Bostonist Post, in Which I Tear the Catholic Church a New One

The Boston Archdiocese would like your money, to make up for all that money they had to spend on those children they raped. Yeah, I was in a pretty bad mood when I wrote this. Go read the full article here, if you’re not easily depressed.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. You were in a righteous mood.

    They love children – clearly, I mean they looooooove children. Born, unborn – .

    Like the old joke — ship sinking, as they are getting in lifeboats someone says — “Women and children first.” Someone says, “fuck ’em”
    The bishop asks “Do we have time?”

  2. Far more diplomatic than I expected. I had by blackened heart set on the usage of words such as ‘scumbags’, ‘vermin’ and other beautifully descriptive synonyms.

  3. Nice article. And impressively restrained in light of the subject matter. One of my “favorite” ways that the Church has been raising money is evicting nuns….who have historically suffered significantly from their treatment by the Church. Not every individual, of course, but as a group. Here’s a link for an article from about a year and a half ago.

  4. That Brazil story would be enough to make me leave the church if I wasn’t already atheistic.

  5. Absolutely stunning, Rebecca. Remind me never to get into an argument with you when you’re riled up! :-D

  6. Well said with just the right amount of spot on snark. I did sense some bubbling sarcasm that didn’t quite make it through your fingers while tapping on the keyboard.

  7. I’m from Brazil and I might add that the bishop also tried to incorrectly bring the abortion to the courts (that was immediately dismissed) as murder , ignoring the fact that Brazilian law permits abortions in case of life risk to the mother or rape. It has caused a lot of discussion in Brazil, although many christians applaud it.

  8. Today one of my friends asked for advice since he feels that god is calling him to be a roman catholic priest. he hasn’t actually asked me directly because I think he knows just how I’ll answer (and I don’t think he even knows about the Brazil case).

    This head in the sand tactic taken by catholics is getting pretty damn frustrating.

  9. Well done, Rebecca.

    I’ve heard people refute this or try to diminish this by stating that “it’s not only church leaders that rape or are pediophiles.” And to that I say, “huh?”

    Yes, this behavior is bad, evil, pathologic, but just because it’s not the exclusive domain of the church doesn’t make it less of a horrific event.

    The common denominator is that rape is an act of aggression and control and is a demonstration of violent power run amuck. Whether it’s in the name of God is not really irrelevant, but when the threat of “God” becomes the violent power it just seems that much more unsavory. And when the leaders at the highest level turn their head ,it “feels” like an accessory to the crime.

  10. At the risk of defending the indefensible, the reference articles in Rebecca’s piece didn’t explicitly say that the Archbishop chose not excommunicate the step-father. They were silent on the point about whether the step-father was excommunicated (maybe he was, maybe he he wasn’t a church member).

    It makes the story more unfuriating (and anti-Catholic) if you assume that he was deliberately not excommunicated, but is it really true? After all this is “Skepchick” not “Catholic Bashing Chick”, right?

    Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t be surprised if the Church hierarchy was filled with pedophiles, covering up for the lower level ones, but I don’t think it is productive to twist facts (if that is what happened here). The facts are twisted enough all by themselves. They don’t need any help.

    If I got this wrong, I apologize in advance (and I will increase my level of unfuriation accordingly).


  11. @Billy Clyde Tuggle: Um, yes, the Archbishop did deliberately not excommunicate the father. If it wasn’t spelled out clearly enough in any of the articles I linked to, a second of Googling will show it’s in every other article. Here’s the first one I checked just now:

    Archbishop Don Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Recife excommunicated the doctor, the child’s mother and the medical team involved in the procedure.

    However, the stepfather was not excommunicated, with Sobrinho telling Globo TV that, “A graver act than (rape) is abortion, to eliminate an innocent life.”

  12. This subject brings me to tears of outrage.
    Someone I love was the subject of similar abuse.

    True evil is when the abuse is carried out by somebody powerful in whom we trust, and when it involves incarceration and systematic rape.

    I think it is incorrect to focus exclusively on the Catholic church.

    Other criminals were in government institutions and particularly culpable from my own point of view are
    certain members of the psychiatric profession.

