Like most folks, I have been watching the Pope struggle through the various sex-abuse claims in Ireland and Europe. It reminds me of watching George Bush’s press secretary explain why war in Iraq was a good thing; no matter what he says, the truth keeps coming back and bitch-slapping him.
What’s bugging me about this is not the sex abuse in Catholicism. That beast is on its knees (so to speak). Any pedophile priest with a modicum of intelligence is too scared to move, let alone abuse again. The hammer is coming down finally. It has to, or the faith will not survive this time.
What bothers me about it, though, are the conditions that led to the abuse. Catholicism set up a system wherein the local priest supposedly represented the power of Rome and, by extension, the power of God on Earth. There was a time when local priests were the unquestioned authority in any small town or village. No one would dare make accusations, even if true, against these guys.
While we can all sit back a bit and say that these crimes are finally coming to light, I see a far darker cloud on the horizon: Islam. Muslims still maintain a system that is eerily similar to the hierarchy that allowed Catholic pedophiles to prosper. The local imam is revered the same way Catholics revered their local priest a generation ago. As such, the opportunity for abuse exists, especially within fringe elements of Islam. [Let’s face it, if they can talk a teen into strapping a bomb to himself and blowing up a restaurant, there’s room for other abuses as well].
As with Catholicism, many Muslims believe that the reputation of the faith is far more important than the “petty crimes” any individual might commit. This was the defense bishops used to play a shell game with pedophiles, and it strikes me that the sentiment (if not the practice) is definitely part of modern Islam.
I’ve always believed that Islam is a faith waiting for its Martin Luther: a person who can create real change, moderating the angry rhetoric born of politics and strife. When that happens, Islam will become just another religion, not an arm in the battle for economic and political superiority. I worry that when this happens the same floodgates that have exposed Catholic indiscretions is going to show the same abuse of power in the male-dominated structure of Islam.
What bothers me about this is not that that Muslims would have to face the darker nature of such a system. That’s just life. What worries me is that the abuses they might have to confront twenty years down the line are likely happening now, today, under the same guise of holy men with ultimate power.
To suspect a much is not “an attack on Islam”. It’s a recognition of the fact that Islam, like all religions, is populated by and governed by humans. As such, they are susceptible to the same failures and abuses that all human endeavors face. It’s just another aspect of life on this planet that everyone– Muslims included– have to one day face.
(Not for Sheep.)