Cross to Bear

As Benedict becomes the first pope in six centuries to resign, it may be of interest to read the formal petition to the International Criminal Court, by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, that he, along with other Vatican officials, be tried “for rape and other forms of sexual violence as crimes against humanity.” I don’t think many seriously expect the petition to succeed, but the Center for Constitutional Rights, its co-filer, says Ratzinger’s status as a layman “may make international prosecution easier.” The petition can be found here.

The Catholic Church Must Be Defended

The recent release of 30,000 or so pages of documents detailing the cover-up of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Los Angeles has brought the usual torrent of criticism of the church (Cardinal Roger Mahony, who the documents show working hard to shield rapist-priests, has been relieved of public duties). And with it comes the continued defense of the church. After helpfully noting that “It is well-understood that sexual abuse is a crime against children,” “Catholic Online” makes a remarkable charge:

While it appears based on the documents that Mahony may have participated in covering up crimes against children, he has actually gone one step further. He has actively participated in a crime against the entire Church.

An emerging trend among Catholic publications is to separate the offenders from the church. That has to be continually and dispassionately refuted. Every such utterance should be countered by, for example, the conclusion of the committee that documented decades of abuse of children in Catholic institutions in Ireland:

Physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of the institutions.

Repeat: physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of the institutions. Mahony is not separate from the church. He is of the church.

Putting Things in the Penis (as opposed to the other way around)

The current issue of “The Atlantic” has what is surely the most self-evident headline of the year so far: “The Problem with DIY Penis Implants.” In the vast category of incomprehensible things that humans do, we learn of a very special subcategory. The word “craze” denotes a mass phenomenon but it also connotes irrationality. What has been documented in prisons from Australia to Texas seems to fit the term. Objects implanted include dice, buttons, and “deodorant roller balls.” The question forces itself to the front of the mind: Why? One answer given in the article–boredom–simply doesn’t satisfy. I googled, and found an interesting article from 2001 in “Inside Indonesia” about a similar yearning among working-class Indonesians. Ball bearings and “semi-precious stones” are favored implants. Most common explanations for the behavior are aphrodisiac and performance enhancement. The fact that the operations are self-inflicted or performed not by doctors but fellow prisoners or other laymen suggests, further, that the motivations are deeper, murkier, more darkly mired in the psyche. Most men would I think accept as a definition of “penis”: the thing you don’t mess with. Unless of course it’s broke. If it’s broke, you get it fixed. If not, and hordes of people are attempting to fix it anyway, there is something going on. The world is off-kilter in some dramatic, subterranean way. Can someone solve this?