    I view such abuse as crimes against humanity, which should be prosecuted under International Law.

  13. @NorthernSkeptic: Did God call his cell phone or use a land line? Did He send an e-mail? Twitter? Snail mail?
    I love the phrase “God called me.” :-D What did God call you?

  14. The raping stepfather was not excommunicated because according to the church laws it is NOT a crime punished with excommunication, whereas abortion (murder of an innocent one) is. The doctors involved say they really don’t care about it, what infuriates me is the pressure to force the child to continue with the pregnancy.

  15. @Rebecca: Thanks for the clarification on the step-father not being ex-communicated. I guess I didn’t want to believe that the Church could be that messed up. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess. The mother and the two doctors try to do the right thing and get kicked out of the Church and the evildoer gets to say a few Hail Mary’s (at least he will have to say them from a jail cell).


  16. That particular fruity club has been scrambling brains for a long time. Too bad they don’t completely unscramble upon excomm.

    Some of the doctors vowed to continue attending church services, despite being expelled.

    That’ll show ’em.

    “Hey, revoke my member card if you want, but I’m still going attend the meetings, and give money, and follow the rest of your crazy crazy rules.”

  17. But Sam,

    He can never eat another cookie OR get water throne at him with a stick OR confess his deepest, darkest deeds to an old man masturbating behind a curtain.

    Just what do you guys think being a Catholic is all about? :)


  18. That is a great article, Rebecca. It makes me absolutely sick that these people think it rational to value a fetus over the life of an actual person -and that abortion is a sin greater than child rape.

  19. “the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated.”

    Wait, doesn’t their belief in original sin mean they’re not innocent?

    There was a discussion on the atheism examiner’s page in It was kind of ugly, cause the male Catholics were agreeing with the Archbishop, but the two women were talking about leaving the Catholic church because of how horrible this case was. I imagine those women have a better idea of how horribly cruel it would have been to have forced this child to carry the twins till c-section or death (natural birth would have been extremely unlikely)

    A child in the house is worth 2 in the womb any day.

  20. Of COURSE the church comes down on the side of the aborted twins–think of all the offeratory money they could have milked them for!

    As George Carlin said, I’ll be glad to hear what a clergyman has to say about abortion…once they’ve endured the labor pains, morning sickness, and raising several of the kids on minimum wage. Until then, shut up.

  21. @QuestionAuthority: I think it is his failing love life, coupled with a recent indoctrination at a catholic retreat that has this burning in his brain. You know how it goes, if you can’t get with the girl of your dreams become a priest (GAH THE STUPID IT BURNS!!!)

  22. So we have identified some bad actors in the Catholic Church – an organization compromising more than 1 billion people. Of course, both pedophilia and rape are condemned by the Church.

    And so the point is then if you can identify criminal behavior within a group of 1 billion+ people you then can condemn the entire group by association? Is that your point – Rebecca?

    I wonder how atheists would fare under such standards? Shall identify some atheists who have brutally murdered millions?

    I wonder how the United States would fair under such standards? Shall I list the incredible atrocities inflicted in the name of the United States?

    Is there some reason you have focused upon the Catholic Church – Rebecca?

    Do you feel the same way about the Jews? While catholic doctrine condemns what you have identified, it is official policy for both Jewish religious followers and a self-proclaimed Jewish State to conquer lands occupied by indigenous peoples – driving them from their homes and slaughtering them in the process (women and children), because of their self-proclaimed divine religious right to conquer and possess these lands occupied by others – for no other reason than an ancient religious text proclaims that it is their right to do so. How do you feel about that – Rebecca?

    Shouldn’t you condemn them to? And their over the top lobbying efforts to get the US to support mass slaughter of innocent women and children in a war to drive them from their homes and lands – as we did with Native Americans?

    I mean — what’s your point? Really?

    The guilt by association that you use to condemn catholicism represents a very shallow moral analysis. And your failure to apply similar standards to other groups represents outright hypocrisy.

    But then as far as I can tell, you have all the intellectual integrity and acumen of your average pop-culture shallow celebrity.

