind that the Catholic church accomplished this by taking the native traditions and stories and redefining them to be Catholic oriented. So, for many CCC's (because they don't know any better,) their own culture does not make sense without Catholicism. They have happy memories they want to pass on to their children, and there is a lot of pressure to stay within the church's ranks from family and friends.
What do CCC's have to do with AIDS in Africa, transferring child molesters across seas or birth control policy? Well, the church couldn't do any of these things without funding. Since the majority of Catholics are CCC's, it stand to reason that the majority of their money comes from them. Furthermore, in this country, we don't even tax them, despite the fact that they run for-profit entities, like hospitals and universities. The CCC's complacently allow this to happen. By not withholding money from the church, by lending a voice to the huge number of Catholics, they are distant enablers to the horrors committed by Catholicism today. The church is able to claim that they should have their policies allowed because x-percentage of the population is Catholic. It's unacceptable, and most CCC's have no idea that they're even remotely contributing to it.