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November 30, 2016

No hope and no charity

I found an article in a recent USA Today advocating the Catholic Church’s practices in Rwanda. The article described how the Christian faith has been instilling the Rwandan natives with the idea of forgiveness, which it claims has been very helpful to their society. Of course, isn’t it always the norm for religion to show only its positive side? What the article did was the traditional downplaying of all the suffering the Catholic Church has caused in that country and instead focused on a single case in which a woman named Rosaria had forgiven her family’s killer, a man named Saveri, who now lived next door to her, in the name of Jesus Christ.

The article, so suggestively named “Rwanda’s ‘Miracle’ of Forgiveness,” by Amy Sullivan, manages to shoot itself in the foot. According to the article, Rosaria said, “How can I not forgive him when I too am a sinner?”

What an awful way to demean oneself.

The church teaches her, among other idiocies I will discuss, that her wrong-doings – no matter how mild in comparison to the slaughter of her kin with a machete – are on par with those of Saveri. This is a disgusting belief that should not be practiced in any reach of the world by anyone of sane convictions.

While I am not advocating the idea of holding a grudge, many evolutionary biologists believe (with good reason) that it can be healthy to our survival. Sullivan borrowed a quote from Michael McCullough, a psychology professor at the University of Miami, who said “it deters potential aggressors and discourages those who have harmed you from repeating the offense.”

Who is to say that Saveri is not suffering from a psychosis that could inevitably have him kill Rosaria as well? Furthermore, maybe he is perfectly sane, yet if the cards are down and times desperate, it would not be justified nor desirable to think a man who has gone on a heinous killing spree would still act as your friend.

To point the direction of my article more towards the Catholic Church, this is not the only “sin” of which it will be guilty. While the Church continues to boast about its great charity work, we do not often enough see the true picture. Subsequently, the church has a sort of “band-aid for bible study” policy, if you will. While they may provide food, medicine and the likes of which the Rwandans need to survive, they exchange these staples for religious indoctrination. If the Church were truly as morally sound as it claims to be, it would find compassion in helping others without anything in return, and would offer Christian teachings only if they were desired by the Rwandan people.

Most amazing is what you will find is taught in these Rwandan biblical lectures. Rwanda, infamous among other African countries for overwhelming suffering caused by HIV/AIDS, is being taught to avoid contraception. With its absurd rules of teaching abstinence-only safe sex, the Catholic Church has added that condoms, in fact, cause the HIV virus to spread. The point of this, they have argued, is to save the purity of these people; it’s to let them know that contracting HIV is more morally sound than birth-control. Are we to now start reveling in all the wonders and charity the Catholic Church has bestowed upon these people? Or perhaps we should repudiate the awful ideologies that actually increased the suffering and lives taken by the epidemic.

Now, in another article published by USA Today, the Pope declares that Irish bishops should be brave and acknowledge the child abuse scandals that have gone on for some time in the Catholic Church. Well, how kind of him! Surely it might be a risk to one so infallible, to put their reputation at risk for a mere few whiny children. Sarcasm aside, perhaps some kudos are in order for the Pope to acknowledge that the molestation of young boys is wrong.

Yet maybe we should take it to the next level; maybe we should see collectively that these people, these ordained ministers, popes, cardinals and what have you, are no less mortal than are we. Perhaps it is high time that we stop giving them the credibility of being able to talk directly to a divine being. For what resources have they, that are unavailable to you? In what way can they claim to have a personal relationship that you just can’t seem to grasp yourself? This is not moral teaching. The bureaucracy of the Catholic Church is something not to be celebrated, but to be mistrusted. I encourage all to keep a keen eye on the practices being performed by the Catholic Church. Stand up for Rwanda, and investigate for yourself what the Catholic Church has truly been doing to the country.

Shane Nickerson is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at snickers@student.umass.edu.

