The arrogance of supernatural privilege

I’ve often criticised the arrogance of some of those with a supernatural ideology. Their claims of special access to the “Truth,” to morality, etc. But I get especially angry when this arrogance rides roughshod over the most innocent and vulnerable people in society. Our children.

 Recently the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a Royal Commission to uncover the truth about sexual abuse of children in Australia. This is a response to the public outrage against revelations and accusations of paedophilia and its cover up by a number of institutions with responsibility for care of children  – including Churches. The commission has generally been welcomed across the political spectrum with the strongest concern being that it should get to work and produce results quickly. That it shouldn’t dawdle on for decades and itself contribute to the cover up.

 So I was shocked to see a local blogger, Kereopa at beingfrank, interpret this commission as “persecution” of the Catholic church (see Persecution begins against the Catholic Church in Australia)! Talk about (guilty) paranoia. Gillard made clear that the Catholic Church was not the only institution targeted. That its scope would cover:

 “all institutions, including religious institutions, state-based organisations, schools and not-for-profit groups such as scouts and sporting clubs. It will also look at the response of child services agencies and the police to accusations of abuse.”

 So what does Kereopa want? Exclusion of the Catholic Church from such an inquiry? And how can she/he justify that? Because of its supernatural privilege? That it must be protected from such accusations and investigations because it is “sacred?”

 How else can Kereopa interpret an objective investigation of all bodies as persecution of his/her own organisation?

 Plain supernatural arrogance. Arrogance which is medieval and in this day and age deserves only a laugh. Why should the Catholic Church be exempt from such investigations, immune to even accusations or concerns? Especially as we now know its functionaries have often sexually abused the children in their care. And the organisation has often denied these crimes, protected the criminals and gone to great efforts to cover up the crimes. To the extent of allowing the crimes to continue and usually slandering the victims in the process.

As if to rub the salt into the psychological wounds of the victims of this child abuse, apologists for the Catholic Church have been frantically attempting to defend the supernatural privilege of confessions, the seal of the confessional. To protect this from investigations by the Royal Commission. They think their obligation to protect children in their care can be superseded by mythical supernatural claptrap.  Here’s how blogger Lucia Maria at New Zealand Conservative argues for a privilege of exempting Catholic confessions from the law:

“Confession is where a person is forgiven of their sins so that they are able to enter eternal life (ie not go to Hell). The priest represents our Lord Jesus Christ, and has been given the power to forgive sins.”

So, put a guy in a dress and give him a cross and he can represent a god! And you then claim that such a claim supersedes the rights of the victim? Innocent and defenceless children? Or the rights of society to get justice?

Who do these people think they are fooling – or even talking to? Most of us just don’t share their particular brand of supernaturalism. We are not convinced they have special privileges putting them above the law. Their talk of angels, hell and heaven don’t convince us that they should not have to obey the same laws we do. Especially when it comes to protecting our children.

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6 responses to “The arrogance of supernatural privilege

  1. It’s very easy to understand the church’s defence of the sanctity of the confessional.
    Remove it and you remove the main pillar supporting their method of control of their membership. The whole RC kaboodle would collapse.
    They’ll simply refuse, and nothing will move them from that position.


  2. Sure, Richard. They are welcome to refuse to cooperate with courts and police. We can make our own assessment of their motives for doing so.

    But society should not cooperate with their refusal to cooperate. We should not excuse this behaviour simply on the basis of a supernatural fairy story.

    These people and institutions should face the same penalties others face when they refuse to cooperate.


  3. These people and institutions should face the same penalties others face when they refuse to cooperate

    I can’t see the state winning on this one (confessionals). If the church refuses to agree to disclose how can the State ever know what was said inside a confessional, aside from employing a sting operation?
    What’s the State to do? start carting priests off to court? fine the whole institution? imprison its leaders?


  4. If you or I did it wouldn’t we be charged with contempt of court? Or if we knowingly stood by and did not report a case of sexual abuse there could be something more specific – an accomplice to crime?


  5. What about lawyers who have confidential discussions with their cleints? What about a pychologist or councilor who learns something about their patient? What about a doctor who speaks to someone in confidence? Are these groups also being forced to reveal information passed onto them in confidence. Forget about the supernatural stuff for a minute – are there to be any relationships where information can be passed on without the state having the power to make people divulge sensitive information?


  6. Rork, to some extent this is a a catholic beat up. Gillard raised concerns about how people who should be responsibility have been ignoring and covering up the problem so the Catholics interpret this as an attract on them and their “sacred” customs.

    However, in many countries the problem, and the Catholic cover up has caused lawmakers and officials to make reporting of such abuse obligatory. They see the rights of innocent children to trump the rights of individuals to turn their face away from noticing such crimes.

    Police and courts can of course have rules and laws requiring people to inform about crimes. This may raise issues, such as protecting sources, but I don’t really see a problem. If such a principle is more important to you than protecting children you just keep mum and take the the consequences. Journalists have taken jail terms before so as to protect sources.

    What I would object to is any legal privilege god botherers claim on the basis of clap trap about gods, heaven and hell. If they really believe such rubbish then face up to the consequences.


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