A Catholic priest is in the news again – and the Cardinal that protected him from police investigation.
It hasn’t received a lot of play here though.
The man is long dead (1980) but that has rarely made a difference in current American media and legal praxis.
He was a member of a shadowy and indeed secret organization that rather fancied it a good thing to screw up lives, perhaps since in the Big Picture they were actually doing the work of the Lord.
The man’s alleged crimes certainly ruined the lives of nine victims. ‘Totally screwed them up’ as no doubt might be said anywhere in the US these days.
His Cardinal got together with the police and they all quietly decided that the best thing would be to transfer him out of the country – and so they did. He died uninvestigated and un-charged. There will be, thus, no ‘closure’, as they like to say in these parts.
His alleged victims will never go to church again.
They are dead. He allegedly masterminded the IRA bombing that killed them in 1972.
It was in Ireland during ‘The Troubles’ that started in 1969 and went on for quite a few years.
The story hasn’t received much play here.
I think I can see why.
It’s been an elephant in the middle of the room around these parts that priests could easily be tarred with a metaphorical ‘killing’ through this, that, or another form of ‘abuse’ since – reliably – priests rarely really actually killed anybody and so there was no reality-principle to act as a brake on the incessantly trumpeted ‘soul-murder’ or ‘life-destruction’ said to result from this, that, or another form of ‘abuse’.
So it has been easy-peezy to play the ‘death’ card against ‘abusive’ priests, since there was never any real death on the field that would put the ‘abuse is death’ mantras in proportion: as being rather substantially exaggerated. Not to put too fine a point on it, if one is well enough to be taking nourishment and breathing with some regularity, one is not really dead. And claims to be so must be taken as the (perhaps well-intentioned) exaggerations that they are.
This embarrassing reality is clearly not ‘friendly’ to the cause of certain interests in the country these days, nor to their media enablers. Indeed it threatens to inject an irrefutable reality into a forum that has been somewhat prone to something other than reality: the exaggerated mantra itself, of course, and then the somewhat phantasmagorical reliance on ‘spectral evidence’ – I am ‘dead’ because I believe I am dead and you can’t tell me otherwise.
Which in any normal world would elicit, at best, counseling, and at worst, a bit of tough-love explication of just what ‘reality’ means.
Although then again, We no longer live in a culture whose elites value ‘reality’. ‘Facts don’t matter’; symbols are more useful than actualities; if enough folks can be gotten to believe something then it is ‘true’.
All of the foregoing are signs not of cutting-edge progress (no matter how ‘sensitive’) but of regression to more primitive forms of public discourse.
George Bernard Shaw once said that “all progress depends on the unreasonable man” – say “unreasonable people” if you like. There’s a bit of truth to it, real truth.
Although it’s exaggerated for effect, as all aphorisms are. The ‘unreasonable’ – like the nonconformist lemmings of the later Boomer generation – are helpful, indeed indispensable.
But they cannot be the policy-makers or the policy-drivers in a civilization. Especially in a remarkable civilization – the Western civilization – that was built on Reason and reasonableness. And especially in the American version of Western civilization, that was founded upon a politics of reasonableness NOT for the purpose of creating an idolatry of Reason – that was the French Revolution’s vision, that poisonous tree that also bore the fruit of the Leninist and Maoist revolutions – BUT for the purpose of ensuring a reasonableness in politics and a reasonable politics.
It was in that way that the Framers sought to avoid the dark and primal excesses that abide in the human self and were enshrined, one way or another, in so many of the world’s prior civilizations and systems of government.
It has not been ‘progress’ that unreasonableness has been enshrined here and drives far too much of the American government’s policy and the country’s politics, and has now for decades. It has been, rather, a monstrous regression to a more primitive politics and has resulted in a much more primitive and greatly weakened polity.
And that must change.