Comments
5 Responses to “No hope and no charity”
  1. Kellie Forrest says:

    Well as you have pointed out your ideas of what you believe is incorrect or wrong i’d like to do the same. I don’t believe that when Rosaria said, “How can I not forgive him when I too am a sinner?” she was implying that her sins and his are on the same level, cause well no one could do that no matter what they are. No one can ever compare themselves to someone else saying they are better cause we all aren’t perfect. Its rather humerous that you address the catholic faith as if you are by any stretch educated in what the catholic faith teaches or believes. If you were you would not of misunderstood her statement, or the point and feelings behind it. It’s also sad that you shoot this woman down and what she believes in after she had gone through this horrific event. Instead of seeing her strength and courage, you see only you’re perspective and opinion which obviously shows you hold some grudge against the catholic faith. For which that is i don’t know. Im sorry and sad for you that you can’t see the good in what she has done. Also with your ignorant comment “some kudos are in order for the Pope to acknowledge that the molestation of young boys is wrong.” well genius when did the church ever acknowledge that it is right? pretty sure i never heard anyone applauding it. So your comment holds no ground. Also how you end your article only confirms how uneducated you are about the catholic faith. I was always under the impression that when you write an article on a certain topic you research it before hand. So there’s some advice for you. Next time you want to share your opinion maybe research it a little more before hand before sharing it and potentially coming off unintelligent.

    Thanks for ur time.
    God bless

  2. Ben says:

    This article is awful, both in content in style. Let’s see, a Catholc-bashing college student–whodadthunkit? Be a little braver and criticize the campus gay-stapo or–better yet–criticize the Muslims and get a fatwah on your ass.

    If this article were about any other group–be it blacks, Jews, Muslims, or homosexuals–it would be declared hate speech, and it wouldn’t be published in this newspaper. Period. Since you focus so much on AIDS, would it be out of order tyo examine the homosexual contribution to the AIDS epedemic? Or are we not supposed to talk about that?

    “If the Church were truly as morally sound as it claims to be, it would find compassion in helping others without anything in return, and would offer Christian teachings only if they were desired by the Rwandan people.”

    Uhh…no. Yu make it sound as if Catholics are doing missionary work for their own benefit. They’re trying to spread the Gospel for the benefit of GOd and those who hear it. There is no reason why charity should be sperated from missionary work. They go hand in hand.

    “With its absurd rules of teaching abstinence-only safe sex, the Catholic Church has added that condoms, in fact, cause the HIV virus to spread.”

    I’d like to see your source for that. In any case, you’re assuming that Rawandans will both 1) obey Catholic teachings about condoms and 2) disobey teachings about abstinence. If everyone followed the Catholic teaching on sex, AIDS would die out in a generation. If you want to examine who is at fault for the AIDS epedemic, maybe you should investigate the role of Planned Parenthood that distributes cheap condoms of shoddy quality to third worlders, telling them that condoms will protect them when in fact condoms stil fail sometimes even when properly used. By the way, abstinence, when properly used, never fails.

    Nickerson, you’re basically an anti-Cartholic bigot. I enjoyed being assaulted with ignorance this morning. Please grow a pair and pick on a group of people that will actually fight back.

  3. Michael Foley-Röhm says:

    To be honest, I actually agree with you on some points, but the way you wrote this is so confrontational, you’re not going to change anyone’s minds. Religion hating know-it-alls will cheer, Catholics will jeer (and rightly so) and you’ll just sit there and say, “Look at those dumb Catholics, all of these Enlightened people agree with me!”

    It accomplishes nothing.

    You said:
    “Or perhaps we should repudiate the awful ideologies that actually increased the suffering and lives taken by the epidemic.”

    I’m no fan of celibacy, but the Catholic Church is correct in noting that abstinence is the only sure-fire way to avoid AIDS when sleeping with people who possess the virus. Condoms are not fool-proof, and quite honestly, I’d never trust one if the person I wanted to sleep with had AIDS. I would simply avoid temptation. It’s the only sensible option. Condoms would only lead to more “lives taken by the epidemic.” They will not solve the problem.

