Saturday, March 8, 2003

Actually, I have to disagree with the disagreement. :-)

The Pope is trying to argue a moral point. I think we can all agree that the Pope is relying on the church’s moral character and standing. That’s his authority for making his statements. Otherwise, who would listen and why would he feel a need to address this issue?

But the Catholic church (His Holiness included) has dragged its feet on the sex-abuse scandal; many of those known to be involved are still in positions of authority in the church, and the church has been reluctant to punish or even reveal the names of those involved. This damages the church’s moral standing, and thus weakens the church’s authority to argue about moral issues.

Please understand that I’m not trying to bash the Catholic church here. They’re held to an extremely high standard, and priests are fallible humans just like the rest of us. But the standard is not unfair or unexpected. If the church fails to live up to a known standard, it needs to be held accountable.

As I understand it, ad hominem is a fallacy when it detracts from the argument; when you try to disprove a theory by discrediting the person who says it. But in this case, discrediting the person does have a direct impact on their authority to speak in this instance. The Pope is appealing to his – and the church’s – moral authority on this issue, which I believe is seriously called into question by its actions in the sex-abuse scandal. I don’t trust the Catholic church – and the Pope – because of the sex-abuse scandal, which makes it very difficult for me to trust the church – and the Pope – when it claims the moral high ground about the War on Iraq.

OTOH, I’m writing while emotional, which is probably a bad idea. I’m betting Brennen will poke gaping holes through this entry like he did to me the last time I did this (quite rightly). :-)

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