Obviously, to say they are an affront to mankind is an understatement. Unless you are a special kind of human being, you don’t need me to realise that. But, there is something which many people don’t seem to notice: it is also a case of giant missed opportunity with horrendous consequences.
Let me go on a tangent first.
The Catholic Church is not just a religious establishment, it is also a highly centralised organisation of clergymen, complete with ranks and uniform admittance processes. Meanwhile, Sunni Islam – the disproportionately dominant denomination – is a highly decentralised religion; we don’t have our own equivalent of the pope and bishops and – in some countries, at least – becoming clerics do not require formal certifications and we are allowed to choose imams and/or Islamic institutions that suit us.
To sum it up, Roman Catholic church is packed with global and official interconnectivity. It is comparable to a unitary country with strong central government. The Sunni one……. well….. I don’t know how to describe it eloquently.
If I have to describe the Sunni world, it is like a country with barely functioning central government, allowing millions of regional authorities to reign over. Each of those regional authority has a varying level of authoritativeness and varying size of jurisdictions…… and many, if not all, of those jurisdictions overlap with each other. Not to mention the citizens are of diverse cultural, racial and political backgrounds – which may or may not greatly influence their religious identities – and they have varying level of experiences with diversity.
As a Sunni myself, I have mixed feelings about this.
On one hand, it feels nice there is no stranger in a faraway land formally dictating my Muslimness. But, on the other hand, it makes tackling religious extremism extremely difficult.
Obviously, that’s not an excuse to do nothing. If you see something, the least you can do is to say something. But, people should realise that the unrelenting convolutedness means tackling Sunni extremism is not as easy as flipping a table.
Now, about this blogpost’s title…
It has always been crystal clear the church is powerful. It has the ability to micromanage the characters and behaviours of every single person within its ranks. While nothing can be 100% effective, it could have easily reduced the abuses to a handful of rare and isolated cases.
Instead, it chooses the complete opposite path.
It consciously protects the many sexual predators within its ranks by not reporting them to the local authorities, consequentially turning Roman Catholic clergyman into a dream profession for sexual predators.
It consciously let the Magdalene laundries to freely abused the “fallen women” for many years and, to this day, the Catholic orders involved still refuse to take responsibility, unrepentantly painting themselves as heroes.
It consciously let some members of its ranks to support Canada’s cultural genocide against the indigenous people by participating in some of the residential schools.
Don’t even forget about the goddamn inquisition.
I am not going to pretend overseeing one of the world’s biggest organisations is easy peasy. I am also not going to pretend the church never does anything noble; I mean, Catholic schools – in some countries, at least – are known for their high quality, a fact which even many Muslims wholeheartedly acknowledge.
But, it is infuriating how an institution chose to not inoculate itself against evil despite having the enormous power to do so, consequentially letting itself becoming a global and historical super spreader of human depravities.
I also have to exclude the Shia Islam – the second biggest denomination – from this conversation because not only Shia extremism is far less globally consequential, I also know almost nothing about Shia islam. I have heard that Shia leadership is more centralised. But, I don’t know to what extent and I don’t know if it differs from one sub-denomination to another.
Don’t even get started on the even smaller denominations. I don’t know if extremism is even prevalent in any of them.
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