Once again, the truth about horrific abuses committed by Catholic priests, this time in Ireland, has come out. Once again, it appears that there was a massive cover-up in an attempt to protect the church. And once again, there's a flurry of otherwise-rational and fair-minded people in the feminist blog-sphere who are willing to blame not just the priests who actually committed the abuse for it, but all Catholics (sometimes even all Christians, regardless of denomination), priests or not.
Whatever happened to blaming only the abusers for the abuse? Does that disappear when the abuser is supposed to be a spiritual leader? Are people who didn't know of the abuses still somehow complicit in the crime? I can see where people who knew about it and did nothing to stop it are also to blame for it, too; they aided in the victimization of those kids and they deserve all the censure that the world can spare. But treating all Catholics (or even all priests!) like they're all child-molesters isn't an appropriate response to tragedies like this.
Even though I decided that the Roman Catholic faith wasn't for me, I am tired of seeing a valid spiritual path being constantly denigrated by people I respect. For every pedophile priest we hear about, there are many more who are not sex offenders, who genuinely do care for the people in their parishes and who do their best to give their support, guidance and kindness to those who need it. But these are the ones we rarely hear about, because their stories are not scandalous enough to catch the interest of a public who loves to see other people's disgrace.
The Catholic Church needs to change its responses to disasters like this; I have never thought that this was a matter that was up for debate. I believe that at the very, very least, the offenders need to be de-frocked, put on a sex offenders registry, imprisoned and (if possible, though I know that there are some, maybe even many, who will never repent) TRULY rehabilitated. But this is not a good reason to dismiss all Catholics as child-molesters or enablers of child-molesters. It's not a good reason to scoff at Christians in general. It's not a good reason to make disparaging remarks about a religion that, for all its flaws, nonetheless manages to give many thousands of people the comfort, inspiration and spiritual fulfilment that they feel enriches their lives and encourages them to do good in the world.
Hate the sin, not the people who have a religion or vocation in common with the sinners.