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Cultural problems: AIDS, for example, for which there are two complementary solutions offered by the Church and secular society: strict monogamy, a moral recommendation, and condom use, a technological one. In addition, discourse in secular society de-emphasizes the importance of the moral recommendation of the Church, while the Church discourages the technological recommendation of secular society.  Who's winning?

It is certainly true that in Ireland the Church has institutional advantages in contesting power that it doesn't have in most other Western countries, including other predominantly Catholic countries. And that laws reflect such power given the Church.  But does actual behavior reflect that power.  By your own admission it does not, which means, as marketing researchers learn in school, there is a big difference between what people say and what they do.  I argue that causality can only be attributed honestly to what people do, not what they say, and that means that the Church reflects society much more than it leads it, at least as far as sexual behavior or misbehavior is concerned.  

By you own logic it is not only higher use of birth control and reduced sexual monogamy which are attributable to the reducing influence of the Church, but also the reducing rate of new cases of sexual in secularised child care institutations abuse being reported.

No, I argue that neither use of birth control, nor sexual monogamy, nor incidences of abuse, can be attributed to the Church, positive or negative. Even the case of Ireland, which is pretty unique even among Catholic countries in the modern era, that's not the Church but the state that chose to solve it's problem of developing policy-making institutions by providing an explicit role for the church to do that. The fact that other equally Catholic societies found other ways of solving institutional problems for contesting power in other ways shows that what you are attributing to the Church is what you should instead be attributing to Irishness. It's Ireland that explains the variation in the data, not Catholicism.  (Which argues for changing Irish political institutions to something more secular but not for any advocacy regarding the church in other countries such as the US, Germany, or even Nigeria, for example.)


by santiago on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 02:42:22 PM EST
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shows that what you are attributing to the Church is what you should instead be attributing to Irishness

Ah so the Irish are intrinsically more inclined to abuse children and cover it up? Some would regard that as a borderline racist thesis especially as the pattern of abuse and cover-up was so similar in other Catholic countries/institutions.

You appear to regard the RC Church as something of a Deus ex Machina and not the dominant and defining influence on sexual practices (not just opinions) in Ireland.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 02:55:29 PM EST
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I think, when you look at it globally, that there may very well be an interactive effect between the Catholic Church and local idiosyncrasies.  For example, in another comment to Jake, I noted that, compared to predominantly non-Catholic countries, most Catholic societies, whether its southern Europe, Latin America, New Orleans, or parts of Africa, seem to have a much more open and relaxed -- even scandalously so by Anglo standards -- outlook on sex and alternative sexual behavior than non-Catholic ones. If sex were so repressed in Catholic tradition, how do you explain Carnival in Rio, or La Bachata dancing, for example? Bishops in such areas speak out on such things from the pulpit, of course, but it's almost a playful relationship, with a wink to the limits of mortality, not a dictatorial one like you seem to be describing in Ireland.

Instead, it seems that Church teaching on sexual morality might instead be an aggravating factor, instead of a causal factor.  Anglo culture is known, I think much more than Catholicism, for its sexually repressive character. Bill Clinton's misdeeds barely raised eyebrows in Catholic France, Brazil, and Argentina, for example.  (And, more perversely, although the same abuse scandals in the Church have apparently been occurring in Europe just as in the Anglo world, people are only just getting around to worrying about it now, almost two decades after the story first broke in the US.)

So it also seems plausible that Catholic influence on sexual behavior and the politics around it may have different effects in different societies. And the fact that Anglo culture, due to recent English and American imperial successes, is the dominant one in the world (the Anglo discourse on rights and laws is the default elite discourse in most of the non-Anglo world too), it seems entirely plausible that the cultural contradictions between Catholicism's traditional Roman outlook of law-as-ideals and the Anglo outlook of rule-of-law, or law-as-rules, could be problematic even globally, though whose responsibility it is to change seems unclear.  

by santiago on Fri Mar 19th, 2010 at 06:46:32 PM EST
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