    The RCC is far from perfect, in my opinion (the pedo-priest shuffle certainly ruined my respect for the authority of the Church but hey, at least they aren’t Protestants!) but Church-bashing isn’t the answer either. I’m neither a Christian nor a Catholic, but this sort of attitude will never change any minds, it just makes you look like a snarky know-it-all.

    And that is *my* job.

  4. Thom Gulino says:

    I have to take issue with the poor reasoning of Mr. Nickerson’s article. The final sentence of the article (or complaint-session) reads “I encourage all to keep a keen eye on the practices being performed by the Catholic Church. Stand up for Rwanda, and investigate for yourself what the Catholic Church has truly been doing to the country.” Unfortunately the author has not taken his own advice. What he reel’s against as one instance of seemingly imprudent charity has no foundation in the overall picture of Catholic teaching on justice, charity, and the balance between the two. Mr. Nickerson, you might take issue with one woman’s imprudence, but research the policies of an institution before you condemn them.

    The article dipped to a true low, however, with the comment that “the Catholic Church has added that condoms, in fact, cause the HIV virus to spread.” I would challenge to author to adopt some decent scholarship and quote the Pope himself. Pope Benedict, before his first papal visit to Africa, called the HIV pandemic “a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which can even aggravate the problem.” What the pontiff is saying here, is that while condoms will indeed prevent a percentage of the HIV virus being spread, it will, in many cases, offer a false sense of security. Abstinence before marriage (a position that the Church understands to be difficult and controversial) is not only consistent with Rome’s other official teachings, but provides the only fail-safe measure against the spread of HIV. I do not expect all people to agree with the idea of “abstinence,” but at least recognize that it makes logical sense to practice (though it will always be difficult to do so) in certain situations.

    As to the atrocities and pain caused by the Church, there is no excuse and no remedy. I would encourage people to research the role that these atrocities and others have played in the Church’s history, alongside the same organization’s countless roles as a positive force in the world. I can make no decisions for readers, but would suggest that the teaching body of the RCC maintains its ability to operate in the world, especially when it is able to recognize its human failings. Do your research, as Mr. Nickerson has both suggested and failed to do.

  5. Shane Nickserson says:

    Hey Collegian readers, it’s Shane Nickerson; I appreciate the feedback regardless of our different beliefs. For those who posed questions to my legitimacy or concerns I will try and address them to my ability. Kellie I see great strength of character on Rosaria’s behalf for forgiving her family’s killer. However, for the church to preach that her sins are equal, I think is awful. Also to all whom might question it I was brought up between Catholic and Baptist denominations. I would say I have a very good familiarity with both but if I got something wrong I will humbly apologize. Still addressing Kellie, I did not say that the church acknowledged the molestations as good, they merely did not acknowledge them at all. They tried to make a public relations propaganda out of it.

    Ben, it was the pope who said he feared contraception will make the HIV epidemic worse. I agree to your statement that abstinence works best, but to make it the only tool for sex education, even by demoralizing contraception, is wrong. Also, to answer your question, yes, I absolutely believe the Rwandans will follow what the missionaries teach them, down to the last ‘amen.’

    Michael, I’m not sure what your faith is but it makes me curious that you were offended. My attempt is not quite religion hating (though I do have a dislike for its nature), rather my attempt is a pushback for the fundamentalist movement. I do not find it inappropriate to question religious teachings just as we question all man-made hypotheses.

    Thom I am aware of the churchs’ great charitable contributions. However, that does not make them infallible to do as they will with the people of Rwanda. You have the quote from the pope correct, however it seems as though we are interpreting it differently. If the Rwandans are going to have sex, and let’s be real and acknowledge they will, would contraception really aggravate the epidemic? It seems what you are suggesting is that the church has made many mistakes, yet they are only human. If that is so, why does the church need exist? Charity is not reserved for the faithful. My point is that secular charity does not encourage you to adopt, or I should say indoctrinate, their own beliefs.

    I hope I have responded sufficiently to your standards; thank you again for your critiques/comments.

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