    Tell me – Rebecca – is there an organization in the entire world that the spends more money on charitable works than the Catholic church through their fundraising efforts and volunteer work? Since their fundraising is the source of your outrage.

    How do you feel about the Catholics who singularly opposed slavery in this country – who singularly risked and sacrificed their lives in defending the poor and helpless in Central America against military thugs and murders supported by our country?

  23. @TrueSkeptic: What a tired, idiotic, ill-thought-out argument. The Catholic Church is not a term we have for a collection of people who just happen to have an idea in common – it’s an organization with its own laws and a worldwide network of people who encouraged secrecy and abuse, transferring rapists from community to community in order to hide them.

    There is no organization of atheists that even approaches this level of criminality. Naming other organizations that perform atrocities makes absolutely no sense – I can’t attack every one in a single post – moron (I’m not sure why you kept using my name, so I thought I’d use yours).

    Arguing that Catholics spend money on charity is similarly senseless. Much of their “charity” is useless proselytizing (see: Mother Theresa) and I imagine the good works they do can be done without the horrific rapes, without the abuse of women, and without the encouragement of the spread of AIDS in developing countries.

    Your post is so far removed from reality and so moronic that you’ve made the entire Internet a little stupider just for posting, and I’ll probably ban you soon because I’m tired of your idiocy infecting Skepchick.

  24. @TrueSkeptic: just to add what Rebecca said, you really shovelled a load of….ahem…crap with your jewish argument. I think there should be a godwin type law regarding arguments that justify attrocities by pointing to Israel and claiming the jews are worse.

  25. You know,I ‘m getting myself in trouble here…but I’ll say some things. 1) the RCC is a “universal church” and much to the unhappiness of the Vatican, it cannot be controlled ultimately. 2) Bishops in every single instance seem to treat the Cannon as they want, anyone who would say that a child deserves to die in favor of another child is wrong.3) The RCC has many fires to put out as it tries to maintain that image it has. In my humble opinion and I like this…With the advent of modern communiation and news…hiding details is nearly impossible now. So the policy of RCC can no longer be applied at will to different circumstances. 4) I don’t see much difference in the situation with RCC and other large companies. Trying to control millions of people…yet allowing them to have their own cultures( something I am not quite for and I’ll explain that) isn’t in my opinion easy or sane.
    5) The RCC in my area has several ministries, Office of Black Catholics, Hispanic Ministry, Office of the Disabled etc. I questioned my priest about this. (yes, I did) My argument is if we are all supposed to be equal in the eyes of God then why is the Church dividing people into groups? I don’t care how you write it its that”separate by equal” junk again. He had good answers..and basically agreed with me. That’s what I see in this situation, They get to define the case based on interpretation …this not so unlike the laws of this country …and why I don’t know how I feel about juries..because …uhhh they are people. People who hang or cage others according to their prejudices. I guess the judges are good except that they also have prejudices. So on point I say that the Bishop on his own was an idiot, reflective of his which women are obviously not important. Jailing the step dad wasn’t good enough, child rapists deserve more….( yes all of them..)
    On the loss of membership..I read an article the other day outlining that. I suspect the Catholic church lost the most because they are the largest. Other groups are also loosing membership.And see I read that as people more openly admitting that while they have been members of organized religion they weren’t believers but rather just saying they were. That was my take.
    On fund-raising, ALL CHURCHES NEED MONEY. The Catholics are not an exception. And they are getting rid of properties and excess on the lower levels, i.e. In California, a priest-molester was moved through the state as the Dioceses tried to hide his actions. The resulting lawsuits topped 6 million dollars! The response of the Church? To sell property in California. Well one of those properties was housing two lifetime nuns. They were promised to live out their lives in these places. They have given their lives to the Church…and because of one priest….they were literally left homeless. Again, a decision made by a diocese. If the individual dioceses were consulting the Vatican on matters….their wouldn’t be so much confusion. But they don’t. Rome is a long distance from here. Its like that silly mistake the Pope just made,bringing back an ex-communiated Bishop who says that the Holocaust, killing 6 million jews was false and never happened. Then days later the Pope brings him back to the church…then says oops we didn’t know he made these PUBLIC COMMENTS…but still brings him a back.. Its awful. But the Pope was not aware… I compare the Pope to our Presidents,he has lots of staff to help him and when they don’t he’s left holding the bag. And hold it he must because it happened on his watch.
    I’ve got no problem with people not liking the RCC. Its just such a big organization until picking out some of the outrageous against all of the practices seems difficult. Now for people who don’t believe in God or have issues with RCC, I understand.From where I sit, it seems that all churches face the same challenge, m0ney and recruitment. People who don’t want to believe anyway, will use the child rapes for confirmation of what they already think. For the rest of us I guess we’ll still be critical thinkers.No doubt the RCC has challenges. True unity and clear communication should be on that list.

