The opposite of good is not evil - it is indifference. And we here in Ireland must never be indifferent when it comes to the banality of evil. The root of all evil is the love of money, and the Roman Catholic Church truly loves power and wealth. But, as Lord Acton wrote in 1897 opposing the doctrine of the Pope’s infallibility:
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you super add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”
I don't believe, however, that there can be a 'radical evil' a phrase used by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in “Religion within the Bounds of Reason Alone” (1793). He wrote:
“The depravity of human nature, then, is not so much to be called badness, if this word is taken in its strict sense, namely, as a disposition (subjective principle of maxims) to adopt the bad, as bad, into one’s maxims as a spring (for that is devilish); but rather perversity of heart, which, on account of the result, is also called a bad heart. This may co-exist with a Will [“Wille”] good in general, and arises from the frailty of human nature, which is not strong enough to follow its adopted principles, combined with its impurity in not distinguishing the springs (even of well-intentioned actions) from one another by moral rule. So that ultimately it looks at best only to the conformity of its actions with the law, not to their derivation from it, that is, to the law itself as the only spring. Now although this does not always give rise to wrong actions and a propensity thereto, that is, to vice, yet the habit of regarding the absence of vice as a conformity of the mind to the law of duty (as virtue) must itself be designated a radical perversity of the human heart (since in this case the spring in the maxims is not regarded at all, but only the obedience to the letter of the law).”
I suspect that even the most rabid Christian Brother, well-intentioned Nun or, for that matter, a Roman Catholic Priest, probably did not consider themselves as 'evil' or guilty of committing an evil act, but rather as a well-meaning Christian Person, protecting the integrity and purity of their Church. The problem with the Roman Catholic hierarchies is that those at the top are distanced by design and dynamics from those at the bottom. The whole Christian Clerical education system is fine- tuned towards producing brainwashed, useful idiots, to serve the dysfunction of an over-centralised Vatican.
Trainee priests were needed to fill those necessary lower niches, but were required to be useful idiots so as to not even think beyond the specialisation. Christian Seminary Colleges never have been, and probably never will be, a magnet for education in the liberal arts tradition of being politically subversive enough to actually question authority, much less challenge it. After all, the Pope’s rule is absolute as are his religious decrees with papal infallibility being dogma in the Catholic Church.
The conceit of the Roman Catholic Church is that it is a hierarchy based on the relentless advance of the best and brightest - a meritocracy. It is hard to identify radical evil in the system itself but relatively easy to see the banality of indifference and wilful ignorance regarding the suffering of others. After all, suffering runs through the Christian creed. Let’s also not conceal the fact that suffering is something complex, enigmatic and intangible that must be treated with full respect and compassion and even with awe. The Catholic Church teaching is that “Through suffering, human beings are incorporated into the pain of Christ. Suffering gives rise to love for those who suffer, a disinterested love to help them by relieving it”.
The real banality of evil is personified in the defenders of the Catholic Church regime which has many such defenders but no defence. One such defender is Bill Donohue who, since 1993, has been President of the The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, (often shortened to the Catholic League) in the United States. The Catholic League considers itself to be an American Catholic anti-defamation and civil rights organisation. Recently, Bill Donohue has been trying ever so hard to discredit the newly released Pennsylvania grand jury’s report, (which can be found here https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/report/) documenting thousands of examples of American Catholic Church Priests sexually abusing and raping thousands of children.
The indifferent Catholic League under Bill Donohue's leadership is often criticised for its ultra conservatism and for its combative responses to high-profile media stories. Besides education campaigns, the group issues condemnations, defends all Catholic Priests against accusations of child sexual rape, fights proposed legislation to prevent it and threatens legal action against what it sees as bigotry against Catholics, irreverence against religious figures, and attacks on Catholic Church dogma.
Mr. Donohue argues that a lot of the reported abuse shouldn’t even count since not all victims were penetrated and some weren’t even pre-pubescent. He’s also said that rape also occurs elsewhere, so the Catholic Church’s scandals aren’t really that big a deal and, as most of the rapes didn’t occur in the past few years, everyone needs to lay off the clerics. Mr. Donohue continues, when we read that a Cardinal asked young seminarians to sleep with him, thus corrupting them before they became ordained, and when we read that a few Pennsylvania Priests used sacred objects like the crucifix to molest (rape) their victims, we cannot plausibly say that this is simply the work of men gone bad. No, it is the work of the Devil/ Satan. What other source would provoke such monstrosities?
