05/22/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's Catholicism Itself, Stupid

In an age when all religions must be treated by right-thinking people with the greatest tolerance and respect, much of the reaction to the sexual abuse story in Europe and the Pope's involvement with it, is, nevertheless, deeply and specifically anti-Catholic.

This is not just a story about individual priests and instances of malfeasance; it is, instead, a focused and concerted argument against a host of precepts and behaviors and theological positions fundamental to the Roman Catholic Church. The issue isn't just sex abuse, it's the Church.

What is under attack is the infallibility of the pope, the nature of priest-supplicant relationship, the cultivated secrecy of the Church, the nature and orientation of the priesthood, and the very power -- spiritual, political, and cultural -- of the Church itself.

The subtext can't be missed: It is on the basis of all of the above that sexual abuse has been fostered, tolerated, and covered-up over the last many decades (if not centuries). There might not be a Church, as we know the Church, without sexual abuse. The Catholic Church equals sex abuse.

Let's go further: all of the grievances, antagonism, and odium toward the Church, on the part of lapsed and apostate Catholics -- surely the majority of the Catholic world -- are made real.

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