  26. BTW, in my comment about child rapes as confirmation, I am in no way suggesting that this issue should be diminished.

  27. @Northernskeptic: This head in the sand tactic taken by catholics is getting pretty damn frustrating.

    Not all Catholics have their heads in the sand. There are many who risk ex communication for speaking up on behalf of women and children. Unfortunately those who leave just prefer to not have to fight with “God”
    Abortion is a “button pusher”.
    I have a problem with that. There are many men on death row who’ve been wrongly convicted. Now I don’t know for sure…but I’m not aware of Catholic funding being used to help with DNA testing to set these men free. Its science…and proovable. But instead large amounts of time and money are spent telling women about pro-life. See, because women are the ones who need to be controlled. If killing is wrong, then killing a baby or a convict is wrong. But its not nearly as simple or attractive to set a potential murderer free and give him a second chance…(uhh wasn’t that what Jesus did on the Cross for that guy next to him?) Cute little babies..that’s the picture that we conjure when we hear of abortion.
    My cousin went seminary to become a priest. He came home disappointed. No he didn’t hear the voice of God…but rather his mom. I have sons. I wouldn’t encourage them to become priests. I feel that in order for the Catholic Church to ever recover any respect, the whole role of priest will have to change. The problem with “big” anything is that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”

  28. @virginskepchick You obviously have a lot to say and have thought about this and asked questions and that’s a cool thing. I just want to address one point.

    Any organization or group is composed of individuals. And those individuals will be good/bad/indifferent/smell funny. And unless you are of mind to not associate with ANY group then at some point you will be found talking to, standing next to, posting with people who might be good/bad etc. There are probably people who post on Skepchick who maybe behave in ways I wouldn’t like….(drinking Jagermeister).

    However, when something deplorable is done by people who aren’t just mere members but leaders of the group (i.e. priests) and then covered up by people higher up in the group (i.e. bishops and cardinals) then you are dealing with a rotten core. Of course, many if not most people who call themselves Catholics are good, honest people. But the organization itself has become tainted and foul. And speaking personally, I would never want to be associated with such a group.

    For example, I love animals, but there are groups I wouldn’t want my name mentioned with because there actions aren’t justifiable by my standards.

  29. Wow. I haven’t posted in a while, but I couldn’t resist on this one. Consider it a TrueSkeptic eulogy.

    The main reason why everything TrueSkeptic said is wrong is because it’s 100% irrelevant – as usual. Just as some person he knows is irrelevant to the correctness of his argument, what other religions do and what good Catholics might do is irrelevant to the bad they do. Rebecca’s article is addressing the bad they do and, rightly, criticizing them for it.

    What relevance is there to Jews, the rest of the Catholic church, or any other religious organization? Answer: none. What impact is there on Rebecca’s argument or intellect that she chose to focus on one particular aspect of one religion? Answer: none.

    I for one will not miss TrueSkeptic’s long-winded and self-righteous ramblings. I honestly wish he was a little more humble and reasonable, because alternative perspectives are educational, help solidify arguments, and encourage looking up evidence. Unfortunately, his comments often broke out arguments, were tangential to a reasonable concept of relevance, and were like miniature dissertations of who he knew and what credentials he had punctuated with the occasional snarky “aha” (so he thought) question.

    Good riddance, TrueSkeptic. If I ever run into you again, I hope you can demonstrate at least some learning and self-improvement. And if you read this and think you don’t need improve, you’re worse than I thought. Learning is a continuing process. It doesn’t stop with a law degree.

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