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A few weeks ago, I mentioned briefly that the Catholic church had threatened to pull out of Washington, D.C., ending the social services they provide for thousands of people, if the city council passed a law recognizing same-sex marriage. Well, the council did pass the bill, same-sex marriage is now legal in D.C. (congratulations!), and the church looks set to keep its promise, starting with the termination of their foster-care program. They’ve also decided to end spousal benefits for all employees, including terminating the benefits of existing employees, rather than give those benefits to same-sex partners.

Happily, as AU reports, this story has a positive ending: Since Catholic Charities has shut down their foster-care and adoption program, the service they used to provide will now be offered by other groups, including the National Center for Children and Families, that will get the public funding the Catholic group used to receive. Well done, Washington, and shame on this despicable, bigoted church that would apparently rather see children go parentless than have to provide health insurance to gay people.

On a similar note, there’s this story of a 5-year-old who was expelled from a private Catholic preschool because his parents are lesbians:

In a statement sent to 9NEWS, the Archdiocese said, “Homosexual couples living together as a couple are in disaccord with Catholic teaching.”

…”No person shall be admitted as a student in any Catholic school unless that person and his/her parent(s) subscribe to the school’s philosophy and agree to abide by the educational policies and regulations of the school and Archdiocese,” the statement said.

Editorial note: Does this school plan to expel all students whose parents are divorced? Maybe they should also send around a questionnaire asking parents if they use birth control so they can expel the children of the ones who answer yes. Of course, since something like 90% of American adults, Catholics included, use contraception, this might lead to a fairly steep dropoff in those all-important tuition checks. It seems politically safer to only target members of relatively small minorities for persecution, rather than actually try to apply their own rules consistently.

On the positive side, it seems clear that the staff who run the school were appalled by the open bigotry and hatred of their church superiors – another clear sign that American Catholics are more progressive than their benighted hierarchy:

School staff members, who asked to remain anonymous, say they are disgusted by the Archdiocese’s decision.

…Staff members said they were not allowed to discuss the decision after it was made. Some of them said they were disheartened to work at a school that preaches peace and love, but also makes this decision.

A memo to these staff members: As this and the previous story make clear, Roman Catholicism does not preach love – at least not in the unconditional, universal sense we generally think of when using that word. It preaches conditional, selective love – love only for people who are willing to submit to its insane dictates and obey the orders of the pompous frauds in charge – and that’s a different animal altogether.

The church’s shameless bigotry against gays and lesbians is all the more outrageous considering its own continuing crimes and hypocrisy. I wrote in my last post on the Catholic church that, given the sex abuse scandals in America, Ireland and Germany, it was a statistical inevitability that more stories of child rapists among the clergy would appear in other countries as well. Now similar allegations have been made in the Netherlands. More amusingly, there’s this scandal in the Vatican itself:

The Vatican was today rocked by a sex scandal reaching into Pope Benedict’s household after a chorister was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.

Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness, was caught by police on a wiretap allegedly negotiating with Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 29-year-old Vatican chorister, over the specific physical details of men he wanted brought to him.

And lastly, less amusingly, there’s this story. The Catholic church in Ireland has racked up a $14 million bill for victim compensation after letting sexual predators in the clergy run rampant for thirty years, and the Bishop of Ferns, Denis Brennan, is asking his parishioners to pass the collection plate to cover the costs. As the Independent puts it:

In other words the Roman Catholic Church in Ferns is asking the victims of its own bitter failings to pay the price for the crime — it is a request which beggars belief.

At this point, the church’s callousness and hypocrisy has been demonstrated ad nauseam, so this no longer shocks me. The only thing that still surprises me is that a den of vipers like this one still thinks it has the authority to instruct the rest of us how we should treat our fellow human beings. Personally, I think the Pope and his hirelings ought to turn over all the remaining predators to the police, sell off the treasures of the Vatican to pay their court costs, and spend a few decades in sackcloth and ashes before they should even think of venturing an opinion on moral topics again.

Postscript: Although it’s not a sex scandal, there was one more story that came out just after I wrote this that I couldn’t omit: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has banned voluntary end-of-life measures in the more than 600 Catholic hospitals and nursing homes around the country. In other words, Catholic institutions will no longer honor patients’ living wills stating that they don’t wish to be kept alive by feeding tubes if they’re irreversibly comatose or terminally ill.

Although the law protects patients from being subjected to any medical treatment against their will, it’s easy to see how this decision could be used by Catholic hospital administrators to coerce grief-stricken families and patients who may not be capable of expressing their desires. Even in the best case, it will almost certainly lead to more pointless suffering as patients who don’t want to be kept artificially alive try to find another hospital to transfer to that will respect their wishes. We need to publicize the evil and tyrannical pretensions of the bishops, and I suggest this slogan: “If you want to have a feeding tube forcibly crammed down your throat or run through a hole cut into your stomach so you can be kept alive to suffer, then make sure you go to a Catholic hospital!”

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DAYLIGHT ATHEISM Adam Lee is an atheist author and speaker from New York City. His previously published books include "Daylight Atheism," "Meta: On God, the Big Questions, and the Just City," and most...