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Rant #86
(published Early, 2002)
The Problem of Evil
by J.E.C.
The Catholics have an interesting philosophy regarding the existence of evil in the world. I've never really understood how they would apply it to real world problems but, given recent events, I think we're finally learning the full implications of Catholic theology. The pope, in addressing the recently disclosed rampant pedophilia in the church, has expressed his own bemusement when confronted with the "Mystery of Evil". A bit of background:

Assume the existence of a deity which is omniscient, omnipotent, and omni benevolent. Such an entity is sometimes referred to as an "O3" God in philosophy discussions. Catholic theology asserts an O3 God, stating that God wants us to be happy, knows what makes us happy, and has the ability to alter circumstances to make us happy. How, then, is there evil in the world? If God is perfect, why does he create child molesters? If God is the author of history, why did we need the Holocaust, slavery, the Middle East, September 11?

The Catholic Church has engineered a loophole out of this logical quandary. God does not create evil; he is all good and therefore incapable of creating evil in the human world. It is human action that causes evil, and God merely allows it to happen. But why? Why permit the horrors and senseless brutalities and destruction of innocents we see every day? Well, the argument goes, God could take away our ability to create evil. He could make us all saintly and incorruptible. But in doing so, he would deny us free will, which is supposedly a greater good than a world without bloodshed, slavery or the abuse of children. For the greater good of free will, God must allow the smaller evils of genocide and sexual violence.

Which explains perfectly why Cardinal Egan knowingly allowed pederast priests to continue to work with children. Pedophilia was simply a manifestation of their free will, you see? For the Cardinal to raise a red flag, to indicate in his recommendation letters "Hey, there have been multiple complaints against this guy, you may not want to bring him to your parish", or to call the police, that would have infringed on the free will of others. When viewed in this light, Egan's inaction was really quite God-like. His discretion in handing out absolutely no punishment is to be commended. Egan didn't do anything wrong by conspiring to protect pederasts, he merely allowed evil to exist. Truly, Cardinal Egan has lead by example. We should all follow his lead. We should abolish our prisons and courts. Abjure all punishments and justice systems! That's the Catholic answer. As God's representative on Earth, we must assume that this is His message to us.

Or perhaps not. The pope lives in a fantasy world, a fairy land called "Vatican City" where all ethical questions are theoretical, and where the highest priority is that every Cardinal keep their job. Perhaps we should take a different path in dealing with evil. Maybe we should adopt the radical path of dealing with it where we find it, rather than sweeping it under the carpet and ignoring it. Perhaps ignoring the devil isn't the best way to combat his influence. Hey, you know, just a thought.

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