It’s the No True Scotsman fallacy all the time, Mr. Donohue says -the moment a Catholic priest crosses the line, he must not have been truly Catholic. So the “No true Scotsman” or appeal to purity is an informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalisation from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample. Rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric. For example “no true Scotsman would do such a thing”- Person A: "No Scotsman puts raisins on his porridge.” Person B: "But my uncle Angus is a Scotsman and he puts raisins on his porridge. "Person A: "But no true Scotsman puts raisins on his porridge.” i.e., those who perform that action are not part of our group and thus criticism of that action is not criticism of the group.
Indeed, Mr. Donohue goes on to say that the Roman Catholic Church was the saviour of the orphan children, and, in fact, of all children, whether in care of the Church or at home with their families. Mr. Donohue has also said that the raped children were ‘spiritually uplifted’ after their encounters with the pedophile priests. He argues that everyone is in what he calls a “Moral Panic” over the Roman Catholic Church: “The Catholic Church has never had a monopoly on the mistreatment of some young people, yet that is what is being promoted today. Why? To feed an anti-Catholic moral panic.
He continues to say that the media, both domestically and internationally are focusing exclusively on abuse of minors in Catholic institutions and stubbornly refusing to credit the Catholic Church for reforms that have made today’s Catholic settings among the safest places for children in order to perpetuate an irrational fear that the Catholic Church poses a unique threat to the safety of children. Donohue asks the question, “How come the media and international media are not reporting on that?” In October 2009, Bill Donohue said that the Roman Catholic Church has a "homosexual", not a "pedophilia", problem. The Catholic League defended its attacking of Church critics on the grounds that they were "a menace” to the Roman Catholic Church.
On May 20, 2009, Reuters reported the results of a nine-year investigation by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, which looked into decades of the endemic sexual abuse and rape of children in Catholic-run reform schools in Ireland. In reaction to this report, popularly known as the Ryan Report, Bill Donohue issued a statement downplaying the seriousness of the cases, questioning the inclusion of “voyeurism” and "inappropriate sexual talk" as instances of sexual abuse along with the more serious charge of rape. Bill Donohue pointed out that rape constituted only 12% of the listed sexual abuse cases in the Ryan report and that priests committed only 12% of the listed rapes—the other 88% were committed by lay persons and Religious Brothers. Since the Ryan Report was released, Bill Donohue has been defending the Irish Catholic Church and claiming that much of the outrage is 'moral hysteria'. While stating that he agrees that rape and physical abuse are wrong and that he would not defend those actions, he says the report has conflated those abuses with 'lesser' forms of punishment and is therefore not as serious. He also says many of the purported forms of abuse found by the commission were present and acceptable in the time period.
Bill Donohue has also claimed that the mass disposal site of babies’ corpses found in Tuam, Ireland, was ‘a myth’ and ‘a hoax’, and that the Tuam Mother and Baby Home atrocity is 'fake news.’ I wonder what he will say when the bodies of over 1,800 babies are recovered from the septic tank soon, and to their still living brothers and sisters and even mothers. Which was the most disturbing passage in the whole thing, the denial of the babies flushed into a septic tank or Tuam Mother and Baby Home didn’t exist. Let’s not pause before our answer is given, and in that pause you are afraid that someone is going to try to cover for what happened. Mr. Bill Donohue is surely trying to avoid reality and judgment. All he really does is to cause more pain and suffering on those like myself and thousands of others that lost family members in such places and survived. This truly is The Banality of Evil, as espoused by the likes of Bill Donohue, and by both his insufferable Catholic League and the wider unendurable Roman Catholic Church.
Apart from what Bill Donohue says or thinks, we only have to look at the main point of the debates about the Catholic Religious Institutions in Ireland whose history is one of relentless cruelty and pitiless pain inflicted on the inmates at the hands of the Irish Religious Orders : brutal rapes, murderousness beatings, callous torture and even merciless death. It is very clear that violence, torture, and murder were part of the system from the very beginning. One only has to read The full Ryan Report to understand this - every Religious Run Institution in Ireland had a problem. Now, sadly, we know that probably every Catholic-run Religious Institution throughout the world had the same problems.
The Roman Catholic Church may feel comfortable in their power, but they are always apprehensive, and the more international stories that come out about their malfeasances, the more they live in fear. I try never to write a word or a line without some doubt and hesitation, but write I will, just to make sense of it all. Here in Ireland (in the very recent past) Irish Clerics swarmed the streets of every city, town, village and hamlet of Ireland. Many of the Clerics were irresponsible and drunk on priestly power and the People lived in fear of them. Even the Irish Police could exercise little, if any, control of them as the institutional and individual Irish Police also lived in fear of them.
But while blowhard plutocrat like Mr. Donohue demands equal rights for the American Catholic Priests and the Roman Catholic Church’s governing body, I also demand equal rights for the living and the dead Survivors of Clerical Rapes and Murder. Owen Felix O’Neill