Pope Francis addressed the World Congress, and I’m very surprised to say, his speech was quite good. My day job involves writing about the internet, and whoever wrote the speech knew what he was talking about technically. And everything the pope said about the psychological effects of being exposed to extreme pornography made sense, too. Still, the speech accomplished exactly what the gathering was intended to do – reclaim the moral high ground and leadership role for Rome.
That’s how tricky these Jesuits are. Just when you think you’ve nailed them despite their tricks, they say the right thing. 😕 Only time will tell if it really means anything.
The Vatican’s Jesuit-run Gregorian University is hosting an international summit on “Child Dignity in the Digital World“. The idea is to address the need to protect children online from sexual exploitation. Ironically, however, it comes just as Msgr. Carlo Capella, a Vatican diplomat in the US and now also wanted in Canada, was quickly recalled to Rome after being caught uploading child pornography to social media. Meanwhile, Pope Francis greeted Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, at the Vatican. Barbarin is currently awaiting a criminal trial in France for allegedly covering up for a child-abusing priest. Doubtless this is the pope’s way of personally underscoring the absolute commitment of the papacy to child safety.
None of this cognitive dissonance at all bothered the gathering of experts nor the gushing of apologists over the conclave, who spoke of the “moral power” of the Church to convene meetings to deal with such issues. In fact, Card. Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Vatican, dared to address the congress on “The Holy See and Its Commitment to Combating Sex Abuse Online“.
This speech is one of the biggest loads of churchy BS I’ve ever read. Nothing but platitudes, about the digital age, the corporations which run it, abuse victims, yadda yadda yadda. Here’s a sample of His Eminence’s penetrating moral insight:
“The minors of whom we speak and whose dignity we wish to defend and promote are human persons, and the value of each of them is unique and unrepeatable. Each of them must be taken seriously and protected in this ever more digitalized world, so that they may be able to fulfil the purpose of their life, their destiny, their coming into the world.“
That’s almost as moving as it is brilliant, isn’t it? 🙄 John L. Allen, Jr, the Catholic barker who praised the meeting, wrote: “Cynics may say that’s in part a cosmetic exercise, designed to draw attention away from the Church’s own clerical sexual abuse scandals. That’s a fairly silly charge in this case, for a couple of reasons.” He then goes on to cite the attendees, including Fr. Hans Zollner of Germany and Msgr. Stephen Rossetti who ran a treatment center in the US.
Yet something’s missing. Not victims – who would never be admitted to such an august assemblage, nor the Servant General of the Servants of the Paraclete’s, whose failed “treatment” programs caused so much suffering. What’s missing is any sign of the Church’s immense, systematic failure to protect children. All this talk about the digital universe is based on the idea that the Church got it right, that it’s fixed, and therefore the Catholic Church can use its moral pulpit.
It is a cosmetic exercise of the highest order. And it’s part of an old, old tradition in the Church. The Catholic Church has a long history of usurping moral prerogatives and honors it has no rights too. It would take a rare occurrence, like Charlemagne holding the stirrup of the pope’s horse, and make it into a demand that when meeting the pope, kings should submit to being the papal groomsman.
The time has long passed for the Roman Catholic Church to claim or be given any such privileges. If ever the Catholic Church had a legitimate right to extraordinary treatment, it lost it through corruption, rampant abuse. Cynicism exists, yes, but not among those who distrust the Vatican, but among those who run it. Popes cordially meeting with criminally-charged cardinals while minions laud their protection of victims shows hypocrisy of an almost Trumpian nature. And that’s saying something.